You look at your list of things ‘to do’, and immediately think about where, how and when to start. You know you should start now, but that quiet, repetitive voice in your head gets the better of you; the one saying ‘don’t bother, you’ll probably get it wrong’ or ‘start later, you’re not up for it now’.
That voice gets progressively louder, and your momentum slows down. You put the list away and sit there. You feel stressed and numb and know there’s not a lot you can do.
I’ve been in this situation many times. At school and University, I was taught about different learning techniques, but never how to get out of the dark pit of mental health – but this is something we must talk about.
There is a stigma around talking about mental health and anxiety. You’re labelled as an attention seeker, as weak and feeble and as a ‘loose cannon’. This is one of the reasons why so many young people suffer in silence. Yet one fifth of adolescents suffer with mental health issues.
Everyone with mental health problems perceives things differently, and there’s plenty of advice that that goes through one ear and out the other, but I hope some of you can relate to and understand and techniques that have helped me find happiness:
- Treat yourself like your own friend. Imagine if your friend or a loved one felt the way you did; how would you help him/her? What advice would you give them and how would you be there for them? Mental health problems have a way of making you feel like the most unimportant person in the world, when in reality, it’s the opposite.
- Talk to someone. This sounds incredibly cliché, but this is so important. Do not disregard your feelings. It really is a weight off your shoulders to get them out. Do not feel ashamed to open a door that you did not choose to close. You are not whiney or being a downer or burdening anyone. You matter.
- Get into a routine. One day when you’re feeling up to it, make a schedule of what you want to do and when you want to do it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to it all the time, because just making a plan is such a huge step. It helps you realise how having a disorder completely takes over your being. It’s a complete loss of control that you acknowledge, but don’t know how to regain. Doing this will show you, in black and white, what your potential is.
I understand that all of this is easier said than done, but please remember that we did not chose to feel like this. It’s often perceived as something you can just snap out of, which absolutely is not the case. Young people today have the complete and utter disadvantage of growing up in the digital age – where you can sit and watch people doing way better than you ever could on your smartphone.
This is made worse by the pressures of the educational and social system; which pushes you to get brilliant grades and says you won’t have a career without them. As individuals, we don’t recognise how toxic this is because we’ve been conditioned to believe it’s this way or no way.
Your mental health is more important than any of this. The way you feel and perceive yourself and your surroundings is so important and will take you much further than any grade ever could. Focus on yourself, remember that you’re important and remember that you are never alone. You can beat your anxiety, you can manage your mental health and you can choose happiness over grades.
By Natalie Kaye.
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