I’m no longer alone

Some life experiences are difficult to handle alone. That’s why there’s Active Minds. Students like Vanessa who are dealing with so much can find the resources and support to see them through tough times. Read Vanessa’s story below and be inspired by her resilience and fighting spirit!

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Active Minds is the reason I am still alive and still in school. That alone is worth any amount of donation you can find to support our important work.

But, why Active Minds? Let me tell you…

This was a regular day for me when I was little — that’s me over there, hiding behind the pink Barbie doll house — can you see me? Between the flying chairs, hateful words and blunt blows, that’s me holding my breath and trying to make myself as small as possible. This was normal. This was my life as a child.

From a very early age, I knew abandonment. My mom and dad were only 14-years-old when I was born. I was put up for adoption but then raised by my grandparents. We lived in a trailer and were poverty-stricken, and I witnessed and experienced various forms of abuse. The way I coped was by disassociating and numbing my emotions. By 9th grade, my mental health really took a turn.

I was 15-years-old at the time of my first suicide attempt.

Unfortunately, the decline in my mental health continued through high school. Even more devastating, three days before the start of my freshman year I was sexually assaulted. It was too much. The progress I made to try to reach a healthy place was immediately replaced with a relapse of self-harm and disassociation.

I was 19-years-old at the time of my second suicide attempt.

The first year of college I felt completely alone and totally overwhelmed. Friends strongly urged me to attend an Active Minds meeting but I was hesitant and didn’t go. I had no idea what I was missing.

When I finally attended my first Active Minds meeting as a sophomore, I felt like I was home.

For the first time I felt accepted and understood—I was loved for exactly who I am. It reaffirmed that I was not alone in my struggles. I was surrounded by a room full of people who “just get it.”

I totally regret going through my first year of college without Active Minds. I’m sharing my story with you today so you’ll know how important this organization is to young adults everywhere. On paper, Active Minds is a student club, but really it’s a family and a place to belong, often for the first time.

Don’t let other teens and young adults miss out on the chance to feel accepted and supported just the way they are. Donate to Active Minds so young adults everywhere can know they’re not alone… and the world needs them here.


Vanessa Zimmerman
Active Minds at Ithaca College, NY