Below are some facts and figures about one of the most prominent mental illnesses worldwide; depression.
My experience with this? A couple of months ago I realised that I had lost interest in some of the things that I used to love. Normally, these were activities I would never miss out on, but suddenly I started not to care. For me, that was the biggest insight to noticing something was wrong emotionally. At school I would feel distant from my friends. It felt like they didn’t want me there and, as I walked home from school, I felt a weight on my shoulders from the day, not because my bag was heavy but because I knew that what I was thinking was wrong and that something needed to be done about it. With these incidents in mind I started to research some sort of explanation to my feeling, and after more research, more feelings of self doubt, emptiness and no hope If you’re in a similar situation? As hard as it’ll seem and as cliche as this sounds you are NOT alone. There are so many people around you to offer support and guidance. One in four people suffer with a mental health illness. There are so many more people than you can imagine who are struggling with a similar battle. It is okay to ask for help.
If you’re not ready to talk to someone you know face to face, there are many helplines available which can be great way to express how you feel to someone who won’t judge you, but will help to ease that feeling away. Here are some if you need it;
Remember that you are stronger than you believe. You are amazing. You are beautiful. And remember, nothing is impossible and even the word itself says ‘I’m possible’.
How can school be stress free when you have to pick your GCSE options, make friends, attend class and do homework and revision?. Picking your GCSE options determines which path you take for your future and your career and which university/college you can get into. Making friends determines which friendship group you’re in and what you’re classified as, and friends help build your confidence and leads you to have a social life. Each class and lesson you take notes so you remember as much as possible for end of module tests; homework for almost every lesson that has a due date; independent revision for when you have an exam that you need to put in the extra hours so you exceed your target. How can anyone do this without feeling, stress, nerves or a lack of perseverance?
The best thing I’ve learnt to balance all of that with a social life is to take time out. At first, it may be difficult and hard to take half an hour, maybe even an hour out for yourself but once you do, you’ll see how important it is for you to do it more often. When you take time for yourself, have a nice relaxing bath with a bath bomb, use a face mask, put fairy lights and candles on around your room to make it cosy;do something creative like draw, paint, bullet journal;something that brings peace and happiness to you. Spending that time for yourself and making effort to do so can make your well being so much better.
Not taking time for yourself can make you feel overwhelmed, isolated, self-conscious and like you have a list of things that need to be done, but that list never seems to be getting smaller.
The lesson learnt for today is to remember that you’re human. You’re not immortal and can’t do everything you want. Take time for yourself once a week, and do the best you can do in whatever it is you need to do. The best you can do is enough. Never forget that.
Bodily betrayal, stress, and the importance of getting help
Mental health is difficult to deal with. Even more so when you have no idea why everything is suddenly just … everywhere. When my mental wellbeing started declining I felt completely vulnerable. This period, before I realised what was going on and sought help, is by far the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. Mental health in youth is different for every society, but in Denmark it’s estimated that more than 80% of all anxiety disorders manifest before the 20th year. This sounds really scary, but thankfully research has also shown that the sooner you ask for help, the easier it is to get it under control.
For me, it started with academic stress. I could only think about all the work I had to do. It took centre stage in my mind. I coped by distracting myself, which helped nothing. I was stressed to the point of panic - I couldn’t even open my computer to write an essay without feeling like I was drowning. The less I worked, the more stressed I became - the more stressed I was, the less I worked.
Thus thoroughly trapped in a downwards spiral, I tried to convinced myself I was fine. At the time, I genuinely believed that I was just stressed and lazy. Nothing was really wrong, and there was no reason to ask for help. The wakeup call was even more unpleasant than my general state of distress. During a completely normal week, one small comment from a classmate send me storming home while crying. I proceeded to spend two days in bed, unable to do anything but just lay there.
This was the time I realised something was wrong. I had no idea why my heart was beating at twice its normal rate, why my breaths were shallow, nor why I could physically feel the stress settle in my stomach. It became too big for me to handle, and I did the only thing I could at that point: I set up a meeting with the school counsellor.
Surprisingly, actually going to the counsellor wasn’t what made breathing easier. It was acknowledging that something was wrong. That I wasn’t just lazy and dumb and incapable of doing what everyone else did so seamlessly. Giving myself permission to feel my feelings was the first step. The rest came bit by bit.
So what do you do when your body starts physically manifesting your inner turmoil? Hopefully, you are more in tune with your emotions than I was, and you discover something is wrong before everything comes tumbling down - you ask for help before you’re panicking all of the time.
But if you are like me, if it takes panic attacks, weeks of distress and misery and very obvious physical signs for you to realise something is wrong, here are some signs that I wish I had paid more attention to: It’s not healthy to cry all the time for seemingly no reason. You are supposed to be able to sleep at night. If that knot of worry in your stomach becomes permanent, you might need assistance in getting rid of it. If you can’t even begin to think about working without feeling like the air is being sucked out your lungs, something is up.
I was lucky to be surrounded in an environment were mental health was an open discussion. I had the incentive and resources to ask for help the moment it became apparent something was wrong - I did not try to battle it on my own. And I’m so happy I made that decision. Many of us struggle with the idea that we are “not bad enough to seek help”. This mentality is harmful to your mental health. If you’re struggling to cope, there is no shame in asking for help.
It’s important to realise that our generation is under more pressure than any generation before us. Humans evolve, and as part of this, our respective societies demand more and more of young people. In this race to be the best, the brightest, the fastest, we have to spend a little bit of time once in a while being introspective. Take five minutes, assess your general level of happiness. If you find that your are in fact, quite unhappy; is it a response to a short term problem, that you are able to deal with and will go away with time? Or is it something that’s been going on for weeks, and can you look moths into the future without the problem becoming less present? If you said yes to the last question, it’s never wrong to talk to someone. A trusted adult, a friend, a parent, or a professional as I did. You are not a failure for needing help, nor are you weak for getting it. You don’t need to wait to the point where you can’t breathe anymore. The quicker you get help, the easier it is to feel good again.