Category Archives: What Youth Are Saying

Silhouette of hands and the horizon

A Reflection After the Deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain

Silhouette of hands and the horizonby Rachel LaBrie

Recently, we all got the news that both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain died by suicide.

I feel a certain emptiness right now. But I also feel like I would like to speak more about my experience with suicide and spread a message.

I lost my best friend to suicide. She was the kindest, gentlest person you could ever meet. I remember the day she died, it felt like there was a black hole encapsulating me. I could barely talk, my tears would not stop. How could they? Losing her was like losing a part of myself.

In my lifetime, especially after losing my best friend, I contemplated suicide. A lot. It’s all I could think about. But for some reason, I knew my friend would be heartbroken for me to be with her so soon. I knew she needed me to carry on her legacy. So I did.

I became a peer. I became a voice for those who found it hard to speak. So here is a message I want everyone who reads this to remember.

It is not as easy as saying “reach out for help if you need it.” Sometimes, depression makes you isolated. It makes you disappear into the background, fall to the ground, and you feel you cannot get up. In my experience, in times like that, I needed someone to reach out to me, because I was incapable, or at least I thought I was incapable, of reaching out.

Ask a friend today how they are feeling. If they say “fine” or “okay” try and find out the truth behind those words. Sometimes the saddest of hearts hide behind a smile and “I’m fine” passing through their mouth. Sometimes, they need you to show you truly are reading the messages they need you to hear.

Rest in Peace, Anthony and Kate. Your legacies will carry on forever. Thank you for all you have done.

Rachel LaBrie is a young adult who has a passion for advocacy. They are currently working on writing a book of poetry about mental health.

person

Anxious Mess: Thoughts of Someone with Social Anxiety

personI often think of what it would be like if I went to a party like a lot of young adults my age do.

In every scenario I can imagine in my head, I see myself crying in the corner, hands covering my ears because it was too loud in the house where the party was taking place. I see myself having panic attack after panic attack because there are people I don’t know, and my social anxiety can be crippling if I am not used to a situation.

Most people don’t really think I have any real social anxiety. I’ve had people tell me “You are so social. How can you possibly have social anxiety?” I suppose that is because I don’t really go to new places alone, and people don’t get to see me try tons of new things. I’m always at a familiar place with familiar faces that I know and feel comfortable around. It hurts me when people say the things they do. There are lots of people who are social but have social anxiety. I am simply good at hiding my anxiety at this point in my life. However, a person telling me I can’t possibly be socially anxious makes me upset, but also angry and annoyed.

People keep urging me to go new places and try new things. And I’m trying. I really am trying so hard. But I am scared to death of “new.”

What if I have a meltdown in public? What if I fall to the floor screaming because I am terrified of my surroundings? And walking in the city? Any city? Never, not me. What if someone talks to me on the street that I don’t know and something bad happens?

These are just a few of the questions that go through my head when thinking about going to experience new places and meet new people. The scenes that play out in my head are one of a horror movie in which a young girl finds herself bombarded with scary people who don’t understand. A movie where a young girl is hated by a whole new group of people.

Next time you think someone doesn’t have social anxiety, you may want to reconsider. Everyone has demons. Everyone has something that terrifies them. And for me, it’s social interaction, among others, and it’s real.

By: Rachel LaBrie

Rachel is a young adult who hopes to someday be a peer mentor or a peer specialist.  They are currently working on writing and publishing a book of poetry.

flowers

Coming out of Hibernation

flowersWhat is your favorite part of winter? The snow? The skiing and snowboarding? The days off school?

My favorite part of winter is when it’s over. Winter feels like a punishment to me. I work so hard to get outside, exercise my arthritic joints, get that vitamin D doctors are always hassling me about, and just get out of the house in general (easier said than done). I feel like winter rips that away from me. I struggle with the shorter days and cold, bitter air freezing my lungs and joints.  I end up forcing myself out of bed in the morning, knowing full well that I will probably slither back under that fortress of blankets like a polar bear in her den. What’s the point of going out when I can hide in bed all day?

