Living on your own can be intimidating, scary and chaotic. When you first move out, it’s overwhelming to have all these things to do and plan and take care of and still enjoy your university years! Sometimes it seems like you’re expected to know a million things that you were never taught. Over time, all of this will get easier as you get down a routine; but here are a few tips for those first few chaotic months that are an absolute mess.
I’ve lived on my own since I was 16, and I would say I’m reasonably functionable most of the time. Why is it important to function well in your own household? Not only do you simply need to eat, live in a clean space and do your laundry, but living in a well-organized household will help productivity, stave off mental illness and reduce stress so you can focus on academics and your new life on your own.
Many teenagers want to get tattoos and piercings done, and many adults, especially parents, disapprove. Of course everyone is free to have their own opinion on body modifications, but unfortunately, where there is stark disapproval there is little information. Adults are right- piercings and tattoos can be painful. That’s why it’s so important to know what you’re doing. I’m here to share advice on getting tattoos and piercings the least dangerous and least painful way.
I dare say I have some experience in the matter. I have 5 piercings and a tattoo (and my collection keeps growing), from simple earrings to facial piercings. I’ve had every experience under the sun- the piercing that went so easily I hardly felt it, the piercing that made me pass out, the piercing that got infected. As for the tattoos, I got advice and help from my lovely partner, who has rather more experience and six tattoos.
Suicide is a serious issue, the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. For every suicide there is an estimation of 25 suicide attempts, and it’s a difficult topic to talk about, but a necessary one.
I have attempted suicide twice, and, be it by luck or any other reason, I’m still here. The statistic that for every suicide there’s 25 suicide attempts? I would say for every suicide attempt there’s hundreds of days that you seriously consider it. I have them often. And so, to avoid an attempt, I created a list of questions to go through every time I’m considering suicide. This is not a fool proof way, as you can see by my own experience, and it DEFINITELY doesn’t replace adequate medical help. Honestly, these aren’t even ways to make your suicidal feelings go away. But they are ways for you to calm down and take a moment to think, and when you want to kill yourself, it isn’t about finding a long-term solution: It’s about staying alive for now.
Are you on your period? Don’t kill yourself.
Do you hate people invalidating your feelings when you’re on your period? So do I. But fact is, your period does affect your thoughts and your mental health. There’s a lot of hormones, a lot of pain, a lot of discomfort and a lot of crying. Periods are an emotional rollercoaster and it’s so easy to feel terrible and cry and wish you were dead. Please don’t kill yourself while you’re on your period. Wait it out.
Have you eaten and had enough water?
Eating and drinking well doesn’t replace therapy and won’t make your problems go away. But it will make you feel less terrible and more productive, at least for a short while, and maybe at least long enough for you to reach out for help.
Have you exercised?
Yet another stereotype. You’re feeling awful, drained, tired, sad, you’re crying and shaking and I’m telling you to exercise? I mean it. I’ve been there, and if you can, please take a walk around the block. Take a ride on your bike. Play some Wii Sports. It won’t solve your problems and it won’t stop you from feeling suicidal, but it’ll be distracting and for now, that’s enough.
Have you slept enough? Sleep on it.
Someone has almost certainly told you that everything looks better after a good night’s sleep, and it does. Just like with the two ideas above, this idea is pretty useless for curing depression; but it’s saved my life once or twice when I wanted to kill myself and decided to do it in the morning.
Have you talked to your therapist?
Finally, useful advice that will help you in the long term. Get a therapist, visit your old one, go to the suicide ward and get an emergency therapy session. If you don’t have the strength and the drive and just aren’t composed enough, that’s what the tips just above are for: Calming yourself down and giving you just enough time to reach out.
Wait 72 hours
When all else fails: Wait. I’ve told myself often enough: “Wait for 24 hours, kill yourself then. Wait for 48 hours, kill yourself then. Wait for 72 hours, kill yourself then.” And by that time I had been able to reach out. This tip is last on the list because it’s the last thing you’ll want to do and it takes an incredible amount of restraint and rational thought, which simply isn’t available to you in moments of crisis. But at the end of the day, simple things, simply waiting, simply distracting yourself, can save your life.
