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November 11, 2005 was the day that my life had changed forever. I was getting ready to leave for school and something just felt different. I was getting ready to head out the door and I said goodbye to my mom. Little did I know, that was the last time I would speak to her. I headed to school and my day went on as it normally did. It was lunch time when I heard my name called over the PA speaker. I walked into the office and I saw my aunt standing there, holding back tears. I knew something was wrong. We got out to the car and she told me that my mom had a massive heart attack, a complication from Lupus, amongst the other diseases that she lived with. We rushed to the hospital only to find that we were too late. She was gone. 

She was only 40. I was extremely close to my mom so the pain I was feeling was unbearable. I spiraled into a feeling that I had known before but it was different–it was escalated. Everyone was worried about me and my dad took me to the doctor where I was diagnosed with depression.

I always thought depression was just a feeling, but I found out that isn't the case; I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. It turns out that the feelings I was feeling even before my mom passed away were a result of that. They put me on antidepressants, but antidepressants only made things worse. I was thinking of suicide, and how life would be so much better without me. However suicide wasn't an option, I was raised Catholic and suicide was a one way ticket to hell. So I just decided to cut myself. I cut my arms and my legs, and wore long sleeves to hide the wounds. But one day my baby sister walked in—I knew I couldn't do it anymore. I decided on my own to stop taking the antidepressants.
I made a choice to stop taking the medication and to find a way to make myself better, to make myself happy. And I still can't believe how much better I am.
I think one of the hardest parts about dealing with depression is the fact that everyone thinks you are broken, or that there is something wrong with you. There’s a stigma around it. I made a choice to stop taking the medication and to find a way to make myself better, to make myself happy. And I still can't believe how much better I am.

In my senior year of college, I created a project called "The Fucking Happy Game." The object of the game was simple: to see what makes you happy, and what makes other people happy. There were two sets of cards, one on a table and one scattered on the ground. The ones on the table were for people to write down what makes them happy. The instructions were vague; it was open to interpretation. The cards scattered on ground were actions that I brainstormed with some of my friends - all the actions were "happy actions." I wanted people to perform the action and then Instagram a picture of them being happy or of what makes them happy.

The results of my project were crazy, even though the social media aspect of my project failed. The cards where people wrote down what makes them happy were the most successful. They make me happy to this day. I'm working on a legacy to The Fucking Happy Game project called Happy Yellow Card, which wants to fulfill the same goal. I still struggle with depression, but I'm finding a way to fight it. I know what it's like to be depressed and I don't want others to go through it alone. I am making it my mission to help others conquer their depression.