asha international mental health

We Give Hope

A story of friendship & resilience

A story of friendship & resilience

My name’s Hanna, mine’s Jaxon, and we’re seniors at Glencoe High School. Jaxon: those of you who know us know that we’ve been friends for a long time but we got truly close in sophomore year when we were both going through a lot. In the ensuing time, our experiences with mental health have been closely linked and we’re here today to discuss the importance of friendship and support networks in promoting mental health.  Hanna: from initially supporting one another to now working together with an international nonprofit in promoting mental health awareness, Jaxon’s and my stories are closely linked. Jaxon: back in sophomore year, i was dealing with the end an unhealthy relationship and my relationship with my father was hostile and contentious. I was stressed and isolating myself from my friends.  Hanna: at the same time, I was dealing with aftershocks of a death in my family and my existing mental health conditions were especially bad. I was having very severe panic attacks and struggling to stay afloat in areas that used to be easy for me, like school & my other volunteer work.   Jaxon and I had 5 classes together, so we were spending a lot of time with one another. Over a couple of months, we ended up opening up to each other about what we were coping with and I think it surprised us both how much it helped to have someone to talk to.  Jaxon: for the first time in a long time I opened up to someone new about what I was struggling with, and it helped me gain clarity and a...
Creating art helped me cope with depression and self-harm.

Creating art helped me cope with depression and self-harm.

Art has always been a part of my life, from doodling as an infant to taking art classes throughout school I’ve always been creating something. But when my depression was at its peak, I found that I had no motivation to draw, lacked inspiration, energy, and it felt like I had lost such a fundamental piece of myself. Reflecting back, in some ways I think I had romanticized the idea of self-harm and saw it as another form of body art, as a “healthy” expression of my feelings.  Self-harm as a coping mechanism is addictive, and while I slowly began to realize how dangerous my behaviour was, like any addiction it was extremely difficult to stop. When this had been my go-to for so long, it seemed hard to imagine anything else working to help me deal with the dark thoughts that filled my mind daily.  Music was an outlet for me at the time. I had never really been musically inclined, but bands like Pierce the Veil and Bring Me the Horizon created songs with lyrics that explained exactly how I felt but didn’t know how to vocalize. Quickly, I became more and more captivated by the world of alternative music and these musicians became my role models. They candidly spoke about their own experiences as teenagers struggling with mental illnesses and within them I found a community.  Something most of these musicians had in common were their heavily tattooed appearances and I became almost obsessed with their body art. In a way, it reminded me of a more permanent version of “mehndi”, a type of Indian semi-permanent...
LIVING WELL by Emily Wu Truong

LIVING WELL by Emily Wu Truong

Q & A with Emily Wu Truong How do you define wellness? Wellness is the ability to balance our strengths and weaknesses and the good & bad in life. Practicing this is easier said than done, but with tools and daily practice, it is not impossible. Most acknowledge that we need to exercise to be physically fit, but we need mental fitness too. We need to find the tools to help us gain contentment and peace of mind when circumstances are out of our control.  What was life like before you found wellness?  Despite my down-to-earth & personality, I grew up with low self-esteem. No one noticed how bad my negative self-talk was – it was a subconscious voice that reiterated my self-disappointment. There were signs that I was depressed, but no one said anything. Believing that I had to be perfect to survive this life, I held unrealistic expectations of myself, & I was never proud of me.  Finding wellness helped me discover my purpose in life. It was the best feeling in the world. I took steps to find help for myself and became determined to normalize the conversations on mental health and suicide by sharing my story. However, I couldn’t do it alone. After meeting advocates from all over the world, life is good. Initially, my advocacy work was lonely. Now, it feels good to know I’m not alone.     What do you do to live well? For self-care, I attend support groups from Recovery International & my local NAMI chapter to consistently surround myself among other individuals. I’ve also become a fashion statement for the...
LIVING WELL by Chacku Mathai

LIVING WELL by Chacku Mathai

I am a River, not a statue   I struggled to define wellness for years, mostly because I found myself trapped in a whirlpool of confusion as I waded through the many ways people tried to define my struggles. For example, during some of my most difficult times, when I trusted someone enough to reveal that I saw shadows jumping around my bedroom, heard other people’s thoughts and knew that people were trying to kill me, there was an immediate desire to help me by telling me my brain was sick and that I needed to take medications to get well. It was like they didn’t even hear what I was telling them. I didn’t like seeing, hearing or knowing any of it. I felt unsafe and frightened, however, even more confusing were the contradictions.   When I took a long hot shower, I felt safe, even motivated. When I sat in the warmth of the sun, I remembered things I liked to do, like play soccer. When I played soccer, the action, and life itself, seemed to slow down to a pace I could handle. When I visited and cared for the dogs at the shelter, I smiled and wanted to take them home. Then I would see one of my teachers, another student or a neighbor and I would be afraid again. At night, the shadows would be more aggressive, and as I laid awake watching them, I would discover even more evidence of the harm people intended for me.   Wellness, for me, became something I could search for and practice every day. I realized that...
LIVING WELL by Anusha Ramji

LIVING WELL by Anusha Ramji

  I see wellness as a state of positive mental health and physical health. It is about working towards being the best version of myself and finding ways to stay happy, come what may.   I use creative pursuits and innovation to direct adversity into a positive channel. I also constantly work on keeping in touch with my being, allocating time for self-care, understanding my emotions, and putting my needs first, always. I am my most important person.   Anusha is a 19-year-old, dreamer, fashion designer, aspiring psychologist, poet, writer, blogger and mental health activist who was born and raised in California and currently lives in Bangalore, India.    Anusha’s Message of...
Translate >