With Ending the Silence, I was able to find my voice.
For a long time, I have been ashamed of my mental illness and was afraid that others would judge me because of it. I stayed in silence. From a young age, I suffered from anxiety and depression. The support I received was that it was part of “a phase “and that I would eventually grow out of it. Through therapy and education, I learned more about mental illnesses and the impact they can have on your life.
When I started to volunteer with NAMI Wake County, I was eagerly surprised by how open people were to talk about their mental illness, especially in how they had found their recovery and strength from sharing. It inspired me not to be ashamed of my mental illness and to share my story with others with the hope it could help them too. On October 11, 2019, I was able to publicly share my story to students and faculty members at St. Mary’s school in Raleigh. There were over three-hundred students in the audience that day. Normally, I would be anxious having to publicly speak but I knew I had a message to share. After sharing my story, I looked out into the crowd and saw a few students in tears. I told them that it was my first time sharing my story and how they helped me overcome my anxiety of not only public speaking, but being okay with announcing my recovery. After the presentation, I had many students and teachers come up to me to thank me for sharing my story. It is not about the applause; it is about having a voice to share my story and to know that I am not alone.
For me, Ending the Silence is about giving young people a voice. A voice that they might not be able to have at home. Providing them hope and resources that they may need for their recovery. I wished someone from NAMI would have came to my school as a young person and shared their story because my recovery could have been a lot sooner. Ending the Silence is also stopping the stigma with mental illnesses and allowing room to talk about mental health and how to find help. My story will continue, and I now have a voice to share my story with others.
Thank you to NAMI Wake county for helping me find my voice!
NAMI Wake County served 1425 youth through Ending the Silence in 2019. Help us continue this momentum so that more youth, like a young Arielle, will be able to lead a healthy life in recovery.