Well, that really didn’t go very well…

Many of you will know I’ve been struggling lately, and my anxiety is starting to get overwhelming. I’ve been feeling stressed and have recently self harmed again and had a major panic attack, the worse one I’ve ever experienced.

My parents are aware I have anxiety and get stressed, but they don’t know the true extent and they don’t know I self harm and have panic attacks. The reason for this is that my parents are very busy people, they work full time during the week then part time during the evenings and at weekends. Then any spare time they have is either spent doing errands or sleeping. They do an incredible job of keeping our family afloat, and I have so much respect for the work they do. However, I feel as though I have no right to tell them I’m struggling because it’s not fair for me to add another burden to their load. So, for the last eight years I’ve downplayed my anxiety.

But lately, my situation has got worse and a major reason for this is my fifteen year old brother. It’s the Summer holidays so both my brother and I are off school. The Summer holidays means that I have to start babysitting my cousin from 7am-7pm one day a week, I have to tutor twice a week and I also have to start ‘tutoring’ my brother too, I still work delivering Chinese takeaway three nights a week from 5pm-10pm, and I also have to do a large portion of the housework. What does my brother have to do? Karate lessons. That’s it, that’s his only commitment. So it would make sense for him to help me with the housework, right? Nope. According to my parents, they can’t force him to do the housework so I’ll just have to do it all until he decides he wants to. This just adds to my stress because not only do I now have to do all of it by myself, it makes me feel like my parents  value my brother’s happiness over mine. All of this can get overwhelming sometimes.

I decided to speak to my dad first, and I told him I’d been feeling upset and stressed lately. Before I’d even had a chance to explain why he said this gem: “It’s probably the amount of time you spend on that pathetic blog, it’s just sad.”. First of all, ouch! This really cut deep because I’m so proud of this blog, and there’s an amazing sense of community here. I told him he’d upset me and that he should apologise, and he just said that you only say sorry when you don’t mean something, and he meant it. He then went on to say that I’m just being silly, and that I don’t have anxiety and I’m clearly just looking for attention.

I then decided to speak to my mum. Again, I started off by telling her I was feeling stressed lately. She asked me why, and I said I felt like I had a lot of responsibilities and it would help a little if my brother could share some of those. She got really defensive and basically just told me to either suck it up or just stop doing the housework then, if I was going to complain about it so much. I felt like she was being so childish. She then told me to leave.

The next morning I woke up at 6am so I could go visit my boyfriend, and they both pretended like nothing had happened! It made me feel like I was going crazy! When I came home after seeing my boyfriend, my mum came up to my room and she asked me what was wrong. Seriously. Parents. Come on! I told her nothing, and she kept repeating “Tell me” until I eventually told her they’d both upset me and I didn’t want to talk to them right now. So she left and I haven’t spoken to them since.

Perhaps I could have approached the topic differently? Or maybe I am just being silly and I do just need to get on with it? I just feel my parents could have handled this whole situation better, because now I’m not going to tell them when I’m in trouble. Why would I? If they’re not going to take my concerns seriously about little things like this, then there’s no way I’m going to talk to them about the more important things. I feel as though this has pushed us even further apart than we already are. I hate feeling like I’m the only adult here, and I hate feeling worthless. This really didn’t go very well…

The Struggles Of Being A Teen.

As a white, British, straight, non-religious, female living in England I am statistically one of the safest and happiest people in the World. I think people forget sometimes that all teenagers have struggles, no matter what their background is. So here are the struggles I face on a daily basis…

I struggle to go to sleep at night because I’m terrified I’ll go back to that time where I didn’t want to wake up. Those days when I used to stay in bed until 10 minutes before my parents got home from work, then I’d quickly get dressed and spray on tons of deodorant and dry shampoo so they wouldn’t realise I hadn’t showered in a week. Then when they got home I’d make excuses that I’ve had a busy day, or I didn’t feel very well so I could go back to bed and stare at the ceiling. But I am not alone. It is thought 1 in 8 teenagers will suffer from depression, and many of these then go on to have further mental health problems.

I struggle to shave my legs without thinking of all those times I abused my razor. It scares me how easily I could destroy myself with a bit of metal I can buy in my local supermarket. Each time I shave my legs I can feel the bumps of the scars and I hate it. Those scars remind me of a time where I hated myself, but I’m not ashamed of them anymore because they show me how far I’ve come. But I am not alone. It is suspected that 1 in 12 teenagers will self harm, but of course the actual figure is much higher than this.

