Letter to the Editor

Janet Grado

Dear Reader,

Mental health has been a new and important part of my life. Mainly because I had a mental breakdown last winter that forever changed my life.  And as a result of this mental breakdown, I felt alone and misunderstood. I write this letter to you as a testimony of what I have learned from January 2016 to now. This topic is close to my heart because it’s a part of me, and I know that there are other people that deal with mental health too. I want them to know that they’re not alone and mental health is something we can talk openly about.

For the last week of winter break, I would sleep for three to four hours, then wake up and stay awake for five to six hours. Then after being restless for that amount of time, I would finally sleep for an hour, only to wake up again.

It progressively got worse over the week, to the point that the Saturday before school started, I slept a total of two hours, woke up and stayed awake for five hours and had a severe panic attack that caused my parents to take me to the emergency room.

I remember that Sunday morning all too well. I already had a couple nights of bad sleep where I would lie awake in my bed and have things race through my mind with no sense or logic. So that Saturday night, when I woke up after two hours of sleeping, I sat there thinking that this was going to be the rest of my life.

Sunday morning, my mom woke up at 7:30 to find me crying on the couch. She gave me some tea, thinking that would settle me down, but things only escalated from there.

I remember when she handed me the tea, all I could do was clasp her hand and got down on my knees crying begging her over and over again to help me. I cried telling her that I felt crazy and I didn’t want to live the rest of my life like this.

She collected me in her arms and I locked eyes with my little sister that had watched me breakdown the last couple of days. I took some melatonin and asked my sister to lie down by me.

I became frustrated after not being able to fall asleep and started to convulse uncontrollably, which scared my sister. She called my mom for help. My mom told my sister to leave her and I alone. After my little sister left, my mom held me while she tried to calm me down.

That worked for a few minutes until I started to convulse again. I heard my mom’s voice crack and she turned me around to embrace me. She dug my face into her chest and soon we were both trembling for different reasons.

After a while, my mom called my dad and he came in with tears in his eyes too. I ran into his arms and begged him to help me. He had to hold me up since I couldn’t carry my own body weight.

They took me to the emergency room and I was soon put on anxiety medication and started counseling. Family and friends helped me along the way too, but I still get panic attacks from time to time.

After almost a year after my mental breakdown, I’ve learned two things. I am not “crazy,” and it is okay to talk about mental health. Mental health is a real thing, even if people can’t see it like they can a broken arm.

I wanted to write this letter to destigmatize mental health by talking about it. I know that this is a huge way of announcing my anxiety, but so be it. I wanted to turn something that ate away at me, this “ugly” scar, and turn it into something beautiful. And that “something beautiful,” is helping other people come to terms that they’re okay and that they aren’t insane, that they are people with valid feelings, that what they’re feeling can’t just be stopped like that and that things such as mental health, take time to understand.

Reader, I leave you with this: understand that mental health is a real thing that can’t just vanish. And even if you don’t understand what the person is feeling, listen to them and be there for them. Let them know that they matter and you love them.


Take Care,


Janet Grado