“Last winter, [I began to feel] things that I didn’t realize I could feel, that were hard to identify. I felt like I was trapped. I didn’t want to go to bed at night because I had to wake up and do it again. I felt like my personality went away for a while. I’ve always been a very logical person, so I tried to fix it, like a puzzle. I tried to figure out what makes me feel this way and how I can avoid that situation, wanting to figure out for myself how to deal with waves of depression or anxiety that might come.

In the summer it got better because I realized there are things to look forward to. My family kind of brought my personality back. I’m trying to use the things that I learned to pull myself out of it, and I want to share what I learned with others and so they don’t have to feel as confused as I did. [To support my mental health], I do things that I used to be interested in when I was younger, like writing. I try to connect with my family, asking my mom or my sister to do something or go on a walk with me. I have a list in my notes app called ‘troubleshooting’ for when I’m not feeling too great.

We may want to rethink how we’re [addressing mental health]. I think we need to start focusing more on the positives of having good mental health. Compare it to physical health: When you’re constantly being told that you’re going to get sick from this or that, it makes you feel negative. But when you’re being told about the healthy choices that you can make, it really helps you feel like you have room to grow. It makes you feel less stuck. I think we need to clarify what mental health is more, and focus on things that are good for your mental health.

I think finding a group of people that you can share openly with and talk about mental health [helps]. That’s why I like [Zero Reasons Why]. It’s an easier way for us to talk about it together, while also sharing what we talk about with other people, on social media or through campaign activities we do at school. It’s really helped a lot.”

Kate, Kansas