I struggle to meet new people without feeling like I’m going to be sick or have a panic attack. For those of you who don’t have anxiety, imagine the feeling you get when you’ve got a really important exam but you haven’t been taught any of the topics. We feel as though we’re completely unprepared and overwhelmed with life. But I am not alone. It is thought that 25% of teenagers have some form of anxiety disorder. In a time when we’re expected to be outgoing and to have an extensive social life this can make life extremely difficult and exhausting.

I struggle to talk to people whose name is Josh without getting upset. My friend Joshua committed suicide when we were very young. He was bullied at school because he was gay and one day he came home and hung himself. Every time I speak to someone who is called Josh I get nervous and awkward around them because they remind me of the friend I should have grown up with. But I am not alone. On average, each day 12 teenagers commit suicide. Every single day 12 young people lose their future, 12 families lose a loved ones, and 12 groups of friends lose their partner in crime.

I struggle every single day. And according to these statistics, most of you reading this will be struggling too. If any of you feel overwhelmed please go have a chat to someone. Teachers, friends, a doctor, family, or me. Never feel like I’m off limits because I’m a stranger who doesn’t want to hear your crap, because that’s not true! It’s okay to struggle, but you should never have to do it alone.

This was in response to the Teens Tell Their Story Project, and thank you for reading.

Dear Anxiety,

Dear Anxiety,

What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Do you realise you have singlehandedly made me cry more times than any other person? Do you even care?

I remember the day I met you. The Bad Man had just left and then you showed up. You were so nice back then. You kept me out of trouble, made me feel safe, you kept me quiet. You spoke to me so gently, and you said you’d help me get out. Oh I was so glad to have you with me.

But then you started to whisper in my ear as I slept. You showed me all those times The Bad Man hurt me, and you told me it was my fault. If I had just stayed quiet he wouldn’t have hit me. If I were invisible I wouldn’t have been attacked. It was my fault. All my fault.

My friends hated me. My family secretly wanted me dead, it would be easier for them that way. Right? That’s what you said. Everyone I met was out to hurt me. Every fingertip on my skin was a knife to my neck. But you were always there for me, to keep me safe.

I stopped going outside, avoided mirrors, and stopped talking to my family. You told me I deserved every slash across my thighs. That every burn, bloody knuckle, and bruise were the only way to prove my dedication to you. You were my only friend.

But you didn’t count on Love, did you? To be fair, I didn’t see it coming either. I definitely didn’t expect it in the form of an 18 year old boy.

You started whispering as I slept again. He was going to hurt me. He only wanted me for one thing, that’s what The Bad Man  wanted so why would this boy be any different? But you didn’t count on him whispering back. “You’re beautiful”. “I’m so lucky to have you”. “I love you”. You didn’t like that, did you? So you threw a tantrum. And you made me breathless and you made me cry. You made me weak. Yet he still held me close. We fought you for so long and guess what… we won.

You still come and visit me sometimes, but that’s okay because you can’t destroy me anymore. You can’t turn my dreams into twisted flashbacks. You can’t force me to paint my legs with blood. You can’t tell me I’m worthless… because I’m not.

I am worth everything. I am intelligent , beautiful, kind, strong, and I am loved. And there’s not a single fucking thing that you can do about it.

Lots of love, hugs, and kisses

Amy xxx

GUEST POST: My thoughts on suicide- By Kate Byrne

I have been in touch with another amazing writer who wanted to write something for my site. I love that people want to share their stories and thoughts and experiences on here, and I want to give a massive shout out to Kate Byrne who wrote this post.

A previous post referenced, “suicide may just sound like something “cowards” or “weak” people do. You’ve probably cracked some jokes about it with your friends, playfully told people, “Just go kill yourself”[.]”

We’ll start with how flipping true this is: we’ve all heard the jokes and/or made them, then we’ll move on to how strong I feel when I don’t pick up the knife, don’t drive my car off the road, don’t throw myself off a cliff. Ultimately, though, the strongest I’ve felt in the last six months wasn’t the day I walked into AA, it was the day coworkers were making light of suicide and I asked them not to.

