"Mental Health Matters"
My name is Mae. I am 16 years old, and I am USA National Miss Indiana Teen 2019. As a pageant titleholder I have the opportunity to promote causes I am passionate about, which for me is mental health. When I had heard about Project Hud;son I knew I wanted to be involved, and Jenna recommended to me to be a part of their social media features also known as the “Mental Health Matters with Project Hud;son” series.
So here I am… I have struggled to find the right words. Before this I have never really shared my journey with mental health, but I am going to try my best to explain it. I was adopted from China when I was 11 months old into an extremely loving family. I was late in development, but other than that there was nothing my family thought I couldn’t do. I was raised in an environment surrounded with strong people. I always was a confident kid but that didn’t stop me from feeling depressed and dealing with anger and anxiety.
After talking to my parents, I found out when things started to change. I was about 5 years old, and I was still having tantrums that would last 1+ hours. I was so angry, and they didn’t know why. The turning point was when we were driving home from my grandparents. I had left something at their house, and I was so upset that my mom would not turn around to get it that I wiggled my way out of the car seat and actually ended up grabbing the steering wheel. It was then my parents realized they needed help, so they put me into counseling. When I was 6, I had been put on medication. We went to many different doctors, and they tried to diagnose me. The diagnoses varied from separation anxiety, PTSD to just being a kid who wanted control. I always knew in my heart that it was not separation anxiety due to my adoption, but beyond that I was unsure.
Looking back my mom says. “Your tantrums often began when you didn’t get your way, or you were anxious about something” which makes sense when I look at myself now. I very much like to be in control. I know what I want and when I want it. Anyways, I went through this while I was in Elementary. I was exceling in school, and socially I didn’t have any big problems. I got teased here and there about being Asian. It sometimes bordered on bullying, but it never really affected me. My problems always stemmed from within myself.
As I got into middle school, I struggled with feeling like I had to have my life together. I started questioning life and if all the work was really worth it. It was this point in my life that I had started to feel depressed. I didn’t want to continue living. I never ended up self-harming; I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But I wished for a freak accident or something just to free me from this world. It was my all time low.
One month in 6th grade I did three half days a week at school and went to an outpatient program to try and help. It helped some, but it didn’t last.
One afternoon in 7th grade I began arguing with my parents. I don’t even remember what it was about but it was the second breaking point. My parents had to drive me to the hospital. On the drive to the hospital I tried to get out of the moving car. This resulted in my mom driving while my dad had to hold me down in the back.
Once I had gotten to the hospital I remember refusing to speak. I was the angriest I think I have ever been. It was late that night when I finally got checked in.
The first day I was there was eye opening. I met many girls and heard their stories. They had absent families, had drug problems, had been abused, and so much more. They had a reason to be struggling.
I didn’t necessarily have a reason. Now with that being said I don’t believe that made my feelings any less valid. There is something to be said about the chemical imbalance related to mental health as well. Whatever the reason, mental health is apparent in everyone’s lives. Just in different ways.
A few days in, there was a family visiting time and of course my parents came. I refused to speak to them. I was still holding resentment.
I ended up staying in the hospital for a week. When I was released I had made the decision to get better. This isn’t how it works for everyone however for me I had finally chosen to stop letting mental illness define me, and it made all the difference. Something just clicked inside of me. I truly believe my hospital time gave me a passion for mental health that I now have.
After I got out, I found out that my Granny had called and asked my parents how I was every day. I found out how worried all my family was about me. Now looking back I can honestly say I would not change my hospitalization.
Ultimately, I had to learn coping skills, rely on my family, and be okay that I didn’t have everything figured out. I had to be okay with my problems. It is one thing to love yourself but its another to accept your demons.
I’m not perfect now. I don’t want anyone to think that. Now more than ever I am under immense amount of stress. Between Pageant titleholder duties and planning for my future I have many things I am juggling, but I am getting through it and thriving because I have grown. I have a good support system. My mental health struggles do not prevent me from achieving great things. I know that I was made for more.
So what I want you to hear from this is that mental health looks different for everyone. That’s why mental Health is so hard to figure out. I don’t know that anyone will ever be able to say they have found the solution to mental illness, but I will promise you that things will get better. I know its cliché but its true.
I will tell you this now: it won’t get better unless you want it to. It’s a decision and its one the hardest ones to make. And sometimes you can make the decision and things won’t change. You have to find what works for you.
So please don’t give up. I don’t have to know you to know that the world is better with you in it. Lean on the people who care about you. I believe in you.