How has my mental health affected my political aspirations?

Has my mental health held me back when it comes to achieving my dream of becoming a

I’ve been interested in politics since I was a young kid. Yes, I was the kid glued to the television
screen during presidential debates, hanging on the edge of my seat for every word. I realized
from a pretty young age as well that what drew me to politics wasn’t the men in suits. It was the
realization that there was a lack of women in power, and I wanted to be a part of the fight to
change that. I understood that where we were now didn’t represent the political world I wanted to
see, and I was determined to make politics a place of female power.

I was twelve years old when I vowed that I, Kyla Menconi, was going to change the world for
the better. Now, at twelve, that seemed quite doable to me, but looking back six years later, I
realize making change is more than just stating that’s what you’re going to do. I was also thirteen
years old when I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. My
huge plans for fighting for women’s political participation, i.e., changing the world, were

According to the Center for Disease Control’s Female Youth Mental Health Report, just in the
last ten years, the rate of young females who suffer from mental illnesses has increased by 57%.

I know I am not the only young woman suffering from depression and anxiety around me. I’m
tired of pretending that this is just something that we can pass off. It’s important to discuss, and
it’s important in relation to women in political power.

When I was first diagnosed, knowing that this was going to follow me for the rest of my life was
absolutely terrifying. I chose what I wanted to be remembered for when I was watching that
presidential debate at twelve, and it wasn’t these diagnoses. I felt like someone had taken all of
the oxygen out of my lungs and wasn’t going to ever give it back. I never, ever want another
little girl to ever feel like the life she had dreamed of is just an afterthought. Mental health should
never break down your courage to change the world. It's important to remember that mental
health challenges do not define who we are or what we are capable of achieving. Seeking help
and support is a sign of strength, not weakness, and can empower us to continue pursuing our
dreams despite any obstacles we may face.

It’s been six years of a long fight to take back my mental health. As my mother has told me since
the first day I was diagnosed, if you had a broken leg, you would get it fixed. So, the same goes
for a mental problem too. You wouldn’t stop yourself from getting help if something was wrong
physically, so the fact that so many young women are stopping themselves from getting the help
they need mentally is heartbreaking. While my family and friends have been the most crucial
steps in my healing, I couldn’t disregard the importance of keeping with my dream. While my
plan for changing the world may have changed, the mission has not—to advocate for women’s
voices to be heard everywhere.

So, to answer that first question, no, my mental health has not held me back in any shape or
form. Instead, it has propelled me forward. I just completed my semester in Washington, D.C.,
serving as a legislative intern for Congressman DeSaulnier. I never, in a million years, would’ve
imagined that was where I’d be today. I cannot wait to be a future Congresswoman to advocate
for girls of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and experiences to be represented in their
world of politics. Who knows, maybe I won’t change the world like I wanted to in my childhood.
But if there is one struggling little girl glued to the TV watching as I advocate for her one day on
the Congress floor, then that would be more than enough. My experience in Washington, D.C.,
has fueled my passion for making a difference in the lives of young girls everywhere. I am
determined to use my voice to ensure that all girls feel empowered and represented in the
political sphere.

Leave a Comment