Everyone is dealing with something. Everyone has issues and everyone struggles.
Everyone, except me.
I hear stories about the students at my school; someone’s dad died. Someone else’s parents had split up. Another is depressed, another is anorexic.
Whilst all this is happening, I feel so guilty. I know it’s not my fault, but my life is so easy compared to other people’s. I just don’t think it’s fair. How can I talk to someone normally when I know she forces herself to throw up the food she eats every day?
That’s why I’ve decided to do everything I can to help people who are struggling.
At school, if anyone ever needs someone to talk to, they know that I am here. In fact, over summer I messaged my friend who is battling anorexia just to offer her some support and someone to talk to. It might not seem like a big gesture, but small acts of kindness like this can make someone feel worthy and encouraged to keep going.
I also know how intense some people find school and how they can find it difficult to cope with both their mental health as well as their grades. This is why, last year, I was a maths buddy to someone in the year below who was struggling, just to help them get back on track. I have also had a few revision sessions with my friends who work better in a more relaxed and one-to-one environment, because I understand how stressful they find the school atmosphere.
It’s also really important to just be there for others. My friends know I’m here for them if and when they want to talk about anything, and I always make sure to listen intently and try my best to help them in whatever way I can, even if that just means giving them a hug.
Here’s a few tips on how to help those who are struggling;
I’ve joined TWE to try and help others, like our readers. I just hope that these articles do help you in some way because the whole team is here for you. We want to support you in any way we can.
So really, I just want to write a quick note to you. Yes, you, the amazing, brilliant, kind, talented and worthy person reading this right now. You can do this and you will do this. You are loved and you are treasured by those around you and we all want you to thrive.
Overall, if you are on the ‘other side’, I advise you to do as many small things as possible to make the lives of those struggling just a tiny bit easier. You could do this by simply asking how they are doing, and if they need any help.
I hope this helped :) Have a fantastic day!
Self-harm is not normally a lighthearted subject, and understandably so. However, as someone who has a long history of self-harm in many different forms, but has been clean for years, there is absolute beauty in recovery, and people don’t talk about it enough in my opinion.
I will mostly tell you about the beauty I have personally found in my self-help path to recovery, and some of the techniques I used to quit toxic coping mechanisms such as SH. Please note that if you are in a situation where you don’t think you can recover on your own, seek help as soon as you possibly can. I self-harmed on and off for four years, and I have now been clean for four years straight, all through trial and error, and little promises to myself.
Everyone has a different experience with self-harm and other harmful coping mechanisms, and we all have our different reasons for doing it. These aspects of the issue make recovery also look different for everybody. The important things to remember are: relapse is normal and common, learning to love and take care of yourself after dealing with something like self-harm is never easy, and everything is going to be okay. You are not alone, you are not weird, and you are not a bad person for having this struggle.
Dealing with mental health issues on my own from a young age has never been easy, but over the years I have discovered many helpful, healthy coping mechanisms, and strayed away from the harmful ones. In taking care of myself in this way, I have developed a much stronger and more fulfilling relationship with myself. One of the most efficient steps I took was making promises to myself. It not only provided motivation, but it created the beginning of the relationship with myself that may have been missing. Over my recovery journey that relationship became stronger and more loving. The last time I ever self-harmed, I had been clean for months, and it was a relapse. I felt terrible, and the sc*rs were just a constant reminder of my failure to recover (RELAPSE IS NOT A FAILURE TO RECOVER; IT IS EXPECTED! This was just a concern of mine at the time). The disappointment and shame around my new sc*rs were not helping me learn to love myself, so I turned it around and made them into motivation and goals. Rather than self-loathe for relapsing, I decided that if I couldn’t quit self-harming out of self-love I would do it because I hated the painful reminder of sc*rs and having to hide them; for me, that was the greatest starting place. It wasn’t forcing me to create self-love out of nothing, it was simply the first step to quitting a bad habit. Sc*rs were inconvenient, I was simply fixing that problem. Self-love could be developed after.
Of course, as I have mentioned, everyone is different. However, I self-harmed for years, and nothing except what I am about to suggest got me anywhere near quitting for good, so I believe it is worth sharing.