These are all basic techniques, all simple things that don’t really help in the long term, and if someone told me this is how to cure my depression, I would punch them. But the point now isn’t finding a cure: It’s distracting yourself, fighting for time. Depression won’t go away if you go for a run and eat a salad. But with any luck, by the time you’ve finished your run and eaten your salad, you feel just good enough to keep going for one more day. Just good enough to reach out to friends or family. Or maybe you remember that you need to clean your fridge- another distraction that will keep you alive.
Try to hang on long enough to reach out. The Samaritans in the UK can be reached under 116 123. The USA has a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For the rest of the world, this Wikipedia article lists various numbers that are constantly updated: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines
Before I even start, I would like to clarify that, while this is definitely an article about politics, and my own views might at one point shine through, this article does not take a political side. I am merely proposing ways to politically engage within your own community- which issues or parties you decide to support is your own choice and this article will not dictate a certain political viewpoint.
Politics influence our daily lives on an enormous scale, more so than we might realize. It’s not just about which party has the majority, who the president is and who the prime minister, and it isn’t black and white. Politics can be extremely complicated, but even small changes can change the world we live in and the values that we put an emphasis on. For example, taxation, easily one of the most boring topics to young people, isn’t just about financing healthcare, schools and roads. What your party wants to tax can have a wide influence; for example, if they choose to tax cars in the city heavily, people might be more tempted to use public transport! Or if they choose to decrease taxes on organic products, it might be cheaper to buy organic veggies from the supermarket.
Growing up, I was encouraged to be politically engaged and active. In my country, the voting age is set very low, so young people are taught to form their political views very early in life. I’ve joined many activist groups and volunteered or political organizations, and it’s a huge part of my identity. I think it’s very important, especially in this day and age, to fight for the causes you’re passionate about- for me, this is mainly issues related to climate change and immigration.
The first step is to stay informed! After all, if you don’t stay informed how can you shape your own political views or know what’s going on? Watch the news, listen to the radio, read the newspapers- anything that works with your schedule. Make sure not only to consume media that backs up your own viewpoints, but challenge yourself by engaging with media that doesn’t necessarily confirm what you already believe. In an ideal world, media would be completely unbiased, but most newspapers or TV stations have a more or less strong bias, or a specific target audience. Inform yourselves about issues from different points of view and different sources to really get to know the issue.
The most valuable way you can contribute to your chosen candidate’s campaign or to a political or activist cause is by volunteering your time. No matter if it’s passing out flyers on the street, working a booth at an event or helping out with organisational matters. You can search for volunteering opportunities on the internet, and most political parties have an extra section on their website.
Most parties have youth groups that you can join where you can meet with like-minded people, have your voice heard, discuss your opinions and shape your political views. They’re great places to engage not only politically but socially! If you’re looking for something more formal, and a way to really bring your voice and concerns to the table, you could join a youth parliament or youth council! These are organized on a local, regional, state and even international level. Besides encouraging debating skills and political engagement, depending on where you are these can be ways to actually have your ideas and opinions heard.
Join protests and protest for or against issues you’re passionate about! Protests are especially fun to go to with friends, and you might even make new friends there. Don’t be shy about protesting. It takes a while to get used to, and sometimes you need some time to build up the courage to actually make some noise, but being there is all that counts! If you have the budget, you can combine protesting with travelling and see some parts of your own home country you never knew existed! Remember to stay safe at protests, stay with friends and leave immediately if you feel unsafe.
Here’s yet another thing for you to join: Activist groups! There’s international ones with various local divisions like Amnesty International, Red Cross or Greenpeace, or more local ones, maybe even ones that are specific to your town! Being part of an activist group is a great way to stay informed about any protests or events as well as connecting you with like-minded people from all over.
The most direct way you can influence politics is to vote, if you can! In some countries, like Austria or Malta, you can vote at 16, but most countries allow you to vote at age 18. If you think that should be lowered so younger people can vote as well, why not let that be the first thing you fight for!
