***Please note: This article contains references to suicidal thoughts and a suicide attempt.
Being happy is easier said than done. At times it can feel impossible to reach the level of content that everyone around us seems to be. But the truth is, mental illness plagues humanity and keeps so many people from happiness every day. Our brains work in crazy ways and depression is the default for so many of them. By sharing what I have gone through as a Worcester Academy student, I hope to reach those who feel alone. I know it’s said so much, and can get annoying, but you aren’t alone. Trust me.
No, I am not a professional and I don’t think many want to take advice on how to be happy from someone who has suffered from depression her whole life, but over the years I have learned so much about what it means to be happy; even though I never apply it to my life, I hope someone else can.
For me, it was third grade. It all became noticeable as an 8-year-old when I began having severe panic attacks over minor issues, like going to a sports’ practices. Luckily for me, my mom believed in the value of mental health and was able to introduce me to therapy. Like any other who had never been to a therapist, I was terrified. I hated going to this weird 40-year-old woman with dream catchers all over her room, just to sit and talk about how I simply couldn’t contain my emotions. As I got older, I started writing essays on how I felt like my life was meaningless, and became hyper-fixated on spending my nights watching sexual assault criminal trials and crying to them. I was simply fascinated with the emotions of other people (this only made me more sad).
When beginning a new school, my anxiety was at a high and I would refuse to go to school. By this time, my therapist and doctor decided that I should begin antidepressants. Unfortunately, as it sometimes happens, they only made my depression worse. Then COVID lockdown hit. I lost touch with my best friend and was at my worst. I had many problems at school, and without going into too much detail, we can just say that so many high emotions, lack of friendship, and isolation all mixed with meds didn’t turn out so well. I felt hopeless… and so I did what so many do. In March of 8th grade, I downed a bottle of pills, attempting to kill myself. This wasn’t an eye-opening moment for me, like how it was portrayed in movies. Just because I failed at my attempt, didn’t mean I wanted to die any less. The thing keeping me from a second attempt was my mom’s face. Nevertheless, I felt alone because I had no friends, and dumb because the chance I felt that I was given to end it all was a failure. It was as if there was no point in my life and I wished every night before I went to sleep that I wouldn’t wake up.
When I came to WA in 9th grade it didn’t stop or get better. If anything it heightened again. This fall, it got to the point it was panic attack after panic attack. I disassociated for about a week and it was so bad I didn’t remember how I got places and had the continuous feeling of fright and confusion. My body was playing tricks on me. I spent almost all my time in the counseling office and I seriously thought I was going crazy. This, along with my history, allowed me to get tested for various things; those results and diagnoses are all for another article I guess. But the point is… I know. I know what it feels like to wish for nothing except death. That’s why, as I am currently in one of my motivated moods, I decided to write this article. Cause depression fricken sucks, and I just want people at WA to know that there ARE people here that struggle…And maybe take some of my advice.
5 of the Basics to Achieving the Honorable (or at least a little bit of happiness)
Use your resources on campus
The counseling office is extremely beneficial for people who are struggling. As I said, I spend so much time there. They aren’t there to diagnose you or tell your parents you have issues or anything like that. They are simply there to listen and help. Our counselors are SO nice and sometimes even have snacks, and candy! Try contacting them to set up a meeting. You can talk about whatever. Just check in! I promise they are there for YOU. Everyone should at least meet them because they are some of the friendliest faces this school has.
Avoid news overdose
This one is hard in our generation; we are constantly receiving information from a block in our pocket. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone on my phone and seen a TikTok, article, or even a Snapchat that ruined my day. It is okay to not watch the news and see things that make you upset. It is okay to put your mental health first. Silencing my phone is literally one of the biggest acts of self-care I partake in. I spend my summer away at a camp without service, and I make the best of friends and am the happiest there. Though hard, it’s possible.
I always hated being told to exercise when I felt upset. I know it’s a frustrating thing to hear sometimes. Like no, going on a walk isn’t going to cure me. But it wasn’t until I started going to the gym and lifting that I found out how much it could benefit me. It didn’t “fix” my depression, but it was a nice distraction. Exercise sets off happy endorphins that make you feel good! It’s science. You don’t have to start going to the gym every day but even taking a walk can relieve stress. So when you can, if you can, just try it: put some music on and just walk.
Do something meaningful
Meaningful acts have been one consistent thing in my life. Writing a letter to people I care about and seeing how happy it makes them is one of the best feelings possible. It also reminds you that there are some okay people in this world. Doing good things feels good, whether they are big or small. Seeing someone in need or even just someone you care about smile, is enough. The kids I work for in the summer are what truly keep me going. I know that I impact their lives positively and even though you should live for yourself, sometimes it’s fine to allow those who love you to keep you going.
Figure out how to cope
Finding a healthy coping mechanism is hard. Different things work for different people, so practicing and applying them to your life is the only way to know if they work for you. Exercise may not work for you as it does for me. You have to try a multitude of them before finding the best pick. But I am sure there is one that is the right one for you. This being said, here are some ideas to start you off.
- Listening to music
- Watching a comfort show
- Exploring nature
The point is, mental health issues suck. Feeling shitty is shitty. I just hope this helped you understand that there are tools where even if they don’t fix it, they can nurture it.
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