If you’re a teen or preteen and are currently struggling with your thoughts and behaviors right now, you may be worried that you’re mentally ill and deeply desire to get some relief from these feelings. If you are between the ages of 10 and 18, it is important to know that your brain is going through one of the most severe and extreme changes that it will go through in your life. Symptoms of all sorts of mental illnesses are present in many teenagers and preteens. You may believe that you have more than one mental illness. This may be true, but it probably is not. Basically, if you’re already going through puberty, your brain is utterly overwhelmed. This effect is more severe for some people than others so you may feel that you are not coping as well as your peers. This is still within the realm of normal development. Developing into an adult is painful, and it’s okay to feel that pain. It gets easier. This is good news because it means it is likely that after a few years of misery you will heal and level out, and not be stuck dealing with mental illnesses for the rest of your life, which is the optimal outcome for this awful and miserable situation.
At this point, you may feel that your concerns are being dismissed and you may even be furious with me for suggesting that you are not mentally ill. You have every right to feel that way. I’m sure the symptoms you are experiencing are troubling and hurt tremendously. I also know that these feelings can lead to suicidal behavior. I have attempted suicide twice, and I know first-hand Continue reading
There are wonderful mindfulness practices that, when practiced and used over time, can help train you to live in a healthier state of being, with more peace and less struggle with tough emotions. There is a wonderful website, Mindfulness Muse that is written by therapists and trained mental health professionals and covers many of the skills that I am learning in therapy.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of everything you are experiencing in the present moment, exactly as it is. This includes all of the information you are taking in from your five senses, as well as the information from your internal environment, which is made up of the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs you are experiencing right now. The idea is to bring you gently into the present, with no part of you regretting the past or fretting over what could go wrong in the future. You’re being present and aware of the current moment, the present, and you are observing it exactly as it is, without passing judgment, good or bad. Mindfulness is just what is. From this vantage point, you can start to find some peace within yourself. Even practicing mindfulness for ten minutes a day is scientifically proven to be beneficial for the physical health of your brain, improving mental health.
Practicing mindfulness does take, well, practice. This is not an overnight solution, but it is a solid one if Continue reading
The brain is incredible, in the true sense of the word. Our whole selves are housed up there in that small mass of cells, nerves, and electricity. Our every sensation, thought, emotion, decision, and feeling are determined by the functioning of that squishy, 3-pound organ behind our eyes.
The brain is complicated and misunderstood. If more people understood the basic tenets of psychology -that we are all the same, and fairly predictable- then we would have a foundation on which to build a societal understanding of mental illness. Instead, people believe that they control every aspect of their own behavior and that others are controlling every aspect of their own behavior as well. This theory only works if everyone is neurotypical. If there were no problem thoughts or behaviors, then it wouldn’t matter that people didn’t know how much of their behavior was not at all their choice. Once you introduce the idea that we are little flesh machines operated by our brains, you must accept that you only have some control over your own thoughts and behavior, not complete control. If those thoughts or behaviors get out of hand, you’re going to need some concrete and specialized help to heal them.
The causes of mental illness are Continue reading
A person with multiple severe mental illnesses, like myself, will never lead a “normal” life. We are not neurotypical, and cannot lead neurotypical lives. We live our own special brand of abnormal lives. These lives can be worthwhile, rich, and rewarding, even though they do contain immense suffering.
Of course, trying to get as close to normal as possible is the first big goal of treatment. Medicine, therapy, and coping skills are meant to help minimize symptoms and pain. Medication is more than half the battle, so seeing a psychiatrist and making sure you keep up to date on prescriptions is the biggest single step you can take. If you do not yet have medical treatment, you will need to work out a plan to get to a psychiatry appointment. You can involve loved ones in this. Do not be shy about asking for help. Your quality of life is on the line, and I guarantee you that you have at least one person in your life who does not want you to suffer. Ask that person to take you to the doctor. You deserve to have treatment. You deserve to live in less pain. You deserve to have your needs met.
Finding the right medicine can take time, but sticking with it until your cocktail is correct is worth the time and suffering of the trial and error process. The long-term goal is remission, and the short-term goal is the amelioration of pain. It can feel hopeless, but please don’t give up. Medicine is the cornerstone of your recovery.
Mindfulness is another coping skill available to you. Mindfulness, an immensely helpful tool, is the practice of experiencing the present moment exactly as it is without passing judgment. The present moment is not good or bad, it’s just what is. You can learn to step back from your thoughts and accept the present moment, and doing so can give you some immediate relief. When you are mindful, you are not worried about anything that is going to happen in the future and you do not regret anything that happened in your past. You ground yourself firmly in the present. There is an abundance of information on how to be mindful on Mindful – healthy mind, healthy life, which is full of techniques for developing this skill that can serve you for years to come. Learning to be mindful will be helpful almost immediately. Continue reading