No matter what issues or parties you decide to support, it’s important to be politically active and try to shape the world the way you want it to be. It’s in your power to contribute to and shape the political and social climate around you. There’s so many opportunities to really influence politics all around you, so why not use them to their full extent?
For a long time, people thought that only the insane and ill hear things that aren’t there. Good thing opinions can be changed, and in modern days if you tell your doctor you’re hearing things, you won’t be sent to the next asylum or even the next therapist- instead you might be told you’re having auditory hallucinations.
Auditory hallucinations is, simply put, when you hear things that aren’t there- “auditory” might sound familiar from audiobooks or film audio. This can be full blown voices but also just bangs, rushing, a ringing in your ears (although this could also be attributed to titinnus). Many people have some degree of auditory hallucinations at one point in their life, even without realizing. Auditory hallucinations can be caused by stress, mental illness, infections or other physical illness and many more factors. So it might not be a necessarily healthy thing, but it’s definitely not something to panic about.
I’ll have to admit: I panicked. I’ve had some degree of auditory issues most of my life, in the form of ringing so intense I’ve spent most of my life with headphones on and can’t sleep at night because it’s simply so loud. I never really noticed it, beyond feeling guilty that I’m missing out on life because I spent it all in my music. During my high school years, when the stress finally became overwhelming, the hallucinations intensified to loud bangs and crashes. Teachers began taking notice when I’d jump in shock in silent exam halls.
The first thing to do is to talk to your doctor. Beyond finding the reason behind your auditory hallucinations, doctors can prescribe treatment or at least advise some way to make the symptoms easier to live with. Depending if the cause is physical or mental, you could take meds or be sent on to a therapist- if you already have one, it’s of course best to talk to your current therapist as well, particularly if you have depression or anxiety (these are mental illnesses commonly associated with auditory issues). No matter what, your doctor is the place to start, even if you feel nervous reaching out. They might catch a serious issue you hadn’t considered.
As mentioned, what I did and what helps a lot of people with auditory issues is listening to music. The problem with this is that listening to music over long periods of time can be really damaging- I’ve developed aches in my ears and skull from wearing headphones for hours. Find headphones that fit and that you can wear comfortably. It’s worth shelling out for them. And no matter what you do, don’t listen to music at loud volumes especially over a long time. It might be tempting to “drown out the noise” but really you don’t need to drown it out- your music just needs to be loud enough to distract you. Permanent hearing damage really isn’t worth it- and it won’t stop the auditory hallucinations anyway.
Another issue many people with auditory issues have is sleeping. Who could go to sleep when the world is banging and rushing and shrilly whistling around them? Again, your best bet isn’t to drown or block it out- ear plugs will do absolutely nothing but stop the distracting real sounds. Instead, use a white noise machine to create calming sounds that can distract you and send you into slumber. Otherwise, there’s an endless supply of “sleep/meditation sounds” on YouTube and a variety of free apps, all of which will produce noise more calming than high-pitched ringing so you can get some sleep.
There are many mental illnesses associated with auditory issues. ADHD and autism can sometimes be a cause for ringing in your ears, and depression and anxiety for voices, bangs and other hallucinations. If you’ve already been diagnosed, tell everyone in charge of your mental health about your auditory issues so they can help you deal with it, and maybe even provide you with medication if they think you need it. If you haven’t, telling your therapist might contribute to you getting a proper diagnosis.
Note down everything. What kind of noise did you hear? When? Was it a stressful situation? How did you react to the noise? Did you get any physical symptoms like a headache? Jotting these things down isn’t just useful to later tell your doctors, it can help you find a pattern and can have a calming effect. It might also help you personally find your own solutions, for example by knowing when the stress is getting too much so you can cancel a few plans.
