“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

When I was 16, I tried to take my own life.

When you are depressed, failing at suicide feels like just that – a failure. In the years following my attempt, I continued to struggle with depression and anxiety. I felt that the world would be better off without me, I was a burden to those I loved and anyone unfortunate enough to cross my path. I felt isolated, afraid to share how I was really feeling for fear that these thoughts would be confirmed.

It isn’t easy to discuss mental illness. It is hard to admit that you are sick – sick with an ailment that cannot be seen and isn’t always accepted in a society that teaches us that it is not ok to be mentally unwell. But discussing mental illness is the easiest way to fight not only the feeling of isolation but also the accompanying social stigma. Being open about my own struggles has helped me become the person I am today.

I will not let mental illness define me. I will define my own happiness. I will share my story in hopes that it gives others comfort and strength.

I am not alone. And neither are you.

— Katie Rydz