I was a hot mess in high school. Unfortunately for me, a lot of people around me–including myself–didn’t quite understand anxiety or depression. This meant that a lot of the time, people assumed I was:
- Just a pissy teenager
- A brat
- A “worrier”
- Stable overachiever
In this episode, I talk about my experience with anxiety and depression in high school and really dive into what was NOT helpful from my peers, elders, etc.
What Could Have Helped Me
I was very messy through my high school years. I had no concept of how to keep a binder, go through a to-do list, or even time block my day. My brain took that to mean that assignments would take hours to complete and I’d never get to have any fun ever again. Ironically, I’d end up sitting on my floor, to panicked to even attempt this eternal assignment. Then, I’d have to rush to get it done the next morning.
BestSelf has this scholar planner that I would HAVE LOVED TO HAVE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE. I’m almost mad this wasn’t around for my school days. I can only imagine how much more calm planning out my day would have made me. Sigh.
I didn’t join my improv team until Junior year of high school, and once I did, it helped me so much. I suddenly had a group of people I saw weekly, something I could achieve that wasn’t related to my academics, and it got me out of the house. Whether it be a club, a blog, or what have you, having something I could work on that wasn’t homework was empowering and a breath of fresh air.
If I’d had a chance to talk to an adult who wasn’t my parent or a teacher, I think I could have gotten a lot of my chest. I also would have been diagnosed earlier and would have started learning coping techniques to help me. If you’re the kid, see if your school has a counselor or, if you feel comfortable, ask your parents to see one. If you’re the parent, keep an open mind and see if you can make therapy happen. IT IS SO GREAT.
Ask For Help
On a similar note, I wish I had asked for help and not assumed that I was this “weak” person that couldn’t handle life. In my opinion, you’re never too young or old to start reading Brene Brown (will I ever go a post without mentioning her? I doubt it.). She has a Netflix special as well as an awesome TedTalk you should check out.
- 2:37: I explain my behaviors in high school and what my life looked like.
- 4:14: I talk about my LOVELY BODY IMAGE as a TEEN.
- 5:52: How getting A’s looked fine on the outside, but was destroying me on the inside.
- 9:26: The debunking begins mwhahaha.
- 10:17: “Yelling at someone to smile makes sense when someone is depressed!”
- 12:10: “Berating a depressed person for being ‘lazy’ is a great idea!”
- “It’s like saying, ‘Hey, you did what you could today and it sucked.” You can’t ‘fix’ it that way. [Lack of motivation is] not something that they can just turn a light switch on because, again, and this is going to be REAL shocking, people do not want to feel like this.”
- 14:35: How the stereotypes of the “moody teenager” can be dismissive of someone with a mental health disorder.
- 16:29: When I took off my mask of happiness, I was yelled at for not being good enough. I talk about that experience and how you can avoid that as well.
- 19:24: The pressure to get good grades and get into college ran me into the ground.
- “…if there had been an adult on the outside who had seen that I was going to get this perfection at any cost to myself, it would have been a nice time to kind of step in and say, ‘Hey, this is not a healthy lesson to learn moving forward because you’re not always going to be able to make something perfect.'”
- 24:01: Telling a highschooler that “it gets better” or “just wait for college, it’ll be the best years of your life” is not helpful. It doesn’t give them anything to work with in the present, and can be damaging if they go to college and still have anxiety/depression.
- 27:33: What I would tell Teen Elaine.
- 30:39: The most helpful thing you can do for a teen? Listen to them.
- 32:00: Outro fun!