Comedian Kevin Breel teaches students not to be ashamed of mental illness

"Real depression isn't being sad when something in your life goes wrong. Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right. That's what I suffer from. And to be totally honest, that's hard for me to stand up here and say. It seems to be hard for everyone to talk about. So much so that no one's talking about it."

This is how 20-year-old Kevin Breel describes mental illness.

In school, Breel was the popular class clown, aspiring to be a comedian, and basketball team captain who attended every party. He was probably the last person classmates would think was suffering from a mental illness.

But mental illness is not like a tumor or neon lights pointing from every direction at your head. It's something you can't tell someone is suffering from just from looking at him or her. And, for Breel, he suffered in silence for a long time — putting on a different face for his family and friends so they
wouldn't know what was going on.

As a teenager, Breel almost took his own life. Thank God he didn't. Now, what he hid from for most of his life, has gained him national attention. Now, after coming forward and admitting his disease, Breel has helped inspire thousands of people during his tours around the nation.

In an interview on "The Today Show," Breel said, "Life is about duality. ... There’s happiness; there’s sadness; there’s light; there’s dark; there’s hope; there’s hurt. And I think that, for me, nothing in my whole life has ever helped me understand more about myself, more about others, more about life than dealing with depression.”

Don't be ashamed to admit that you are suffering from mental illness. Like Breel said — the reason his speeches have become so popular isn't because it's uncommon. It's because it is so common for people to feel this way.

I believe Breel was diagnosed with a mental illness for a purpose. No, not to take his own life. I think he has this disease so that he could give hope to others and to show people they are not alone. If you are diagnosed with a mental illness, I believe this is your purpose too. Don't give up on life.

Breel said in his speech, "The world I believe in is where where embracing your light doesn't mean ignoring your dark. The world I believe in is one where we are measured by our ability to overcome adversities not avoid them. The world I believe in is one where I can look someone in the eye and say, "I'm going through hell," and they can look back at me and go, "Me too," and that's okay. Because depression is okay."

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