The Burden of Mental Illness

A week ago, a friend took her life. A month ago, she created this GoFundMe Page, premeditating her suicide. Seven years ago, she attempted suicide for the first time, and in the years following she tried two more times.

If able, I highly encourage you to read her powerful narrative because, unfortunately, I guarantee it rings true for someone in your life. For Priya and for so many others, let us stop stigmatizing mental health and let us finally take a stand.

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Hi Pri Pri,

I was just bragging about you the other day and how you fearlessly exercise your voice to raise awareness about gender equality, sexual assault and rape, mental health, and more, regardless of the adversity you are met with. Thank you for being a tireless advocate and for teaching us all valuable lessons along the way.

I will never forget the moment at the end of our Alternative Spring Break trip when we both broke down in tears because words alone could not suffice the gratitude we wanted to express to each other. From that moment on you became someone I could always turn to about my own struggles with my voice, dance, feminism, and mental health.

I still remember when we got lunch after our summers, and in describing your Outward Bound experience, you mentioned that we are capable of anything, we just have to push past the mental barriers that tell us otherwise. I carry that with me everywhere and often repeat it to myself in the challenging moments.

Words cannot even begin to describe the lessons you have taught me about strength, resilience, and vulnerability. As I hope I told you enough, I have always looked up to you as a dancer, a friend, a role model, an activist, and as a fellow person with mental illness.

This week I feel like my team lost a soldier after a really long, really hard, really well-fought battle. I am deeply saddened by the pain you endured, but I am hopeful that you are finally at peace. More than that, I am proud of you for everything that you are, everything that you stood for, and everything that you have given us.

The ability to touch the lives of so many at such a young age is a gift you uniquely possess. Thank you for showering us with your beautiful laugh, your beautiful smile, your beautiful friendship, and your sweet, sweet love.

Rest in power, Priya.

❤ Ree Ree

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