Every night, two of us would tell our life stories to the rest of the group. I decided I was definitely going last.
Every night, the eight of us would pack ourselves into the boys’ tent which was only meant to hold three people.
My turn finally came, and I was extremely nervous, but I decided to take the chance and tell them everything. I told them about my depression and anxiety. I told them about the hospital night, I told them everything.
We stayed up until three in the morning talking, and when our counselors finally sent us to bed, I followed the other girls to our tent, and I remember just stopping for a moment and looking up at the sky, at all the stars, and I realized that I was smiling uncontrollably for the first time in years.
I had hoped at the very least that they wouldn’t stop being my friends after I told them about myself that night. I didn’t expect that for the rest of the three weeks at camp, we would become even closer. We became a family.
I realized that I was cared for, and that I was loved. It hit me. I could be free from my depression. I didn’t have to just live with it for the rest of my life.
Since then, things have only gotten better. In the fall of junior year, I learned to stop judging people, and made dozens of new friends. Later in junior year, I went into freshman health classes, and spoke to them about overcoming pressure and judgment in high school.
After receiving hand-written letters from the freshmen, I knew that was my words and story I could change the world.
I still use my Instagram to post encouraging quotes and personal stories to my almost 3,000 followers, including lots of my classmates.
Every day, I’m reminded of the impact my kind words have. I’m beginning to fall in love with myself, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
I know that there are people in this audience who’ve experienced or are currently struggling with depression. This is for you: you are not in a bottomless pit. You are not in an endless tunnel without light. You are not a hopeless cause. Help is out there. You are loved and you are cared for. You have the power and the right to achieve everything you want in life.
My life didn’t just get better on its own. With help from friends, old and new, I realized that I am worth so much more than what I once thought, and that I have the power and the ability to view the world in a new way, as a place full of endless opportunities and amazing people.
I’ve opened myself up to what the universe has to offer, and I’ve created my own beautiful life. I have emerged.