This e-mail came in response to my last post.

 

“I don’t know what that girl was going through that would have pushed her that far, but as a 15 year old I can certainly try to give you all some sort of insight into the mind of a depressed teenager. Of course, you don’t have to read, or care about, my life story. I just figured it might help any worried parents gain some sort of idea about what their teenager might be feeling, and why. So, here goes:

I’ve been feeling depressed for about 2 years, but it’s never been diagnosed by a doctor or anything. I don’t know where it originates and, to be honest, I think trying to find out would be more painful than putting up with not knowing. All I know is that I haven’t been completely happy for many years. I self harm. I know it’s a terrible thing to do and I should stop, but I do it anyway. It helps push the emotional pain away for a while and, when I find myself feeling ‘empty’, it helps me to actually feel something. I often think that the only reason I’m not suicidal is because the thought of death and what comes after it terrifies me.

So, as I said, I’m 15 and depressed. The world becomes real to us at about 13, when people start asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and expect a serious answer, and when you have to start thinking about GCSE options. Everything becomes more stressful – with age comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes stress. And what with our parents nagging us about keeping our rooms tidy and doing our homework and everything else, we don’t always feel we can confide in them. I know I haven’t been able to confide in my parents.

If you want them to confide in you then all you have to do is ask. If my parents actually asked me if I was ok, and cared whether I was answering honestly or not, I think I’d be on the path to recovery by now. Or, if they don’t want to confide in you, give them my email address*. Let them read my story and tell them they can tell me anything.

I don’t know whether this will have settled your minds or made you worry more, hopefully not the latter!'”

 

 

*She asked me to leave her e-mail address in but I would rather you contacted her by commenting on the blog.

 

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22 thoughts on “Every parent should read this.

  1. geraldine gaul 5 years ago

    i really think she needs to speak to her parents they were her age once.if not then school counsilor or favorite teacher.its hard enough when you are my age without having to suffer through your teens.
    HUGS GEE

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Or GP. Just go armed with three words — I need help.

    2. afra 5 years ago

      Yes! This story is my story. I’m 21 now and went to my university doctor two months ago asking for help. I think it had just got to the point where I realised I wasn’t actually living, only existing. It’s a frightening feeling. The doctor gave me antidepressants and sent me to counselling. I was always so sceptical of both of these things. I can’t really remember why. But these past two months have been an amazing time for me. I cannot describe it. I know without doubt that the way I feel these days is the way I am supposed to feel. I am happy. I don’t think I have been happy, truly happy, since I was about eleven or twelve years old. In some ways that is upsetting for me, I feel like I had a wasted childhood, but I also feel like there’s no point thinking about it like that. I had an experience, it wasn’t very nice, I found help, I am getting better. In leaps and bounds!
      I honestly can’t urge you enough – if you are feeling this way, ask for help! There is help. I feel like life is easy again, I want to live it!
      Phew. Bit of an essay. I just feel the need to get the point across that none of us have to feel so desperately alone or unhappy or depressed that ending our lives is the only option left. There is NO shame in asking for help.

    3. Meg 5 years ago

      Thank you for telling us your story, Afra. What an amazing outcome. I’m sorry you waited so long to look for help, but it’s often hard to know where to go. And also hard even to realize that you’re not SUPPOSED to feel so bad — it becomes ‘normal.’ Good for you for overcoming your scepticism and tackling all those bad feelings. You may have brushes with depression again, but next time you’ll know what to do. I hope it doesn’t sound condescending to say I feel really proud of you, and happy for you. xxxMeg

  2. Cathy cassidy 5 years ago

    Sometimes the hardest thing of all is asking for help. You imagine others should know, see, sense what you are going through – but often they cannot. They look at the surface and think/hope that all is fine. And the person feeling lost and low and sad goes on feeling that way, convinced that nobody cares. I went through much of my teens wondering why I felt things so strongly, took things so hard, when others didn’t seem to… but I am glad now of that capacity to feel the highs and lows in an extreme way.
    We only get one shot at life, so don’t spend too long being lost – ask for help, take control, write, paint, claw your way out of it. If you can feel the sadness so strongly, you can feel the happiness too. Time to find it.

    xxx

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Beautifully said, Cathy. Of course.

  3. Anon 5 years ago

    I recovered from Depression last year that had lasted for more than a year, and the strangest thing was that for most of the time I was depressed I didn’t even realise that I was. I thought it was normal to feel awful. Then one day I was so low that I went to my GP and tried to explain. They make you fill in a form about your emotional wellbeing and to my surprise they told me I had moderate clinical depression. It was like suddenly finding out you have this extra invisible limb that you didn’t know about – like a hand that was constantly trying to strangle you. So I suddenly knew what I was fighting. I go to a counsellor every week and it’s taken a while – about 8 months – but I feel light and awake and capable again. It’s painful and it’s a struggle to get out of depression but life is for living and it’s a gift and the most important thing to remember is this: YOU are AMAZING. 😀

  4. Sherryl 5 years ago

    What I remember from that age is feeling like an alien. My mum died when I was 14 and it was like I just floundered for the next ten years. In those days nobody would have thought of suggesting counselling! I wish I had had someone to talk to who’d been there and understood. Instead I had a dad who was suffering too, and a nasty sister-in-law who didn’t help a bit!
    Whoever you are, please find someone you can talk to. Feeling like you are the only person in the world who feels like you do is the worst part. If I had known it wasn’t only me, it would’ve helped an enormous amount.

