My name is Anthony Joseph Pecorella. I was born and raised in Malverne, New York by two loving parents, Anthony and Marisa. I have one sibling, a twin sister named Alessia, who is my best friend. I am currently a sophomore finance major in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. I am also a player on the Maryland football team, where I have been the co-starting punter for the last two years.
With all that being said, my life is not perfect, I have struggled with my mental health and I am sharing my story today to inspire you to tell someone close to you about your daily struggle.
My mental health was at its all-time low on December 24, 2019. For all those thinking it, yes that is Christmas Eve. I look forward to this holiday every year because it is a time my entire family gathers, and just being together with one another is the best feeling in the world. It is sad to say though that as I sat at that dinner table, there was a voice in my head telling me that I would not live to see the next morning.
This voice started as a little whisper, so I thought nothing of it. The voice would return after my family left, but this time it sounded like someone screaming at me. I sat in my bed that night listening to the voice for hours, and when I woke the next morning, I was exhausted and sweating.
Over the next couple of days, the voice would come and go, and I decided at that moment I needed to get help. That help would come from two sources. First, the unconditional love from my parents and sister. Second, my high school quarterback trainer, James Brady, who opened my eyes to mediation.
I am a firm believer that meditation can help put you back in control of your own mind. To this day, when I am having a down day, I simply lay on my back and do a series of breathing exercises that helps me put myself back in control of my mind.
A year removed from my Christmas Eve experience, I shared my story with the public and received a lot of love and respect. Charley Baker, whom at that point I had never met before, reached out to me to open up about her own struggle with mental health. She said that if I need someone to talk to, she would always be there.
It was a few weeks later that I came up with the idea of starting an Instagram account to help squash the mental health stigma. I asked Charley if she would run it with me and with no hesitation she said YES! The account has three main goals: to end the mental health stigma, provide people a platform to share their mental health struggles, and motivate people to get out and seize the day.
Each of these small goals plays a role in our ultimate goal of letting people know: IT IS OK TO NOT BE OK.
Thank you for your time today and please drop a follow on @healthyminds____ (with four underscores).