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High School Senior Opens Up About Her Struggles With Mental Illness

Jane Gray is a senior at Bishop LeBlond High School. And she has had a tough time dealing with her own depression and anxiety. But now she's telling everyone at her school about it.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Jane Gray is in many ways a typical high school senior.

She's got a ton of friends, three thousand pictures on her Facebook, and a big smile.

But behind that smile has been a major struggle with depression.

"I would get depressed every single day during school," Jane says, recalling her junior year.  "My grades started to drop.  I started to think that life was not worth living at all."

Jane was diagnosed with depression in January; she was given medication and started seeing a therapist.

It wasn't helping, and she planned her own suicide, by way of a drug overdose.

She says she took all her antidepressant pills, counted them, and made sure taking them all at once would be fatal.

When she postponed her suicide attempt and told her therapist, she was taken to a hospital.

That brief stint in the hospital opened her eyes.

"You can't always see the symptoms of depression, but they're still there and so people like to push it away and think it's just a phase and it'll go away," Gray said.

After her stay in the hospital, Jane did some soul searching. 

She knew she wasn't normal - but she thought should could reach out and help some of her classmates.

She approached her school counselor, Chris Danford, about starting a group to discuss mental illness.

Danford knew this would be a great opportunity.

"People want other people to be happy.  So when they someone that's sad they say 'Look at all you have to be happy about!  Buck up!  It's not so bad!'  And when someone has a mental illness, it is a chemical imbalance.  You can't just wish happy thoughts and it's going to go away," Danford said.

And to Jane Gray, that's the stigma her classmates have about mental illness.

And she's telling her story to all of them, every dark detail, telling them that her depression, her anxiety, her mental state is not made up.

"You can see her heart here," says her religion teacher Claire Henning.  "She really wants to help her peers and get the word out for their good."

Gray knows her presentations are helping.

"I really wanted to start talking about it," she said.  "I don't want anyone else to feel this way.  I don't want other people to feel like they have to keep it inside because there's a stigma."

Even younger students listen intently as Jane puts her heart out for all to see.

"For them to hear from somebody really close in age to them about what mental illness is, what the signs and symptoms are, they'll know they can get help and they know they can speak out about it," Henning said.

Danford says her presentations are better than a psychologist giving a lecture on mental health.

"It's a different thing; it's Jane Gray.  We know Jane Gray!  We wouldn't suspect Jane Gray would have a problem with anxiety or depression," she said.  "So they're more apt to really listen and to ask her how she gets through it."

And being this open and honest about her own struggles has been one major factor in Jane Gray getting through it.

Gray has a blog where she further tells her story and goes deeper into her personal thoughts.

She also says when she graduates she wants to study psychology in college.
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