It’s hard to imagine a world without Amanda Seay in it. The vivacious, free-spirited and larger than life now 18 year old can light up a room with just her smile. As a hard-working high school student who will leave for Savannah, GA late summer to pursue her dream in filmmaking, Amanda does what most young people her age do— she studies, works part-time at Starbucks, and hangs out with friends when she has the time. But what separates Amanda from the pack isn’t her strive for good grades, scholarships and acceptance letters; or her ability to rise through the ranks at work. What sets Amanda apart is the harrowing journey she’s been on, her resiliency and tenacious come back, and what she’s chosen to do in the aftermath of multiple attempts at ending her young, now full life.

It was Amanda’s last suicide attempt that landed her in an emergency room where she first learned about CHCS while receiving a mental health assessment. Feeling confused and like a “disappointment,” she reluctantly agreed to services stating “if this has to be the thing that helps me, I guess I have to do it.”

Although Amanda’s first few experiences with CHCS were admittedly a mess, she was soon paired with a clinical practitioner in the Children’s Behavioral Health outpatient program, when she finally realized that CHCS was where she needed to be. “It wasn’t just my connection with my counselor, it was my mom’s connection with her,” said Amanda when asked about her impact. “It wasn’t just me getting treatment, it was me and my mom at the same time because it’s not just the adolescent’s journey, it’s also the parent’s journey. My counselor genuinely cared about me and my life, and the people in my life,” she added.

During two years of treatment, Amanda worked on developing and utilizing coping skills, and participated in individual and group therapy in the outpatient program. With her counselor’s guidance, Amanda was able to identify and work toward achieving ambitious goals including employment and plans for college — both of which she accomplished in due time. She also set her sights on achieving goals that were more personal and “adult-like” in nature like worrying less about her mother and having her mother worry less about her. “The day I got discharged from CHCS was the day I believed that my mom really saw improvement in me,” said Amanda. “I never felt like that, like she thought I was improving, and to hear her say ‘I can’t believe she’s gotten this far’ was a really big deal. This wasn’t just a journey with me, but a journey with me and my mom and our relationship, and we’ve come so far,” she said.

Amanda has since transitioned out of Children’s Behavioral Health Services, but continues receiving individual therapy. She is an avid believer in treatment, and has made mental health outreach and education a top priority. Amanda has set the stage for sharing her story and projecting her views and opinions about mental illness, suicide and treatment— a public-speaking movement that began last fall at the Bexar County Behavioral Health and Wellness Conference where she addressed over 400 attendees. Additionally, Amanda feels strongly that mental health needs funding to serve even more people, especially her peer group. “The Center has been the biggest part of my life through high school and has changed my life for the better,” said Amanda. “But there’s a lot more kids who haven’t been diagnosed who have anxiety, who have depression, and they don’t know what to do,” she added.

As for Amanda, her journey into adulthood is only just beginning. Her hopes are simple in nature— to graduate from college and be more family oriented, always including her mom. But she dreams big. “I want to be successful inside the film industry and just be happy doing what I love to do — film.” And she will.

This world needs Amanda Seay. It needs her light, her passion, her advocacy, and her story. It may have taken Amanda several years and multiple attempts at ending her precious life to see a future— her future, one that’s full of LIFE, but she’s here now and ready to set the world on fire.

Watch out world! You will be hearing from Amanda Seay.