I needed to acknowledge that my mental health issues were not going to get better on their own, I was not going to wake up one morning feeling incredible and taking care of myself out of nowhere. You may know this already, but I was waking up every morning practicing harmful coping mechanisms and self-destructive habits and then claiming things would be better someday. However, when you live in that toxic cycle and do not acknowledge that you are feeding into it rather than fighting against it, things will not get better (if you’re anything like me, at least). It can be hard to admit that you are feeding into a cycle like that, but doing so was one of the biggest steps towards recovery for me, and it was the first one. It sucks to hear, but ending a harmful habit is quite difficult and you are going to have to challenge yourself and stay motivated.
Being clean for any amount of time felt amazing to me. In addition, starting by creating small goals and working my way up was much more productive than deciding to never do it again one day if I was feeling decent. Small victories are still victories. Be proud when you reach a goal no matter how small it is (you set that goal for a reason, it was difficult for you). Allowing yourself to feel as good as you possibly can about being clean for any amount of time is incredibly important, and helps develop a more positive relationship with yourself. Self harm often comes from feelings of self hatred, and even just a low self-esteem, so allowing yourself to feel proud of something is a really good step, especially if what you’re proud of is not hurting yourself.
As I mentioned before, turning disappointment or other negative feelings over relapsing into even more motivation is, although possibly difficult, much more productive. Negative thoughts towards myself fed into my SH and, weren’t going to help me quit; try and flip the script. “I was clean for so long and I ruined it” vs “let’s see if I can be clean for even longer this time”, “I just added more scars to heal and hide” vs “these scars will heal too, let’s not add any more”, you can say these phrases to yourself over and over again, for as long as it takes.
Those two tools are super important, and they both involve having empathy for yourself. If you feel super guilty and terrible for relapsing, be kind to yourself. I know this is an area where you need to challenge yourself, but you need to be patient with yourself as well. This is not an easy task. The following is relatively specific to my friends and I’s experiences, but I believe the main message applies to most: all habits are hard to break, but this is one often rooted in unsupported mental health issues and deep internal struggle. That’s why even just deciding to quit on your own is huge. People talk about recovery like it’s something everyone who has self harmed just does at some point on their own, and it makes those who have been struggling with it feel silly for not being able to stop. You are in pain and at some point, you didn’t have the tools to deal with it in a healthy way. Therefore, you have now developed unhealthy habits that became the only outlet for your internal struggle. It is much harder to feel emotional pain and to just start coping in a super positive way on your own (especially at a young age). It is easier to cope in a negative way in private; that’s what was accessible to you at the time. Of course, it is possible to stop and develop better habits, but it is not easy, at all. It is called recovering for a reason; people don’t normally have to recover from things on their own. Try and be kind and patient with yourself.
If nothing else motivates you, try to turn it into a bit of a game. This may not help you develop a positive relationship with yourself, but it will motivate you to quit self harming, which is a step towards self-love in and of itself. How long can you go without doing any form of self harm? This can also take away the shame in relapse, because it makes it feel less intense and emotionally heavy, and just resets your stage in the game.
Also, if you can, involving someone in a casual way was really beneficial to me as well. At one point I felt like I couldn’t stay clean on my own, so I put everything in my room that I could use to harm myself in a bag and told someone close to me, who I knew wouldn’t tell anyone else, to hide the bag somewhere. I knew I wouldn’t go looking for it, but not knowing where those potential tools were felt like an external barrier I didn’t have before. Sometimes pure willpower really isn’t enough, and you need separation from temptation. That is not something to be ashamed of.
Once you’re clean for a while, you can start looking forward. In my experience, the whole process of quitting helped me develop self love. Every method I used added positivity to my negative relationship with myself until I truly felt like I could love myself. Once that happened, I started paying attention to my interests, what I liked, and eventually developed hobbies that became outlets. I do have intrusive thoughts and get tempted every now and then. However, remembering the work I put into recovering, how long I have now been clean, and my promises to myself not to do it again is enough to keep me going in a positive direction. Currently, I love myself more than I love anybody else, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I really hope you learn to love yourself, too.
