To people facing darkness, you are not alone

Mental health programs throughout New York City are helping youth just like Mirian.

Mirian is a young New Yorker who joined us to discuss how fundraisers like Cycle of Support provide youth with safe and supportive places to thrive (content warning: self-harm and suicide).

After graduating from my residential program this year, I can say I’m more independent, trusting and confident about myself and the world around me, but it’s been a long journey to get here.

When I first joined a residential program, I was just mad — mad that I was there and, ultimately, mad at myself. I had been referred to the center after being hospitalized for suicidal ideations. I wasn’t ready to cooperate with anyone, but I slowly started sharing my situation with the staff and bonding with them.

When I received treatment in the past, I felt that people didn’t seem to care about my situation–they would just tell me to get over my problems and be happy. But mental illness doesn’t work like that. In my residential program, people came to me and listened. They would tell me, “You can do it.” I felt more free.

I came into the program insecure with anxiety about my future. I thought I was going to be nothing. That was how I saw my future self — being homeless, or dead.

But I took the steps to grow myself here — the vocational program helped me the most, giving me the tools to deal with real life and to grow personally, emotionally. The teaching involves basic independence skills — a lot of things I’d never tried, like making a resume, finding a job, doing mock interviews.

Learning these skills, being active, and constantly getting support from my counselors, I started to believe in myself. The training opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed, and It turns out that I did really well in these activities that I never believed I could do. The program taught me how to open up and be myself with others.

My prior experiences in hospitals trapped me — I could only do activities in a small unit on one floor. In a residential program, I saw daylight. I’d go outside and take Viper, our therapy dog, for a walk (which I enjoyed even though I’m a cat person).

These experiences helped me learn how to care for myself on bad days. I’d used to stay in my room, overthink things, and repeat old, negative habits. Now I see myself, and everything I knew, differently. My mental health has gotten better and now, I know going for a walk and getting some fresh air is one of my favorite ways to take care of my mental health; it’s a technique that helps me feel more free.

One of my proudest moments now is finishing high school. Before joining my residential program, I was struggling to focus in school because of everything going on in my life. Then, when I graduated, I couldn’t believe it. I never thought that day would come. I give all the credit to the people that supported me, because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s with their support I got up for school every day and ran that race.

Today, I’m working on building myself up to be more independent. I have a job and I’m applying for school — I feel like I’m doing great. Meanwhile, the residential staff I worked with continues to advocate for me and always has my back.

My community here helped me realize what I had in me. Once I started to see it, I just ran that marathon.

To people facing trauma and darkness, I tell them, you are not alone. If you ever need someone to talk to, there is always going to be someone there. There’s a lot to life and people have a lot of potential — they just don’t realize it. But I’ve learned, there’s so much more. Don’t give up.

I was once afraid to speak up. Now, I’m able to recognize my needs and speak out.

I once thought I would be nothing. And now, I’m here.

About Cycle of Support

1 in 10 youth has a mental or behavioral health problem that impacts their lives at home and at school. On September 15th, let’s ride to change that.

Children’s mental health impacts all of us — every community, every school, and every family is touched by it in some way. You can join hundreds of New Yorkers at Cycle of Support to make a difference to kids in need.

Kids face mental health challenges just as grownups do: anxiety, depression, mood disorders, autism, attention deficit disorders, and more. There are countless kids in need of support.

Cycle of Support is a half day charity event whose proceeds fund a broad range of mental health programs for kids in New York City and Westchester. The ride is designed for teams, families, and individuals alike to experience a great cycling course while helping kids have healthier childhoods.

We hope you’ll join our ride — and the cause.

1 in 10 youth has a mental or behavioral health problem that impacts their lives at home and at school. Let’s ride to change that.