This is the second post in our series of mental health stories. Read the first post here. The intention of this series it to raise an awareness of mental illness and to contribute to the development of a society in which mental illness is understood. By sharing real stories submitted by our students and staff, we’ll show that those suffering from mental illness are not alone, that having such thoughts means they should seek help, that it’s more common than many may think, and that such health problems are not shameful in any way. Let’s remove the stigma surrounding this illness by talking about it.
I am a female senior in high school who struggles with mental health.
I wanted to start off with the fact that I’m really impressed that VHS has made a form for awareness about mental health. Not a lot of people do that, and when they do, they do it in the wrong way, saying people can be themselves but get extremely judgmental about it. So, kudos for this, and especially that it can be anonymous.I am a female senior in high school who struggles with mental health. Both my mother and my father’s side of the family have history with mental illnesses, and I unfortunately have been dealing with them for a very long time. I’m gifted, being born with over-average smarts, but with that comes a downfall of either social or mental ineptness, or maybe even both. It started in elementary school. I was always more emotional than the rest of the kids, I was also the first child in my family, so I was extremely sheltered. I still remember my first few days of kindergarten, when I automatically didn’t fit in with the children in my class. It just got worse from there. I would sob my eyes out at lunch because I had no friends, and was constantly the victim of bullying from both male and female students. There was a hate club in my first grade against me, one in which my only friends joined because her other friends forced her.Things continued this way for a long time. My teachers were never nice in how they dealt with it, and no one understood. I made friends, but only a small few, and dealt with constant drama as one of my friends in the group would turn them all against me one week, and then the next, we were all friends again. I never understood why people disliked me, I tried very hard to be nice and caring. But still, my nickname was crybaby, tattle-tale, bossy, all the usual thing kids call the people who are even slightly different. In Grade 6, I wanted to ‘rot away in loser toon’, a.k.a, I just wanted to kill myself. In Grade 8, I was told everyone hated me because I was ‘too happy’. I just trained myself not to treat others the way I was treated, and it also helped the fact that I was born and raised a Christian, and though people reading this may not believe in God, I respect that but please know that I do. I would not be alive today if it wasn’t for him.
Everything just got worse in high school. I was attending a private high school, so things were more sheltered, but everyone was unpleasant. But since I was nice and cheery, I knew everyone and everyone knew me. It seemed okay for a while, I was happy, I had friends, but then around exam time of my first year things just crashed. I was exhausted from exams, crying all the time. My friends were there for me, but then the guy I liked who was my biggest support all of a sudden said he didn’t like me anymore. Now, doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to Grade 9 hopeless romantic me, I was super upset. First guy I had ever liked that liked me back, but I got over it.
It was Family Day of 2013. I still remember it like it was yesterday. My whole entire life, my mother and father had been fighting. My father… Let’s just say, he’s not the best. He was emotionally and mentally abusive of me my whole entire life. Of me, my mom, and my little brother. And lately, the fights had been getting worse. He would throw things sometimes, and sometimes even hurt my brother. He would threaten to leave us sometimes, pack all his things and get to the front door, then turn around and change his mind. I should have been expecting it when they called me and my brother down to the kitchen, as the week before they had a huge argument where I was the only one who managed to get my dad to come back. I called him and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, seeing as he had left and was planning to get a hotel. He hated when my mother stood up for me. He hated when she did a lot of things that were right. My father was a child, and I have realized that now. For that day, my parents split up, making things even more complicated.
That was stressful and hard for the entire family. My Dad started dating another woman not a couple months later, and I slowly but surely started to learn things about him I didn’t want to know. With that, I was having problems with school. Work stressed me out, people treated me badly, my teachers didn’t understand. I had problems with my church as well, so things just kept piling up. Summer of that year, I actually got a bit better. Got my first boyfriend. But then his parents forced us to break up, my so called ‘best friend’ turned her back on me and betrayed me, and these all lead up to the big trigger for when I became aware to what my mental illness was.
I was already have anxiety attacks all the time. I was depressed about everything, I would stay up late not being able to sleep and cry. Always thinking, always anxious, always upset about what people thought. Then my Drama teacher, oh, my sweet, sweet drama teacher, he first started off by banning me from the improv team. Okay, I took pictures, trying to stay in touch with my people because I loved acting and singing. It was and still is my outlet. My drama teacher was my favourite as well. Always helped me out with my stuff, told me I had potential and how great I was. And then one day, he pulled me aside and told me ‘You emotionally blackmail people’.
And that’s what cued everything. I got so worried over what I was doing wrong and my drama teacher controlled it all. He told me I had a personality disorder and all these problems, but kept telling me I had ‘potential’. Always potential. I had a huge anxiety attack one night, and came to school blank, emotionless. I didn’t care about my appearance nor how I took care of myself. I was never the same again after this.