Appreciate subtitles as the gift they are. Dialogue can be especially difficult for all those with auditory issues, especially those with ADHD or autism, or people with auditory processing issues as well as hallucinations. Even if you don’t have processing issues, subtitles are a sure way not to lose the plot over an imaginary bang, any they help you confirm if what you heard was part of the movie or part of your mind. Download subtitle tracks (steer clear of sketchy websites) or use legal sites like Amazon Prime or Netflix.
Remember that this isn’t something to be ashamed of or something you have to keep a secret. Many people have auditory issues or hallucinations, and the cause can be as simple as ordinary stress. You certainly aren’t going mad, and being ashamed and panicking won’t help you get help or the right diagnosis. Stay positive about it and if it’s seriously damaging your quality of life, see if there’s anything your doctor can do, be it surgery, medication or therapy.
Auditory hallucinations can be scary, both because you’re hearing things that aren’t there and because what you’re hearing might be alarming, be it voices or loud noises. It might not be normal, but it isn’t something to be scared about, and your doctor will probably know what to do, or to send you to an expert. Don’t expect to have to deal with it all alone, and don’t feel like you have to hide it. The sooner you talk about it to someone the sooner you’re likely to find a good way to handle it.
LGBT+ people, though erased, have been around forever. Many famous authors, artists, politicians and poets were queer. Familiar names might be the openly bisexual Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron, but also Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton. Historians dispute that there might also have been various LGBT members of royalty like King James I or Richard Lionheart- Yes, the one from Robin Hood.
But moving on from mere rumour, it’s time to explain the start of the modern LGBT+ movement. We don’t know for sure how accepted LGBT people were in different societies at different times, but we know that the modern fight for LGBT rights started with the Stonewall riots in 1969. World War II had triggered a larger understanding and visibility for LGBT people, who often met in the army, where the previously isolated men and women were, probably for the first time, tolerated. The community was also, unfortunately brought into the spotlight by the murder of various LGBT persons in concentrations camps. Nevertheless, this knowledge of the existence of LGBT people triggered a larger community forming, especially in New York, soon to be the location of the Stonewall riots.
Gay bars and pubs had been known to the police for a long time, and were frequently raided and the customers arrested for indecency or publicly outed, with severe social consequences. But it was at Stonewall Inn in June 1969, shortly after the death of LGBT icon Judy Garland, that the patrons fought back in a turning point for LGBT history and rights. This was also the start of June as “Pride Month”- which is still celebrated today.
It’s wrong to say that Stonewall started the LGBT movement- we have several examples before, like Russia’s October Revolution in 1917 in which Bolshevik leaders declared “homo- and heterosexual relationships to be treated equal before the law” or the Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin, founded in 1919 by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, which signified the start of many countries decriminalizing homosexuality. Unfortunately the institute and most of its research was burned and destroyed by Nazis just a little later.
The Stonewall riots triggered a new era of visibility and resistance from the LGBT community as well as accelerated an equal rights movement strongly influenced by our unsung heroes- trans women of colour. Almost 10 years later, during which many milestone victories were achieved, a new problem emerged that would devastate and decimate the LGBT community, but also bring about further understanding: The AIDS crisis.
AIDS, short for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is sexually transmitted and targets our autoimmune centre, making the human body more susceptible to illness. In the beginning, AIDS was identified as GRID- Gay Related Immune Deficiency. As we know today, AIDS has nothing to do with being gay; it was simply a lack of education about sexually transmitted diseases that made gay men more susceptible to it. Many would forgo protection, having no idea of the danger they were putting themselves in, all because in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS crisis, protection was used exclusively to prevent pregnancy.
Not knowing how the disease spread, and frightened by the rate at which especially young, gay men died- as many as 41,0000 in a year- people were afraid it would spread by toilet seats, holding hands or even being in the same room as an infected person. Nurses would refuse to bring meals to patients, and parents refuse to visit their dying children on their deathbed. The name of this disease at the time as well as the social group within which it was first and foremost identified- LGBT males- drove this fear to a wave of stigma towards the LGBT community. It was this stigma and this crisis that drew the LGBT community closer together and turned the survivors towards a civil rights movement. Tragic though it is, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s was a turning point for the LGBT community, the experienced discrimination bringing people together in their fight for equal rights. As research continued, scientists not only discovered how it was transmitted, lessening fears, but also that almost half of the affected were heterosexual- changing the name from GRID to AIDS and thus trying to reduce the stigma and hate towards gay people.
