Ahmad's mental illness gives him unique strengths
There are times when it seems that I have always lived with Mental Illness, and to an extent that is true. I have lived with Social Anxiety since I was two, and over the last 22 years I have accumulated a grand total of six Mental Illnesses, each shaping my life in one way or another.
At the age of seven, due to extreme trauma, I developed a Dissociative Disorder. At 12 Body Dysmorphic Disorder haunted me, allowing Major Depression and General Anxiety to creep into my life. These were all topped by the onset of PTSD at the age of 20.
For a long time, I did not know these names. My family did not agree with my assessment that there was a problem. And I, was too young to acknowledge that some things are too difficult to handle on my own.
Things got entirely out of hand when I found myself at the edge of one too many buildings. It took months, but I did not give up, I moved 4000 miles and finally reached out for help. I started therapy then, and within two years I was getting better, and that was PTSD struck.
There have been far too many moments where I had wanted to call it quits, but it was at my worst, with PTSD, delusions, and far too many things to contend with, that I realized that this is a topic that needs to be discussed.
I found myself waking up to a world where I didn't know a single person that had gone through what I had, not because they weren't out there, but because we haven't made it safe for people to discuss their Mental Illnesses. At the time I was studying Mechanical Engineering, and decided to use my Problem Solving skills that I had learned in school to make a difference and to raise awareness about Mental Health, and combating the stigma surrounding Mental Illness.
I co-founded a non-profit called MCL (mclma.org) my senior year of college, helping the most marginalized within our communities, including individuals living with Mental Illness. Later that same year, I started my website lifeinmydays.com to create a space where individuals can share their experiences in a safe space, allowing them to have a place where they can belong.
I have learned throughout my journey that Mental Illness is not something that makes me weak, in fact it is something that makes me unique, and has given me strengths that have allowed me to not only do this work, but to also continue being a successful Engineer. It is an asset, a super power if you will. Today, I continue creating safe spaces, and sharing my story, so that no one finds themselves alone as they go through this, like I was.