Questionnaire – Brian Rader and his own personal experience with mental illness

What is your name?

Brian Rader

How old are you?

I am 28 years old.

Where are you from?

I am from New Jersey, born and raised.

What are you studying?

I am currently in my final semester of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation/Clinical Mental Health Counseling Track masters program at the Rutgers School of Health Professions.

Tell us your mental health story:

I first started feeling the wrath of depression in my Junior year of high school.  I experienced a significant interpersonal issue with a long time friend of mine. She became distant while I became confused, angry and sad.  I have had several instances of suicidal ideation. However, it has gotten better over the years, albeit slowly. I have been to individual therapy, an outpatient service for young adults, and am currently seeing a psychiatrist for therapy. I am also on medication. Through it all, I have learned a lot about myself, how to deal with intense emotions, cognitive distortions, and the process of what it means to heal from within.

What has made you so passionate about mental health?

My own personal experience with mental illness and the impact it has had on myself and the people I care about as well.

What can you tell others that are struggling with their mental health?

That recovery and “getting better” is not a linear path. You will have times where you feel like you’re moving forward, going backwards, staying in one place, and even moving to the side at times. It takes a lot of mental and emotional work to discover why you are feeling the way you are and then dealing with the thoughts and feelings that you have had that are detrimental to your health. It will scare you to dive deep into the past events that have hurt you. But you must stay the course and persevere. Your mental illness is only a small fraction of who you are. Don’t let it mask what encompasses the whole of who you are.

What is your favorite mental health quote?

“Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open.”

What do you hope to do in your future?

Work in a university counseling center (such as CAPS – the Rutgers Center for Counseling and Psychiatric Services) with students who are having difficulty dealing with mental illness or interpersonal issues.

How has Into The Light affected you?

Into The Light has allowed me the opportunity to be more active in the mental health community and to meet new people. Two of those people, who lead Into The Light, Artemis and Sophia, have been very accepting and caring of me and my story.  I am very glad to have met them.

I took this photo a few years ago near my house. I am not sure what kind of plant it is, but it was always one of my favorite photos.  I think this photo in particular represents breaking off from depression. The thin “willo wisp” parts of the plant are always separating, looking for a new home to grow. I see myself as one of those pieces, finally being able to float away from my depression along with all of the thoughts and feelings that accompany it. It has weighed me down so much over the years and has kept me in one place in regards to some aspects of my life.  Now, I feel free and ready to secure myself into a new, more healthy foundation for myself. Photography has been a hobby of mine for a long time and now and has helped to get my mind off disturbed thoughts.