Usually when the magazine that I work for receives emails about being on television shows, we laugh and dismiss the emails as spam. This time around, however, we replied to the questionable email with no expectations, and received some of the best news yet for our semi-nationally published magazine. The magazine, which is called Love GIRLS Magazine, was created to empower young women across the country while giving them a voice through photography, writing and modeling. My editor in chief, founder of LGM and fairy Jasmine Babers and I have had many amazing opportunities through this magazine, and have truly found some of our greatest passions in life through our journalism.
The producers name was Dee Dee Thomas with the Harry Show, a day-time talk show hosted by Harry Connick Jr. in New York City. She stumbled across our website a few weeks prior and thought the magazine would make a great story.
When Wednesday, March 29th rolled around, Jasmine and I were overjoyed and still in disbelief. The producer came into our dressing room with some potential questions highlighting the magazine’s creation and how the magazine had personally impacted us.
Little did I know, the segment was not going to be our usual elevator pitch- today was about storytelling, and more specifically, my story.
In the Winter 2016 issue of the magazine, my team chose me as the cover girl of LGM. Our cover girls are everyday young women with interesting, heartbreaking or compelling life stories. I openly discussed my struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts in high school, and how it was an aspect of my life that I kept hidden. I also shared how I persevered and continued to be involved in my school, extra-curriculars and most importantly, LGM.
Before we knew it, it was show time. We were welcomed by a full live band onto the set. We met Harry for the first time and began the interview, sharing the meaning of the LOVE acronym (Lead, Overcome, Value and Empower) in the magazine’s title. After introducing that I had been a cover girl, Harry opened the discussion about mental illness. I shared my struggles to deal with my depression, and how it does not define me. I overcame my mental illness and shared it with others in the article with hopes of helping them to share their story.
Harry then said; “Right now Mikhayla, we have some people in the audience today who have a few things to say to you.”
Knowing that the only person with Jasmine and I was my mom, I looked at her in the audience and smiled. But, that was not who Harry was referring to- Emilie, a young woman who had been in my orchestra since the eighth grade stood up and shared how my story had encouraged her to never give up on her struggle with clinical depression. “You are such an inspiration…when you are in that [depression] you just don’t feel like you can do anything. You don’t feel like you’re ever going to be anybody…when you put that [story] out there…it just really shows that you can do anything and you can still be a fantastic person even with depression.”
Of course, I was now bawling on national television in front of a few million people- no big deal.
It didn’t stop there- Mariah, the junior assistant editor of LGM shared how my story helped her have hope after losing her brother to suicide. Although I had been working alongside Mariah for a year, she never shared this with me until the cameras were rolling. Through more tears, I found comfort in the fact that my vulnerability had helped others.
The thing that I was most ashamed of had now given me a platform to help others. Knowing that I had impacted even two individuals made the experience worth it. Although I revealed one of my greatest hardships to viewers across the nation, I did it with the hope of encouraging someone else to not suffer in silence.
It was the best Wednesday of my life.