My name is Eric Buckner and I live and prosper with multiple mental illnesses/disorders. I have been diagnosed over the years with ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactive disorder), Chronic Depression, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and was thought to have a pervasive learning disorder at one point. First and foremost, the prior does not represent my being or my personality. All that they represent are illnesses; essentially they are labels for such. I have endured and prospered from the stigmas associated with the diagnoses given by mental health professionals. Some people believe that if you have a mental health issue, you are automatically barred from living a successful life. Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise. At the time of this writing, I am 21 years old, and have accomplished and experienced much in my own right. I am an avid youth representative for the Idaho Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, and through this organization I have made great strides to help alleviate mental health stigmas and raise awareness. I often times will go and give speeches as a youth advocate to different groups and organizations about my experiences. I attend different conferences and committee meetings and provide youth input and feedback. I am a volunteer and a passionate youth advocate. My reward is being able to help others and it excites me to think I have the ability to make a difference for youth across the state of Idaho. In addition to my contribution to my community, I also have a full time job, I live on my own, I pay my own bills, and have made great improvements to my mental and physical health. I have grown very ambitions over the years and I have nurtured many skills in healthy directions with the help and support of the Federation; I am grateful for the support and friendships I have gained and will continue to gain thru being a part the Federation and the Idaho Youth Council. I have a talent and an interest in public speaking and truly enjoy each opportunity I have to share my story. Some of my ambitions, I hope, will be fulfilled in the future and everyday I will make choices to support them. I hope to further self-reflect and write an autobiography and maybe it will help others reflect and better understand themselves. The best thing about it all is my life isn’t over and I will continue to grow and experience new endeavors. One thing that has taken me years to grasp and act in accordance to is that we all have choices and are responsible for the ones we make. It sounds simple in theory, but in action is a much more difficult undertaking to put into practice for many reasons. The best I can explain it is that we each have choices in how we treat one another, but often we do not see or acknowledge all the choices available to us. The neat thing is we each have an opportunity to change how we make our choices and how we treat people who may seem different than us. Years ago I made the decision to make choices in each moment of my life to grow and mature; I now challenge each of you to do the same, no matter your age.