Now, it’s not like I’m cagey about my mental health issues. Even if I didn’t walk and sit shoulders and head hunched I write about my things online so publicly. I write about it on public blogs, public Twitter, heck, even on the Huffington Post. My family knows it’s not uncommon for me to feel suicidal. My friends know, the world knows. Yet standing up in a call center basement and saying, “Guys, please don’t joke about this,” was So. Flipping. Hard.

Thankfully they stopped joking about it. A number came up after and apologized. I’m fairly certain my face was flushed for the rest of my shift, but I just couldn’t say nothing.

I completely agree with this, jokes should never be made about suicide or any mental health issue. You never know who may hear these “jokes” and how upsetting they may be for people who have been through things that no one should have to. I want to thank Kate again for writing for me, you are an amazing person that has been through so much. If anyone wants to talk to me about these issues, or if you want to write a guest post please get in touch at: aleve44@hotmail.com. Thank you for reading 🙂

GUEST POST: Suicidal Thoughts, Self-Harm, Depression: It’s Okay- By Matthew Tome

I’ve been wanting to include guest writers and posts on this site for a while now, and I am so glad that my first guest post is about something so close to my heart. As many of you know my best friend committed suicide when we were both very young. No body should have to feel like he did. I want to give a massive shout out to Matthew Tome at Exactlywhatyouneed.org for giving me permission to post this to help raise awareness of self-harm, suicide, and depression.

For many of you, suicide may just sound like something “cowards” or “weak” people do. You’ve probably cracked some jokes about it with your friends, playfully told people, “Just go kill yourself”, or maybe even looked down upon someone who actually attempted to kill themselves. The same goes for victims of cutting/self-harm and depression. These people seem to get rejected by society, even picked on for being vulnerable. I’m not trying to justify suicide or self-harm here. I don’t believe there is any justification in taking your own life or hurting yourself. What I’m trying to get at is, there is a major problem in our society. If someone is hurting themselves, thinking about taking their own life, or suffering from depression the LAST thing you should do is pick on them. It highlights a repulsiveflaw in your character, and is extremely detrimental to the person who is suffering. And, as for that suffering person, there is always hope.

On this blog, I search the world for things that inspire me. When I find one, I research it; study it better, so that I can find what exactly makes it so uplifting, and hopefully adopt those characteristics into my personality, and share it with you all. My goal is to encourage and help guide as many people as I can to the better lifestyles that they deserve. As someone who was formerly depressed for a period of two years (with a break in the middle of a few months), I can honestly say: Depression is no joke. 

For personal reasons, I won’t go into depth about the causes of, or specific events related to, my depression publicly. If you’re interested in learning more about me, my story, or even just need someone to talk to, you can contact me at exactlyceo@exactlywhatyouneed.org. I’ll be sure to respond to each of you, personally, as soon as I possibly can. Support is the most useful tool for overcoming depression, so don’t think you’re alone in this world. Some people honestly do care.

It’s not some momentary sadness that you can cure by buying a shiny new toy. It’s a disability that can last for extended periods of time, and in some cases, even for the rest of your life. It leaves you tired, weak, unable and unmotivated to go on. It deprives you of most, if not all, the joy in your life. I remember several occasions where I’d be hanging out with my friends, laughing and having lots of fun (or so it seemed on the outside). But, in the back of my mind, there was this lingering feeling. You could never seem to shake it. It’s like a little voice inside your head saying, “That smile isn’t real. Just wait till you’re alone. I’ll show you what you’re really feeling.” The instant you became isolated from other humans, it would all hit you at once. That nagging little voice turned into the ONLY voice. It was this overwhelming, debilitating emotion that completely and utterly consumed you. No matter what you tried, no matter how times you’ve experienced it before, no matter how badly you wanted it to stop; it just wouldn’t. That was definitely the hardest part of my life. No other hardship could even hold a candle to it-financial debt, wondering where I could find a job, not knowing what I was going to do with my life, broken relationships, divorce, family deaths. Depression was, and probably will continue to be, the biggest obstacle I ever faced in my life.

But, That’s the Beauty in All of This

It was just an obstacle. That’s not to lessen the traumatic experience of going through depression. It’s insanely difficult; seemingly impossible even. But, it can be overcome, just like any other obstacle. It will be hard, but you can make it. You will come out: stronger, more passionate, full of life, and full of love. It teaches you to appreciate every waking moment, because you never know when it might be your last.