HELPLINES (NEVER HESITATE TO REACH OUT):
Trevor Lifeline: Mental health and LGBTQIA+ (US ONLY)
ONTX Ontario Online and Text Crisis Services (CANADA/ONTARIO) For text support, text SUPPORT to 258258
Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line (CANADA/ONTARIO)
With the current COVID-19 situation, they are only taking texts, chats, and emails from 4:00 pm – 9:30 pm EST every day except Saturday. Text: 647-694-4275
Samaritans (UK & ROI ONLY)
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK - local rate)
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI - local rate)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
E-mail Helpline: firstname.lastname@example.org
24 Hour service
All my life I’ve struggled to keep jobs, keep friendships everything you can think of I’ve found it hard to keep. The most I struggle with is friendships so you can expect what I’m going to say now, I don’t have many friends, and I don’t socialize as others do.
Some people may see this as complete laziness, but for me, it’s a daily struggle to even wake up and find something positive to do.
This is when daily activities come in, many people like to work out in the morning before the day ahead, many like to take walks and many like to spend time with their family before heading off to work.
For me, it’s the complete opposite. Before you think I’m one of those people who sit at home and play games all day. No, I’m not one of those people, I do have a job, and I do try to go out with the friends that I have (which is hardly any).
I do try, and it’s a lot for me to do. I try to keep myself doing at least something per week just to say I have actually achieved something. But it’s a hard battle to fight with yourself.
This is what mental health can do to someone. It can drain them, it can take their daily life and make it nonexistent. The days seem long, so you sleep away your worries hoping to one day wake up happy.
This is not just one kind of mental health, this can be various of illnesses that do this to our bodies. It’s the way we deal with it that’s important! But also what’s important is that this is recognized as NOT being lazy, but as being mentally drained.
Cheesy quotes aside, music really is one of the best things we humans ever created. Different frequencies of sounds all coming together to create something that can transport you through time and space. A song can take you to the best years of your life or make you bawl your eyes out for no other reason than just the fact that you heard it.
As my life gets more and more chaotic and my emotional state less and less healthy, I always find myself turning to music. I would never go as far as to say that I am an aficionado but it's one of those things that has always played a huge part in my life. Some of my happiest memories are tied to certain songs that never fail to give me the warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia. Whether it's playing the same song on loop for hours on end or constantly switching genres, every two minutes, music has always played a big part in determining my mood and sometimes even how productive I am on a given day. I have spent hours just imagining the million different ways my life could be. I have conquered my biggest fears and achieved my wildest dreams in my head. I have breathed life to my stories and characters just because a song just gave me the vibe. Infact listening to an amazing playlist while writing my fanfictions is probably when I am the calmest.
I’ll admit, I was late to the aesthetic music trend. A natural consequence of being me apparently cause everyone was onboard this train a long time before me. Regardless they have become a staple in life and I think they are literally the best things to ever happen like ever. Whenever I find my mood drifting towards a bad place, I always know I can find comfort in these. Whether it is my mom yelling at me, me feeling like a loser or if I am just having a bad day, there is always a playlist to help me and I am so grateful for it.
From the amazing creators whose talents have honestly no bounds to the hilarious titles and stunning music choices, it's one of the most wholesome and pure communities I have found on youtube and just reading through the comment sections in one of these videos gives me hope that maybe humanity isn’t as far gone as I think. Even as I write this I am vibing to two songs I found on a playlist (interrupted by spotify ads) with rain pouring outside. It's a nice feeling. I have a mountain of work to finish but...at this moment, I feel happy. Contant. Just calm. Rainy days already give me nostalgia for reasons I can’t fathom. Add to that a beautiful playlist and it’s just….good. If I had to imagine heaven had a vibe, I hope this is what it's like.
Aesthetic playlists can range from grunge to dark academia to what I can only describe as pastale. If you have an aesthetic, there is a playlist to match it. These songs can transport you to literally a time so long forgotten by you that even you might be surprised by the memories it may dig up.
