It would have been easy to assume that I was a normal 18 year old, my life on the surface consisted of studying for my A-levels, going out with my friends, and spending time with my family. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. By this point I was miserable, finding the pressure of doing well in school unbearable and having to cope with stressful family life and home environment. I’d find myself crying in the school toilets most days and trying to hide the distress I was facing every day. I started struggling with very low moods when I was 15, the first time I self-harmed, however, I was too embarrassed to seek help, in constant fear that others wouldn’t understand and they might think I was ‘weird’. At 15 there are already plenty of things to make you insecure and since I’d had very limited knowledge of depression I barely had any idea what it was, and that in fact it was incredibly common.
It would take me 3 more years before I would even go to the doctors to finally get help – about 1 year after my first overdose (which left me very ill for a few days but I played off as ‘oh I just caught a bug’). I eventually avoided going to lessons, and could barely find the motivation to get out of bed some days.
I think now it’s incredibly important to talk about and acknowledge the pressure put on young people today. Pressure to fit in and abide by social norms, pressure from family or school to get the best grades and get into the top universities, even pressure to keep up with the latest fashion trends/ TV shows/ hot gossip. It seems like everything in our lives has some kind of pressure and certain standards attached to it. I think it’s vital that teenagers recognise the importance of individuality and not only accept, but celebrate their differences, because after all, isn’t that what makes us who we are?
As a teenager, I found the pressures in teenage life too much and, along with a rocky home life, slipped into a depression which at the very least could have been recognised earlier, and at best been almost completely avoided. I don’t think teenagers and young people are given enough credit for all the difficulties that they face and have to deal with on a daily basis. It is so very important to talk about these things with one another to hopefully allow them to open up and realise that they aren’t alone in these feelings they have, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.