13 Reasons Why We Need to Talk About
Mental Health Awareness is something I have a passion for and I cannot think of a better time to talk about why we need to #workITout not only as individuals but as families when it comes to mental health. The release of 13 Reasons Why has a lot of people up in arms, to be honest I was one of them when I finished the show and I just sat there watch the credits roll asking myself “Why?” Why did their statement need to be so bold, why did they have to be so graphic, why did they not have her tell someone she’s struggling, why did she not go to her parents for help? All that could run through my mind was “It didn’t have to end this way, change your story” which comes from Katie Montalto (A previous Miss Statesville, whom has a beautiful article about Mental health and how she dealt with it in her personal life.) Personally, I have learned a lot from Katie and she has helped me with my personal mental health and helped me overcome my own personal battles. Since then I have become stronger and I am ready to share with you my 13 Reasons Why we need to talk about it.
1) Teens face problems almost every day when they walk through the doors at school.
If you want to believe it or not, it’s true. I roamed those school halls, listened to the terrible rumors people would spread about one another, and witnessed the drama that would leave people in tears. The worst part? I went to a High School with 150 students in my graduating class and about 500 in the whole high school. I can only imagine how it would be with 500 in your graduating class. Teenagers are harsh, cruel and mean and have no filter in what they say to one another. Parents aren’t aware of what their children are like in school, because I know a ton of students in high school act kind and respectful at home, then turn around and ridicule a person at school. Teenagers are walking stress balls that are just waiting to explode because we have placed so much pressure on ourselves and are so over whelmed because of all of the expectations. We have our friends, families, teachers, coach’s and the worse person to impress… ourselves. The standards and expectations keep rising and we feel like we can’t keep our head above water sometimes.
2) Know the signs
The stress levels within students have tripled within the past few years, students are more stressed out about getting into college now than ever. College councilors stress their students out about GPA, SAT scores, ACT scores and what college they will attend. So not only do students have the pressure of college but they have to also balance their social life. Which is never an easy thing to balance in high school. It is so important to know the signs; this could potentially save your child’s life or one of their friends lives. Someone that is stressed out or even considering suicide could have warning signs of:
· Feeling Trapped
· Acting more reckless than normal
· Isolation from Friends and Family
· Sleeping to much or too little
· Calling people and saying goodbye
· Loss of Interest
3) Don’t just know the signs and apply them, learn your child’s signs
Everyone is different, and they may present their issues in a different manner. I know when I become extremely stressed out or anxious I seclude myself, become very irritable, and I shut down and want to stay to myself. If you see a change in your child’s behavior or your friend’s behavior, do not freak out. Instead just keep an eye on the behavior, make sure it doesn’t progress and step up as a friend to be extremely nice and a listening ear for that person when they want to talk. IF the behavior does not change after a week or so then sit down and have a conversation and let them know that you care. When I shut down, my mom typically gives me a few days then asks if I am okay and if I need to talk about anything, she never forces me to talk because she respects me and my emotions.
4) Don’t force them to talk to you, just listen, I mean please just listen
If you force the person struggling to talk about their issues to you… they won’t. No matter how helpful you are trying to be, it has to be on their terms. That moment when they do tell you that they are struggling, listen. Do not pass judgment, just actively listen. The things you don’t tell them are that their problems are small, stupid or immature. You need to just listen to them speak and then ask them what you can do to help. Don’t interrupt them, be compassionate because when they finally reach out for help, they are trusting you with everything. Let them know that you are someone that they can always turn to when they feel darkness creeping back into their life. The absolute best thing you can be in that moment of listening is be the light that person needs to over come their obstacle.
5) Speak up
If you see the behavior reoccurring and never disappearing, then it is time to speak up. If they person does not want to talk to you about their issues, or talks about hurting them selves but tells you not to say anything, its time to send in a helping hand. It’s time to go to their parents and tell them what you are seeing or go to the school counselor. There is nothing wrong with you speaking up and helping out a friend of family member. There is no shame in going to the councilor at school, they are there to help you and that will never change. If you are the person struggling and you have read this far, speak up. Your story does not have to be like this, you are strong, loved and beautiful. Ask for help, no one will ever be mad at you for asking for help and speaking up.