I am convinced that these are therapeutic on a level my brain is simply incapable of computing. These are excellent to calm you down or give you that kick of energy you were looking for. Being a night owl, I often find myself listening to these at night which produce either one of two outcomes - I end up happily drifting off to sleep or I stay up the entire night writing a novel in my head before getting side tracked by calming youtube videos and not getting enough sleep. If you aren’t convinced, here are some of my absolute favourite playlists that have been with me through thick and thin -
a playlist of songs that make studying suck less - YouTube
homework vibes ~ homework playlist ~ - YouTube
lets go on a trip through your nostalgia, a 10's playlist ♡ - YouTube
another trip through your nostalgia ( pt. 2 ) - a playlist - YouTube
everything’s going to be okay ~ a comfort playlist for anxiety attacks/intrusive thoughts - YouTube
indie/alt pop songs i mouth the words to - YouTube
songs with ✨ emotional value ✨ - YouTube
gloriously alive and causing shit; finger snappin playlist - YouTube
i'm here to cause a riot; rebel revelry playlist - YouTube
a playlist of songs that make studying suck less - YouTube
a playlist that will make you feel like you're in a movie starring as a badass villain. - YouTube
Basically these songs honestly act as a mood board for me. There is something for everyone and it's just a beautiful community. If I managed to either introduce you to this concept or a playlist that you adore, I consider it mission accomplished !!
“You have been trapped in the glass room for so long that your head is foggy, like the time when alcohol took you into oblivion. Your hand looks shrunken and your shoes look enlarged. The world from the glass room looks like it belongs to a classic black and white movie, almost fake. It seems like you are one of the characters in the movie and people with blurry, distorted faces and hoarse voices. A sigh that escapes your dry lips is slow, almost as if your brain needed that time to process the surroundings to escape the numbness. Your eyes are fixed on your contorted reflection, on the glass, that looks more unsettling than yesterday.”
This, reader, is derealization and depersonalization.
Derealization is a mental condition where an individual feels detached from their surroundings. While in depersonalization, an individual feels detached from themselves, as if they are watching themselves as an outsider. They aren’t just limited to feeling like being in a dream or numbness. They can be severe and can interfere with your daily life. There are various causes of derealization and depersonalization, ranging from trauma to depression and anxiety.
Describing episodes of derealization and depersonalization is difficult. It can cause individuals to be occupied with checking what is real and what is not. Here are a few symptoms:
Majority of my day goes by sitting behind a glass observing my distorted surroundings or myself. Even as I am writing this, I feel like I am observing myself from the back and I know exactly how I look from behind. I have always felt like I am observing everything from a third person point of view, almost like an alien spying on the human world and every activity. My memories lack emotion and seem unreal. It feels like my memories aren’t mine and it is something from a movie, book, or imagination. During my episodes, time usually goes slow, voices seem hollow and my vision is foggy. I know I am going through an episode, but there is no way out of it. After the episode, I forget whatever I did during the episode.
I have taken this concern to my mental health professionals. They assumed stress as the main reason behind this and would probably change my medicines to help me out. My psychologist suggested stimulating my brain by using five senses to help me out of my episode. Stimulation can range from bubble bath, music to coloring a book. She suggested I engage in physical activities and continue with the techniques she taught me during CBT.
One of the best techniques to help derealization and depersonalization is mindfulness, which basically just means to be aware of your present and stimulate your brain. Here are few mindfulness techniques for when you have your episode:
Remember to keep your eyes moving and your brain working. Don’t continuously zone out on a single thought. Occupy your 5 senses! I usually carry stress toys, gum/candy and small perfumes. They help me stimulate my senses.
Meditation, therapy and medications are other options you have. Remember that these episodes can last for a few minutes and even months! Visit a professional if it lasts too long and/or interferes with your daily life.
Remember that you are not alone and these episodes won’t last forever.
Healing isn’t linear.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depersonalization-derealization-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352911 (learn more)
https://cimhs.com/ (therapy for depression)
https://ticktalkto.com/ (therapy with certified professionals)
In this article, Nataliya Davis will be highlighting some important aspects of how to improve your mental health, explaining how to set aside some time to really think about the things that are important to us. Therefore making room for those things. Prioritizing our mental health should always be one of our main concerns day-to-day, and in general life too. Making the necessary changes in order to improve your mental health is so important, even if it's scary. Even when you are unsure Where the changes will lead you. Outside of any obligation you may have, making sure you are okay is the most important, because it's so easy to forget!