Nowadays the fight for equal rights has picked up momentum. Not only has homosexuality been decriminalized almost worldwide, we have many countries that have passed equal marriage laws, allowing everyone to marry who they love. Nevertheless, the fight isn’t over. Many LGBT people still face hatred and stigma, the suicide rate among LGBT teens is still significantly higher than that of non-LGBT teens, and many countries still stubbornly refuse to give LGBT people the protection they deserve.
There are also many problems within the LGBT community itself that have to be tackled- racism, sexism, bi- and transphobia often colour the LGBT movement in different ways, and to be a movement for equal rights, the LGBT community must improve upon itself and pay attention to intersectionality- meaning that they fight for all LGBT people, regardless of sex, race, religion or social status.
There are also many countries in which being LGBT is still dangerous. A recent example is the prosecution of the LGBT community, especially gay men, in the Russian Chechnya. In a truly horrific “gay purge”, LGBT people were hunted down, tortured and killed as recently as 2017. The fight for equal rights and safety is far from over- which is why your support and your fighting spirit is absolutely necessary.
Questioning is probably the first step in the LGBT+ community. But it doesn’t have to be the first step, and for most, it’s the first, the third, the fifth... Because you never truly have to stop questioning, and most people don’t.
There are many different labels in the LGBT+ community- gay, bisexual, pansexual, genderfluid, non-binary... questioning is the process in which you decide which label fits you, how to describe your own identity. It’s a slow process that requires a lot of intense introspection, and just like you will change as life goes on, so will your labels. Questioning is very difficult, and it isn’t necessary to land on a label at all, or to be done questioning when you come out. Questioning is also a very personal process: No one except yourself can decide on your own identity.
In fact, I myself am still questioning. When I was five, before I even knew what being trans was, I told my sister I was a boy. Now, 13 years later, I am not quite as sure. I’ve spent years and years questioning both my sexuality and my gender, and once I accepted the fact that I’m queer at all I felt the desire to find a label that fits. I still haven’t found one, but I have found a lot more people who are questioning, some in their 30s. Questioning doesn’t ever have to stop. Sexuality and gender are fluid, and labels change just like you do. Still, in my journey, I have found a few buzzfeed-list type questioning folks.
People question differently. Some never stop. Some immediately find their label with amazing confidence and self-knowledge. Some question for a while and turn around to head straight back to the hetero corner (get it?). Some don’t even bother with labels.
What do these types have in common? They’re all real, valid and beautiful. They all have the same end results: Making you more comfortable in your own skin, your own identity. And they all deserve the same respect. No matter how long you take to question, or where you end up- straight, gay, bi, still questioning- as long as you’re happy, you’ve done it right. However, for many people, having a concrete label is what makes them happy, or at least makes life easier.
So if you’re still questioning and really just want to settle on a label, here’s some advice:
-Talk to people
Talk it out. Talk to your friends or your parents about how you’re feeling, who you feel attracted to, what your body feels like. Nowadays it is more and more common for people to question so you will probably find some friends who are questioning as well.
-Take it to a therapist
If you can’t find anyone you’re comfortable talking to, take it to a therapist. There are therapists specifically trained to help LGBT+ teens, but pretty much any therapist will be able to help you, and everything you say in a session is strictly confidential.
-Find a queer community and/or peer
If you want someone who really knows what you’re going through, try to find a local queer community or group, join some events, make some friends and talk to your out and proud peers about their own identity and labels.
-Realize you don’t have to stress
It’s alright not to find a label at all, or to change labels, or to question and then realize you’re straight after all. There’s nothing to stress about. If someone pressures you to label yourself, they’re the ones in the wrong.
-Don’t set yourself a time limit
One of my favourite daydreams is that one day, aged 90, I’ll sit up and say “I got it! I’m bisexual!” Don’t worry if it takes time. You’re never too late to start questioning, and never too late to finish.
