I was blessed to discover Active Minds, which allowed me to make lemonade out of lemons (my bipolar diagnosis).
At one point in my life, I wasn’t looking forward to the future. A year later, I am motivated beyond belief to give back to this organization.
My twin brother and I founded an Active Minds chapter at Elkhorn South High School in Nebraska when we were juniors. We wanted to create a way for students to get educated on mental health, spread awareness, and have fun doing it.
I think partly why I started Active Minds was to better understand my own diagnosis and the anxiety that runs through my entire family. Now, though, it’s about helping other people.
At school, students learned we had started a chapter and they’d post on social media how glad they were that we did it. People we had never met before began showing up at meetings. One teacher gave me a two-page handwritten letter, he wanted to thank me for helping so many students.
When we first started, it was a little hard. But once the school administration realized how many people could be affected, they ended up buying into the idea 100 percent. More than 30 students came to our first meeting, and two students at that meeting admitted to thoughts of suicide.
Our chapter ended up being in the school newspaper, had a page in the yearbook, and was in our local newspaper. I also helped a student start another Active Minds chapter at a neighboring high school.
People at school began seeing me as an ally and ‘that person they could go to.’ One girl stopped me, teared up, and told me that she wouldn’t have made it through without my work.
It’s not always easy being an Active Minds leader. People look up to you as a model of someone living with a mental illness. And so you feel kind of guilty if you don’t have it all together. It puts a lot of pressure. I’m still working on that, understanding that it really is ok not to have it all together all the time.
But the pros very much outweigh the cons. My brother and I have noticed students’ mental health views changing. Students are more willing to share that they know someone who has faced depression, or even speak up and say that they personally are fighting an eating disorder or other condition.
I know from my own experience that it’s important that people not feel alone. A strong group of friends is crucial to living with a mental illness. They’re support. They don’t have to completely understand what their friend is going through, but they should just be there for them and just be open for them. And that’s what Active Minds does.
Last month, my brother Skylor and I graduated from high school and will be starting at the University of Nebraska in the fall. We’re already signed up to be part of the Active Minds chapter.
I always say Active Minds saved my life. There were days during my lowest lows when I contemplated suicide. But then I’d say, ‘I have an Active Minds meeting to plan for tomorrow and have to go on.’ It sounds ridiculous but it really did keep me going.
I’ve put my whole heart into spreading awareness about mental health and letting people know it’s ok to ask for help. I really want Active Minds to be there for everyone.
Helping students like me be able to help other students — that’s the dream.
Tylor Martin is a member of the Active Minds 2017-18 Student Advisory Committee. In the fall, she will be a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she will serve on the executive board of the Active Minds chapter at UNL.
Active Minds’ 12,000+ student leaders are having a profound ripple effect on the changing conversation about mental health on their campuses. You can help Active Minds empower students like Tylor to reduce the stigma against mental health, create communities of support, and ultimately save lives. Please make a gift of financial support today.