I’m just tired. I’m just not hungry. I’m just not feeling social. This is what you tell yourself in the beginning. This is just what you tell those who you somehow let get close enough to you to ask questions.
This is just what you tell yourself…until two weeks pass, then four, then eight. This is what you tell yourself until you’ve slept for over 13 hours every day and you’re still tired. And you’ve lost over 15 pounds and you’re still not hungry. And you haven’t put on clothes or left the house in weeks and you’re still not feeling social. Something WAS wrong and though I didn’t have the language for it then, I look back on it now and know exactly what it was. It was depression. Even though the mere writing of that word brings back traces of the feelings of shame and doubt and stigma that I once had, I am choosing to be “No Longer Silent”.
The road to reclamation can seem long but you are worthy of every step. You are worthy of your best self. Your journey is more than any single step you’ve taken, but you are worthy of every step you will take.
Experiencing a mental illness such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder was very frightening to experience as a teenager. As people of color we aren’t taught to talk about or seek help for Mental health because most don’t believe it’s real. After seeking therapy I learned that Anxiety was genetically inherited from both sides of my family. #NolongerSilent to me means letting go of shame and recognizing that my mental illness is not a defeat but it is triumphant. Triumphant because I am an Anxiety survivor who fights everyday to have health, mental health.
When I was 5 years old, my father died from suicide. It was hard for everyone, especially my mom, who was left to raise 2 young children at only 28 years old. For 5 years, I was going to see a doctor, so that I wouldn’t do the same thing to myself, but the support from family and playing sports helped me move on, and almost forget what happened to my father.
After his death, no one in my family spoke about suicide. EVER. Suicide is a sensitive topic for anyone, but it’s even harder for those are directly affected by it. In my family, in particular, the slightest conversation about my father’s suicide could trigger memories of that tragic day, so we said nothing. But as I got older and matured, I realized that I would NOLONGERBESILENT and that I’m going to use my story to help someone and hopefully prevent anyone from experiencing what I have to live with.
- John P.
I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and see nothing. To search for answers at the bottom of a bottle hoping to drown my sorrows. To hear my twin sister say “I just want my sister back” and to realize that I need help. I know what it feels like to beg God for answers to WHY? But I also know what it feels like to trust him in the midst of confusion. The week of my college graduation, a moment I couldn’t wait for, ended up being a week I would never ever forget. I remember it like it was yesterday, receiving the phone call, my mothers hesitant voice on the other end telling us to sit down for some news, and revealing to my twin sister and I that our cousin committed suicide……… it’s been a difficult road. I followed in her footsteps and I wouldn’t be a photographer today if it wasn’t for her, so every image I create is an ode to her memory. This project is near and dear to my heart because for years I feared sharing my darkest secrets, and I struggled to talk about losing my cousin. It wasn’t until I realized that speaking out not only allowed me to cope, but I began to realize this journey doesn’t have to be taken alone. I choose to be #NoLongerSilent hoping that my story will impact at least one life.
Mental depression is something that I never quite understood until I was forced to deal with my own trauma in college. After experiencing a series of family related deaths I slipped into an unhealthy psychological space that left me own the brink of suicide. Had it not been for the love of empathetic peers and the care of a few passionate professionals I may have never been able to share my story of near defeat and triumph with you all.
A little over five years ago I was experiencing what some would call a dark night of the soul. Depression felt like a heavy invisible cloak I was always wearing. Even on my better days I could still feel it on my shoulders. I was sleeping most of the time and I felt like I was numb and outside of myself. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be here. At my lowest point, a friend encouraged me to take a big step and I checked myself into a recovery center for several days. I had time to reflect, center and get on the path to becoming functional again. I met some extraordinary people in that place with all kinds of labels, a whole lot of heart and great wisdom to share. One of the most powerful realizations for me was realizing that I wasn’t alone. It was deeply healing to hear someone share something about their struggles that until then I had only heard in my head. I realized I the power of vulnerability and sharing when it comes to healing. When I left I took a low dose of citalopram for a couple of months to help me get balanced and saw a therapist. Then I focused on the healing modalities that called to me the most such as journaling, making vision boards, reading Harry Potter, watching inspirational YouTube videos, practicing yoga and meditation and perusing my passion of acting. Today I am immensely grateful to have a tribe of dear friends, cherished family and an amazing new husband who all support, encourage and love me. From time to time I still experience dark days when all I want to do is sleep. But in those times I remind myself that “we are on a planet that is spinning though space” (this is a trick I used during a the toughest times of my life to give myself instant perspective) and I am somehow immediately comforted. I have come to believe that the depth of pain I’ve felt is the indicator of the heights of joy that have also been a part of my journey. Perhaps this is the gift depression has given me and perhaps my story will help someone who reads it.
I had the opportunity to document 10 individuals that were courageous enough to share their stories in hopes that others will realize that they’re not alone, and that their vulnerability will empower them to share their own stories. #NoLongerSilent
World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10th every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health.
#NoLongerSilent is a personal project with the hopes of removing the stigma surrounding mental illness and depression. To help persons realize that you can gain back control of the light at the end of the tunnel. The goal of the #NoLongerSilent movement is to create an outlet which will lead to conversations about depression and mental illness, with hopes that it will break down barriers within households.