My name is Annie Garcia and I was born in Lansing, Michigan in the year of 2002. I’m a second-generation American, with the majority of my family having immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico. I was raised in a household where family meant everything, and I continue to carry that value with me to this day. I’ve lived all over Lansing—the “good side”, “the bad side”, and everything in between. I’ve had a lot of turning points in life, but my parents’ divorce was probably the biggest.
I’ve never really enjoyed school, but I’ve always been committed to academic excellence. The majority of my time is dedicated to homework and studying, with little free time outside of that. I don’t know that I’d say I’m particularly good at it, but I’ve always loved literature. Science, math, and history classes always required a lot more effort on my part, but writing and reading came easy to me. When I’m not in school, I volunteer as much as possible. It makes me happy to know I’m helping people and it’s something that I really enjoy doing.
I’ve always been an advocate for mental health, but each year my support seems even more necessary. I don’t think many people realize how prevalent mental illnesses are, nor the large impact they have on youth in particular. The survey asked if I knew at least one person who is close to me that is suffering from mental illness, but who doesn’t? Many people probably don’t know that their friends or family are dealing with a mental illness, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I think that quite often mental illnesses are seen as unimportant, but I disagree. Mental illness is a silent pest that plagues many people, but because we can’t see it like we see other illnesses or injuries, we are less aware of just how common it is. I myself have struggled with numerous mental illnesses since elementary school, and I know firsthand how harmful the absence of proper help and support can be for those suffering. I don’t want anyone else to have to feel that way. I want them to know that they’re not alone.