I had a childhood friend that was like a brother to me up until I was in the third grade and he was in seventh. He hung himself from a tree in his front yard. I remember standing in his yard and looking up at the tree with such curiosity. As if the tree had all the answers. But the tree stood silent, and all I could think about was him hanging from it. That visual played in my head over and over again, like a horror movie. My parents never mentioned the word suicide, I think they were trying to protect me, but I figured it out anyway.
I am seventeen years old, and in addition to my childhood friend, I have had three friends commit suicide. I also have witnessed friends and family members struggle from depression. I am one of them. The biggest problem with depression is that it causes you to do things in order to feel numb from your pain. Such as shutting yourself away in a dark room and doing nothing. It’s an easy mental trap to fall into, but it’s also an escape from reality that I know is a dangerous place to be.
Brought To Reality is a clothing company I started Sophomore year. I came up with the idea not only to make extra money, but to keep myself busy and grounded in reality. When I get stuck in a bad situation mentally, it’s helpful to focus on running my business. BTR also allows me to express my emotions in the artwork that I design for the graphic t-shirts and hoodies that I sell. I usually sell online to friends and family, and my customers help me advertise through word of mouth. I also attend trade shows and use social media to advertise, and I occasionally get out of state orders. I have learned that if I want my business to succeed, I need to constantly spend time creating new merchandise and advertising my brand. It’s very important to me to give back, so I donate at least 10% of profits to mental health efforts, with a mission to raise awareness of mental health.
Through Brought to Reality, I want to bring awareness to teen mental health. My goal is to encourage my peers to be true to themselves, to stay grounded in reality, and to not numb themselves when times get tough. I also want to encourage compassion, because I know that there is always someone going through a harder situation than I am, and we should all help each other get through the difficult times. Most importantly, I’d like to motivate others to pursue their dreams, like how I’m pursuing BTR. Because one small idea can lead in to a larger message. My message is that life is precious; and I want to live every day to the fullest by being present, being myself, and following my dreams.