The Lost Got Found
Written By: Emily Torchiana (Founder)
This morning, I was driving back from a speaking engagement trip, thinking over my daily to-do list and stressing about my upcoming move this week out of the apartment I have been living in the past year. As I started to feel overwhelmed about everything that needs to get done within the next five days, I received a notification that Lost Got Found was tagged in a photo on Instagram.
When I clicked on the notification, it brought me to a photo of a young woman who got a tattoo today, with the words “Lost Got Found” written on her wrist. In the caption, she stated that she was officially 100 days clean of self-harm, body-shaming, and overdosing.
She thanked my organization for helping her each day and inspiring her to get the tattoo. She proceeded to say that she loves reading all of the stories and hopes to share her own story one day.
Now that my time in Charleston is coming to a pause, this photo made me take a step back and reflect on my own personal journey the past five years since moving to this city. Because sometimes, due to the daily stresses of life, I don’t always take time to appreciate the big picture.
When I first moved to Charleston as an 18-year-old, like many others my age, I was completely clueless about the path I wanted to take. A few weeks prior to starting my freshman year of college, I was in an intensive outpatient facility with other teenagers who all felt the same way I did- lost. We were all unsure of ourselves, we all felt alone in what we were struggling with, and we were all trying to cope through life.
Once I arrived in Charleston, as my parents hugged me goodbye, I just hoped for a positive experience. What I found in this city the past five years was more than I could ever have imagined- I found an amazing support system from both friends and strangers, I forced myself out of my comfort zone, and also made mistakes which allowed me to grow as a person.
If you had told me five years ago that I would be leading a nonprofit dedicated to mental health, I would have thought you were lying because, when I entered college, I never expected to share my story with others. Originally, I did not want others to know I struggled with my mental health at all. I did not want to be labeled as "crazy", “psycho”, or "weak". But, as time went on, and I began sharing more with those around me, I found that others were then more comfortable confiding in me about their own struggles. And, that made me feel less alone.
I remember the first time I publicly shared about my mental illnesses on my blog that I created during my junior year of college. I was sitting in the library as my friends were doing homework and I sat there absolutely terrified to click “publish”. But once I did, I felt this huge sense of relief, like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.
A year later, when I first started this organization as a personal project to share my classmates' mental health journeys, I remember thinking “If I could have at least one story submitted to me per month, that would be amazing”. Today, I am overwhelmed by how many individuals from around the world submit to my organization daily. I truly feel so blessed and honored to click “publish” and play a small role to help them share this deep part of their life to help others feel less alone.
To some, there’s a misconception about mental illness- thinking that you can just be “healed” one day. But, although I am definitely in a much better place than I was five years ago, I continually hold myself accountable and try to positively cope with my own mental illnesses each day. Not every day is a good one. There are days when I feel alone and want to stay in bed, there are nights when I wake up from a PTSD nightmare, and there are moments when my anxiety is through the roof.
But, what has been life-changing for me is the support I have received. I read every message and comment that is sent to the organization, saving them as a reminder to myself during my own darkest days.
And, seeing the post of the tattoo today was honestly one of the most humbling experiences, knowing that someone believed so much in something that I created to permanently have it on their wrist for the rest of their life.
As I say "See you Soon" to Charleston and the memories I have had these past five years, I can finally say that I no longer feel lost. What helped me to get found was all of your constant support- sharing your stories with my organization each day. Reading the stories featured each day. The lost got found.
And, if you currently feel lost, I want you to remember how I said I felt when I was 18-years-old. Just five years ago. I never would have imagined my life to be where it is today. It's not perfect. But, it's better. And, I am so grateful that I am alive to see it. It can get better. This is a reminder that you will get found, too.