TW: Depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide
When I was twelve years old, I barely exercised and was not healthy - I considered myself chubby. This led to me feeling depressed and to overcome that, I started following very unhealthy habits - I ate less, or skipped meals altogether. Later, I met a mental health advocate who talked about her journey involving self-harm. Being young, I was influenced by this and started doing it too. I felt so alone that I even attempted suicide twice.
At this stage of my life, I wasn’t comfortable opening up to anyone. I remember feeling like I didn’t have much support from my friends because they either didn’t believe me or they didn’t know how to help. My parents never understood the concept of mental health, so I just dealt with my mental health by myself. I assumed that everyone was going through something similar, but they just didn’t talk about it.
Around ninth grade, my doctor addressed my mental health with my parents. My dad told me I’d feel better if I was distracted with school, working out, etc. So I started exercising but in a very unhealthy manner and I was tired all the time. Eventually, I talked to my family and I think that was one of the hardest things because I had to get them on the same page as me. It took my mom a few months to understand, and my dad a couple of years.
After struggling with this illness for three years, my recovery journey started in the summer after ninth grade. Once I started going to therapy, it played a major role in my recovery, but long-term results came with changes to my lifestyle. After struggling with multiple eating disorders, I finally was able to start eating what I liked again but in proportion.
I heard from so many people in the community, of all different backgrounds, from those who were struggling and felt alone. So, I started a club called SAMI to have a community of peer support for people that need a friend who has gone through similar struggles. I want everyone to feel like their voice is heard and they aren’t alone.
-Twisha, Founder of Students Against Mental Illness at UMN