"It's okay to not be okay, and it's okay to ask for help."
I want to say from about 7th to 9th grade, there was a period of time where I couldn't cope with it, couldn't talk about it, unless I was in the confines of my therapist’s office. I couldn't even really talk to them about how I was feeling. I would say it was the first time I had a very major depressive episode. I attempted suicide about four times during that time period. I minimized my depression to everybody: I acted like there was nothing wrong with my behavior. I isolated a lot, but I masked a lot of my feelings with my extracurriculars and I was just staying out late.
It made it easy for me to minimize what I was going through because nobody else acknowledged that I had depression either. The label was not used until I was in high school. Even though I was diagnosed with it, no one treated me differently, no one was more compassionate towards what I was going through. Everyone was just kind of like, "Okay," and brushed everything I was going through under the rug, or at least that was my perception of it. Because everybody else minimized it, it was easy for me to minimize it. So, if no one’s going to cope with it, why should I? That turned into anger, and what's the point of me being here?
I feel like if I had to go back and talk to younger me or talk to the people that were in my life is—acknowledge it. It is a scary thing to realize that somebody you love has something that you can't fix, but you make people feel more alone by not acknowledging that there's something going on. And it's harder to reach out and ask for help when you don't know that there's help available. People often feel like they're a burden and if you feel like you can't reach out to your mother and say, "Hey, something's wrong," and have her take you seriously, it makes you feel worse and it just feeds the depression. So, to my younger self it's—you know what, maybe they won't acknowledge it, but just talk anyway, tell someone. It's okay to not be okay, and it's okay to ask for help.
Even as an adult, it's not easy to ask for help, but I'm more inclined to do it today than I was when I was 15. So, just say, "Hey, you know I'm diagnosed with depression and you need to know what I'm going through." It's not as hard to ask for help as we all think it is.
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, reach out to a healthcare provider immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
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