Stopping the Stigma: 'If I didn't have a mental illness, I wouldn't be who I am today'

Makayla Schlegel - KATU image.jpg

The stigma surrounding mental health stopped Makayla Schlegel from getting the help she needed for several years.

Now 17 years old, she is confident and upbeat. But getting to this point hasn't been an easy road.

“I started feeling a little different at 9 or 10 years old,” Makayla Schlegel said.

Makayla says her mind never shut off, she was extremely emotional, and always anxious.

It wasn't until she was 13 that she realized what was going on.

“I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Major anxiety and depression... I couldn't even leave my house,” Makayla said.

By then, she was at her lowest point.

“I didn't even want to live at one point. I thought 'why live if you are feeling that sad and depressed,'” Makayla said.

SEEK HELP | Mental Health Online Resource Guide

She says she tried to look for the bright side, tried to make herself happy, but it was beyond her control.

“I couldn't even find one good day, it was just all bad days,” Makayla said.

She says for years she went without help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“It would almost be scary to tell somebody because they would make you feel like you’re crazy, even though you're not,” Makayla said.

After finally asking for help, the path was long.

“You want to give up at some point, but then you have to remember not to give up, because you will find something that works - it’s just trial and error,” Makayla said.

Now, almost five years later, with the help of medication and peer counseling at the Clackamas Youth Era Drop, Makayla says she's in a much happier place and actually thankful for her mental illness.

“I'm stronger. If I didn't have a mental illness, I probably wouldn't be who I am today,” Makayla said.

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