My name is Alicia Raimundo and I am a Mental Health Superhero.
You may be asking yourself, what is a mental health superhero? And why does this girl get to be one?
Growing up, I often felt like a superhero, but not in a fun way. It felt like I was one person in public, but in private, I had to put on a mask to defeat my personal villains. And I had a lot of person Villains: self-hate, Anxiety, Body Issues, Depression, Suicidal Ideation, etc. I was always told that these are things you don’t bring out in public. You put on a smile and your best face and carry on. But much like Spiderman or any other hero with a secret identity, it eventually started effecting my life. I started to become someone my family, friends, teachers, and even myself didn’t recognize. I was losing and began to think there was no place on earth for a superhero who couldn’t save the ones she loved from the Villains. So, I tried to take my own life.
I am thankful every day that I am still here and writing this. But it wasn’t until a few days into my stay that I was delivered the best wakeup call I could ask for. An old lady, who had been creepily looking at me for a few hours, came over to me and said “From one crazy person to another, you will need this”, put a necklace in my hand and wandering off. The Necklace was a simple sliver chain with one charm on it that said “Hope”. It was the first time I thought about hope, change and a better life in a very long time. It was in that moment I realize, that asking people with mental health issues to hide their struggles, was like asking Superheroes to fight off the worst bad guys with no weapons or super powers. In that moment, I realized just how incredibly strong everyone living through mental health issues are. And that strength is not something we should hide. It something we should celebrate. I started telling everyone I wanted to be an Iron Man, a superhero who has a badass costume but doesn’t hide who she really is, and has the assistance of other mental health superheroes to fight alongside her, people like friends, family, doctors, researchers, and anyone who wants to join, to change the conversation on mental health.
People like you, who are reading this and interested in creating a change in the conversation. If you want some advice on changing the world, I will leave you with a quote from an expert on the subject, Kid President.
“The world is changed by you. It’s one person filled with love and they just have to let it out, so they do something awesome. Then that person is filled with love and they do something awesome and it just goes on and on and on and on… Things don’t have to be the way they are. The world is changed by ordinary people, little people living out big love! That’s what gives the world a reason to dance.”
My bio is:
Alicia Raimundo has been described as a “mental health superhero”, battling serious bouts of anxiety, depression and a suicide attempt since the age of 13. More recently, she used her move to the University of Waterloo as a catalyst to seek help, and eventually, to help others living with mental health issues. By the age of 25, she had earned a university degree, given 2 TEDxTalks, was named one of 2012 “faces of mental illness”, became the Canadian ambassador for the Young Health Program leading their Fundhope crowd-funding platform and recently returned from speaking at the UN’s international youth day. She holds positions in more than six mental health organizations including the co-chair of the young Canadians round table on health, Board Member for the Centre for Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts , the Centre for Excellence in Children and Youth Mental Health Experts Panel, just to name a few. She works with government, for and nonprofit businesses, youth, and policy makers to make the world a more mentally healthy place. She has given more than 600 speeches focused on mental health, suicide and creating a better, healthier world. If that’s not enough, she is also an Author and a circus performer!
Watch my TEDxWaterloo Talk!