School gets stressful. Grades keep adding up. Friendships end. Family problems arise – and we are still expected to deal with them positively. We’ve all heard the statement, “You can’t take life for granted,” but it’s inevitable when things just can’t seem to go the way you plan. Whatever life throws at you always has an end result – a tug on your mental health – whether it’s good or bad.
I have had several experiences with depressive episodes, wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” and asking the question, “Why me?” All of this never helped me try to find even the slightest bit of happiness. I was skeptical of how people even had experiences with depression and suicide, until all of the sudden, it affected my life, too. Although the rhetorical questions I would ask myself still remain unanswered, the end result of how I’ve dealt with it has remained the same – and used different coping mechanisms to exponentially help my mental health.
Although it sounds cliche, your mental health is important. Statistics show that 20% of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. That’s a higher percentage than it looks. The way anyone deals with maintaining good mental health is different, and sometimes, it’s hard for someone to even try.
In my experience, the hardest thing for me was to even open up to anyone about any of my struggles. I felt embarrassed and ashamed: I had a good life and shouldn’t have felt the way I did. That’s always what I was told when I ended up opening to the wrong people in my life. Once I got past the struggle of considering whether or not to open up about it to the right people, it helped so much. Reaching out to friends, your parents or any trusted adult is such a cliche thing to say, but it really does drastically help with everything.
Finding new hobbies, interests, and connecting to my spirituality have also kept me occupied and in a better mentality. Fixating on a specific musician, band, sport, hobby, etc., has only helped me and kept me in a better mood. When you have something or someone to look forward to, even if it’s a small thing, it boosts your mood. For me, it’s different bands or my spiritual life. On the band side, just waiting for a new song or a band to go on tour gives me something to look forward to, and distracts me from sadness or stress in my life. With my spiritual life, trusting that God always has a plan for me and my life, and has my best interest in mind to rule my life, keeps me grounded. Trusting in God means I’m never alone, and that trust helps me cope.
Choosing to go out of my way to surround myself with friends and to not isolate myself has largely benefited my mental health. For me, when I’m isolated from everyone, it’s hard not to have intrusive thoughts, and it’s easier to shut down and not want to get help at all. I feel hopeless and alone – like nobody even wants to help me at all. When you are in that state of mind, it’s hard to believe that isn’t far from the truth, but it is. There is at least one person out there who cares about you and your well-being. Going out of your comfort zone and cheering yourself up by being in the presence of the people you love is something that you will never regret.
It’s okay to not be the best version of yourself right now. Pushing yourself to potentially be the best version of you that you can be is something that will take time, and that’s okay, too. Focus on the small victories – and just know that you are not alone.