Sometimes I bottle all my emotions up and they just get stuck inside and I’m only ever angry at myself.... but please don’t tell anyone. Everyone thinks I’m handling everything okay so I don’t want them to know.” I wrote this in an email to my friend at 10 years old. For as long as I can remember I had tried to be “perfect” incorrectly assuming that meant looking happy and not showing any negative emotions. I grew up in a family with a culture of not speaking about things and more than once I heard my father say “no there’s no point to therapy”. So I assumed we had to be strong enough to handle our feelings no matter how big or dark they got. More than once from that email I quoted above I contemplated suicide- once even testing a blade on my skin to see how it felt and then it all became very real and just like every other emotion I buried it deep inside and pretended it never happened. It wasn’t until university when some family issues erupted that I went to speak to a counselor for the first time. I didn’t get answers and they didn’t tell me what to do but it was the step I needed to finally confront a lot of my feelings. Since then I have been diagnosed with general anxiety, related panic attacks and depression. From there I finally started regularly going to therapy, became a safeTALK trainer as well as ASIST certified in the hopes of making suicide a more open topic than I had felt it was and have been an advocate for youth and adult mental health since. Yes things get better, but first you have to acknowledge that things don’t get better unless you consciously decide that they are worth working on.