-Let yourself question again. And again. And again.
Labels change. You change. If you feel like the label you chose two days ago or two decades ago doesn’t fit, go back to the start and just question again. Figure it out. Take time to think about and for yourself.
-Identify and inform people of your needs
Identify how you want to be treated. Do you want specific pronouns? Do you want people to stop asking you which ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ you like? Do you want to change your name? Tell the people around you, and keep reminding them if they mess up.
-Write it all down
Write what you think. Don’t stop to correct your spelling or your grammar, or check what you’ve written. Don’t bother making it comfortable for others to read. It doesn’t have to be something you share. Just write down everything that comes across your mind, even things that are seemingly unrelated.
Finally, and most importantly:
-Don’t let others label you
A label has only one purpose: Making you more comfortable. Not to make someone else happy, someone’s life easier, or make someone else feel less alone. A label is for you only. Take your time, reflect upon yourself, and you’ll find what you want in no time.
It can be okay to cave to peer pressure. Not to encourage any bad habits or to tell you to jump off a bridge if everyone else does, but if you did things just because your friends did, that’s okay. It’s a human thing, wanting to fit in, and you aren’t a weak person, or a bad person, for that. Just as important as resisting peer pressure is examining your own desires and reasoning.
However, if you’re here, it’s very likely that you’re being pressured into something that you really, honestly do not want to do- and you shouldn’t cave.
Here’s something grown-ups won’t tell you: Peer pressure does not take the form they say it does. It’s unlikely someone will outright tell you “all the cool kids are doing it” or that you can’t join if you don’t drink or smoke. It’s actually much more likely that they’ll be more than alright with your refusal - at least in my experience. The bad news is that you yourself can be your worst enemy. Peer pressure can be internalized, and even if no one is obviously pushing you, you might push yourself to fit in.
Like every teenager, I’ve experienced peer pressure often. It can be difficult, and often you’re tempted to give in so you fit in with the group you want to fit in with. But it’s important to stay true to yourself. Not the teenagers who tell you to do something, or the adults who tell you not to do something. Yourself. Coming back to what I said before, you can be your own worst enemy. At parties I would feel left out because I didn’t do what everyone else was doing. I felt lonely, an outcast. Of course, the thought began sneaking up on me: You’ll fit in better if you drink. In the end, I didn’t, and I’m glad for it. So here’s my advice on how to fight peer pressure.
The first thing to do is identify the source of pressure. This can be a person, a social group or a place. If it’s a single person, try to hang out with them only in a group setting to minimize the effects. If it’s a social group, you can choose to either cut off contact or not join them at times you know you’ll be pressured. You can also trust a few select members you’re close to with your thoughts. By telling them, they can help accommodate you in the group setting, or be a ‘buddy’ to make sure you feel good in the group at times that are difficult for you. If it’s a place or setting, avoid that certain setting. Either simply stay away or make alternative plans. If it’s a place that’s difficult to avoid, like school or home, talk to an adult about it.
The second thing to do is to identify the source of refusal. This might be societal standards, the law, your family or yourself. Here you have to trust yourself: once you’ve identified it, figure out for yourself if that’s a good reason for refusal. Pro-tip: Yes, “it’s illegal” is a fantastic reason not to do something.
Now that you’ve eradicated or minimized the source of pressure and critically investigated your own reasons, you should be peer-pressure proof. If it’s still too much, don’t be afraid to reach out to knowledgeable adults like teachers or parents or the school psychologist. There’s also nothing wrong with going to therapy: there is no reason ‘too small’ to go to a therapist. Therapists and school psychologists are also bound to secrecy, so you don’t have to be afraid of getting your friends into trouble.
