Project UROK is a not for profit organization focused on raising awareness about the mental health community and the impacts of mental health. Users can go onto their website to access informative videos made by people just like anyone else – celebrities, Project UROK members, and regular people who want to tell their story.
The intention is to make sure people know they are not alone in their experiences.
One of Project UROK's most recent mental health testimonial videos comes from Keisha Zollar (@keishaz), a comedian and actor most notable for her role in Orange is the New Black. The actress sat down with Project UROK to discuss her own struggles with mental health, her thoughts on suicide, and the dangers of engaging in high risk behavior.
As a child, Zollar confessed she felt a lot of anxiety. That in combination with her mental health issues kept her out of public school. As a result, she was home schooled, and turned to the online community for means of escape. This lead to her own engagement with high risk behavior such as abuse and unprotected sex. It was after all of these factors converged on her that Zollar felt she needed to take her own life.
On the way to the hospital, she said her dad – from a place of love – yelled, "Why would you do this? Don't you know we love you?"
It was that moment that changed Keisha Zollar's perspective. Up until that point, she claimed, she had no idea anyone loved her, and that is what lead her to walk that dark path that ended in her suicide attempt. Having her father there, to find her and tell her that her family loved and supported her, was vital to her getting better.
Zollar goes on to explain how getting help and being in a program with other people in a similar situation really helped her open up about her struggles.
"I felt like it was my shame. It felt so internal," she said. "It opened up the boundaries between me and my parents, me and my brother, and it changed the way I think about mental health and mental illness."
Zollar said that her newfound understanding of these issues has made her more aware of her need to deal with it. "Like a broken leg, you can't ignore it," and she has constructed ways to deal with the waves of anxiety so they won't overly affect her day.
Zollar encourages anyone who feels like they are struggling to know they are not alone, and to focus on something that you want. Focus on the good in your life, your family, your friends, your achievements. She also says it's important to surround yourself with people who will be open and honest with you, and speak from a place of love and support.
Every step is a victory, and every day brings the chance for something good to happen.