Hey, my name is Emily but most people call me Em! I couldn’t be more honored to be the co-founder of YouAreMore (youaremore.org). As I write this blog, I hope to draw upon our mission statement & inspire individuals to see beyond their obstacles. For most of my life, I suffered from severe anxiety & depression. It makes me so sad looking back on all I hid or missed out on because of the stigma centered around mental health. However, as I look back to where I was a few years ago, the verse John 13:7 comes to mind: Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now but someday you will.” I find comfort & truth in that. I would have never thought that He would bring me to a position where I can potentially help others through my own struggles.. but here I am! 🙂
For years the thought of sharing the darkness inside of me to others was a paralyzing fear but now the thought of not sharing & someone pulling a trigger or taking a handful of pills because they feel alone terrifies me more. Mental illness is a silent battle & can be a lonely one too, because no one sees how hard you’re constantly having to fight against your inner turmoil & pain. What I’ve gone through & what millions of others go through everyday . . . it breaks my heart. But in the face of all of that suffering, I can honestly say, today, the bravest thing I’ve done thus far [in my 22 years on this earth] is continuing to live when all I wanted to do was die.
I was born into an incredibly loving family. Growing up I was so richly blessed & it’s not until now, since I’ve crossed my finish line, that I can see that. In saying that, my family didn’t always have it easy. At a young age I was exposed to many deaths, life threatening illnesses & unexplained losses. I believe that this is where my obsession with death & fear of loss began. When anyone asked, “how’s Em?” the answer was always, “great!” & it wasn’t until years later it came out that it wasn’t necessarily the case. As I got older & the hardships got more difficult with loved ones, the little Em that used to be academically gifted & outgoing slowly lost interest in anything that once made her happy. I began to hurt myself on the outside by being destructive to myself & others. All I wanted to do was kill the feeling on the inside that I couldn’t explain to anyone. I never did feel “normal” growing up but it was in my teenage years I took a severe turn for the worst. This “picture perfect” young girl who had everything going for her lost her faith in everyone, herself & most importantly God. I started lying to many loved ones in fear they wouldn’t understand the depression inside of me. I created a “new life” that simply was a distorted view on reality – I was struggling, I needed help, light, hope . . . I needed God.
Looking back on those years now, the people I hurt, the girl I had become because of fear of stigma or someone not loving me because I was unwanted, ugly, dumb, depressed, broken, “crazy” — it makes me feel sick. Why is it in today’s society that if someone has a physical illness & takes medication it’s okay but as soon as you have to take medication for the most important organ in your body – your brain, there’s a stigma around it? Why do people feel they can mock a pain they haven’t endured? How can someone tell another that their life isn’t worth the fight & to go kill themselves?
I would like to share the turning point in my story where I decided I couldn’t live a life feeling like this anymore because I was never created to live depressed, ashamed, guilty, defeated or unworthy. I was created just the way God intended — loved, wanted, worthy . . . MORE! I had attempted to take my life a few times before & ended up in the hospital. This day though, I remember so clearly, I had woken up & decided that the stigma & my pain was stronger than anything I could handle. I overdosed & not long after was found unresponsive. I thought this was a unselfish act & was the best thing for everyone; I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I regained consciousness, I was surrounded by my loved ones. I don’t know how to explain it other than God showing me that He just wasn’t finished with me yet. It was in that moment I realized I was wanted, I am still wanted, I am loved, I am worthy — despite my obstacles. He & many others love me for who I am… with all my imperfections. Thank you for allowing me to share my story & being open about my journey. I don’t want to stop until there is no one left on this earth who is suffering or feeling that they’re alone. You are never alone. YOU ARE MORE!
If you’d like to be apart of YAM (YouAreMore) please contact us through our website (youaremore.org) or Instagram @YAM_YouAreMore. We believe that together through community, events, apparel & more we can change the stigma centered around mental health!