I am someone who has struggled for mental health. It isn’t glamourous to share this, and it certainly doesn’t fit with the illusion of authorly success, but I must be honest.
After all, if adults aren’t honest about their own struggles, how are young people supposed to know they can get through their own? At least I have a track record that spans decades of knowing I can get through it.
A child or teen has no track record.
For them, feelings of estrangement and despair seem like they’ll never end. It is a tragedy that so many beautiful, gifted young people are killing themselves because they have no hope.
I struggled through high school. I had severe, undiagnosed PTSD. I felt alone, unlovable, and too damaged to love. It was as if the entire world was in a room, laughing, joyful, in on the joke, while I stood outside with my nose pressed against the glass.
For me, thoughts of suicide were a constant.
But I was one of the lucky ones.
I had a mom I could talk to. I had my faith. I knew from my father’s lessons at the dinner table how to intellectually challenge my desire to end it all.
And so, I doggedly put one foot in front of the other, slogging through the darkness when despair lapped at my heels and hope seemed foolish. I put my feelings into stories, into art, and slowly, slowly learned how to let love in, and to my surprise, found joy.
I look back now and see how those trials deepened my resilience, my compassion, and my ability to love.
Those times of darkness made me appreciate the light.
For me, mental health continues to be a daily decision, a daily turning inside-out to allow the light in.
Young people need to hear that it gets better, from adults who’ve been there and are still on the journey. They need to know that they carry the strength within themselves to put one foot in front of the other.
They need to know that one day, one miraculous day, they may even look back and be thankful for the precious gifts those dark times gave them.
Just as the caterpillar thinks it’s dying as it lies encased in its own cocoon, the butterfly knows the struggle was worth it.
If you’d like more information and some help with Mental Health, please read the following document.