I'm in a completely different mental space now, because I was committed to making those changes. Which I'll highlight a little later in this article! I'm glad I did so, but it didn't happen so easily, I finally made those adjustments after months of hesitation! Hesitation is normal. Not being sure whether or not you're making the right decision is natural. Let's go over some mental health blockers.
Some things that could be affecting how you feel right now are:
Improving your mental health can also include doing things that bring you joy! Some of those things include starting new hobbies or getting back into old hobbies like:
I am also aware that doing things that we enjoy to do to improve our mental health can be just as hard as cutting off a friend, or quitting a job. We all live busy lives, and sometimes it's hard just to get in the regular things that we want to do to have fun, or pursue passions.
Over the last 4 years of my life it's been a rollercoaster to evolve, and improve on my mental health, it's something that you will always have to work on! It's just a matter of making sure you never stop doing it! I've had to quit 3 jobs, I started my own small business and have slowly gotten back into my passions and joys, such as reading and writing which were some of my favorite things to do years prior! Although it wasn't easy slowly getting back to those things were some of the best decisions I've ever made.
What made it a gradual process to do these things were, being in a relationship, working full time and being exhausted. In addition to that having family and friendship stress! I had to reevaluate what I needed as a person, to get back to myself, outside of everything around me! If you have a lingering thought about doing something, even if you are unsure about it in the moment - write it down! Keep lists of goals you want to accomplish to improve your quality of life! Whether it's just one or two things, it's good to start somewhere! It's okay to start small too!
I have always said this in relation to making sure you are okay, "your mental well being is something you will always have to deal with for the rest of your life. It's apart of you. This is your body, and your mind. Things people say and do, Relationships with people, and jobs, will come and go." You will have to maintain your mental health forever, and you will never regret making the necessary changes to keep it in tact. So, if something doesn't feel right or safe let it go. If it's mentally and physically draining you sit and access the resources you have to make those changes. If you know there are things out there you can do that are going to make you happy, take those small steps at a time to pursue it! You will thank yourself in the longrun!
TRIGGER WARNING: mentions of self harm and substance abuse.
I know. Once you find a coping skill that works for you, it can be hard to move away from it. However, some of the coping skills you think are healthy might do more harm than good.
You might be wondering: What exactly makes a coping skill unhealthy? Well, a coping skill can be unhealthy in several ways. If the skill has one or more of these factors, it can be deemed maladaptive (or unhealthy):
The question still stands: If some coping mechanisms are so bad, why are we attracted to them? Once again, there are numerous reasons for this. In a simple explanation, people turn to defective ways to cope, rather than beneficial mechanisms, because it provides both instant results and short-term “help”. These coping skills only temporarily mask the difficult emotions, while adaptive coping skills take longer to learn and get used to through practice. Healthy coping skills will help tremendously in the long run while also equipping you with the ability to handle stress, whereas unhealthy coping skills will only postpone the problem for a later time.
Some common examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms are, but aren’t limited to substance abuse (ex. Excessive drug or alcohol usage), self mutilation/sabotage, and acts of violence (ex. Harming others).
If you struggle, or have struggled with bad coping mechanisms - similar to the ones listed or different - chances are you have been seeking out alternatives in an attempt to free yourself of them. Alternatives such as these include finding other ways to feel the ‘sensation’, such as snapping a rubber band against your wrist to resist the urge to cut yourself, trying different ways to feel ‘intoxicated’ without actually consuming drugs or alcohol, and taking your anger out on a pillow instead of a wall or another person.
While these alternatives don’t cause direct harm, that doesn’t mean they are healthy. Things such as these can be potentially helpful with the process of moving away from negative coping mechanisms, however they’re not something you should stick with for longer than necessary.
Why are these coping skills unhealthy, exactly? Well, even though you’re not actively harming yourself, that is still the implication of acts such as these, is it not?