No one at my school understood. Friends and boys I liked treated me terrible. I was so emotionally sensitive and so caring for others, yet I received constant hate because I was different. Teachers would talk about me behind my back and gang up against me. I started taking medication because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I still remember going to the doctors and sitting on the bed, crying and shaking like a leaf because I was panicking.
I still continued school, but my marks began to plummet and I had little to no friends at all. I developed an inferiority complex and put myself below anyone. I never self-harmed or tried to commit suicide, but I definitely thought about it. All the thoughts were ‘If I disappeared, who would care?’
That coming summer, I worked at a camp where then again I wasn’t liked very much for being different. I knew everyone and anyone, but a lot of people just flat out didn’t like me. My supervisor, who was my ‘best friend’, was crazy, and was emotionally and mentally abusive. She controlled whatever I did and whenever I did something she didn’t agree with, she would call it out and put me down for it. That summer was terrible. I also had auditioned for the play at my school, as the teachers had pretty much told me I was guaranteed a spot, so I didn’t sign up for any other courses for it. I got a generic e-mail saying I didn’t make it, and we had to call asking why. My teacher said I was ‘too dramatic’ and ‘missed too many days of school’, yet another girl was worse and they were bending backwards for her. So, seeing as I didn’t have any ties to the school, I dropped out and started attending the school I go to now.
The year started out the same as Grade 9. I made a bunch of friends, but I was generally surprised when anyone was nice to me. I was goofy and fun for a bit, but the work got to me again and I soon mellowed out and didn’t care again. But it was around this time I met my boyfriend who I’m still with today. He’s the rock in my life, and I love him so much I’m crying as I write this because he’s been there with me through the toughest two years of my life. My mental illnesses got ten times worse, I was on and off meds, back and forth to therapists and not. I began to miss days upon days of school because I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed, and I just hated myself. Most of my boyfriend’s friends hated me because of this, and one even sat me down for an hour and told me about how his life was 10x worse than mine and I should suck it up because my life is easy. He has no idea how much that broke me, as he will never understand. We’re all friends now, most of the kids who bullied me I’m friends with now, but the scars are still there no matter how much I love them for who they are.
Grade 12 I promised to get better, but first semester I ended up missing 52 days with still managing an 81.25 average. I don’t know how I did it but I did. I remember attending class after class, day after day and having to leave because if I had an anxiety attack once, I was done for the day. My mother and my boyfriend were constant help, though at home was kind of a wreck too. Too many people there, being my, my mom, my brother, my best friend, and my boyfriend. Things can get hectic and crazy.
I fainted during December of 2015 because I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. Not the first time I fainted, but there was signs of a seizure. I had to get an MRI in the past March, so thankfully I’m alright, but I had to go cold turkey off my meds. Ever since then, I’ve gotten more irritated at things and been maybe worse. Creative writing online keeps my brain steady, but I struggle to get by day to day. I am always worrying over something stupid, always occupied with something in my brain. And I hate it because I can’t stop it. I’m always tired and drained due to how hard I am trying, but no matter what, it’s not good enough. My Dad doesn’t know what kind of person I am, and he pretty much has a new family now. It is unhealthy for me to be there, so I don’t really visit anyways because it sets me back a long time. I’m currently finishing up my last course to graduate, English, and it’s exhausting me to no end. I had to do it online because I sleep in school, I can’t handle classes like that. Things have been absolute hell for me, and I wonder all the time: Why me? Why do these things always happen? Why do people hate me so much?
But the reason is just for this, to share my story and help other realize mental illnesses are a serious issue and destroy lives. Even though at the moment, I am sick, tired, and just really done, I still fight for my life and fight to get better. I’m currently attending a therapist to get diagnosed officially, but I do struggle with anxiety and depression, though there probably is more as he hasn’t finished his assessment. I’m also biologically emotionally sensitive and emotionally impulsive, so the way I am is written in my genes. I didn’t ask for this. But I can’t get rid of it, and it’s my job with the help of God and professionals to get better. And it’s not going to happen overnight. It never does. But gradually, I will get better. I’m taking a gap year before I attend college for mental health, to focus getting my life back on track.
I’m sorry my story is a little cluttered. Once my mind starts moving, I just… Type. Just remember, as much as Bell Let’s Talk is a great cause, mental illnesses don’t exist one day a year. For us fighters, we deal with them every day. So please try to go with the mindset of looking out for signs or triggers, check in with your friends and family, and ask them how they’re doing. Tell them their feelings are valid, don’t fight them but show them acceptance, love, and compassion. Because sometimes, all we need is a hug and an ‘I love you’ than advice on how to get better or tell us to get over it. And I’m not speaking for everyone, because everyone is different. I am only one case.
I’ve developed an Anxiety Disorder and depression, I was always nervous to talk to people.
