By: Mary-Ellen Davis, Staff Writer
Towson University and the National Alliance on Mental Illness partnered up during the week of Oct. 24 to raise awareness of mental illnesses by hosting different activities throughout the week in a campaign called #IWillListen.
NAMI and Towson’s Healthy Minds Peer Educators partnered Tuesday to present a talk called “In Our Own Voice,” which featured two speakers, Hannah and Mallory, who spoke about their personal battles with mental illness. The pair asked that their surnames be kept confidential due to the sensitive, personal nature of their experiences.
The talk was broken into five segments, and each portion had a short video to accompany the speakers.
The first segment was called “Dark Days,” and it went over the diagnosis, as well as when the speakers felt that they had hit their worst days.
Mallory was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder at age 16.
“I went to my doctors and told them I was extremely irritable all the time, always worrying about things, little things upset me, but it was in a way where I felt out of control,” Mallory said. “He diagnosed me with generalized anxiety, placed me on medication, and I was on that medication until I was 23-years-old.”
Mallory discussed how the medication did not work for her, and how she felt it made things worse for her.
She attempted to overdose on her medication, ending up in a psychiatric ward where she was also diagnosed with episodic depression.
Her darkest moment, she recounted, was when she looked out of her window in the hospital and saw people taking part in everyday activities. That was when she realized she needed help.
Hannah, on the other side of things, felt that her descent was more of a “slow burn.”
She recalled that she was diagnosed with depression for the first time when she was 10 years old.
“At that point I was your average pre-pubescent case,” Hannah said. “So eventually, the doctors decided that it wasn’t depression, it was ADHD… I had thrown that label away, that wasn’t me, I wasn’t depressed.”
Hannah explained that her “darkest days” occurred during her sophomore year of college.
She had told herself she was not depressed for multiple years, which had worked up until that point.
“All I could do was just sit still,” Hannah said. “I would be in this kind of catatonic state, and all I could do was stare at the wall.”
The following sections discussed acceptance, treatment, coping skills, and successes, hopes and dreams.
In the end, each speaker gave examples of their greatest successes. For Mallory, her biggest success has been receiving her bachelor’s degree and volunteering for NAMI.
“My biggest success…is being able to have a full life and to experience everything I’ve been given so far,” Hannah said of her own success.