Though it keeps you from enduring serious harm, what will you do if these sensations are not enough? Or if you can’t use these methods? These are rhetorical questions since the answers are quite obvious: you will more than likely fall back onto those original coping mechanisms; anything to feel those sensations.
That’s why it’s best to distance yourself from the concept of them entirely. Ideally, you shouldn’t be inflicting harm upon yourself, getting violent, or feeling high. Instead, you should be focused on practicing healthy ways to relieve those intense emotions.
If you have suffered from these maladaptive habits, you have probably found yourself saying: “I can’t stop.”
Though it may seem so, this is not a fact. You can stop, but it’s going to be a hard hill to climb. This doesn’t mean you should jump straight to the conclusion that you will never overcome what you’re going through.
The best way to start removing these addictions from your habits is by ridding yourself of those things that tempt you. Remove all sharp objects that can trigger your urges, like razor blades, knives and pencil sharpeners away from your presence. If you can’t hide certain things, avoid directing your attention onto them. If you can’t do that, either, there are additional resources to support you - crisis lines, rehabilitation centres, support groups - anything you can think of. If you have someone to help you, make sure to keep open communication with them about your urges and emotions. By doing this, they can help you to the best of their abilities.
There are additional steps you can take to shift your focus away from those sensations, rather than focusing on different ways to feel them. I know from experience that taking care of yourself can be difficult, and becoming clean isn’t so easy -especially when it feels like nothing or nobody can help you. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and recognizing your unhealthy habits is the starting point of your marathon towards it.
Some of the best coping mechanisms I’ve developed over time are writing and drawing. These help me express my emotions adequately. There are various healthy coping skills out there.
I wish you the best of luck on your recovery journey, and I hope you’ll take what I said to heart. Practice self-nurturing! There are plenty of sources to help you, even if you don't have access to a therapist or direct help from professionals. There are several websites to both encourage and assist with your well-being and recovery, including helplines, hotlines, therapy aids, and us - Teenagers With Experience.
There will always be people who care, something to get clean for. Even if it seems like you’re always stuck in the dark, there will always be some light.
I am sure many teens, myself included, have a lot of pent up emotions that are not always easily understood or easy to express to others. In addition, many teens have so many everchanging personal goals and thoughts that are worth keeping and never forgetting. As an adolescent, so many emotions and thoughts run through our minds that are worth looking back on for self-reflection. The way one can relieve themselves of their emotional troubles, without the pressure that comes with speaking to another person, is through journaling.
As someone who finds it quite difficult to trust others with personal information, due to the fear of being judged, journaling has proven to be a very therapeutic way for me to relieve myself of stress. Each day, I like to keep a routine of journaling throughout the day, whether it be about random thoughts or ideas, or a dream I’d had the previous night. I like to also incorporate memories in any way I can, by writing with intent so that when I look back on my entries, I will have a clear view into my past. I have been doing this on and off since I was a little girl, and have just started back again as quarantine began. The feeling of looking back on your memories and your troubles back when you were in middle school or high school is especially heartwarming, as you get to see how much you’ve grown and overcome throughout your life.
Bullet-journaling, or just writing your thoughts out, can be an incredible outlet for teenagers, as there are endless ideas and goals that we are bound to lose track of. In addition, recording your own ideas and goals can make them more likely to actually be put into action, and be given clarity as to how it will be accomplished. This process can be made even more fun by personalizing your notebook, or giving it theme and structure. I recommend dedicating sections and pages to different aspects of your mind like a daily mood tracker, a bucket-list, or a collection of favorite songs from a given point in your life.
Personally, I believe that journaling is a key way to organize your thoughts and emotions, especially if sometimes you feel that your emotions are constantly fluctuating. Ultimately, everything is worth it once you are able to look back on all the progress you’ve made as a person in terms of your emotional state and life accomplishments.
Overall, there are infinite sources that can give someone the emotional relief they need, like drawing, singing, or watching sad movies, all of which are extremely helpful to different people. I encourage you all to explore that for yourself and prioritize it, because especially in these times of uncertainty, your mental health must come first.