My battle with mental illness began at some time in my preteens – don’t know the exact year or age – but I know for a fact that by the time I was in my mid-teens, I had the whole nine yards. What I also know is that by the time I was fifteen, I was already questioning my purpose for living, and whether I wanted to be alive or not.
I’m now 24 years at the time of writing this, so it’s been a few years since I was a teenager, but I still remember what it’s like to be young and struggling with mental health problems. It was hands down the hardest thing I had to endure in my life.
I’m no professional, so I won’t assume what you’re going through or say that I know, because I don’t know the details. But as someone who went through a bunch of crap, I wanted to write this for assurance: that it’s okay and you are not the only one because I’ve been there and done that.
Being a teenager with mental health problems (undiagnosed at the time but I was so sure of what I had) was the loneliest feeling ever. I was told time and time again that I was “doing it for attention”, or playing the “victim”, or being “crazy”. They also kept telling me I was “too young to know what mental illnesses were”.
Let’s get one thing straight:
Your suffering is real, and if you ever tell me you are hurting, then
I will believe every word you’re saying
and I will believe your hurt and agony.
Your pain is real.
There are people who will be in denial (been there) or won’t understand what you’re going through. And I feel sorry for those who don’t get it. There will however, be people who get it, just like me and many, many others. There will be people who will listen to you and acknowledge your struggles.
When I was a teen I felt this unexplainable empty it of agonising sadness in my core. I didn’t know where it came from because I hadn’t suffered from any kind of trauma back then. I felt hurt and physically and emotionally heavy (to properly know this feeling, the song ‘Heavy’ by Linkin Park explains it down to ta T). That’s all I knew. I’d also go nights in a row of crying myself to sleep, or just lay awake contemplating ending my life. Sometimes both at the same time. I couldn’t explain the pain, but it seemed like a default thing for me to be in this kind of pain.
Despite all this pain, it took me years – over 10 – to reach out for help. I didn’t trust my parents enough to tell them when I first started seeking help from a psychologist. I only told them after several sessions. Whenever I did tell people about my treatment, they shrugged me off at first, telling me I seemed fine back then and I’m too young to know what depression and anxiety felt like, and that I didn’t fit in the physical description of a depressed person (whatever that description is).
But let’s be real: who knows you better than you? Not me, not anyone else. And who knows me better than me? Not you and not anyone else. We know when something about us is off. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, the feeling of numbness, mood swings, whatever your sufferings are: it is REAL and I know it is.
Getting help was the best thing I had ever done in my life. My biggest triumph. But I didn’t feel like it was at the time. I knew what to expect with my depression because it was predictable. But I wanted to learn how to live my life one way or another, and how to cope and get better. It was a pretty big deal, but it was scary as fuck.
Was it worth the risk? HECK YEAH! Because eventually, I did start getting better. I got the diagnosis I expected I had – depression and anxiety – and this helped me understand what was going on. With both a psychologist and psychiatrist by my side, eventually joined in by my family and small circle of friends, I fixed things and my life made sense once more.
What would I say to teenagers reading this who are struggling with mental health? You don’t have to do this alone. Suffering in silence is not an option. You have choices, some of which are difficuly and risky. I made those difficult choices myself, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here writing all this. I’d be dead. I would have done The Deed.
You need to know that your life can change in the blink of an eye. Everything your thought you knew could be wrong the following day. Your life changes as time goes by, and you deserve to experience this change.
Since then, I have found a good job, made new friends, gave a speech at the local University, wrote a hit article about my mental health for a successful local website and appeared on TV. I’m also in a very great relationship with someone I can call The One and not be uncertain about it. I have touched hearts and changed lives over the past three years.
This is why I talk openly about my struggles, being able to help others not to repeat the same mistakes I have. Our journeys may not be the same, but I believe we all have something inside us that’s in common and by unleashing that, the world would be a better place.
So if you haven’t reached out, do so as soon as you can, befor eit’s too late. You don’t have to speak to a professional: a teacher, family member or friend would suffice. Hang in there, and remember the life you’re living now won’t be a clear indication of your future so do something about it.
If you’re reading this, consider it a victory: that you have lived another second, minute, hour, day, month, year. I hope you will be here to read this in years’ time, or even for your children to read it in their teens.
I believe in you. You are a survivor. You have PURPOSE. YOU MATTER.
If you our someone you know displays any symptoms of mental health problems, please contact your local suicide hotlines, which you can find below.
As the saying goes, it’s better to just speak up than keeping something buried inside you, waiting until this something becomes so unbearable to keep you it explodes in someone else’s face. Speaking from experience, this is mostly the case… emphasis on ‘mostly’. It’s the case when you accidentally break your mum’s favourite vase and blame your sibling/pet, or when you tell your best friend you liked their outfit when in reality you didn’t. But it’s not the case with coming out being gay.
For most people, it’s easy to just open up and say, “I’m gay.” but living in a world where being different is almost a crime, it’s harder than ever, especially in the present Christian society. Christians believe that, since the Bible starts off with saying the world’s first two humans were male and female, then that’s still the case to date: only a male and female are allowed to fall in love, get married and have children. Despite that being the case, there is nothing in the Bible where it’s opposing homosexuality. Nowhere in said Bible has Jesus ever discussed or merely addressed same-sex marriage.
