pictures of babes drawn by a babe. congrats @alimarko <333
Awwww I was so flustered and happy at the opening. Sahana brought me pretty purple tulips!
Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes! I spent all day visiting with family and friends, and wasn’t really online much, but I got a bunch of sweet messages and I’ll get answering those tomorrow. Good night pals. <3
4/20? You mean 1/5 reduce your fractions did you even learn math
take a shot every time someone mentions 4/20 while wishing me happy birthday
take a double when they do it on MY FACEBOOK WALL c’mon folks
I’ll be 22 in an hour. It’s everyone’s last chance to buy me some Forever 21 shit. Just kidding, I’ll shop there for the rest of my cheap life.
GOOD-BYE AGE 21, I DO NOT THINK I WILL MISS YOU
The first time I thought there was probably something wrong with me, I was about 11 years old. Transitioning into middle school is always hard on someone, but my struggle to adjust seemed unnaturally strenuous. I was terrified… of everything, really, but since kids that age don’t have a lot going on, it usually centered on school. I’d fake sick to get out of it. Sometimes I didn’t need to fake sick — I got so upset in the mornings that I vomited. Once or twice I had full blown panic attacks — long before I even knew the term “panic attack” — in class, leaving to go cry and hyperventilate in the bathroom. I was already kind of shy and quiet and weird and behavior like this didn’t really improve the other kid’s opinions of me. I didn’t have friends and everyday I was excited to go back home and hang out in my room by myself. I spent a lot of time on the internet even then, and eventually I started talking to other people (yeah an 11 year old talking to strangers on the internet, eeeeep) who suffered from things similar to what I did. Some of them talked to their parents about it, and their parents had taken them to see a doctor (or more accurately, a therapist) and they’d gotten help. I tried to do the same. My parents told me I was overreacting. They told me I was just shy. They told me I needed to just be healthier and sleep more, probably, and it would go away. It didn’t. I was in the guidance office at school a lot. They didn’t take me seriously, either. I wanted to feel normal and none of the adults in my life seemed to honestly hear my cries. I was scoffed at.
This continued a lot throughout my life. A few years later, at 15, I once again failed to deal with life changes and day-to-day struggles that most people can overtake with a breeze, and at this time, the thing it was affecting the most was my sleep. That is, I wasn’t getting any. I went to a doctor, told her I was too stressed, too nervous, my brain was too full of things, my mind was too hectic, and I was not able to sleep. Her response, I will never forget this, this medical professional who was supposed to want to help me laughed at me and said “You’re 15, what do you have to be nervous over?”
Things only got worse over time. I faced other obstacles, such as being outed for my sexuality by another student at my school (something I was trying to keep a secret at the time), and entering an emotionally abusive relationship with an older boy. Hearing my heart in my ears, feeling my limbs go numb, and experiencing an out-of-body-like terror was something that still happened to me fairly often, and I finally learned that these were called panic attacks. I started cutting myself to cope with the sheer terror and hopelessness, and sometimes as a means of expressing my anger — I needed to break something, I decided to break myself. I have ugly, purple scars. The boy I was seeing began sexually abusing me. When I left him and told people about what he did, no one believed me. I started having suicidal thoughts. I spent the better part of a year wishing I were dead, seeing how long I could stay under my bath water without breathing. I felt like I was a broken, unloved human being, and why the fuck was I even here anymore?
I was 20 years old before I finally sought help, and even then, only because there were finally people close to me who loved me and encouraged me to do so. I believe that I spent half my life wanting help, unable to get it until someone else heard me. I spent all of those years, privately knowing that something was unwell in my mind, but publicly denying it and doing my best to convince everyone that I was perfectly functioning. I have only recently started to feel like my mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of, isn’t something to keep hushed, something impolite or uncomfortable to discuss. I have not been given a formal diagnosis yet, but my therapist speculates that I may have some form of OCD, and that I certainly have an anxiety disorder. I have taken to blogging as a platform now to help remind myself and others like me that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and to please, please before it’s too late, please get help. I don’t know if I’d still be here if I hadn’t.
Continuously thankful for Hannah's presence in my life and the honesty that she put into this project. I don't think I would've taken on this project if not for the frankness with which she talks about mental health, and how that encouraged me to be more vocal about my own experiences. (Read the other nine stories here!)
Hey friends! I’m going to be formatting some of the submissions from We Speak tonight to get them ready to post, so if you want to share your story about mental health, please do so! Being vocal about our experiences helps to chip away at the stigma surrounding mental illness, even anonymously (just log out of tumblr to submit anonymously). Each and every submission means so much to me, and I know that they have the power to make a big impact on others facing similar struggles, too. Stories can be as long or short as you want, so please consider writing about your own experiences! (SUBMIT THEM HERE.)
We Speak is a poster and blog campaign featuring ten young women who are speaking up about their relationships with mental health and how it informs their identities. Part of Launch: Stamps School of Art and Design’s Senior Thesis Exhibition at the University of Michigan, it will be featured at Work Gallery - Ann Arbor in the exhibition opening on Friday, April 18th from 6-9. The show will remain up through May 3rd.
In the past year, the ten young women featured in the poster portion of We Speak came face to face with the state of our mental health. Our stories, carefully and honestly written, are meant to start a conversation about a topic that many of us wish we could ignore. But these are our realities, and in sharing them, we want to start chipping away at the stigma that often keeps us feeling weak and alone.
In addition to the original ten participants, everyone is encouraged to consider sharing their own story about mental health. By contributing your experiences, you can help open the discussion about the importance of mental health and tear down the stigma that keeps it so hidden. By sharing this project, you can foster support.
We Speak blog | More information | Submit your story | Mental health resources | By Alicia Kovalcheck
This is my senior thesis project! I’m so proud of all the beautiful courageous women who participated in this project, and I couldn’t have done this without you all.
Please reblog and spread the word, and I encourage all of you to go check out our stories and share your own!