I was lucky enough to grow up with a lot of opportunities. I had a wonderful and supportive family, went to great schools, and excelled in college. But potential doesn’t always align with circumstance, and my circumstance was one that many other young adults face: mental illness.
Two weeks into my junior year of college, I found myself on a plane home, where I subsequently checked myself into an eating disorder treatment center. I was in dangerously bad health and stubbornly refusing to take care of myself. So I gave myself a “year up” – I took a year off from school and spent that time fighting some seriously nasty battles. And I am so grateful to all of the people who supported me through that year, whether they listened to me vent, encouraged me to write again, or offered me a chance to work on professional projects that would advance my career. A few short years later, I still struggle sometimes, but I have a vision of the future and a lot of self-knowledge that gets me through.
There are so many young people out there struggling with mental illness, and we don’t give them enough of a chance to talk about it and work through it. I was lucky to have a year to do it; not everyone has the luxury of so much time. But I believe that with a little determination and a lot of support, we can all overcome the challenges that try to hold us back from achieving our potential.