Mental Health Awareness: A Note From Bailey

It's always important to focus on your health and wellness. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Bailey opened up about her history of anxiety and depression. Keep scrolling to learn more about her experience and how she continues to work on her mental health and well-being.

I was first diagnosed with depression around the age of 14. I had gained a significant amount of weight after going through a breakup and spending a summer at camp. I got off the bus and could immediately see everyone's excitement to see me change to concern over my appearance. Over previous summers, I always gained and lost 2-6lbs depending on my level of activity but this summer was different. I spent my summer eating and watching Vampire Diaries all day and never leaving my bunk.

I immediately entered into a horrible relationship with food and my social anxiety, as well as depression, was more prevalent than ever. I did not want to be seen or even looked at. I would lay at home scrolling through Facebook and Instagram comparing myself to supermodels, friends, and anyone who I thought had it better than me. I hated myself. I quit everything I loved and struggled with depression for the following four years.

At the time, I was in and out of therapy but mentally was not there. I lied, made up stories, and experimented with different anti-depressants and anxiety medications but I was still not feeling like myself. During my junior year of high school, I missed over 80 days of school during my deepest days of depression. I could sleep for days on end and didn’t care to see or speak to anyone besides my therapist and psychiatrist. When I did leave my room and see my friends, I used self-deprecating humor to mask my feelings entirely. I put on a great show but deep down I was very mentally sick.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I experienced my first panic attack. College was based around parties and socializing, but I could not leave my room. After a month, I called my mom and told her I couldn’t stay any longer. She booked a flight to get me and called my psychiatrist, who told her she should not pull me out of school—which I am so grateful for. At first, I was livid. I finally felt relief that my mom was coming and now she wasn’t. My mom called and said coming home wouldn't solve anything and if I wanted to get better it was going to be a lot of work but I needed to want it for myself. Safe to say I wanted to never speak to her again but she was right.

She set me up with a therapist at school and that’s when my work really began. I started seeing my therapist once a week and at first, it was not easy. I continued to lie and make up stories but this time, my therapist told me she knew I wasn’t being honest with her or myself. It was uncomfortable to admit that I was socially anxious and staying home sounded more appealing to me than going out.

This is where I think finding the right therapist makes the WORLD of a difference. For the first time, I felt myself opening up and trusting this person more than anyone. She gave me simple tasks and we came up with plans that seemed feasible for me. For the first time, I felt like I was ready for a change and was willing to do the work. After 6 months of going to therapy, I began to feel happy again. My anxiety was suppressed (I still struggle with it) and my depression went away entirely. This is due to both the work I put in and the medication I found worked for me.

Your mental health is not something that takes you down a clear path. In fact, it changes constantly. I can't stress enough the importance of therapy, whether you think you need it or not, everyone does. The world is ever-changing and so are life events that can affect your mental state and well-being. Being on top of your mental health is just as important as your physical and should be a priority for everybody. It is nothing to be ashamed of and is something that everybody is affected by. So if you are reading this, I encourage you to focus on yourself and your mental health. You deserve it.

- Bailey