Being a teenager suffering in silence from mental illness sucks. Waking up every day with a mental illness is just as painful – if not more – than a physical illness. It’s confusing, debilitating, and inconceivable at times that this could be happening to me.
Although I am properly medicated and have been through the required CBT, there are still days that I wake up feeling like I was just hit by a train. Every bone in your body aches, you feel nauseous, and your head is so far into space that your eyes feel like they could pop out of your head. The thought of getting out of bed is enough to start crying and you can’t imagine going through another day. You would rather climb into a small, dark hole and sleep away your sadness than go on into society pretending that you don’t feel like death has overcome you. To someone who has never struggled with mental illness, this may seem over-exaggerated or untrue, but i can guarantee that anyone who has is reading this and nodding their head in agreement. Depression literally kicks your ass.
My depression used to be my little secret. Society made the word ‘depression’ sound dirty, and if you dared to utter that word to someone they would cringe and quickly change the subject – as if it were a curse word or something. It kind of makes me giggle now at the stupidity.
Hiding my emotions
Being in high school with so much stigma around mental illness was difficult. I felt the need to hide my emotions. I found myself hiding in the bathroom with my face stuffed into my backpack in hopes that no one would hear me crying and start asking questions. The truth is that I didn’t know why I was crying, and no one would accept that as a proper answer. From the minute I woke up to the minute I fell asleep, I felt like I could cry – and sometimes I would. I remember one day like this in particular. It still make me sad to think about it – let alone talk about it – but, here we go…
I had woken up that morning with tears already soaking my cheeks and an endless supply of worries for the day, but I forced myself out of bed nonetheless and prayed that my emotions would contain themselves for the day. I got myself to school and sat in my grade 11 Biology class where my teacher asked if I was sick. Of course I don’t blame him; I looked like hell. Feeling the tears trying to find their way out, I sucked them back in and assured myself that I was stronger than this. I literally only lasted 10 minutes of that morning’s lecture before the tears came back. WHY WAS I CRYING? Why was the topic of Enzymes and Chemical Digestion making me sad? I could not understand it for the life of me.
He let me cry without judgement
I quickly popped up out of my seat and left the room without explanation. Walking quickly down the hallways, not sure of where I was going, I somehow ended up in Mr Haley’s guitar room. I closed the door, sat down, and cried uncontrollably for probably a good 10 minutes before I could catch my breath to talk to him. I knew I had made the right choice going to Mr Haley when he just simply sat beside me and let me cry without interruptions or weird looks.
From that day forward, Mr Haley became someone who I could trust. He became someone who I could confide in and run to in the middle of class whether it was just to say hello, chat, or cry for a little bit. It became pretty normal for him to have me run into his room during one if his spares to sit in a chair and cry for 5 minutes, and then get up and go back to class without any explanation for my behaviour. He accepted the fact that I was crazy and had my moments of helplessness, but never let those moments define me and THAT was the most unique quality that made me respect this man so much. He was there to help me through my struggle, and then continued to be there to cheer me on in my success.
Find someone you can talk to
My advice to all of you reading this is: Find someone you can talk to. Someone who doesn’t make you feel judged or as if your feelings are invalid. You need to find a person who can sit and listen to you without an expectation to understand what you’re feeling and who doesn’t feel the need to ‘fix’ everything. It’s important to be able to rant and have someone validate the way you are feeling.
If you are the confidant rather than the confider: Just because someone is coming to you with their feelings and/or problems doesn’t mean that they need you to fix them. When I say this, I mean that sometimes the person who is confiding in you doesn’t really want you to say anything at all, but maybe just needs someone to empathise and offer a hug. It’s important to ask questions and not be afraid to do so, and if you are unsure if you should give advice – ASK!
Being a teenager sucks. Being a teenager suffering in silence from mental illness sucks even more. So don’t! Don’t be silent.
And always remember
It’s okay not to be okay.
Reproduced with permission, originally posted here