“An overwhelming sense of sadness about life and about all that you are and all you do.” “All you want is to go home and just curl up and fall asleep forever.” “Being constantly aware of every single sound, sight, smell, taste, and texture.” “You have no inhibitions, and consequences don’t apply to what you do.” “You’re frightened and confused and don’t want to tell people what is going on.” These expressions are from individuals who describe what it is to be living with a mental illness, according to Mental Health America. While two persons may have the same mental health diagnosis and symptoms, no two descriptions are the same. The way in which people experience mental illness is different, and until you are diagnosed with one, you may not recognize what life with mental illness looks like. Beginning conversations about what it feels like is an important first step to prevent Stage 4, when mental illness is persistent, severe, and has jeopardized a person’s life. This May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Life with a Mental Illness.” We encourage people to talk about mental illness, which is common, the symptoms, and how it feels. Mental illness is treatable and help is available. “There is still a stigma in the Latino community about mental illness,” said Tamika Farr, El Centro de Amistad executive director. “By providing critical mental health services to underrepresented children and families where they are at will help reduce the barriers to meeting their needs.” “Life with a Mental Illness” is meant to help remove the shame and stigma of speaking out, so that more people can be comfortable coming out of the shadows and seeking the help they need. Whether you are in Stage 1 and just learning about those early symptoms, or are dealing with what it means to be in Stage 4, sharing how it feels can be part of your recovery. El Centro de Amistad works with children, individuals, and families to treat the diagnosis and become empowered in their lives with mental illness.