People who suffer from mental illness are more than just the "sad" or "anti-social" stereotypes. There is no face of mental illness -- your friend might be depressed, a parent or even yourself.
In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, MTV News is highlighting what mental illness really looks like for teens and young adults, including what they wish people knew and how they got through tough times. Share your story by emailing email@example.com and let's #changetheconversation.
By Victoria, 18
I have suffered from severe social anxiety (S.A.D.) my whole life and I want to share my story.
I have an older sister, Rebecca, and a twin sister, Lizzie, and we live with our parents. When my twin sister and I were born, I was always dependent on her. She was the only person I would "talk" to. I wouldn't even communicate with my parents. If I needed a diaper change or juice, I would look at her and she would just know what I needed and she would go and tell my mother.
Growing up was hard. I was never good at making friends. When I was younger, my friends were Lizzie's friends. We were in Girl Scouts when we were younger and I was always to scared to sell cookies because I didn't want to go door to door to ask people to buy them. I wouldn't even walk up to the door with her to ask -- I stood in the street and waited.
I was a gymnast when I was a kid and I didn't really make friends. I was really good at gymnastics and I was offered to go competition level, but I didn't because of my anxiety. When I hit middle school, life got even more lonely. Lizzie was always outgoing and friendly and she had lots of friends. The majority of my middle school years were spent in my room when I wasn't actually at school. I remember how if I got scared of doing a project and having to present in front of the class, I would pretend to be sick so I didn't have to. I was always very quiet in middle school and I still have the paper from when one of my teachers made the class write nice things about each other. Most of the comments on mine were that I was "quiet."
When I got into high school, my nightmares became a reality. I went into my freshman year being the girl who still hasn't ever had her first kiss or first relationship. There was a boy a grade above me who liked me and when he tried to kiss me, I called my mom to come get me. He never talked to me again.
My first boyfriend was a drug addict and alcoholic. After that relationship, things became really bad. I kept dating boys who were abusive because I didn't think I deserved better. My anxiety got so out of control that by the time I was 14 or 15, I had to be hospitalized because I was suicidal. I was self-harming, and I almost tore my family apart. Being that young and trying to find medication to help was hard. Pretty much every therapist I went to -- and I went to many therapists -- refused to help me because none of them helped minors with severe social anxiety. I was constantly bullied. People in school would make rumors about me and they would bully me in school, but the principal never did anything about it.
I had so many people on social media telling me to kill myself because I was worthless, no one liked me, that I was too psychotic and no one wanted me around that it got to the point that I tried to kill myself multiple times. I put my family through complete hell but they never gave up on me. I finally got the help I needed from my doctor. I've been on my medication for two years now and it's helped a lot.
The scary thing about having a mental disorder is the fact that I am so dependent on my medicine that when I don't take it, life isn't happy. I graduated high school this year and I dedicated my senior project to bringing more attention to brain and mental disorders because it doesn't get the attention it needs. Everyone assumes that people who suffer from a brain or mental disorder can just get rid of it and make it go away like it's that easy. But it's not.
My life has been so dark for so long and I've finally gotten into the light. All I want to do with my life is dedicate my time to helping those who suffer like I do and also to those who are less fortunate then I am. The best feeling in this world is being able to help others going through rough times and being able to make a difference in their lives.
I want to be a spokesperson for those who are like me. I want to help those who are wounded. I want to tell each and every one that they are absolutely beautiful and amazing. I want to help everyone love themselves for who they are because there is no one else in this world like them and that they are so important and so loved.
I believe we can change this world and make it better. I will dedicate my life to making sure everyone knows they are loved by someone, even if that only someone is me.
These are personal stories and only reflect the experiences of the individuals sharing them.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental illness, there are ways to get help. Find resources, tips, and immediate help at Half of Us, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.