As a journalist for the Hood River News, Emily is used to listening to other people’s stories. We asked her to share her own instead. An Oregon native, she grew up in Hillsboro, OR, and studied English and Journalism at the University of Portland. She now enjoys living in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Emily has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of her life, but it wasn’t until freshman year of college when she had her first panic attack that she realized something was off.
The next year she was studying abroad in Austria when her anxiety got a lot worse. She got to a point where she was experiencing intense insomnia and only sleeping every other night. Overwhelmed with depression, she became suicidal. “This is a problem,” she realized. She kept it to herself at first for fear that no one would understand. But back in the U.S., Emily soon began seeing a therapist and taking medication to better her mental health.
This is what it is, and now we get to figure out how to deal with it.
“An unfortunate thing is, talking about this kind of stuff makes people uncomfortable,” says Emily, “so that makes it harder to reach out and talk to people. Everyone has their own journey with mental health and mental illness. Those feelings of isolation…being able to take that part away would be amazing.”
Her advice for those who are struggling? You don’t have to think about the next day or even the next hour; just do one thing that you can do to keep moving forward and give yourself a little grace. And looking back on her own struggle, she would encourage those who have someone in their lives reaching out about mental health that sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen.