Before I begin, I would like to thank my best friends (the three) for helping me get through the various twists and turns in life. It is through my friendships with you in college that I became a foodie and later a spoonie at the University of Florida (UF).  

Kattyana Adrien

Lets talk about it

Clearing my throat and wiping the tears flowing from underneath my eyelids... writing this article is thus far one of toughest things I have ever had to do because of the level of transparency that I am about to share publicly.

Though concise, this is a story of my past and how my friendships were built through food, which later saved me from committing suicide. Honestly I do not believe I have fully come to terms with this fact, but I do know that it is a process that cannot be done alone.

Transitioning from one city to another to start a new life, school, and meet new people was a leap of faith. To others, being courageous and having confidence were some of my best traits, but coming to college showed me that I was not necessarily all those things.  

My exterior exuded strength while my interior was fragile, deteriorating day by day. I can only describe my years of depression, anxiety attacks, and suicidal thoughts as an internal ongoing war.

My mind was constantly scrambled and lacking in focus. There were nights when I felt as though I was suffocating, restless to the core. The worst part was the lack of human interaction. I became crafty at not attaching to others by ensuring they were unenthused about getting to know me. Fortunately for me, that method did not work for long.

Then there were four

The three came along and our tradition of cooking weekend dinners and going out on food adventures began. Dishes of various kinds, flavors, and aromas filled the table as we shared our daily lives. Food + Friendship made me feel a sense of belonging as well as purpose.

I began to share bits and pieces of my life freely, but I was still hiding the fact that I was suicidal in fear of becoming an outcast. Their love and compassion pushed me to seek counseling. I wanted to live to continue my life with me and of course... pursue my dreams.

After several months of them hacking away at my shell, I shared everything. The response was pretty alarming. It was filled with ugly cries, snot-dripping, and a very, very, very, long hug. Continuing our tradition, we cooked a hearty meal in honor of our friendship and the many years to come. 

Taking a break: One of our FAVORITE(!!!) spots to eat is the Venetian Room. Check out the amazing dishes below.

Kattyana Adrien
Kattyana Adrien
Kattyana Adrien

Now back to the story: My life has changed dramatically and I owe it all to Food + Friendship. Food became our foundation because it encouraged an open healthy environment to be ourselves. I was then able to move forward and overcome depression, anxiety, and suicide because of them.

The steps I took were:

1. Talk about it.

2. Seek professional help.

3. Get involved with Dean of Students.

Kattyana Adrien

A highlight as a student was becoming an ambassador for UMatter We Care at UF to advocate for student, faculty, and staff who were experiencing distress. Feeling more fulfilled with my own life, I am now able to help others realize their purpose.

For those who have or are experiencing anything I've been through, know that you are not alone. You have so many things to live for and so much potential, so DON'T let life's barriers bring you down. Share your next meal with me. I am here to listen. Love you always, Katt.