Life is full of beauty and wonder. This goes unnoticed, overlooked, and unappreciated constantly, but it’s there. I promise you. Life is so worth living, it’s almost hard to understand how you didn’t think so before. I’ve been there; wanting to die, feeling like a complete waste, totally useless, and just wishing it would all end so you could stop feeling. It sounds horrible (and it is), but I’m actually glad it happened. It helped shape me into the person I am today; a person I am extremely proud of and happy to be.

To help drive my point, we should look at Thomas Edison. He had a fantastic outlook on life and I think we could all benefit from adopting this perspective. Ryan Holiday talks about it here on “The Tim Ferris Show”. (Lovely podcast, by the way)

At age 67, Thomas Edison returned home, one evening, from another day at the laboratory.Shortly after dinner, a man came rushing in his house to tell him some urgent news. A fire had broken out at Edison’s Research and Production Campus a few miles away. Fire engines from the eight nearby towns rushed to the scene, but they could not contain the blaze. Fueled by the strange chemicals in the various buildings, green and yellow flames shot up six and seven stories, threatening to destroy the empire Edison had spent his entire life building. Edison calmly but quickly made his way to the fire, through the now hundreds of onlookers and devastated employees, looking for his son.
“Go get your mother and all of your friends,” he told his son with child-like excitement. “They’ll never see a fire like this again.”
“What?”
“Don’t worry,” Edison calmed him. “It’s alright. We just got rid of a bunch of rubbish.”

This was, no doubt, a hefty loss for Edison. Years of hard work, millions of dollars, and tons of research/prototypes were lost in that fire. Edison knew he couldn’t let this stop him though. He lived by “Amor Fati”. It’s a Latin phrase that can be translated as “love of fate”. To put it even simpler, you have to “love everything that happens in life.” The good, the bad, the totally life-altering traumatic experiences. Love it all, and greet it with a cheerful smile. Edison knew this, Jack Johnson (first black heavyweight boxing champion) knew this, and Ryan Holiday knew this. All three of these people are/were very successful people. They all had this common belief and outlook on life, so there must be some power to it, right?. I’ve began to incorporate into my life, and it’s worked wonders. It helped drag me out of my two-year depression. Before, I was very grim about living. My life had no meaning, and I didn’t see the purpose in anything. Now, I’m well-driven. I chase after my dreams relentlessly, brushing off all opposition: the naysayers, rejections, and non believers. Of course, this doesn’t mean go running off without a plan, but that’s a whole other topic.

How to Find Help

For those of you who are struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, addiction and self-injury, you can find help from myself or loads of good people over at Heartsupport, or even check out this cool project: Project Semicolon.

At Heartsupport, you can find people, like yourself, struggling through things right now. They have a community forum where people can post and receive support from people all over the world. They also have lots of great bands/artists give personal life stories that are remarkably relatable. Heartsupport was created by Jake Luhrs (vocalist of August Burns Red, one of my personal favorite bands for many years now). If you like, you can support his band by buying their music, donating directly on Heartsupport, or even just participating with the community.

Then there’s this fantastic idea behind Project Semicolon. “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.” They use a semicolon to represent that your story is not over. You’re enduring through the tough parts. If you look back at any great story though, be it fiction or nonfiction, isn’t the part where the protagonist struggles the good part? Those are the juicy bits that build the story, strengthen the hero, and builds them into the wonderful champion who overcomes all obstacles presented before them. A story without struggle is boring. Who wants to read that? Not me. You’re just giving your life character; making it interesting by enduring the hardships, so that one day, you can tell others about what you’ve been through, and that YOU MADE IT. You’re still alive right now. You’ve made it through EVERYTHING life has thrown at you, so don’t give up hope. You’re stronger than you realize. Keep your chin up, and keep trying. Together, we can make it through this world (and as a pleasurable experience, at that).

I just want to say thank you again to Matthew Tome for allowing this beautiful post on my site. And if anyone reading this wants to speak to someone about their personal experiences with these subjects you can email Matthew at: exactlyceo@exactlywhatyouneed.org or you can come talk to me at: aleve44@hotmail.com.