Brightening the tunnel for those in the dark

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A road leading to a mountain with trees and a light blue sky appear at the end of a rocky, dark tunnel.

This blog will discuss a specific young person’s experiences with mental health issues and may include references to diagnosis, treatment, or support. This should not be misinterpreted as specialized or medical advice for a particular situation you may be going through. The topic of experiencing mental health challenges may be difficult for some readers. If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, please seek support by accessing the following resources: Child Helpline International; Open Counseling Suicide Hotline Database; United for Global Mental Health

If your country does not have a national helpline please seek professional and community support from trained and experienced carers, especially before making any decisions on treatment.

 

“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live in pain,” my internal thoughts said to me during my suicide attempt at the age of 14. I didn’t realize until after trying to kill myself that I wanted to be alive.

In ninth grade, I spent nine months in three psychiatric hospitals, and in tenth grade, I spent seven months in a residential treatment center. During that time, I went from feeling that I was in a safety net to feeling like I was in a thin blanket, unable to fully protect myself. How did I battle my suicidal ideation? My hope was stronger than my intrusive thoughts.

After I attempted suicide, I reminisced on what led up to it, and why I wanted to end my life. At the age of 12, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. It caused intense tiredness, loss of appetite, and sadness, holding me back from living the life I knew I could have. I started learning coping skills like opposite action, and radical acceptance, and I eventually reached out for support. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it sent me into a spiral of desolation, and I disconnected from the hope I had built. All the work I put into battling my depression seemed to fade away, and it got to the point where I needed inpatient care. I arrived as an empty vessel and felt as if I was unfixable. But once I got intensive treatment, I understood that I needed and wanted to be able to cope with my depression.

Battling a mental illness is a long journey that requires immense effort. The key to combating my depression was gathering the motivation to get better. No one can get better if they don’t want to.

Millions of people are diagnosed with depression, yet many don’t receive the treatment they need. In order to change this, awareness must be spread. Ways to do that include getting informed about mental health, educating others, protesting, offering advice about coping with mental illness, and taking care of oneself. Stigma swarms around the concept of mental illness. There’s judgment, discrimination, and a lack of accessible treatment options. Awareness is the key to fighting against the stigma.

To me, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a day that opens a door for children, young people and adults with disabilities to advocate for themselves and others. In order to keep this door open, every government in the world needs to allow more chances like this for their voices to be heard. Without our voices, action can’t be taken. Instead of having one day of advocacy, every day should be a day of advocacy. And once we get those opportunities to advocate, further steps can be taken, like more access to mental health treatments, training for parents with children who struggle with their mental health, and schools that specialize in working with children who have mental health issues.

I’m currently an eleventh grade at a therapeutic school that has a counseling center, work accommodations, and a small environment. Having this level of support makes me and other students at my school feel as if our mental health is a priority, before anything else. If schools across the world had similar systems, students could have a sense of safety and care that will most likely push them in the right direction.

I hope to spread awareness by sharing my story, inspire others to share theirs, and influence a change in our governments. Shining a light can brighten the tunnel for those in the dark.

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