She had been the fearless one, entrapped in a perception that she had created for so long. She listened silently as her friends commented on the latest news.

Another famous person had taken their own life.

“What a waste” one said
“I don’t feel sorry for them, they had everything,” Said another
“Why?” was heard in the distance
As she placed her head down in fear, that they would notice that she was the only one who knew the answer. An answer that only her and many other silent people like her knew all too well.
The answer is Mental Illness….The answer is they were alone…the answer is they didn’t dare reach out and ask “Can we talk?”
She backed away from the lunchroom and made her way back to her office. Starring idly at the screen in front of her, she felt sorrow for that soul. Sadness that they had suffered for so long and ultimately discouraged as she battled her own demons with mental illness daily. Discouraged because it seemed to always end this way. Hemingway, Van Gogh, Kate Spade, Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher, Amy Winehouse and so many more have either taken their lives or with the help of alcohol and drugs passed away. Would this be her future as well? That question taunted her more than she cared to admit.
Why didn’t she speak up for them, knowing that their voice was forever muted? When did she become a coward? She prided herself in being upfront, spontaneous, direct and honest (Sometimes overly so) but for something this meaningful she hid in the shadows. She cowered away as a sheep and blended into the shadows beneath her. She couldn’t bring herself to say too much without admitting to herself and all around her; that she too suffered daily. She to dared to never ask “Can we talk?”
That amongst the laughter, jokes and 4 years of working side by side; they knew someone that considered death regularly. Within their mists, she suffered from Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Anxiety, and OCD. Every day was a battle to remain positive and to remain vigilant of the triggers that could push her into an episode of mania or depression. If the triggers weren’t the culprits, then anxiety and worry would most definitely consume her and assure her that the worse was yet to come. ADHD would make sure that she couldn’t focus and was forever forgetful constantly causing frustration in her busy life. And at the very end of it all, OCD would always remind her that she was not thin enough, her work was not good enough, the house was not clean enough and her life was not perfect enough.
For some, just one of these disorders were enough to put you in the looney bin but for her juggling all four was a desperate scream for sanity. Even though she understood their decisions and cried for their struggles, as only someone apart of this secret club could do. She also knew that not every day was a bad day. Some days the black skies are replaced with fluffy white and blues. The family and friends around her were no longer muted grays but showed in hues of red and yellows. She saw brightly and felt wholeheartedly; the struggles and stresses are met with carefree dismissals. Somedays peace radiated through every movement and love manifested itself in every moment. Those were the days that she knew were real.
In the moments of depression, she knew that her mind could orchestrate lies and deceit. It could make her believe that there were no good days and that her life was forever doomed into suffering and darkness. Those days, the thoughts of death seem like trinkets of water in a dessert.
So on those days she held her husband and children the tightest
On those days she read and wrote tirelessly in order to distract her mind
On those days she listened to constant uplifting videos until she was strong enough to uplift herself
So as she sat there idly staring into the depths of her monitor; she was startled by her boss who noticed she had been crying.
“Are you ok?” She asked, concerned.
She had been asked this so many times, she knew the answer by hard. But it didn’t come to her. She had grown weary of the lies and she knew strength would only come in truth.
So she slightly turned her chair around and asked
“Can we talk?”


Natasha Velez born and raised in New York City, is a Financial Controller and Accountant practicing in Central Florida. She suffers with Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder and is a blogger and writer for sites such as The Mighty, The Huffington Post and This Is My Brave. She recently started writing a book on her experiences with mental illness and overcoming the stigmatism that comes with it in the professional industry and her personal life. Her acceptance and passion for fighting the stigma that comes with mental illness is what caused her to become a mental health advocate along with being fiction and non-fiction writer.