May 2nd, 2019

Lo often felt marginalized and unable to share her struggles despite knowing others who suffered from mental health issues. But today, she speaks out with confidence.

NAME — Lo Elizabeth Troutt

AGE — 20

OCCUPATION — Retail with an online company

HOMETOWN — Franklin, TN

FUN FACT — Lo can tell you any fact about the Golden Girls

How would you define yourself?

“I’m passionate and quirky. I’m an artist, coffee addict and dog lover.”

What is your experience with mental illness?

“I have a sensory disorder that I was diagnosed with at a young age. At age 8, I was diagnosed with depression; I’ve had suicidal thoughts that came from that. I’ve always had Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) but wasn’t diagnosed until I was 11. About a year ago, I was in a car accident that led to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

Have you ever gone to counseling? If so, what was your experience like and what would you tell others about counseling?

“Yes, I have. I had one counselor for six years. It was what I needed at the start of my journey with mental health, but I eventually outgrew it. My current psychiatrist is also a therapist. She does a different form of therapy, which has helped. There’s no shame in going to counseling or even admitting that you can’t handle something yourself. I think that’s a lot of the guilt I felt. There will definitely be a counselor who’s a better fit for you, and that’s okay to admit, too.”

Why are you passionate about mental health awareness?

“Mental health is talked about on such a thin layer, but it’s actually a very complex topic – especially in the South, I think. My sister grew up in California where she saw more and fewer things were hidden; people out there are more open about using drugs or identifying as LGBTQ, and so on. She saw that all firsthand. But the South is more sheltered. I was treated differently and at times felt like the black sheep of the family even though I knew both my parents dealt with mental illness. It’s considered taboo to talk about so you end up not sharing it with family. But it’s good to be your most genuine self.”

What do you want to change about mental health and awareness of it?

“Mental health isn’t a black and white issue. There are so many layers to it. What you feel is completely valid. Who you are changes – something like every seven years – and you can get better to an extent. It’s so important to stay educated and self-aware. Everyone has a story.”

Even though you struggle with mental illness, that doesn't define you. What would you want others to know about yourself?

“I tend to give off a very hard exterior, but I genuinely am the softest person. I love hard and I love big. I may not always show it, but I truly do care. I’m really just a big softie.”

What do you want others to know about mental illness?

“Whatever you feel is valid and important. Don’t push it down and second guess yourself. Process it, think through it. No one else can tell you otherwise about your feelings.”

My name is Lo, and I am not defined by my struggle with mental health.

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