  5. jackie morris 5 years ago

    I felt pretty much the same when I was 15. Desperate. The pain was not so bad that I self harmed but the confusion when I looked around at the mad world was fierce, and when people told me that these days were the best of my life it made me scream inside.
    But, being happy is something that I now understand takes hard work. I do not say this to add to the depression. I have never been afraid of hard work.
    The media presents images of happiness, usualy hand in hand with wealth. This is a lie.
    We would never expect to be able to sit down and play the piano wiyhout all the learning that goes along with it.
    Years later, as a young mother, divorced, I felt again that same yawning blackness that overwhelms. It still comes and goes. But every day I look around and I see beauty. I see it in the struggle of people like you, to cope from day to day. So all I can say is work at happiness and every day you will gain some reward, though it may be small. And try and be kind to yourself, because you are worthy of yur own respect. And though I do not know you, can I say that I do love you, for your truth.
    Drawing keeps me sane. Mind you, it drives me mad too!

  6. Georgia Coutts 5 years ago

    being a teenager can suck. three years ago, when i was 15, it felt like the whole world was against me. i know now that it wasn’t, but it certainly felt like it back then. the thought of asking for help was terrifying. when you’re 15 it’s like no-one cares, no-one knows exactly how you’re feeling. i don’t really remember a lot of it in great detail, but i know that i was pretty horrible at times (or so i’ve been told) – but i don’t think it was because teens are self centred. when you’re that age, all you can think is “how can what i’m feeling be normal?” – but it is. it happens to everyone.
    however, i don’t think anyone should have to get to the point where they feel like harming themselves or suicide is the only way out. no-one deserves to feel that way. i just think that everyone should get a chance to find something, such as music or art. not necessarily to save them, but to help them figure out how to love and save themselves.
    a lot of people tell teenagers that it gets better. the kids all know the stories. but what they really need is to believe it.

  7. Clare 5 years ago

    My 13 year old daughter and I have started going to Alanon and Alateen meetings. (we both go to different meetings!) Although I grew up with an alcoholic father, I didn’t realise it until I was about 21 years as he never crashed the car or became violent. He just drank himself to sleep on the sofa every night then went to work the next day. Although he loved us, he disengaged from us all and I have always suffered from lack of self esteem and trying to be perfect.

    I think Alateen’s 12 step programme is the greatest tool any teenager could have. My daughter was terrified to go but found 5 other teenage girls from 11 to 14 years there. You don’t have to talk, but just listen. It is worth a try as there are so many meetings all over the country and it is free! You don’t have to tell anyone. And no one cares if you are actually living with an alcoholic parent. You may not know yourself if you are affected by alcohol, drugs or maybe one of your family member lived with an alcoholic like I did. I think I may have passed on this disease to my daughter.

    http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/meetings

    I hope you find healing in Alateen or any programme that works for you!

  8. Maisie 5 years ago

    I am 17 now and can say that I felt much the same when I was 15 and still struggle now. Obviously I cannot understand exactly what you are going through, having not experienced your personal circumstances. However, I can relate to the feelings that you describe strongly and the main advice (and apologies if you don’t wish for it) that I can give is this: ask for help. Much easier said than done and I’m not sure whether you have in the past and been ignored or told that feeling this way is ‘a normal part of growing up’. If you have, I know that it’s very discouraging, but you have to keep trying and sooner or later someone will listen. I was lucky in that my doctor was brilliant and arranged for me to get help very quickly. Incidentally, going to the doctor’s is confidential and they’re not allowed to tell your parents if you don’t want them to.

    Also, I think I can understand what you mean by saying that getting better wouldn’t be worth the pain of finding out where the depression originates, but the pain involved in getting better is at least constructive towards getting better and getting on with life and so can be worth it in the long run.

    The help that I’m getting at the moment is with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), which my doctor referred me to. They provide counselling, support and can arrange for you to go on antidepressants if you so wish or they feel that it would help you. It’s confidential and funded by the NHS and has helped me a great deal, although I know that what helps one person will not necessarily help another.

    I don’t know if this has helped or not, and I apologise if I’ve interfered where help was not wanted. Either way though, know that you are not alone. Please stay safe – find any way to get your feelings out that doesn’t involve hurting yourself; write, draw, stand in some God-forsaken field and yell your head off (seriously, it helps!) But remember that you don’t have to feel like this and this will not be your life forever; things can seem hopeless at times, but life can get better, people do care, and sometimes you find happiness when you least expect it.

