My name is Alicia Raimundo, and I have been through an interesting life for a 23 year old. Growing up, I had a great family who provided anything I could ever need or want for. I had a great education from both the public and private school systems. However, I was a different kid. For as long as I can remember I did not experience the joys and happiness the other kids did. I spent much of my time worrying about not being about to cheer myself up and hating myself for not being perfect. I was the kid that no one really noticed, who starved for some sort of attention from my peers or teachers. In my darkest days, I remember wishing that someone would bully me, so that someone would notice me. When I tried to make friends, I was so anxious about not being good enough that I would brag or put down the other kid to try and show them that I could be good enough. This, of course, did not work. I shut down, and just assumed that I could not make friends.
At that point, the loneliness, anxiety and depression took over and I decided that I should not be alive anymore. I spent time speaking to professionals and trying to get up the courage to take my own life when I encountered a woman in a therapy office. She looked at me and said “from one crazy person to another, you will need this” and handed me a necklace that said hope. Hope was something that I never had, well, other than hoping for more cookies as a young kid. At that moment, I knew I could not give up on myself until I had tried breaking my life into smaller goals to hope for. As I was working out this plan in my mind the woman’s daughter came up to me and said “I am sorry, my mom is in a manic phase and is giving away her stuff… can I have the necklace back”. This woman and her daughter saved my life, and they will never know it. I hoped to watch my sister graduate from high school ( which happened two years ago) and now I hope to stay here to show others that living doesn’t have to be so hard. I am empowered by many great youth centric organizations like MindYourMInd and have many tactics in place to combat my bad days.
Recovery is possible because we are all mental health superheroes. We fight our illnesses like the bad guys in comic books and we are strong enough to make it to today, to reading this blog post. Recovery is easier, when we can fight our bad guys without a mask. When we feel comfortable enough in our communities that fighting a mental illness is okay, and not something to be ashamed of. Our society is not there yet, but with great events like MIAW, amazing charities, and companies like Bell we will get there one day soon. We need to make it so people don’t have to choose between getting better or having respect of society. We need to allow them to be Iron Men and Woman. To fight their illness, their bad guys, and have respect for being strong enough to achieve everything in spite of it.