What I wish my younger self knew
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Growing up, we all face difficult times. We have our happy days while playing in the sand, and sad days when we see people fight. Sometimes our sadness lasts for days, weeks or months. It's all a part of growing up. Puberty is the cause of it all, right? Puberty went away, but my sadness never did.
Everyone knew me as the shy child, I didn't talk to other children or play with them. I had no friends for a long time, but I wasn't unhappy. My childhood was normal, I had my ups and downs. My family had a lot of financial issues and we fought a lot, but I had learned to shut off during those difficult times.
However, school got hard. I remember being 10 and running after some girls in my class because they didn't want to talk to me. As I was running a boy had put his leg right in front of me so I fell directly on my face. That day I cried a river because I was in a lot of pain, but only if I knew about the pain that life had in store for me.
Life at home became worse and worse, we stopped being a family. All my father did every day was tear us apart and eventually he succeeded. With my problems in school becoming physical and those at home becoming unbearable, my mental state started to be slightly unstable.
Then there was the summer of 2013, when I was 12. That was the year my heart stopped. I don't want to get into details about what happened, because I'm not ready to fully talk about it, but one beautiful day I looked death in the eyes of a man. It was the day I experienced a panic attack for the first time. I can still hear kids my age playing in front of my house while I was shaking in my bed trying to catch a breath. This was the start of my path of pain.
School became a nightmare. To everyone, I was a freak because I would run into the bathroom and hide every time I had a panic attack. I don't blame them, we were kids and this topic is very hard to understand. Everyone made fun of me because I was always sad and way too dark for them to understand.
As time passed, the sadness became my personality. It was the only word to describe me. Days were hard for me, but somehow I always found a way to make it through. However, the start of 2017 brought me my biggest challenge.
After transferring schools, my thoughts became darker, I wouldn't leave my room and I lost all of my motivation. That shook my bones because I couldn't see myself on this Earth for long. I was 16 at that time and my Croatian teacher would always describe me as "out of this world" and "old wise soul in a young body" because she believed that my view of the world was far ahead of my age. Other students didn't like that, so they called me harsh names and would often insult my appearance. Sometimes they would punch me and laugh at me when I started to cry. The insults and the stress of having to pass 24 subjects was hard to carry, but I didn't break at that.
The moment I broke was when my father left us. He controlled everything in my life, and for the first time, I was free. My mental state just collapsed because I could finally be who I wanted to be, but didn't know who that was. I built a home in my sadness and that place fell apart.
The only thing on my mind was the pain from fighting myself internally. I wanted to end it all.
That's when I decided to tell my mother about how I was feeling. For a couple of months, she thought that it was because of puberty, but with time, she started to be really worried.
That's when my mother joined my fight against anxiety. When everyone else said that I was faking it and was a attention seeker (because it was "ridiculous" to be 17 and suffer from a mental illness), she stood by my side.
My school is making fun of my situation. This has made me skip a lot of classes and my grades have fallen drastically, but I want to focus on myself. I know how much my mind can carry.
Right now, I'm in the "final stage" of anxiety, the emptiness. I can't feel any emotion besides sadness and the days are hard but I'm trying to fight it. My only escape is to help others by giving speeches at the European Youth Parliament and doing numerous debates and presentations, but I feel that there needs to be a bigger push for change. That's why I'm here.
Now that you have read my story, did you see a big gap in my life? Education. About my mind and the difference between puberty and mental health. Where would I be if someone told me what was wrong and how to work on myself?
This experience is scary because I'm still not introduced to the way my mind works. I had to explain to my mother everyday for months about how my state of mind hasn't changed because she herself wasn't educated enough on that topic. We have a big problem in our system and that's not teaching children about mental health and the importance of discovering the borders of our minds. Realizing when we crossed that border and how to find our way back.
Now my question for you. Is your chest heavy? If it is, then your mind may not be in the right place. Go somewhere quiet and try to remember when you went off your path. Close your eyes and take big breaths. Make a safe place in your mind. Go to that place every time you feel like you're going to fall apart. Try not to be scared. I know finding help is hard, but it's what you need. Don't listen to others about how you should feel, you know yourself the best. I'm always here if you need me. Thank you for giving me a chance.