6) You feel emotionally off, let’s talk about it
HORMONES, this crazy thing inside all of us that can lead us to being angry, sad or happy within seconds… or all of them within a few seconds! Emotions play a massive role in how people feel stress, anxiety and depression and all of these feelings and more can potentially lead to suicide if they are not handled properly. Feeling emotionally off is normal as a teenager but if it gets to the extreme where you feel like suicide could be a possibility you need to stop, reevaluate your surroundings, and run for help. You don’t have to let your emotions take control of your life. YOU control your life, your emotions do not.
7) You are not alone
“It’s lonely, just me in this battle with my emotions, nowhere to run, nowhere to turn.” But its not that way, and it doesn’t ever have to be that way. There is never a moment where you have to be alone in your battle. You are an over comer and God will never leave your side. He gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers; he knows you will overcome the emotions and feelings you have right now. You may feel alone right now, but you aren’t. God is waiting in that darkness, stretching out his hand as far as he can, waiting for you to just touch him so he can grab ahold of you and pull you safely back to his side. You are never alone in your battle; someone is always there and ready to grab ahold of you and help you. Don’t go through with being alone, someone loves you so much, they need you in their life, you aren’t ever alone in the darkness. Do not let it consume you, try to fight it and soon that darkness will fade to light if you reach out for help. There is always someone that wants to help you. There are suicide hotlines and there are safe spaces that you can visit to help you calm back down.
8) Learning to deal with it
Learning to deal with emotions is difficult for everyone. Everyone’s emotions are different which means we all have to learn how to deal with emotions differently. My platform is workITout and it has taught me how to handle my emotions and stress much better. Instead of holding my emotions in, I express them through different outlets. One of my favorite outlets to use is going to the gym or going for a run. This allows me to clear my mind and refocus on what I am stressed about. Going to the gym is where I can complete a task beginning to end and just focus on my body and what it is doing. Another way I deal with my stress and anxiety is through coloring books… yes as silly as it sounds it truly works! It’s a mindless task that just allows you to center yourself. Everyone deals with managing stress and anxiety in different ways, you just have to find your niche and workITout.
9) Talk about triggers
Triggers are something that can set off someone’s stress and anxiety. When you understand your triggersand what disrupts your normal daily function then that is half of the battle. My triggers typically come from a lack of sleep and taking on too many responsibilities at once. When you figure out your triggers you can learn to avoid them, or learn how to not react negatively to the situation.
10) Openness… On both ends
This is the most important point. Parents, it is so crucial that your teens understand that they can come to you if they have a problem. If they can’t come to their parents, then who can they go to? You are their rock, their protectors and their guidance. Not only are you a parent but you also need to be a friend and be able to talk about things as a family. Teens, if you’re not creating trust with your parents you need to right now. It is so important to be open with one another because they are the ones that will help you when you feel lost or if you are in trouble. Be open, discuss depression, suicide, stress and anxiety. Don’t make them scary words within the home, instead discuss them openly and gain each others opinions on them .
11) Don’t be afraid to ask for help
No one can read your mind, and they can’t tell what you are thinking. You have to use your voice, and show them who you are and how you are feeling. No-one will ever be mad at you fro reaching out, instead they will be happy you reached out for help when you needed it the most. Asking for help is the bravest thing you can do. You can’t beat around the bush; you need to come right out and talk about the issue at hand. If we talk about it, the situation can only get better because now we know. Asking for help shows you are strong and you are brave. Don’t let your thoughts consume you, instead share them with someone so they know where you are at within your own mind.
12) You are not a social stigma
Just because you have stress, anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts does not mean you are a social stigma. You are not a social stigma; you are a person. A strong, independent person and you are not defined by society, instead you are the voice for all people that feel lost. You have the chance to break all of the stigma’s and change your story. Please, don’t ever forget that you are so much stronger than our society and their opinions should not ever hold you down or back from reaching your goals. Break down the walls of society, be the voice we need, and show people what stress and anxiety and depression looks like. Show them that it isn’t what we see on Television all the time. Show them that we are people just like them. We are not social stigmas; we are social stereotype breakers.
13) It is occurring more in our society the less we talk about it
Depression, stress, anxiety and suicide are elevated more than ever. If we don’t talk about what is happening around us, what is happening in schools and all of the pressure that is placed on teenagers backs every day, then our society will continue to fall. We will continue to be weak and we will not have taught following generations anything. We are a determined generation, a determined generation that will bust through the walls that confine us. We will not let society tell us who we are, because we are not social stigmas. Don’t ever shun the words stress, anxiety, depression and suicide. Instead embrace them, talk about them and stop making them derogatory words. Stop labeling people, and let’s start talking about it and then together we can all workITout.