Hope is like a camp-fire in the depth of winter. You must do your all to sustain it and ensure its growth.
My name is Alaaddin Sidahmed. I carry the label of GAD, and have previously struggled against depression. To me, mental health used to be a non-existent topic. It did not register the slightest in my mind. However, this mentality changed in my senior year of high school. I noticed how stress would come attached to all of my thoughts. I found myself drained of energy, to the point where the thing that kept me going was the notion for sleep. For in sleep, my anxiety and darkness would flee, and I would feel free. I told the few individuals I could trust, but kept it mostly to myself.
I continued to exist in this manner, through my first year of university. I had found a close friend whom I relied upon greatly for support. I chose to limit my support group, for I feared that if others knew, they would call me “crazy”, “weak”, and “broken”. In my second year however, my close friend whom I relied upon said they could no longer stand being my friend. When I pressed them for answers, they said it was due to what I suffer. This plunged me further into my depression. I felt like something I could not ever control would ruin my life. It was then that I knew, that expanding my support group was a must. So I decided to confide in more of my friends, and their response shocked me. Instead of jeering, I heard compassion. Instead of judgement, I felt acceptance. I decided I would begin learning about mental health and mental illness, to better understand what I am going through. Counseling was still something I refused to do, which was a terrible decision. It brought me to the point where my flame of hope had seemingly vanished. I considered giving up, but something told me to look closer. It was then that I saw embers still glowing, refusing to die.
My third year came around, which is when I received the God-send that was the conference Unleash The Noise. It was there that I knew I was not alone. That I was not broken, not a mistake that exists. I was among many wondrous individuals, including the founders of WYL: People who transformed their suffering into the drive to change the world. Who let the time they spent engulfed in darkness be a lesson in finding the smallest flecks of light. I decided that I will aspire to be among their ranks. I remember driving back from that event, and thinking “I will do all I can to change the mental health field for the better”. In the pursuit of that, I have begun moving in several paths. I no longer fear telling my stories to those who I am meet, and I am trying to figure out how to convey it to more and more people. I and others are trying to start a mental health club on our campus that emphasizes the 5 in 5 approach. I am consuming reams of knowledge of subjects related to mental health, in the hopes of achieving greater understanding of the matter.
My journey would have ended long ago, had I chosen to believe that my flame of hope was extinguished. So to those who are currently struggling, who think that their flame is gone, I say: look closer. Your embers are still aglow, and they will burn mightily before ceasing to exist. Feed your flame with that which makes you happy, which makes the future seem bright. Your flame will return to its natural state. But you cannot stop then. Pursue those things that make your soul quiver with euphoria. Let your flame grow into an inferno, one that engulfs others with the hope your heart feels.
- Alaaddin, @ArabiannNight