My name is Jazmin Alba.
I’m the woman behind @advocating.mentalhealth on Instagram.
Every day, I help 273,000 followers navigate struggles with mental illness.
I’ve been a mental health advocate since I was 14 years old.
It’s a conversation that’s deeply personal to me, because like so many, I too have had my struggles with mental illness.
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Manic Depressive Disorder & severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder a few years ago. At first, this experience was debilitating and confusing. But after I got the treatment I needed, it got better.
It is better.
I’ve learned to cope. I’ve learned to heal. I’ve learned to accept.
I made a conscious, constant effort to shift my mindset. Because your mindset is everything. Mindset will take you where you need to be. Mindset reminds you that though we all encounter adversity, heartbreak and pain in this life, there is something better on the other side. There can be healing, strength and growth. There is always hope.
I have a tattoo that reads “No rain, no flowers,” because well, it’s pretty self-explanatory, without rain, the flowers won’t grow.
Without struggle, we don’t grow. We don’t learn. We don’t change.
If I learned something, anything, from the experience of mental illness, it’s that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.
I choose not to suffer anymore. I choose treatment. I choose grace for myself. I choose happiness.
I choose who I am today.
I am not afraid of my mental illness and I don’t want anyone else to be either.
That’s why I share my story. That’s why I keep the conversation going. That’s why you should too.
Struggles with mental health are nothing to be ashamed of.
When I was younger, I gained a few bullies, some weight, more mania and anxiety. I had a difficult time. But I also gained many other things.
I gained courage, self-love and an opportunity to help others.
I’ve gained mental freedom. Because I know that what I went through can do some good in this world.
You don’t have to hide your story, or waste your pain.
Sharing it, showing others that they’re not alone, is so powerful.
Pain is not here to scare you. Pain is here to PREPARE YOU and DEVELOP YOU. You can either come out feeling defeated or you can come wanting a new desire to keep pushing.
I’m so grateful that I was given such a huge platform that I can amplify my voice on.
I always get asked, “How can I be a mental health advocate?”
I tell them to maintain focus on shifting the world–one day at a time, or one post at time.
Mental health advocates have one goal and one purpose.
We take risks, show our vulnerability and tell our stories–in hopes of encouraging someone else.
Being an advocate means standing up for those who do not have a voice and are afraid of standing up. You can do this every day.
With your friends. In your family. With your colleagues. Even with strangers.
Be active. Donate to mental health organizations. Volunteer. Correct stigmatized language when you hear it. Let people know it’s OK to struggle.
You can be honest, open-minded and compassionate. You can tell your story. You can share it, even by submitting a story here on Her Track.
You can be there when others want to share theirs.
Support people when they need it.
I personally try to answer as many direct messages as I can on a daily basis. I know I can’t always answer on time or even at all but if I can just be a listening ear, that’s all that really matters.
So can you.
Our societal perception of mental health, including mental illness, will not change if we do not take action to change it ourselves.
We can ALL change how the world views mental health simply by continuing to be a part of the mental health movement/community.
By speaking out, sharing our stories and showing others that they are never, ever, alone.
If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. Please review the resources below.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline
1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En español 1-888-628-9454
Crisis Text Line
Text “HELLO” to 741741