    Take care.

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Thanks Maisie. In my experience CAMHS has been great.

  9. Lucy Darwin 5 years ago

    Meg, thankyou for posting this message and for talking about Emily the other day. Everyone needs to be more frank and willing to dispel the ridiculously damaging taboos around Mental Health. The more we talk the less likely these terrible consequences of silence will happen. We have talked with our 14 year old, our son had M.E which is a physical manifestation of depression, my father had a life long battle with manic depression and I’ve suffered too particularly after my children were born. We all find it hard to ask for help because society wants to be shy of mental health. More talking = more understanding = the possibility of wellness. I hope if there is something good that comes of this terrible tragedy it will be that the hundreds of families now mourning her death may talk more openly. Thankyou to the young woman above for your message I do hope you can gain courage to talk to your parents or even one of their friends who can provide a sympathetic ear. X

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Thanks, Christie. Those numbers are for the U.S. — can anyone offer similar for the UK?

  10. Rhubarb 5 years ago

    I echo the advice of trying to find someone you can talk to, who can be a resource themselves or who can help point you to resources. They are many out there: trained professionals, groups to join, and also you will find sympathetic people who have been through similar things and who can validate your experiences and share with you how they found relief.

    One word of advice: Know that what you wrote was very clear and understandable, you express yourself well – so if you try and confide in someone and they seem not to “get” what you say, it may be that they have a personal blind spot about this type of issue. Some adults do. This can even happen with people who are close to you, and it doesn’t even mean they don’t love you or don’t care, more that they have limits themselves that prevent them from being able to be everything you need right now. If you encounter this try not to take it personally – just keep looking!

    All the best to you.

  11. Kate 5 years ago

    You sound very bright and articulate and I believe that for many young people with those qualities, the teenage years are hard because you can see so clearly and feel so intensely; however, sometimes it takes time to be able to manage emotionally what you experience of the world. Different parts of you develop at different times. It will come together for you, I’m sure of that, and life will seem much more manageable.
    My son, who is 14, has seen a counsellor through school for the past two years. This is utterly confidential – although I happen to know of it because of the way it came about, students also see her without their parents’ knowledge. I know nothing of what he says unless he chooses to share it with me and nor do the staff. This may be another option for you. He has found it really helpful. He has a friend, a girl in his year, who has self-harmed, and he has suggested to her that she seeks help there too; she’s reluctant to do so as she feels this would mark her as weird in some way. But she isn’t and my son isn’t and you would not be either, if you seek help.
    Go well.

  12. Claire 5 years ago

    >> I don’t know where it originates and, to be honest, I think trying to find out would be more painful than putting up with not knowing. <<

    If the author of this email is reading – sometimes there isn't a definite origin, and that's okay. And not all counselling is of that psychoanalytical 'tell me about your childhood pain' type – most isn't – it's more often about what things, both big and small, to do in order to deal with the current feelings and problems.

    Some unhappiness and frustration in adolescence is 'normal', ongoing suffering isn't. I wish more adults realised this – there can be so much dismissing of genuine pain and it's so unhealthy and unhelpful.

  13. Kaleidoscope 5 years ago

    I don’t feel as if I have the words to express how much I feel for you (sender). At the age of 18, I feel as if this e-mail could have been written by myself just 3 years ago.

    I battled with these feelings from the age of about 13, when I had my first experience of death – somebody very close to me who was just 18 years old at the time. For years I thought that the way I felt was somehow my own fault and that getting to the bottom of it would be too traumatic and difficult, not only for me but for my family.

    5 years on, having sought help only about 6 months ago, I can honestly tell you the best thing I ever did was speak up. I came to realise one day that what I felt wasn’t fair any more. I realised all these people around me that had lives just as similar as mine with the same worries and problems and nagging issues yet they were still happy. I didn’t know how they did it. I noticed I had a lot of worries in common with people that I thought wouldn’t understand at all and I came to realise that I was missing out on so many wonderful opportunities and experiences that life does have to offer you.

    After 6 months of ongoing therapy (which is much less scary than I expected – it consists of me talking about whatever I want, in as little or as much detail as I wish, and looking at ways to think about things differently, to come round to more positive ways of looking at things), I am starting to feel happy, learning to live in a more present moment without so many fears about the future or regrets about the past.

    Most importantly to me, I am feeling more alive than any amount of self harm ever gave me and I am on my way to what I like to think is going to be an extremely bright future.

    My best advice would be to speak out about your problem. It is the achievement I am most proud of in my life. I was scared at first and didn’t know how my parents would take it. But you deserve to be happy, and I’m sure that you will be able to find happiness.

    Stay strong. It may be a long battle, but it is definitely worth fighting.

    1. Meg 5 years ago

      Thank you for that.

  14. Amanda 5 years ago

    Meg, thank you for posting this, and sender, thank you for emailing Meg.
    I hear you.
    I hear you.
    I hear you.

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