My name is Adnan Alkhalili, a 16 year old born and raised in the state of New Jersey that founded Free The Bird (https://freethebird.org), an unincorporated nonprofit association/foundation run by the youth for the youth in an effort to break free of the dysphoria. Mental health awareness is a peculiar issue because it is lacking in many areas, especially with those who seek to silence it. However, with the right hands working together, that can change.
So, why did we found this organization and why are we working with ADAA? I never expected to find myself with an anxiety disorder. I had always heard the worst when it came to mental illness. My father dealt with it for some time, but I never truly questioned it. Then, out of nowhere as I was going into high school, anxiety attacked.
For months, I suffered from mental illness. I lost hope in myself, but others did not lose hope in me. With the feeling of heart palpitations and a lack of breath, sometimes I assumed I was going to die. Other times, I would feel something odd sitting at my chest. As I experienced this, I would visit the emergency room. Nothing; I was completely fine, the doctors reported. Of course, that made me feel somewhat better, but also worse. While perhaps nothing physically afflicted me, it was still just as real.
Often, I would find myself wondering why the hospital system did not really cover my anxiety. They would tell me the truth of things, that I was alright, but when did they ever question what I was going through? Is it the fault of the doctor or a fault of a lack of knowledge surrounding mental health?
At first, I did not want to hear the stories of others because thinking about anxiety because it caused me more anxiety. After some time, I began to scroll through the comment section on YouTube videos related to anxiety and felt a sense of happiness with the knowledge that I wasn’t alone at all. Finally, I could breathe. With therapy, I could heal. And I did, slowly but steadily, enough to create my organization and write this article.