Dear Annie: Looking at me now, you would never think I struggled with mental illness. I am a second-year graduate student studying counseling psychology, and I spend my free time as a competitive equestrian, teaching therapeutic riding, practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu and helping with at-risk youth therapeutic groups.
The truth is, as a young teenager I battled depression, anxiety, PTSD and self-injury. When these issues first started occurring, I had no idea what depression was, what mental health issues were or how to "fix" them. At one point, my self-injury became so serious that I required medical attention. I knew then that I needed help. This is when I was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It was almost a relief to be told I had a "disease." I always thought I was being weak and would get down on myself for not just snapping out of it. With therapy and the support of my family, I was able to get better.
I want people to know that these mental illnesses are real and treatment is available. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one in five people ages 18 to 25 experienced a mental illness in the past year, and more than 66% did not receive treatment. These reports highlight the need for young adults to recognize the symptoms of depression and anxiety in themselves and others and seek treatment.
October is Depression Awareness Month, which is a great time to reach out for help. I encourage everyone to visit HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org and take an online depression screening. The screenings are free, easy and anonymous and provide resources that allow people who may be struggling with depression to take a first step toward healing.
Like many physical illnesses, the earlier depression treatment begins the more effective it is likely to be. Please get help today! — Sincerely, Cassandra Plorusso
Dear Cassandra: Thank you so much for sharing your personal story about your struggle with mental illness. This is an important issue that affects people of all ages and walks of life. We encourage our readers to visit HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org and take a screening. If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Dear Annie: I live in a large condo building. Most of the occupants are lovely, but one woman is extremely bossy and always involved in projects. For some reason, she expects me to do all of her legwork and, of course, takes full credit.
I work from home. She doesn't like taking no for an answer, so she constantly texts, calls and hounds me until I give in. How can I politely tell her that I'm too busy and would prefer that she leave me alone? — Sick of Being Bossed in N.Y.
Dear Sick: You need a tougher spine. She will never give up if she knows you will eventually give in. Prove her wrong. Keep saying no. Don't answer her texts or calls. Write "Sorry, I can't help you" on a piece of paper and read it to her as many times as necessary. It will take a while, but you can do this. Hang in there.
Dear Annie: Like "Stunned in Texas," I also have a problem with these mass invitations to bridal or baby showers. In such cases, I will send a card, but not a gift. However, when I do attend a baby shower, I give a baby gift and also a "Daddy" gift — a book for him to read to his newborn child. — B.H. in Louisiana
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.