I’ve seen a lot of news stories recently about teenagers or young adults comitting suicide. Ive noticed it seems to always be the same story: Nobody knew they were suffering to start with.
Parents are always surprised at the news, and friends tend to just think ‘he was a bit sad’ but not like sad sad, and it really hits home just how important opening up about mental health is.
I was 18 when I had to quit University and move back home. It was at the end of term one. I didn’t even make it the year.
I’m no quitter, and I’ve always been encouraged to try my best. So quitting uni is probably the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me, and will ever happen.
I had voices in my head and sleepless nights preventing me from focusing in lectures. I’d cry at night and pull my hair out or repeatedly hit my head on the wall. Panic attacks on panic attacks just wouldn’t stop and I was totally hating my courses.
I found myself getting mad at my friends who were out enjoying their new lives, and partying when I needed them the most. I couldn’t quite understand how everyone loved their new lives and I couldn’t. But I really wanted to. And that pressure made everything even worse. It feels stupid to say, but at ther time, if I couldn’t have my life back, I didn’t want one at all.
At Christmas, I explained to my mum and stepdad what the doctors had said, how I felt and how I couldn’t go back.
Here’s the thing: Telling someone you’ve got Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar or anything else is 10 times easier than explaining how you feel in way where people understand. Telling someone you care about that you ‘wouldn’t mind’ dying will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but once it’s done, there’s someone on your side; fighting for you when you’re not super strong. You’re on the home run.
The relief I felt when my parents took me seriously is insane. I knew it was going to be a tricky ride of set meals (I hadn’t eaten at Uni), visits to the doctors, constant dosage increases and therapy.
But when I left the doctors or counsellors, I could stay sane knowing I wasn’t alone; that someone knew what was going on, and someone cared. In a way, I felt relieved that if anything did happen – not that I ever tried – my family would know I wasn’t in a good place, rather than leaving them with the burden of never knowing.
My friends at University were amazing. And leaving them behind was heartbreaking. I seriously felt like I was missing out. I wasn’t suppose to quit, I was suppose to excel at University. But I didn’t get my degree, I didn’t get the chance to live with my friends or have the University experience at all.
I can honestly say, quitting has had a serious impact on me. The whole situation was traumatic and significantly damaged my confidence in my abilities, my motivation and self-esteem.
Committing to my fast track journalism course for 6 months was a huge step, and I remember my stepdad coming into work and he, my mum and I jumped around excitedly that I’d got the place. All that was left to do was actually go and prove to myself that I am still good enough.
I’ll always have an internal battle fighting between whether or not I should have stayed at University. Part of me knows I’ll live with that shame and sadness for a long time. But I was lucky enough to have the chance to tell my parents. And I know if I had kept quiet, I probably wouldn’t be here. Which isn’t a nice thought at all.
Whether it’s you, or about someone you know, step out of your own thoughts and speak up. Tell your parents or your doctor, anyone. It could go a long way to saving your life.
I’m lucky enough to have a close relationship with my parents, and I know not everyone has that. But having just one person on your side is crucial for survival. That shoulder to cry on, that person to make you eat, that parent who does actually know what’s best for you.
Speak out. Don’t suffer in silence.