Worth Living Ambassador Anna Palazzi
Anna is an avid, lover of life. She lives for adventures and enjoys challenging herself. She is the creator of the __Simply__Human__ Instagram account ( https://www.instagram.com/__simply__human__/ ) , and dedicates her free time to advocating for the mental health community.
More Than Words
I want to share with you all the moment I “exposed” my mental illness to those around me. Prior to the post below, (originally featured on my Facebook), I had not discussed my journey with mental illness with others. I was self-conscious and frankly embarrassed, but at the moment I posted this, I was ready to let it all go.
So, here I am again, sharing what I know best, my story:
“Well it’s currently 4:45 a.m. And I can’t sleep even if I tried. Like most college students, I’m suffering from pulling all nighters ( shout out to finals ), and my brain is racked with thoughts.
I don’t know if this is my tired self just not caring about what others think anymore or if I genuinely have just accepted that there’s no shame in what I’m about to share with everyone.
Let’s flash back to about two years ago. I was a senior in high school. I was homecoming queen, a soccer player, an A+ student, and accepted into college by the time December came around.
Life was good, right? You would never think that I was actually struggling so much.
Hell, I didn’t even know.
One day in April, I woke up and I had a panic attack. I remember texting one of my friends because I was so confused. I hadn’t had one since I was about 10, so I was scared.
As time progressed, things got worse. May came. Everyone was excited about prom, graduation, and parties.
I couldn’t be. I woke up every day with panic and confusion. Every second of my life was me struggling with my thoughts, and not understanding what was happening to me.
Then one day, I heard that my friends were concerned with my weight. I reached out to them and I asked, why?
They said that they noticed I hadn’t been eating and that I had dropped A LOT of weight. They said they thought I was anorexic.
My stomach dropped when I heard this. Yes, I wasn’t eating like normal, and yes, I was working out A LOT, but it wasn’t because I thought I was fat.
So how was I anorexic?
My weight loss stemmed from my stress and my need for control in my life. I controlled my diet, my exercise, and anything else I could.
The more weight I lost, the worse my mental state got.
I was miserable. My summer was absolutely horrible. I didn’t have fun. I couldn’t function like a normal person. My emotions disappeared.
I was depressed.
To this day, my close friends and family still don’t know how bad this was for me.
I was “faking it” till I “made it.”
Every day, I thought about killing myself. I would cry about this thought. I knew I didn’t want to actually do it, but I didn’t trust myself enough to believe that.
I wanted the pain and insanity to end. My dreams were better than reality (not being dramatic).
This insanity continued until about October of my freshman year of college.
I came to school a mess, but no one knew unless I told them what was going on.
I tried to push through the pain, but it was getting worse.
That’s when I decided to get help. I reached out to my school’s counseling center, was referred to a psychiatrist, and I was prescribed medication.
Please note: I HATED the idea of being on meds. I thought of myself as a failure. I thought people would classify me as “crazy.”
Turns out, medication was exactly what I needed to be on. I was prescribed Abilify and Zoloft.
After a couple weeks, I was feeling better. Eventually, I was able to have fun again, and enjoy my life.
I am now off of Abilify, and they are beginning to decrease my Zoloft prescription.
I feel like myself. I’m happy, and my depression has been gone for a while.
I’m a successful Honors student, RA, sorority sister, bookseller, friend and so much more.
I wish I could tell you exactly why and how this happened to me, but I can’t.
I don’t have any answers, and I don’t need them.
I’ve accepted that the mind is powerful. I’ve accepted that things like this happen all the time.
So, why was I so alarmed by this happening to me?
It’s because mental illness is almost “taboo” in our society.
Before I went through this, I didn’t understand suicide.
I didn’t understand depression.
I didn’t understand anything.
I’m happy to have had his terrifying and miserable experience. I have learned so much, and now I am able to share with others the knowledge I’ve gained.
Sharing my story has saved people.
I don’t care what others think about me or if they tell me I’m insane.
If my experience can help others, then whatever.
It’s now 5 a.m. And I’m finally tired.
Before I pass out, I want to thank all those in my life who have helped me through this.
To those who were with me my senior year and to those that are now in my life: thank you. Know that I think about how lucky I am to have you all, each and every day.
I hope my long preaching session finds you healthy and well.
Blessed is an understatement. Much love to all and good night.”
This was one of the most rewarding things I could have done for myself. Through this seemingly simple action, I validated my feelings and my experience. The comments and the love I received from those around me was overwhelming and inspired me to continue to be a mental health advocate. With this being said, I cannot stress enough how giving a little bit of yourself does not only help others in need, but inspires them to live another day.