Dear younger me,
I still remember my first intrusive thought. I thought I was going insane and still struggle to talk about everything I had been thinking about. I was battling a war in my own mind and yet everyone around me saw me as the happiest little child. Because I was – this is the issue with mental health. You associate yourself to what your mind tells you. On the outside, I was happy. It wasn’t fake. It wasn’t a facade. I was genuinely happy. I loved my life. I had the greatest time at school, a loving family, so many friends, and I had many hobbies that kept me occupied during the weekends. Then, when it came to bedtime and I lay asleep listening to the sound of the wind outside, I felt a darkness creep up on me. One that I thought would eventually kill me. But, ten or so years later and I am still alive. Still breathing. Still going strong.
Because now that I am older, I realise that mental illness can start at such a young age. And this is a problem in today’s society as parents are in denial that their child could be battling. When a child is bullied, or goes through parental divorce, many teachers or loved ones look out for that child under the impression that they could be battling something on the inside. But what about those children who had a life around them that was perfect? What about those children who were simply genetically predisposed to poor mental health? Nobody looks out for the warning signs in those children. And nobody wants to even bring it up at such a young age.
When I grew up, I learnt what it truly meant to look after a child. If you would encourage your child to have a healthy diet, why not encourage a healthy mind too? Mental health is just as important as physical health. When I was younger, I really thought my life would end. I remember one time, my friends and I were trying to predict ways that we would die, you can only imagine the look on their faces when I said “I have a feeling I will die from suicide”. They all looked at me strangely. But again – no one batted an eyelid as nobody thought it was even an issue. At the time, I didn’t want to end my life, not even close. I loved the people around me and I was so grateful to be able to wake up every single morning. I was physically healthy, and that in itself was enough. But the lingering thought never left, that maybe one day this would all get too much and I would “die from suicide”.
I look back to those days, I vividly remember the sleepless nights where I would pray that things would get better. What I fail to remind myself is that if I could get through all that on my own – with no help at all from any professionals – then why do I lack so much hope now? When I openly discuss my mental illness with all my loved ones and have access to all these professional services?
I just want to give a shout out to those young teenagers who are finding that something isn’t right in their minds. Please hang in there. I know it seems like the end of the world now, but you are so young and you still have so much growing to do and believe me it will get easier. But it will only get easier if you get the help you need. So please – talk to someone. No matter how nervous you may be, just let it out to someone you look up to; either a parent, a friend, a teacher or a mentor. The quicker you admit to it the quicker you will be able to get the help you need. Your road to recovery starts now.
I wish I would have been able to tell myself all this when I was younger because I know that I was struggling deeply as well. So my aim is to at least help one of you who is googling like crazy to see if they are okay. I promise you. You are.