"Mental health was never a conversation in my house. We were kind of raised with the rule, 'Whatever happens in this house, stays in this house.' Growing up, my mom was always indoors, in the bed, [whereas] other people’s moms had jobs and active social lives. She never attended any school events or parent-teacher conferences either. It wasn't until right before middle school that I learned about what [having] depression meant. It just seemed like she had very similar characteristics of the condition, but we never spoke about it."
"After I graduated college, I moved to Los Angeles and was in an abusive relationship that ultimately led me to try and take my own life for a second time. I was hospitalized for 72 hours up until my birthday. Thankfully, my cousin was already on her way out to L.A. to visit. When she arrived, she came straight to the hospital before packing me up and moving me back to the East Coast to be with my family.
"At first, I thought just my friends and close family members would watch it. But after putting up a mini trailer on social media, people were blowing up my phone wanting to know what it was about and asking to see it. When I finally released it, there were girls from all over — London, Paris, and China — who literally said, 'I see myself in your story,' 'How can I be more vulnerable with my group of friends?,' 'How can I talk about these things?'
"I started the page in January 2017. Once it was created, I noticed that a lot of us were based in New York City. I decided we could all solve our issues better and together if we could remove the digital screen and talk face to face. I hosted an event shortly after with 15 girls, where I had a therapist come in and talk about anything that anyone wanted to discuss. We live streamed it and got over 23,000 viewers from all over the world, which helped me decide this was something I had to keep consistent. [Sad Girls Club] was something that was needed and people were grateful for it. Since then, we've hosted 14 events in two countries and three different cities. We've serviced over 1,100 girls in real life, and our online presence has grown to include over 34,000 followers."
"I get to tell my story and be honest about it. Sometimes when I'm not feeling well, I'll tell [Sad Girls Club] exactly that, because I still go through things. I want to share as much knowledge about mental health as possible while helping people realize that it's okay to not be 100% good all the time. I'm trying my best to bring girls together, because there's always someone out there who can relate to what they may be going through — even when it seems like the opposite."
I want to share as much knowledge about mental health as possible while helping people realize that it’s okay to not be 100% good all the time.
"I was misdiagnosed with depression for eight years. Part of it was that I wasn't being honest with my therapist. I was so ashamed that I was having suicidal ideations, self-harming, and abusing alcohol that I wasn't even being honest with myself about the depths to which my [mental illness] was affecting me. I thought that if I could handle raising a million dollars for a nonprofit and arguing big cases in court, it must just be on me that I can't handle my own issues.
"Immediately after [being diagnosed], I decided to write about it for [a prestigious online publication], because I had been honored and profiled by it in the past. I thought it was important to speak up about it, because I think what's really problematic in today's society is how we have all these facades of perfection. [They] plague us through social media and leave us feeling like we always have to be 'on' and perfect. As somebody who had already been viewed as successful in society, I wanted to be honest about where I was at, showing my 'flaws' and 'weaknesses' to hopefully encourage other 'successful' people to show theirs — and to let others who may be struggling know that it's okay.
The more I speak out about it and the more resources I find, the more I feel like I’m not alone.
"When I thought about being open and vocal about my mental health, I wasn't thinking about how it would help just me; I was really thinking about how it would help others. So many women have reached out to me after seeing the film and have told me, 'Because you're not ashamed to talk about your diagnosis, it makes me feel like I don’t have to feel ashamed about mine either.' Or, 'I've always thought I couldn’t do X-Y-Z because of my diagnosis, but seeing you in the film made me realize that I can.'
"[As a child,] I was taller and wider than the other little girls my age. I played sports on a boys' team, which was a little bit more rigorous, but my family was concerned about my weight. I was chubby — not the clinical definition of obese at that point, but there was always this feeling of needing to be smaller so clothes would fit better. By the time I was in fourth grade, I started skipping meals and experimenting with self-injurious behaviors. Cutting [myself] became a crutch to squash anxiety in a very different way.
"[In college,] I hosted a dinner party, and after everybody had left, I cleaned up. There was still some ice cream left over, so I ate it and went to sleep. I woke up with my head in the toilet, having realized that I had eaten the entire gallon. I couldn’t remember what happened — if I had either fallen back asleep at the toilet or blacked out.
My hope...is that someone who doesn’t have a ‘word’ for anxiety will read my description of what it feels like and then [be able to] identity that feeling and talk to somebody about it.
"I have super manic, very efficient, high-functioning moments. And then I have moments that bottom out. But how I maintain them now is different. I make sure to eat and get enough sleep. I've learned to tell people 'no,' realizing that I don’t have to be well liked anymore. I also realized that exercise isn’t a torture device; it can be useful and a lot of freaking fun. Because I have survived, I'm not scared anymore.
"I don't write for accolades or praise — even in my feature reporting, that idea is secondary. 90% of what I write is to help somebody understand a concept or event that [may feel] immaterial to them. And that includes pain. My hope — in putting my writing all out there — is that someone who doesn't have a 'word' for anxiety will read my description of what it feels like and then [be able to] identity that feeling and talk to somebody about it. [My hope] is that people of color will see someone who looks like them talking about things that are considered to be taboo by our elders, and they won't be afraid to express what may be happening to them. I get emails from people saying those sorts of things, saying that an essay [of mine] helped them get help. That's how I know I’ve done my job."