I long for that first day where I can hear the birds and walk outside without dreading the cold. My chronic physical illnesses on top of my mental health challenges make it really hard to get motivated and the snow is like a flashing neon sign telling me to give up before I’ve even gotten up. It bullies me into avoiding self-care and socialization. I try my best to fight that blanket of snow each morning, sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.  What matters is that I try. Even if I end up back in bed, I know that I fought the winter blues. I’ll beat them some day.

Lucy is young adult that loves art, drawing and writing. Their favorite pet is their rats that help with anxiety. Lucy loves to help other youth and continue to advocate for system change.

two people with hands clasped

Change Isn’t Always For The Worst

By: Kai Sanchez

two people with hands claspedWhen Anorexia came into my life, I knew I’d never be the same. To be truthful, I haven’t been. Everyday became a battle against myself, a one sided war that could find no victor. I avoided mirrors and meals became more and more difficult. The people around me watched me deteriorate but despite all the pain it caused me, it also saved my life. I know it’s not a common occurrence for someone to say their illness saved them, but for me, I was able to build resilience. I found myself fighting for my own sanity. Even when I had nothing left to give, I fought, and that gave me strength. Mirrors will never be my best friend, but day by day I learned to find hope in the own reflection of my face. I traced my curves until I found a piece of me I could learn to love. Every day, step by step, as I poured all my energy in learning how to survive, I grew as a person, I learned how to cope, I opened up in ways I never had before. I found people who had faith in me; I came to accept that every day changes you. At my lowest point, I heard many times that things get better. This statement felt so far from me- what is better? How do I get there? I was at the bottom, how could I even imagine the top? So instead, I told myself things get tolerable. That I’ll be able to manage this, that functioning on a day to day basis wouldn’t drain me until I had nothing left. Finally, I made it and when I found tolerable, better wasn’t so far away anymore. Life will throw you curves, build mountains in your path, and hills you must climb, but life will show you the light as you look back on how far you have come.

Kai is a young adult who enjoys writing poetry in their free time, obsessing over video games, and plans to go to college in order to pursue a career in the Mental Health field.

Face picture

What It Is Like to Live, But Not Be Alive

By Rachel LaBrie

Face pictureSometimes, when I tell someone I have been suicidal for 11 years, they laugh. The common response is “Well then, how are you still here?” Let me explain to you what I mean when I say I’m suicidal.

I think about dying every single day of my life. It’s like the exit sign in a store, glowing and inviting. But I talk myself into staying “for just a little while longer.” I never have the courage to leave. I just feel, most of the time, that I’d be better off dead.

Let’s continue with the store metaphor. I cannot seem to find anything that is worth buying. Life is the store. I cannot seem to find anything that keeps me here, but yet, here I am. I am breathing. I have a pulse. But that technically doesn’t mean I’m alive.

I don’t think I’ve ever truly been alive. When I say that, it may sound crazy, strange, or like I am living in the state of mind that makes me think life is just a dream, that we don’t really exist. But I know we are real. I just have never been able to fully enjoy things, because my mind keeps telling me that it is only temporary; that my joy won’t stay joyous, that the highs will soon become lows. Therefore, “alive” is not an adjective I think suits me.

I really hope someday I feel alive. I want to wake up, and not dread the day ahead. I want to get up when my alarm tells me it’s morning, and not feel an ache in my heart, one that makes me stay in my godforsaken bed. Sure, I get up every morning, but it’s after minutes or even hours of amping myself up to face another day that will surely have a disappointment or ten.

I’m here though. And I am planning to stay. I want to adopt children, get married, grow old and experience the good things in life. I want to bask in the sunshine, instead of sitting under a cloud of darkness. And some days, I really do want to tell whoever is watching me, and all the people I love, that I am okay with life. I think that’s a great start.

Rachel is a young adult who hopes to someday become a peer mentor or a peer specialist. They are currently working on writing and publishing a book of poetry.