To all the people who suffered before or still suffering .I want you all to know that you are all strong and beautiful in your own way. There is no such thing as ‘Ugly’. You should not let anyone affect you in any way. I know that life can sometimes be unfair and tough, but you have to try your best to deal with it. I know that it’s not as easy as it sounds like. But if you were bullied, those people were jealous of you and wanted to be like you and they couldn’t. This is why they let you down, they don’t want to see you happy. They are trying to feel better about themselves by letting you down. I’ve been bullied since grade 4 till grade 12. I never knew why they bullied me. I always questioned myself a lot ‘ am I not normal’, ‘ is there anything wrong with me’, ‘why is it me only who suffers everyday’. I’ve always cried myself to sleep. I’ve developed an Anxiety Disorder and depression, I was always nervous to talk to people. I remember, when I used to sit in class and when the teacher asks me a question, my whole face turns red. I always used to hide in the bathroom, I was embarrassed to eat in front of people, present in front of the class, or even ask the teacher to go to the bathroom. I thought that I was different than other people. Until, this teacher in my school, talked to me privately and told me that he noticed that I’m a really shy person, he wanted to help me as he told me that he was also like that in school and started getting over it by time. This teacher saved me. All I thought was that I’m weird and that’s something wrong with me. But he told me this was called ‘ anxiety’ and it’s a normal thing, and this was caused by all the bullying I experienced. I was called’ ugly’ all the time. I used to look for anything to make me look better. Even till now, all of the suffering I have experienced still affects me. I realized that all what I’ve been through made me way stronger and made me understand myself more. This made me who I am now. To all the people who have experienced the same, I want you to believe in yourself and know that all these people are jealous of you because they know that you’re better than them. I know this is too long but I wanted to share with you what I’ve been through. Today, I can walk with that swing, and confidence, into rooms and stages in front of hundreds of people and one day, you will too. Thank you so much for getting this far, and I hope whoever and wherever you are, that you know you are loved. God bless <3
I have been struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since I was very young.
I have been struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since I was very young, and it has been a battle I will most likely have to continue fighting for quite some time. I was diagnosed after testing, and participated in cognitive behavioral therapy, but later stopped due to an improvement and the difficulty in transportation to another city for the therapy. After a while of doing well the OCD symptoms slowly began to worsen, and eventually I was back where I started. I also had to take an anxiety lessening medication in order to help, and I went off and back on them a couple times. Finally, after doing so well and being off the medication for a while, I suffered a concussion while playing sports, and the injury as well as the stress as the anxiety it caused due to missing schoolwork undid my progress, and I again went back to square one and the medication. It seems to fluctuate, having a period of time where I keep improving but something causes it to get worse again. Some of the major symptoms my OCD brings on is excessive hand-washing, and repeating activities. I will get an urge to wash my hands, like a feeling that they are dirty when they clearly are not, and I am compelled to wash them, sometimes washing them a dangerous amount of times (almost hospitalized once due to hand deterioration). I often also have to wash my hands multiple times when I go to the restroom, or any other time I would wash my hands. The repeated activities is also very difficult, as simple things such as picking up a glass of water becomes a hard task, as I feel the need to put it back down, pick it up again, and sometimes repeat a number of times. It is hard, as it makes life difficult, over complicating little things and day-to-day activities. Although it has been overwhelmingly hard at times, even going as far as sending me into states of minor depression where I contemplated the worth of my life, I know that I can overcome it as I have improved many times in the past, and with enough time and effort I can overcome it, and never go back. Anything can be beaten if you if continue fighting and never give up.
We have many more stories to share, so check back soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to talk about these stories with friends and family. Discuss things such as how the story makes you feel, how you would want to be treated if you were that individual, and how you might help others understand the seriousness of mental health issues.
As with any other illness, it is important to seek help if you have any mental health concerns. Many people and organizations are ready to hear your stories and eager to direct you to help. The first thing you should do is build your support system. Seeking out family, friends, doctors, help lines, or community support groups are great ways to start. KidsHelpPhone is a free counseling service that is available 24/7. Here is a list of crisis lines in locations around the world. Share your feelings, talk to people who have experience with mental illness and recovery, and learn more about this issue. Remember that every person is affected by mental illness, whether directly or indirectly. Communication is the first, important step in dealing with mental health difficulties.
Supporting a friend or family member with mental illness is not easy, but it is very important. Here are some ways that you can provide support:
- Learn more about the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses so that you are able to identify these early.
- Help the individual get help. Find out what treatment might be best for that person by offering to make appointments and by informing health professionals about what’s going on. Such actions may be necessary if the individual is not well enough to do so on his or her own.
- Help the individual remember medications, attend appointments, or follow treatment guidelines.
- Help out with the individual’s day-to-day activities, if needed, by providing information on nutrition, doing house work, assisting with finances, etc.
- Provide emotional support by making the person feel less alone by sharing stories and directing blame away from the individual.
- Join a support group for families and friends of people with mental illness.
Reference: “Supporting a Friend or Family Member with a Mental Illness.” Canadian Mental Health Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2016.
Thank you for reading our second blog and for your continued support.
– The VHS Team