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Our Stories

Olivia’s Journey and Truth

Take it one day at a time. Find something that makes you happy.

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

My mental health has been an issue I have struggled with for 18+ years. I was very young when my parents realized I had so many irrational fears. I commend them now for getting me the help that I needed even as a young girl. At five years old, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Chronic Depression.

I have struggled on many occasions to go about my daily activities while simultaneously suffering from my mental illness. It took many years for me to make progress in my steps toward my mental health.

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

The first time I realized I was not alone, I was a freshman in college. I was 18. It was the first time I had been away from home. My best friend had just left for the military. I was going through a horrible and traumatic roommate experience, and I was at the lowest of my lows. Something had to change for me. I went on a trip to the local mall with a few of the people who lived on my floor. One of them being the person I would eventually continue to live with for my remaining college years. She made a comment about something that made her nervous and she so bluntly said, “But I’m this way because I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.”

Before that, I had never shared my experiences or my struggles with anyone. We discussed some of her struggles and I was in complete disbelief that someone shared her struggle so effortlessly and without being scared of judgement.

She inspired me. I became much more vocal about my struggles. I asked for help when I needed it. I demanded to be taken seriously regardless of my mental illness. I continue to speak with my friends and family members daily about the struggles I have, and the struggles that they have. My day goes on as I continue to make progress in my mental health and wellness.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

For the last 20 years of my life, I have been a proud member of Renee’s School of Dance. As I went through high school, college, and now grad school- the members of my dance class have been nothing but supportive, loving, and uplifting. They have been a part of my life for almost my whole life, and they are among the best support system I could have ever asked for.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

As a 23-year-old-grad-student-Harry-Potter-Loving-Cat-Mom, I am in a place in my life where I am comfortable being who I am. It has taken so long to get here and I am finally proud of who I have become.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

As human beings, we are constantly a work in progress. We have bad days, and good days, and then a lot more bad days. Take it one day at a time. Find something that makes you happy. Buy 20 of it. Use the bricks that people throw at you to build a castle.
And once you’ve built that castle, use your strength to help other people build their own.