May is one of the best months of the year. Not just because it’s the month I was born in, not just because it’s when Spring starts… but also because it is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Now, there couldn’t be a better subject for me to write about as my first ever article for TNG Magazine.
As someone that suffers with anxiety – diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder – it is very “easy” to speak about something like this.
It makes me very happy that there is a month dedicated to such a fragile, serious and important subject like Mental Health.
Our generation is composed by teenagers who have anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia… and so much more. But, unfortunately, this isn’t taken in count as it should. People don’t give it the respect it deserves, nor do they pay attention. I’m generalizing of course, because there are people like me that want to make others realize how much of an importance this has in our society and how much it affects us and the lives we want to live.
I just want to tell something to people that don’t understand this illness called Anxiety. I can only speak for this specific topic because it is what I’ve been suffering with the most.
- Dear teachers, pressuring us, we that suffer with any type of anxiety, into making oral presentations without previous mention isn’t going to help us overcome our anxiety. Saying “you’re overreacting” isn’t going to help. “Why are you even crying” is only going to make us cry more.
- Be kind to us. Ask us if we feel comfortable. Try to find a way to make us feel at ease and actually present a work in front of the class – we know there is a solution, and it’ll be way easier to find if you show sympathy.
- Classmates… if you know there is someone in your class or in school over all that suffers with anxiety, educate yourselves. Don’t keep on asking questions and make us feel suffocated. Make us feel like we have someone we can trust. Ask us if we need something. If we say we don’t, we mean it 99% of the time.
Anxiety isn’t something simple. It does not have a cure and it comes attached to other mental illnesses like depression. Someone who suffers with anxiety for too long and doesn’t seek for help, or feels helpless and stays in their own little comfort zone and bubble will most likely develop a depression.
If you suffer from any sort of mental illness please do speak up. To a teacher (one you know that will understand the situation if you explain it), to your parents, a friend, a therapist…
You’re not crazy for thinking everyone is looking at you when you enter a room or that everyone is pointing out and judging your clothes or how much you’re sweating when you’re in front of the whole class presenting a really cool work you know is actually pretty good and that will give you a good grade. You’re just anxious. You’re feeling anxious. Because you aren’t anxious – anxiety doesn’t define the person you are.
Focus on yourself. Every human has to take care of their selves, of their mind and body, the only difference is that some have to work more on it and really have some battles with their minds to try to find peace of mind.
Trust me, you’ll find it. You’ll find your balance, you’ll overcome most of your fears, you will do great things despite your anxiety.
Think of your anxiety as the ocean. Sometimes the waves are really high and if you want to go for a swim the tides are way too dangerous. What should you do? Should you just let yourself be guided by the tide to the dark side of the ocean?
No. You shall swim against the tide. It isn’t easy, it isn’t going to happen from one day to another. It might take months, it might take years, it might take your whole life. I’m not sugarcoating it.
I’ve been dealing with my Generalized Anxiety Disorder ever since I was in kindergarten (the 10 times I probably stepped foot there) and til I was 13 I was letting the tide guide me. It kept dragging me to a dark place, to somewhere where I was feeling lost and even more out of control. I needed help. I didn’t want to be swallowed by a big wave. I knew I needed help. And I got it.
At 13 years of age I started swimming against the tide. Slowly. The tide was so strong that at the beginning it kept pushing me back to where I was. But then I tried again… and again… and again… and now, at 17, I can say I do know how to swim and that the tide has gotten way shorter and it doesn’t have half the strength it did in the beginning.
Of course sometimes I still feel like the dark side misses me and it keeps shouting my name. Shouting for me to come back and drown in that horrible swirl. But I don’t. I just keep on swimming and swimming til I reach the shore. The shore where all good things are. My family, my friends, my music, my books… the peace of mind I’m finding and exploring.
You are going to live with your anxiety forever, but it isn’t going to have the same weight for the rest of your life – unless you let it. Seek for help. Talk to someone. Speak up. Don’t be afraid. You can do this, you can get better and you will.
Take advantage of May being the Mental Health Awareness Month and take a step forward. Step out of your comfort zone, try to educate your fellow classmates or family members. Write your feelings and publish it in social media. You’ll be surprised with how many teenagers feel the same way.
Remember to swim against the tide. Remember that you’re not alone… and remember that every month should be a Mental Health Awareness Month.