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The Secret Road to Sunshine

Finding joy

The Secret Road to Sunshine

Morgan Daniels

They always ask me, "Why did you start the JOYday Movement?" So many reasons run through my head but I just answer with one simple answer, "because I don't want anyone to ever feel as though their mental health is something that they can't talk about and so they know that it will get better." I breathe. I think to myself, I could have given a better answer,... a better response. I could have shared more I could have gotten deeper — then I begin to think.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Flashback: I was fourteen years old, a freshman high school student.

I never thought I'd see the day. I was excited but more nervous than anything. They had just built a new high school in my town and we were redistricted. I had no friends on the first day of high school — well just one. But then my old friends had lost touch with me as the weeks went by. So I decided to become a cheerleader, with the nickname "Smiley", I figured I was perfect for the job. I started to make friends and I was happy but at the same time I was sad. I did not understand it so I compressed it. 

Art always brought me joy. On days I was down, I always look forward on going to art class. I also looked forward to passing this girl from my science class named Kristyna. She really made me happy on a sad day. Her smile was honestly contagious. She was beautiful, something I wished I was being called, but I was referred to as polka-dot by some boys in high school brought me down. Kids can sometimes just be so mean.

Anyway, I remember, after thanksgiving break I was on the way to art class and I didn't see Kristyna on the way to class that day; it was strange. Then on the loudspeaker they said something about her death. I was so confused. We weren't close but I couldn't grasp the fact that she had passed away. Later that day, grief counselors came into my biology class. Have you ever felt gloomy inside because of how people looked around you? That's the only way I could describe the way everyone at school felt that day. We later found out she commited suicide.

How could someone look so happy on the outside but feel so alone on the inside? That was something that began to weigh on me at night; I'd lose sleep.

Now it's April, I remember because April is the month that we have our spring break. I know because that whole week I was with my first psychologist. How'd I get here? Well, I never tried to commit suicide solely because I didn't know how. But I had those thoughts. My parents I felt just did not understand me. My psychologist claimed that I was depressed. I personally didn't know what I was. I was alone —

I had no friends outside of school and I just always felt like a disappointment. Why wasn't I ever good enough?

Now: I was always good enough they just didn't understand my joy.

Something I am realizing is that joy is internal. "Our heart aches but we always have joy." 2 Corinthians 6:10 NLT.

Fast-forward: I was a junior in high school, running track.

Well, remember how I told you guys I was a cheerleader? Cheerleading was not for me so I began to run track in my sophomore year. I still would smile all the time and felt much better about myself. I didn't feel depressed or alone anymore. I remember one day at track practice all the girls had a meeting... in this meeting it was said, "Morgan, stop smiling during practice it makes the coaches feel as though we are all happy and we aren't." I was confused, why can't I ever be myself?

That night I googled, "how can I kill myself?" I felt as though that's what they wanted, me to just "go away." The search engine answered, "don't do this, you'll be alright." I guess that was a sign from God. I guess that is why I am still here.

Fast-Forward: My senior year of high school.

I will never forget going into the girls bathroom and my friend showing me all the scars from when she was cutting herself. I wanted to understand what she meant when she said, "it takes the pain away," but I didn't. I remember thinking I wish we talked more about what to do in these situations in health class. I remember promising myself if I ever get in a place where I could change the school system I would. So that I could help girls like Kristyna and my friend so that they could see there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Something that God had shown me time and time again.

Now: A senior in college.

I guess ask and you shall receive. My JOY has always kept me alive and my JOY is why I am still here. Looking back I created JOYday because sometimes you can not wait for others to create what you want to see instead you have to create it on your own. I want to help people know that they are not alone so that we can heal together and be as mentally stable as possible.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

I want everyone to see their joyday.