When Jordan was a high school student, he seemed to have it all. But the smiling happy face was a mask he wore to cover the anxiety and depression that lay beneath the surface. Soon he was drinking and his grades were falling, and he was finally diagnosed with depression. A year later, he found himself in a treatment center. Shortly after that, he attempted to end his life. Now, Jordan speaks out about his struggles, a messenger of hope for others that although we can’t choose the things that happen to us we CAN choose how we cope with them.
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At a young age, Carl began using alcohol as a way to mask the shame and pain he felt as a result of his ongoing battle with anxiety and depression. His use of addictive substances as a negative coping skill quickly progressed and eventually spun out of control. In his recovery process, he has learned healthy, effective ways to handle his emotions, as well as life’s ups and downs. Carl believes that the feelings he struggles with are faced by young people everywhere and that the lessons he continues to learn in recovery are valuable not only for those suffering from substance abuse, but to anyone facing life’s challenges.
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At 16, Ali became a volunteer firefighter and experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, and years of bullying at the hands of her fellow firefighters. She developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which kept her stuck in the past and prevented her from engaging in life. Through working with a wonderful therapist and surrounding herself with the love and support of family and friends, Ali learned how to take her life back and live it freely. Ali has re-identified herself as a victor instead of a victim.
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When she was 15 years old, Katya was sexually assaulted, leading to a subsequent unhealthy relationship. Unable to process these experiences and feeling too ashamed to share her trauma with those around her, Katya sank deeply into depression, anxiety, and negative coping mechanisms until she finally sought help. Katya now enlightens others about the stigma surrounding mental health issues and healthy relationships and educates students about consent, media literacy, and self-care.
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Andrew had it all entering his senior year at Muhlenberg College. He was a starting defensive back for the football team, named captain of the track and field team, and already had a full-time position upon graduation with a large accounting firm in Philadelphia. However, an injury in the first game of the season caused drastic changes for him. Andrew hid his struggles until he experienced suicidal ideations. With a strong support group behind him, Andrew began taking the needed steps toward recovery. The overwhelmingly positive feedback he received inspired him to continue talking about mental health.
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Jon grew up in a home of high-achievers. In middle school, Jon began to experience anxiety that prevented him from being able to achieve not only the goals set for him by his family, but his own. His attempts to avoid the stress brought on by his anxiety drove him to adopt negative coping skills. After turning to his family for help, and receiving their encouragement, Jon was able to find healthy coping skills that he still uses today to manage his anxiety.
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Drew’s early teenage years were filled with tremendous sadness resulting from a severe case of depression. He began to self-harm in middle school and considered suicide. For a brief time, he was able to hide his depression and cutting, but living two lives intensified his depression. Eventually, Drew attempted suicide for the second time. By the grace of a higher power, he survived. He experienced a turning point in his recovery, and turned his life into one of inspiring others to seek awareness and treatment.
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As a child, Kristen experienced significant trauma. When she reached her preteen years, Kristen didn’t know how to manage what she was feeling and turned to alcohol, drugs, and self-harm to mask the pain that she so desperately wanted to keep locked away. As a result of this she suffered with debilitating depression and anxiety that affected her in her everyday life. After going to treatment, where she learned how to replace her negative coping skills with positive ones, she worked hard to incorporate those habits into her life. Kristen, being a young person in recovery, proves it’s never too late or too early to get the help you need.
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Deanna’s story begins in her junior year of high school, when she began struggling with her body image, depression, and overall feelings of inadequacy. She turned to food in an attempt to cope and eventually developed an eating disorder. In college, she reached a point where she couldn’t see past the darkness and attempted suicide. After returning to treatment, she learned to challenge her negative thoughts and find healthier ways to cope. Once she discovered that the thoughts and feelings that led her down that path were not as uncommon as she thought, she was inspired to speak out about her experiences in the hope of showing students they are not alone and that help is out there.
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