This is the third post in our series of mental health stories. We want to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness by talking about it, so we are sharing real stories from our students and staff about the difficult realities of mental illness. 

Our Stories

I have struggled with anxiety pretty much my entire life.

I have struggled with anxiety pretty much my entire life. Even as a young child, I never wanted to leave home or try anything new. I refused to go to birthday parties and sleepovers, and even playing sports stressed me out to no end. In school, my anxiety drove me to achieve excellent grades, molding me into a perfectionist. However, it soon became so controlling that I cut off almost all contact with my friends. When I got my first job, I spent hours before each shift panicking – it didn’t matter that my job should in no way have been anxiety-inducing. It made me feel sick to my stomach all the time, and I stopped leaving my house, afraid to do anything that would bring the anxiety and consequently the feeling of illness. In the hope of curbing the constant nausea I stopped eating, and soon became obsessed with cutting calories. I became depressed, too thin, and came home from school or work only to lay in my bed for hours at a time, never actually sleeping because I was too paralyzed to relax my mind. Those close to me had to deal with alternating panic attacks and my violent temper. I couldn’t even drive a vehicle without being afraid I would panic and lose control. Being confronted about my suffering caused me to become inconceivably angry – it was like I wanted to protect my mental illness. The word ‘help’ felt stupid, and insulting. When I was finally dragged to a doctor, I was diagnosed with depression, anorexia nervosa, and generalized anxiety disorder. I was prescribed pills in order to try and help my brain deal with its chemical imbalance, but they didn’t help much. However, by that time, I was so desperate to feel better that I kept trying new prescriptions. I started to do yoga, breathing techniques, and seeing a therapist. It took me five extremely uncomfortable therapist visits, four different attempts at finding an effective anti-depressant, and a lot of frustration until I finally found the right combination of medication and psychologist. Once I did, however, things started to go ever so slowly uphill. My therapist, who I at first despised, provided me with techniques to deal with my crippling anxiety and combat my depression. The right prescription almost completely curbed my panic attacks and helped with the constant nausea. Overtime, and with a lot of commitment and breakdowns, I got my eating disorder under control as well, which I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do before. I’m not going to stay I don’t struggle anymore, because that’s simply not true. However, I am better able to maintain relationships with friends, I go to work and leave my house with much less anxiety. Every day I am so thankful for the people close to me that realized something was wrong and sent me to get help, and I am relieved that I never gave up on my own search for relief. I don’t know that I will ever feel completely ‘normal’, but I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened if I had continued in that downward spiral. There are always ways to deal with mental health issues, but it takes effort on your part to find them. The effort is well worth it though, because nothing is more important than your own well-being. Nobody deserves to suffer, and no amount or type of suffering is unworthy of help.

One of the reasons why people suffer from mental illnesses is because they had a very difficult childhood.

Some people suffer from mental illnesses because they’ve had a difficult childhood. People believe that it is very easy to overcome traumas form childhood, but it is not. It is very difficult, it is almost impossible! (But the key term here is the word “almost”) Some people always judge those who suffer from a mental illness, but I do not. I only see those vulnerable children who suffered so much during their childhood because of their parents or someone else.

What I believe that it is important is to not judge and understand those who suffer from a mental illness. What is also very important is to help them and let them know that they are not alone.

I’ve struggled with depression for a couple months now.

I’ve struggled with depression for a couple of months now and the hardest part is not having a clear cut reason as to why I’m feeling so sad. I wish that it were easier to decipher my feelings and resolve them but it’s just never that easy.

Around 8 months ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and General Anxiety Disorder.

Around 8 months ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). I felt like I lost myself, and I felt more miserable than I ever imagined I could. I started missing school, stopped talking to my friends, and my grades dropped a lot. I then had to make some major changes in my life, and I started doing online school. I am still struggling with depression and anxiety, and I have to push myself to focus and do my schoolwork. No matter what, I know I’m not alone, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. So to everyone struggling with the same thing, please know you’re not alone and to always stay strong and have hope.

I have general and social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

I have general and social anxiety and OCD. I have an extremely hard time going to a regular school. I cannot get any work done in class because the anxiety overwhelms me. This is why I am partially completing my high school through VHS. I spend part of my day in class and part of it at home working online. I find that many students and teachers do not understand why I can’t complete work in class. I hope that with more kids telling their story, that more people will understand how to help kids like me.

Check back soon to read more of our stories. Please share and talk about these stories with people you know. Such conversations help individuals dealing with mental illness.

Getting Help

helpinghandAs 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.

Providing Support

Supporting a friend or family member with mental illness is not easy, but it is essential. Here are some ways that you can provide support:

  1. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses so that you are able to identify these early.
  2. 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.
  3. Help the individual remember medications, attend appointments, or follow treatment guidelines.
  4. Help out with the individual’s day-to-day activities, if needed, by providing information on nutrition, doing house work, assisting with finances, etc.
  5. Provide emotional support by making the person feel less alone by sharing stories and directing blame away from the individual.
  6. 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 third blog in this series and for your continued support.

Read the other posts in this series: