Samantha Douma SpeaksUp

Samantha (left) with sister, Allie

As long as I can remember, I have loved talking. I have honestly rarely met a word I didn't like. However, when it came to talking about my struggle with depression and anxiety, I wouldn't say a word, and soon this silent struggle became a norm for me. I thought that, because of all the stigmas and negativity surrounding depression and anxiety, I would be better off hiding my struggles behind a fake smile and silence, rather than speaking about them.

Although I was confronted by a handful of people, such as my mom and the school guidance counselor, I still refused to admit to struggling, until the winter of my sophomore year in high school. I was sitting in my room when, all of the sudden, I had a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, all I could do was sit there and cry until the feeling passed. At that moment, as I sat feeling helpless on my floor, I realized I needed to ignore all the stigmas and tell someone about what I was going through. It was in that moment, my most vulnerable, that I realized I needed to speak up.

It has been almost six years since I spoke up, and I have never regretted it. Once I spoke up, I realized I was never alone in this fight. I realized that all along someone was always in my corner. Speaking up also helped me start that ever so hard conversation about depression and anxiety with my friends and family. By speaking up, I was finally able to truly be open about myself and the struggles I faced.  Speaking up allowed me to let go of all the pain keeping my fight silent had caused.

Katherine Cook