Opening up helped me heal.
Ella has a complicated superpower. She sees, smells, feels, and hears things more intensely than others. She feels the air moving in a room and can hear people whispering far away. Her sensory processing differences can be handy, but the intensity of it has led to chronic anxiety and depression.
Pandemic distance learning was easy for Ella, in her quiet room. But when school doors reopened, the sensory overwhelm of a crowded high school sent her spinning into a depression. When Ella found the courage to share how she was feeling with her parents, teachers, and friends, she was encircled with the support she needed.
While healing, she saw other teens at school struggling with similar challenges. In response, Ella planned a mental health assembly and fair for her school, with support from ASHA International. Planning the event pushed her to connect with others and talk openly about mental health. Over 1,000 students attended the event, and 97% said they learned a skill they’ll use in the future. At the fair, students even snuggled with baby goats and a pony!
Ella led the fair again this year, with even more attendees and deeper conversations. She also started sharing her story publicly through ASHA’s Let’s Talk about Mental Health program. Ella imagines the day when mental illnesses and wellness are as easy to talk about as breaking an arm or exercising. We can get closer to that day by connecting with others and sharing our experiences in our communities.