HA note: A while ago we asked members of the Homeschoolers Anonymous community what they wished their 16-year-old selves knew about mental health. We received a significant number of responses, so we’re going to run 4 sets of “16 things” throughout this week. Each set is a group post compiled from various people’s answers.
1. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that happiness could be a daily thing. Like, the idea of waking up “happy” didn’t seem possible. I would have fought more if I knew that. I would not have given up and resigned myself. Even when I left home I didn’t know. I just wanted to get away from the pressure.
2. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that doing research on my own was absolutely not a proper substitute for real professional help and that I was worth the extra attention I needed. (Though to be fair, I did learn a lot of interesting stuff about abnormal psychology through my research. It just didn’t do me personally very much good).
3. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that I didn’t have to completely tank my life before I asked for help. It’s ok to ask for help before the problem reaches a crisis point.
4. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that addiction is a legitimate treatable disease. Addiction is not a sin, shortcoming, or lack of will power.
5. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that any non-mental health worker who tells you or anyone else that mental illness is just sin, someone’s will or anything other than mental illness is full of shit.
6. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that depression sometimes comes and goes, but that many people have it for much longer and making comments like “oh, turn that frown upside down!” or “well, if you got outside sometimes..!” are not only unhelpful, but hurtful.
7. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that depression, like the Zoloft commercial said, really does hurt. There is a physical pain to depression.
8. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that panic attacks are real, and they are frightening. They can be managed, though.
9. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that what you see on TV when it comes to therapy, really doesn’t even touch much at all of what actually happens in therapy.
10. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that mental health is no joking matter.
11. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that if someone tells you that they are contemplating suicide, take them seriously every single time.
12. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that feeling conflicting emotions after your parents’ divorce is normal and that you don’t have to lie awake at night afraid of going to hell because you are angry at your parents.
13. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that my internal freak outs were panic attacks and not God trying to convict me. And that even though when you’re in the midst of depression it feels like all there is and all that ever was, it goes away (at least for a time) and you get to be happy again, that the world isn’t always that suffocating.
14. I wish my 16-year-old self had known that spending time out in natural sunlight, even on cloudy days, could help boost my mood and energy. We lived in a dark, small-windowed house in the bottom of a steep valley and light was hard to come by, but I could have hiked up to the top of the pasture in the late afternoons and tried.
15. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that wanting to be thought of as pretty is not a sin; hell, I wish my 31-year-old self knew that.
16. I wish my 16-year-old self knew, somehow, that I would get free eventually, that it would get better, that I would learn in time that what had kept me confined for so long were nothing more than lies.
Part Two >