“I had quite the rough patch in middle school. I struggled with mental illnesses for a long time, especially ADHD. And that just kind of culminated into other challenges. I was struggling to keep up with schoolwork and had severe anxiety and depression. It got to the point where my teachers were really worried about me, so they suggested I go to a hospital to get some help. It did help me get an ADHD diagnosis.

Putting words to all of the [symptoms] that are correlated with having ADHD, and actually knowing that those feelings are normal, helped me to know that I’m not alone and other people experience those things; that it’s normal for me to allow myself to feel those feelings.

Once I got a grasp on who I was, what I needed and how I needed to accommodate myself, I started seeing those negative emotions and episodes slowly dissipate. It also improved with medication and having a safer environment where I feel comfortable. [I’ve learned] it’s important to be kind to yourself, to let yourself have a bad day and have allowance for your feelings.

I want to see better allowance for students that are struggling, because you can’t be 100% all the time. Some stigmas I’ve seen are people almost villainize those neurodivergences. It makes the problem worse, because they put labels and stereotypes on things that just haven’t been talked about enough.

I’m passionate about advocating for mental health now because I see so many people give up on themselves because they don’t think they’re worthy of anything. I see that potential in them and I want to show them how much worth they have. I want to help people learn that for themselves.”

Lucas, Kansas