Don’t be afraid to say no. And remember, most teenagers won’t actually outright ignore your refusal. If they do, they’re pretty horrible people and I can guarantee you will find someone else near you who’s willing to stand up for you and won’t pressure you. More difficult is internal pressure, which you really should talk about. Even talking to your peers will make you realize that they, in fact, appreciate you the way you are and don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to. You’re most likely surrounded by loving people who don’t care what you do or don’t as long as you stay true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out, and also don’t be afraid to distance you from people who won’t accept your refusal or discomfort!
If you have problems with peer pressure that can’t be solved by any way suggested in this article, feel free to reach out to the TWE team! We’re always here to chat and will help you if we can!
Dealing with school life when you have Executive Dysfunction can be a huge challenge. Teachers often aren’t aware of it, and it can massively disrupt your work. But that’s not to say it’s impossible to still be successful in your school life!
Executive Dysfunction is a disruption or weakness of a set of mental skills (your executive function) that manage and regulate other skills like managing time, focus, initiating behaviours or shifting between exercises and multitasking. In short, executive function is your ability to get things done, and executive dysfunction is a weakness in that department. I like to explain it to my friends as “extreme” procrastination, but in reality it is so much more than that. Executive Dysfunction is more common in people with ADHD or Depression, but anyone can have it.
My Executive Dysfunction stayed undiagnosed for almost 18 years because I do very well in school regardless. I have been labelled lazy and unfocused for most of my life, particularly by my family, but my grades indicated nothing wrong. But for me, daily functioning is a huge challenge. I need ages for things like getting out of bed, and simple tasks like showering and cooking are a struggle because I can’t initiate them or manage my time (which is how I ended up eating at 2 am last night). I also have trouble focusing, meaning I hardly ever study because I can’t do the same thing for a long time. My attention drifts even in very important situations, like when I’m taking exams. But luckily, there’s ways to cope:
1. Set early deadlines
Set personal deadlines before something is really due. Already doing that? It doesn’t help? Set earlier deadlines. If you’re like me and can’t outsmart yourself, tell someone about it, like your teacher, or a responsible friend. Tell them “I expect to be done by this date.” Make it a promise. If it helps, you can promise your friend you’ll go out with them the day after. This sense of expectation will force you to stick to your early deadline even if you outsmart yourself.
2. Ask yourself “when can I do it?”
Doing things is difficult. I get it. But instead of berating yourself and telling yourself you should be doing a certain task, ask yourself “when will I be ready? What do I have to do to be ready?” If you find you need to lie in bed for 10 minutes before, do it. But listening to your needs is kind on your brain and makes the task less daunting and exhausting. Additionally, doing this gives your brain, always slow at beginning tasks, time to get used to the idea.
3. Write it down a million times I jot everything down in my phone, then write it down in my notebook, then transfer it in my calendar to see due dates. After that I put it in my week task list, and from there transfer it to my daily to-do in time for the early deadline. Sounds exhausting, but if I only write down my assignment in three places instead of all of them, I forget it. Additionally, write down small things like taking a shower or cooking dinner.
4. Prioritise tasks
Because ED can make it difficult to multitask or switch between tasks, you need to prioritise extra well (for those of you whose ED prevents them from prioritizing, ask others to help you). Things that are due soon need to be done first. Long tasks like that 20-page-essay should be split into chunks that you treat like a single assignment. I cannot switch tasks at all, but because it’s impossible to write that essay in one sitting, seeing one section as an assignment allows me to switch, staying on top of my regular schoolwork and still getting that essay done.
5. Talk to teachers beforehand
Teachers are usually more forgiving the earlier you tell them you won’t be able to make a deadline. Talk to them. If they don’t get it, prioritise and shift the tasks you can hand in late to the back of your to-do list.
6. Remember it’s a real thing and give yourself time. Forgive yourself.
You’re not lazy, or apathetic. Your brain is wired differently. Be kind to yourself and let yourself lie in bed sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up for falling behind because you were staring at the door for half an hour. Be forgiving, and talk to those close to you so they understand why you’re late to that coffee date. And don’t forget, if you feel like you can’t handle it on your own, you can always get professional help.
The most important thing is to make it clear to those around you. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, lists are your friend and can help you get everything under control! Treat yourself kindly, and good luck!