I had my first panic attack in 9th grade.
I remember it so clearly-I was in the middle of an exam when everything around me went blue and foggy. Not knowing what was going on, I hurried to the bathroom where I hid out until I started to feel better. My panic attacks came regularly after that and caused me to be depressed. The self-imposed pressure to succeed academically also led me to become bulimic. I became socially reclusive and was lonely all the time.
My parents were divorced but they both let me know that they were willing to talk to me about getting help. I wasn’t open to it at first because I believed that I could handle everything myself. Finally, two years later, I recognized that I did not need to suffer alone. I started seeing a psychologist and a psychiatric nurse as the first step to controlling my mental health.
In my senior year of high school, I found Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA) and the organization’s Teen Depression Program. I began sharing my story with other young people and even produced a documentary about FFDA for my senior project. Talking to others, making connections, and sharing openly have become the best medicine for me. Thanks to my experiences as a Teen Speaker, I feel better about myself as a person.
With your gift, they will continue to inspire young adults to lead mentally-healthy lives and work to end teen suicides. I have seen firsthand what a powerful impact we have when we share our experiences and encourage others to get help.
Transitioning to college wasn’t easy for me, but because of all I experienced as a high school student, I was more prepared for the new challenges. I’m in my second year and have created a support network of roommates, friends, and academic advisors that I can call if I’m down. I’m still volunteering with FFDA and I’m also training to be a peer mental health advocate at my university.
There are more young men out there like me. By supporting Families for Depression Awareness, you are helping FFDA to reach and inspire them to speak up about depression.
Thank you from all of us,
Aaron, FFDA Teen Speaker