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 about personality disorders and that I would soon know people with them, and how to navigate knowing who I was talking to when it was not that person but one of their many personalities — and this was OK, not demon possession or someone just doing some sort of elaborate fakery.
2. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that masturbation isn’t a sin, that everyone lusts and fantasizes (and noticing that a girl has boobs doesn’t even count as lust), and that — most importantly — a healthy sex drive is absolutely not worth contemplating suicide over.
3. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that it wasn’t her fault when her parents would fight. I wish someone had taken the time to tell her that instead of just pretending that everything was fine when it wasn’t.
4. I wish I could give my 16-year-old self a hug. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that she is loved.
5. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that she wasn’t “fat” because she read books and stayed inside, but because she was depressed. She wasn’t “fat” at all.
6. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that eating right, praying right, thinking right, and doing right are not foolproof ways to ward off mental illness. Sometimes illness just happens, and it isn’t because you aren’t perfect enough.
7. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that when my mom went crazy on us kids, screaming and changing history, it wasn’t our fault.
8. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that I was beautiful and it was ok. I wish I knew that normal people didn’t feel guilty all the time. I wish I knew that being grown-up didn’t mean no fun or happiness. I wish I knew that being imperfect didn’t make me a failure, it just made me human.
9. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that it is better on the outside of the dark, rigid, insulated little world I had grown up in. I thought that the world was a scary, hard, miserable place and that everyone basically toiled along fighting emptiness. That’s what I was preparing myself to go out into. And then to get out into the rest of the world and find that, yes, it can be hard and scary and heartbreaking but that it’s also beautiful and challenging and exciting and has so much light and hope and good… I wish I had known that.
10. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that not wanting to be around people is normal. It just means you’re a really big introvert.
11. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that I had a learning disability. I wasn’t stupid. I was just as smart as my brothers. I just learned differently.
12. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that I had other options as a Woman, that Women everywhere are strong and have careers and didn’t just get married and have a ton of kids and stuck being house wives forever.
13. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that it wasn’t her responsibility to keep the family together — and that it wasn’t her fault that things fell apart. She did everything she could.
14. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that my mother was wrong when she responded “how can you do this to me” when she found out I was suicidal.
15. I wish my 16-year-old self knew that disagreeing with my parents or — god forbid — being angry with them wouldn’t send me to hell. I wish my 16-year-old self knew how to speak up, and how to speak out.
16. I wish my 16-year-old self knew YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. And someday you will meet others, and you will feel better than you ever thought was possible because of it.
End of series.