What is a Role Model? Not too long ago, we decided that it wasn't enough to cast fashion models based on comp cards and height. We wanted to showcase the stories of real people, who are brave enough to wear their label. Ashley is one of those Role Models. Here's her story:
I like to call myself an old soul stuck in a young woman's body. At the age of seven, I started to developed what I now know to be Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My first anxiety attack sent me to the hospital and the doctor said I was perfectly normal but called me a hypochondriac. A hypochondriac is someone who worries excessively about their health and unfortunately for my childhood, because of what that doctor said, my mother didn't believe me and I suffered a lot alone.
It wasn't until I decided to do my own research on what I was dealing with that I figured out what could possibly be the issue.I was already a teen when I put two and two together and knew with all of my knowledge collected throughout the years and within my heart, that this was the reason why I was so different. Throughout high school I started to connect what triggered my anxiety and what made me feel better but the unfortunate fact of generalized anxiety was that it would change constantly. It was a battle for so many years, at times a battle I thought I'd never win.
"It was a battle for so many years, at times a battle I thought I'd never win."
In college I was fortunate enough to talk to an amazing therapist who was down to earth and gave me techniques to try and combat my anxiety head on. And college was the first time out of the many years that I dealt with my anxiety, that I was given medication to treat it. It helped sometimes and then other times, it would make me feel horrible, lost and not myself. Ever since then I decided to fight my anxiety holistically.
"Having a mental illness might seem like bad news all the time but I've realized that I have also become empathic and more open minded to the many beautiful possibilities of life."
Having a mental illness might seem like bad news all the time but I've realized that I have also become empathic and more open minded to the many beautiful possibilities of life. It has taught me to treasure life's little beauties and to never take anything or anyone that I love, for granted. Because of my anxiety, I want to empower, educate, and help end the stigma surrounding mental illness. I want the world to take mental illness seriously but also show the world that we are a unified people and we refuse to feel unwanted and judge.
I have found that connecting my passion of fashion and photography with my illness has not only made me confident and more loving of myself, but it has connected me with a beautiful community of people on Instagram. They are able to get a glimpse of my passion for fashion and photography in my everyday snap shots but also learn valuable information and hopefully an understanding of how one deals with everyday life with a mental illness.
I'd like to believe that if my seven year old self was to see who I have become now, I believe she would feel reassured and loved. Loved because she would know she is not alone and that she is loved regardless of what illness she deals with. And every time I write about my illness on my Instagram or my blog, I'd like for someone who might be afraid to talk about it, or who is unaware that they suffer from a mental illness to feel like my seven year old self; to know they are not alone and that they are loved. Because in the end, we all deserve to feel loved and wanted and to be reassured that we are going to be okay. So I promise you all this, never give up on that light that shines within you, we are going to be okay.
"So I promise you all this, never give up on that light that shines within you, we are going to be okay."
- Ashley, @jacklyn.lune