“Keep it the hell up.”

- Words of encouragement from my Grandpa.

Since my last blog post, I have received some amazing feedback. I feel like people in our Active Minds Chapter, at Texas A&M University and my friends and family reading online have a voice to trust in the mental health community. I do understand the responsibility and the seriousness that comes with that trust. I have read personal messages from some amazing peers and family and I admire their bravery and courage in telling me. That’s exactly why I started writing this blog; this is as much my outlet as it is to those who read it.

The last few months have been transformative to say the least. I am actively trying to pursue a new level of professional in my life. That is not an easy task as a young adult. It meant that I had to push away people and things in my life that were not progressing my life. This is part of the process in dealing with mental health symptoms, and there is a certain amount of things you have to give up in order to gain. It affects everyone and everything around you. The actions I partake in, however, are under my control. For the most part, I have given up drinking and always abstain from any drug use. I have been to the bars once and won’t ever have more than 2–3 drinks at time. Some people go through their struggles and find that substance helps them, but for me I realize that it will only mask the problem I am trying to solve. Instead of going to the bars and partying, I refocused my attention on my personal health and my future. I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team here at A&M because one, it’s great exercise, and two, it’s so much fun to be a part of a team and compete. The guys have embraced me and it is a great outlet to clear my mind. As for my future, another couple of great things happened. I did a day internship with ESPN and shadowed the broadcasters for the women’s basketball game.

It was quite the experience. They work so hard and know every statistic about every player. It was eye opening and a bit overwhelming but it was so much fun, and I am so happy that I chose to focus in that area for my studies at A&M. Then a couple of weeks ago, I received an offer from the Northern Texas PGA to work as a Media Relations intern for the summer in downtown Dallas. I grew up in Dallas knowing many of the people that run the organization because of the close ties my father has, and I just know that this is the right move at this stage in my life. I am so excited to get to work. I continue to count my blessings.

In light of all of this, there are still days when I struggle. My good friend Nick told me, “Depression doesn’t care if you’re happy.” Those words stuck out to me. Yes, my life is amazing and I have just about everything a 21 year old could ask for, but I do have my bad days. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to feel bad for me. I can get through it. I am strong. Sometimes people get the wrong idea though and think, “Wow, everything is so good for you, I wish I had your life.” Well, let me tell you, not everything is always as perfect as you’d think. There are more mornings than not where I wake up with an accelerated heart beat and think that I am on the edge of having an anxiety attack. The Zoloft I am prescribed has a possible side effect for some of “Suicidal Thoughts”. It does not mean that I want to kill myself, it just means that at random times, I picture death and sometimes yes, it does scare me and I get anxious. But what I lean on is the hope provided by my friends and family to block those bad thoughts out. I have so much ahead of me, and I want to live a long, happy life. That is true for everyone, but don’t ever think that you wish you were in someone else’s shoes because everyone is on their own path, with moments of triumph and struggle.

Last week I took a day trip home to get my new headshots done (see above) and as I was leaving, I stopped to go see my brother, Tate, at the local coffee shop he works at. I had been wearing this bracelet that was pink and said “STRENGTH” for breast cancer awareness, and he saw it and asked if we could trade wristbands. I saw his and immediately said, “Absolutely.”

Thank you bro. It was exactly what I needed to see. It continues to remind me that I’m worth it. All of this work that I have been doing on myself is worth it. My family and friends are worth it. My future is worth it. My life is worth it. My happiness is worth it.

I continue to keep pushing forward. To anyone reading this, don’t be afraid to share your story. Find your outlet and push out the negative influences even if it hurts. Focus on the positive and use that to motivate yourself to get better. Mental health is as serious as anything in life. It’s all we have. Happiness and achieving full enlightenment is the ultimate goal.

Yesterday my Grandpa called and told me how proud he was of all the things I have been accomplishing and at the end he said, “Keep it the hell up.” It really motivated me to write today. I will continue to use my voice to help others and be a leader to those of us who are on our mental health journey.

P.S. If you haven’t started watching This Is Us, you have to. It’s an incredibly well done show about the nature of life, and it doesn’t shy away from tackling mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and body image. Also, my birthday is soon, and this would be a great present.

I have so much love for everyone who supports me. A special thanks to my mom and dad. They are my rock. I have the best parents in the world.