Talking Mental Health With Maya Nicholson
Q: What does mental health mean to you?
It’s the overall idea of being healthy. Because the mind and body work together, I see the psyche as an organ you have to take care off.
Q: What does school teach you about mental health?
My school does a really good job of educating us about mental health, we have tons of resources to use if we need help. I'm in so grateful to be able to benefit from then as the effects that children face when they don't have an outlet to talk about their feelings can be extremely detrimental.
Q: How does it feel when people disregard mental health?
It's extremely disheartening. You come up to someone in an extremely vulnerable state, and when people brush you off when you're reaching out to them it's the worse.
Q: Why do you think mental health has become such a taboo subject?
You know kids are always saying “I want to kill myself” “I want to slit my wrists” we constantly joke about these things, and totally disregard that it might actually be happening to someone. We've effectively normalized it, which in makes people disregard it.
Q: Do you feel mental health is represnted well in the media?
Social media is incredible, but it's also very destructive. Take "13 Reasons Why", a lot of people felt that they romanticized suicide, or added too much detail. I think we need to be careful when we dabble in the media and mental health. It's an extremely sensitive subject, we want to empower youth through film, not make them more insecure.
Q: What's your mental health's story?
I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD in the 8th grade. My dad had an accident, my parents got divorced, and my grandpa passed away. Its been four years since these events occurred and I still deal with them every day. You know they were one point in grade 9 when I didn't get out of bed for 1 month. It was extremely difficult, I was a victim of self-harm, amongst other things. But the people you sound yourself with is the most important thing. I feel so much better now, and am working on things in a healthy positive way.
Q: How did your mindset shift when you were diagnosed?
Well, I got diagnosed on my sister's birthday which was kinda fucked up. I remember feeling validated and hopeful. The diagnosis was a turning point for me, in a sick way it was comforting for me to know that “yes” I have these things, and I know how to work through them.
Q: Do you feel trapped by the labels of mental health?
Yes for sure. Even if I go to the doctor for a common cold, they treat me differently because I've struggled with mental health. It's sort of disheartening. I don't feel I need the label anymore, I've lived through this and I've come out of it stronger.
Q: What coping mechanism helped you?
Music was an anchor for me. Anxiety used to control my life, there is never a full on solution. But creating environments that are safe is the most important thing.
Q: What do you have to say to other girls struggling with mental health?
Stay strong. You might feel like everyone around you doesn't care, or that you're not normal, but trust your friends, and try to be open. If someone, in particular, is putting your mental health at risk, FUCK them, no one can make you feel inferior, you are your own person. In the end, you need to be your number one cheerleader.