by Topanga Brown

Topanga Brown (2)_0.jpgDepression and anxiety are widespread across the world. For too many, it is a difficult topic to talk about, and I know this first hand. When I was 15 and 16, I struggled with major depression and anxiety. It disrupted my school work, my athletics, and my friendships. It was embarrassing to talk about because of the stigma that is associated with the illness. I felt like no one understood what I was going through and that people were going to tease me for not being able to handle my own thoughts.

My school work began to plummet and I stopped being the social butterfly I once was. I would go to the bathroom at school and have anxiety attacks. I would not return until the next class had begun. Neither my friends, nor my teachers confronted me about withdrawing from my usual activities, which made me feel even more isolated. I felt like they didn't care that I was barely speaking or doing any of the homework I once loved to do. Then it came to my attention, maybe they didn't know what the signs of depression and anxiety were. 

Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States. It is said that roughly 10% of teenagers and 40% of adults suffer from some form of anxiety. There are many forms of anxiety and they all come from a different source. Although anxiety is a mental illness, it has physical effects as well; such as panic attacks, headaches, nausea, dizzy spells, and so many more. Many people suffer with these symptoms and do not get treatment. Approximately 4/5 of teens and 2/3 of adults do not receive help. 

Depression is a very overused term in our generation, but if someone is truly struggling with the illness, it can be very fatal. About 20% of teens will experience depression before they turn 18 and it increases the risk of suicide by 12%. It can also cause some to abuse substances and have trouble in school or at work. The difference between "feeling depressed" and having clinical depression are tremendously different. Some cases even show that aches and pains are caused by clinical depression. 

I believe that depression and anxiety are considered a weakness because people are not educated on what to do if they experience it, and because of that, they dismiss the topic entirely. In Minnesota, teachers are not required to be trained in depression and anxiety signs and treatments. If that were a requirement for all educational staff, depression and anxiety could be, one day, obliterated! If I were to be selected as your Miss Northern Lakes 2019, I would use my year of service to travel to schools and inform teachers and students of what to do if they are struggling, or if they know someone struggling with depression and anxiety. 

Thanks to my sister, who is moderately trained in spotting the signs of depression and anxiety, I was able to get help from a specialist. Although I am still healing mentally from this illness, I believe that because I went through this myself, I am able to connect with people on a personal level. Since getting help, it has been my mission to help others like my sister did for me. Even if I help one person in my entire life fight this battle, it will be well worth it.



I’m struggling every day more and less and less people are being able to understand my illness. I’m losing people close to me, those who I love and those I thought cared about me. I feel so worthless and like a failure and all I do is cry. I’m in my final semester of my whole degree and I refuse to let this be the reason I don’t graduate but I just don’t know how to do this with all the pain I’m exeriencing. I hope that I can get better soon.

Hi Lauri,

As far as studies are concerned, you can just start meditating for 15 to 20 minutes a session, twice a day. This will help you to concentrate on studies. You can also go for medication. But make sure you do not get addicted to medicines and stop those medicines once you overcome it.

I am sure that exercise and meditation will help you overcome your problems.

I know how you feel. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand what you’re going through when they haven’t experienced it themselves. Talk to the people you love and explain to them how you’re feeling and how it’s affecting your daily life. If they love and care about you then they’ll understand. You can do this!!! I believe in you <3

I suffer from severe manic depression/bi-polar and also a severe anxiety disorder. With that being said, cry. Cry anytime you feel the need to, DO NOT hold that in. When i accepted my depression and then finally accepted crying, i cried all the time. Its a release of emotions that your mind needs. Crying makes me feel MUCH better. I understand when you say you feel worthless, i battle with those feelimgs daIly. But the fact is, beIng worthless is a choice. Youre not choosing to be worthless, youre choosing to be successful by completing and graduating college. Not everyone needs to understand your illness, as long as you can be true and honest about your illness. Dony worry about losing people, if they love you, they will be around. So, choose to not be worthless and hammer away at your very last semester. Give all your focus on your degree and schoolwork. Dont let anyone interupt you with this. Cry if you have to, let out those emotions whenever you need to, take breaks between your school work and studying to let out those emotions bothering you. Keep loving those closest to you but focus on your goal of graduating. Once youve succeeded, you will know that youre not worthless...youll know that you are CAPABLE and SUCCESSFUL. Capable to fight through diversity and come out on top successful. Everything will be alright. Focus.