First: Are you thinking of hurting yourself?
And here's what I would say if you came to me and told me you were struggling . . .
Call the National Suicide Hotline: 988
Or text the Crisis Text Line: Just text “HOME” to 741741
They can help you stay safe until you get the help you need.
Tell a trusted person (like your parents or a school counselor) what is going on in your head.
1. Tell a trusted adult what is going on in your head. (Do I sound like a mom here? That's probably because I am a mom. I have two young daughters, and if they were struggling emotionally, I would desperately want them to talk to me. Right now, they're in grade school, and they mostly talk to me about dragons and cats. Or dragon-cats.)
If you are not in crisis, but are still dealing with rough emotional stuff:
Idea: a novel about a dragon cat who fights The Voice of Doom. Is this a terrible idea? Hmm... might be a terrible idea.
2. Maybe your parents don't get the mental health stuff. It can be a generational thing.
Feelings . . .
What are . . . "feelings"?
If the first trusted adult doesn't help you get the help you need, tell another trusted adult. Keep telling until you find an adult who will help get you set up with a therapist or a psychiatrist or another form of support. (A school counselor is a good bet. They will know what to do. It's their job.)
3. It might be nice to talk to someone today. Here is a list of HOTLINES you can reach out to.
These hotlines are FIRE. (That is youth slang, right? . . . I'm sorry. I am old.)
I went through my first serious depression at 17.
This was my most dangerous depression.
I believed my thoughts.
When the thought you're the worst person in the history of the world ran through my mind, I was like: well, I guess I am the worst person in the world. Time to abandon hope!
When the Voice of Doom said, you will always feel this way, I was like: guess I'm doomed to feel this acutely unbearably wretched and dysfunctional forever. Don't think I can handle that!
Me, loving life at 17.
I still hear the Voice of Doom when I go through a depression (and all of the thoughts on the homepage of this website run through my head). But now I know how to identify depression's lies and stab the Voice of Doom with my colored pencils.
If you are a teenager, you have an excellent weapon to use against the Voice of Doom: sarcasm. When the Voice of Doom starts up in your head, talk back to it with the same skeptical sarcasm you would use if a real person was trying to trick you into believing a lie.
And know that the Voice of Doom is not your true voice. Your true voice (which you probably can't hear right now if you are in the pit of gloom) says: you are loved, and you are worthy, and you will not always feel this way. With help, you will feel good and normal and peaceful again.
At 17, I would have rolled my eyes at the above statement. I was absolutely convinced that I would never again know joy, and that my life was an empty expanse of shattered dreams, and that I was doomed to failure and misery for every future second of my life.
At 17, I would not have believed that my future held meaningful friendships, a kind, intelligent, and endlessly supportive partner, and satisfying work as a teacher. I wouldn't have believed that I would fulfill my dream of becoming a writer.
If I had acted upon the worst of the Voice of Doom's instructions, these Ewoks would not exist.
Can I give you the number for the suicide hotline again? I'm going to give you the number for the suicide hotline again.
Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741
(In case it's not clear, my kids are not actual Ewoks. They are wearing costumes.)
I wouldn't have believed that I would become a mom to the adorable Ewoks below.
I'm laughing in this picture because getting married is hilarious.
And always remember: this raccoon loves you.
My point is: if you are currently convinced that you've run out of hope, that's the Voice of Doom Talking. It's time to give the Voice of Doom the middle finger, and reach out for help.
Asking for help can feel really awkward. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help.
But I believe you have that courage.
I believe that you have the strength to bear through the awkwardness and vulnerability of telling someone the truth about what is going on inside of you.
Because a normal, happy, life is on the other side.
You deserve a normal, happy life.
Bipolar Bear & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance: a Fable for Grown Ups is a graphic novel about a bipolar bear who gets lost in the Labyrinth of Health Insurance Claims. A lot of the health insurance jokes will be weird to kids, but I read it to my children as bedtime story. They like the evil business cats.
When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a novel about an idealistic teacher who has a nervous breakdown, then corresponds with her former students from an inpatient psychiatric facility. I'd say it is for ages 16+. There is cursing (the horror!) and jokes you would not make in front of your mom. My kids are not allowed to read it until they are 30.
Copyright 2022 - Kathleen Founds - Depression Whackamole