Going back to the ‘love should be between a man and woman issue: does that mean that the love a parent shows her child isn’t real? Or the love a friend shows to another? When I, pro-LGBT, ask this question to a hardcore Christian, all of them reply with the same answer: “But that’s different!” Why should love between friends, family and people of the same sex be different? What’s so different and ‘immoral’ about it? Nothing. It’s nothing different. During a discussion I had with a former teacher about whether gay couples should have kids, the first thing he told me was that he had nothing against gay marriage or gay couples in general, however he didn’t agree with them raising children as the latter would grow up being gay.
This last statement made me—and most people in the class—cringe. It was like saying that all children born to a man and woman should be straight, when in reality this is mostly never the case. Most homosexuals are born to a man and woman, so why is it that Christians point at gay couples, telling them they can’t raise a child because they might grow up ‘just like them’? Furthermore, children born or raised by a gay couple is also believed, by Christians, to grow up ‘sad, broken’… doesn’t this happen in every family regardless of who the parent is?
Searching through the internet, I stumbled upon several pictures of a celebrity gay couple, consisting of actor Neil Patrick Harris and husband, chef David Burtka (pictured), with their twin children, and there was nothing that showed that these children were sad or different from any other children.
The question I ask myself when I see gay couples with their very happy and very healthy children is why is homosexuality a big deal? A bigger, more general question is why there’s a label when it comes to love. There shouldn’t be pinning when it comes to something like love: people are people, not cans of food. There shouldn’t be such thing as being straight or gay or anything of that sort. With several hundreds of campaigns to raise awareness against homophobia, there is hope for a more equal, united world.
Greetings everyone! For this post, as the title and banner both indicate, I will be doing a roundup of the first half of the year because can you actually believe we’re MORE than halfway through 2018?! I can’t for sure! So let’s take a look at the ups and downs in terms of my personal and blogging life…
A series on self-love and positivity that will take place every Sunday. Here I will chronicle how my week went with a question asked on the journal I bought in summer 2017 from Paperchase, and a brief idea of what is planned for the upcoming month in terms of the blog, which will be added/removed when done.
Hope you enjoy this series!
Dear younger me,
Don’t be startled. This is not some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing. (If you want to understand that reference watch Doctor Who. Trust me… I mean… you?!). This is a genuine letter guiding you towards your future – I mean my future… you know what? I’ll speak as if you’re you and I’m me.
Even if you weren’t among the people who denounced this particular trip we all took around the sun, it’s hard not to feel a little optimistic about the start of a new year. I won’t give you the “new year, new you” spiel, because I’m one of those who doesn’t believe in this shindig.
Yep that’s right! I’m learning yet another language from scratch… and I love it! Obviously I’m struggling a little as I need to also focus on my work more than the lesson itself, but at home, what I found to be a good revision is the app called Duolingo. You can learn any language you can imagine! You can also change the level between beginner, intermediate and advanced, and also the daily practise goal!
Tested on my work…?
Yes, I was tested on my full-time job. While completing the 10-week course, you get two visits from a tutor to see that you are putting what you’re learning to practise. Upon failing one of the two, you get a third. Luckily, I stopped at two, which means in a few weeks’ time, I will be officially a Supply LSA! And I’m so happy as this is the longest I have kept a job thus far, and I like it a lot.
I’m a Driver!
It took me over THREE years, three different instructors, and ONE attempt. And I did it. I can now call myself a DRIVER! I’m very excited and proud of myself. I didn’t think I would pass. I spent the whole week anxious and physically feeling sick to my stomach. On the day, my hands were twitching so much I thought I was going to break all my fingers, one by one. Yep, it was that bad. But once I got there, I was chill and super calm. And I passed 🙂
Not celebrating Halloween for the 6th time: the reason behind it
The scariest time of the year. Birth of ‘Thriller’. For me, it would be the saddest. For the sixth year this year, I will be considering Halloween as the day I lost my best friend, my grandfather. It was a cold, rainy day (so cliche), and on the day I was numb and my mind was foggy. He was the one person at the time to accept me for who and what I am, nothing different. And, yeah, that’s why I don’t celebrate Halloween. Plus, why does anyone consider a sexy nurse a good costume for Halloween? It’s a SCARY feast! Be a zombie nurse! Sexy is for Valentine’s Day. Rant over.
This is something I have been thinking about for a few weeks now…
Should I go back to studying?
Or should I stick to my work?
These are subjects I would definitely give up my full-time job for given the opportunity:
- Film studies
The downside of actually studying one of the above is that they might not be offered at part-time, or I’d have to have certain subjects and/or degrees and sit for the course as a post-grad student, something will probably never happen in this lifetime.
Another thing that worries me is the money. Books, resources, photocopies and such are very expensive, and if I have to leave my job, then I would have to start a new job as a part-timer and work in the weekends or evenings (if time is permitted).
I recently researched part-time courses offered in the evenings on the MCAST website (MCAST, for the foreigners, stands for Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology). I found some really interesting ones, but the one that aught my eye is Filmmaking: An Introduction. Why filmmaking though? Aren’t I an LSA? And haven’t I done a 10-week course for said job? Why yes I did, but I want to expand my knowledge of films further. It’s why I did the 10-week course and the Mental Health First Aid in the first place: to learn new things.
I am currently also learning a totally different language: German! I only knew very few words, but now I can say basic words and greetings! And can understand a little too! I am super proud of myself… the FIFTH language I am learning! I actually might do an exam for it when I’m ready.
So the rant is over, thank you for listening (well, for reading). This is a reminder to all of you to follow your dreams. Do NOT let anyone – parents, friends, strangers – tell you what you should or should not do with YOUR life.
AAAAAAAAND that’s it for me! Take care and spread peace XXXXX