More than 1,700 people have read my mental health journey.

Never have I felt more vulnerable than when I got the notification that I was tagged in a post by @unlincoln on Instagram. I have shared my mental health testimony a few times now, but each time makes me nervous. Knowing that my story can alleviate the stigma surrounding mental health outweighs the nerves.

I fundamentally believe that life is nothing more than a collection of stories. Elevating voices — including my own — is crucial to communication and fighting for change.

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The support I have received has been both overwhelming and touching. I am extremely grateful to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for giving me the opportunity to share my testimony. Please read my story below and check out the original post.

Full Story:

Content Warning: Suicide, Self-Harm, Mental Health

Katy Bagniewski (@storytellerkaty) is part of the 85 percent of college students who have faced feelings of depression and hopelessness.

For Katy, these feelings that began the summer before her sophomore year of college worsened when the school year started. She wasn't going to class and was self-harming, skipping out on social events and not doing what, at one point, made her happy.

However, on social media, she made it seem like she was a thriving college student because she didn't want her friends and family to think that she was struggling.

A suicide attempt served as a wake-up call for her to get the help she needed. Katy reached out to CASNR Cares, a safe place where faculty and students can get the resources they need if they're in traumatic situations. They helped Katy get into a hospitalization program.

During her one month stay in the hospital, she focused on her spiritual journey, mental health and rediscovering herself. Katy learned that it's important to make a conscious effort to act against your own brain: taking your medication, going to therapy and staying away from harmful triggers.

To further help her journey, Katy put together a wellness toolbox. This "toolbox" holds items, activities and people she can turn to when she needs them, including puzzles, her mom and her favorite music. Following through with your therapy plan, fighting against your urges and relying on a "toolbox" are all part of being a survivor and continuing to survive.

By sharing her story, Katy hopes to alleviate the stigma surrounding depression and mental illness.

Nebraska provides numerous resources to help students through and beyond their mental health journey. If you or someone you know could benefit from Counseling and Psychological Services, call 402-472-5000 to make an appointment or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you would like to hear Katy share her testimony, contact her today! She would love any chance to share her story with the world.