by Alanna Anderson
Depression, ADHD, failing a class, a mood disorder, an aspect of your life that is affecting your self esteem. What do these all have in common? Well, they’re all things that you can get help for. The ways that you receive help for these could vary, but there are options available to help you deal with them more productively. A lot of people will avoid help because they think that it makes them strong, or they have to deal with it on their own, or they’re afraid of becoming reliant on the method that is making them better. On the contrary, getting help does not mean you’re weak; getting help is what will help you face these problems more effectively.
One of the first ways to encourage yourself to get help is knowing that you really are not alone. A lot of the time when people say this it comes off as patronizing and it can easily be taken the wrong way, but listen to this: “As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.”(1) Pair that with the fact that “in 2015 the amount of students that were estimated to be entering into the 9th grade in a public high school was 4.1 billion.” I took the liberty of doing the math for you instead of leaving you to do it by yourself. There are around 512,500,000 adolescents in America that have depression. These 512,500,000 individuals could be going through a version of what you are going through and unless they tell you, you may not even know. So when I say that you aren’t alone, I mean that there are other people who are experiencing something similar to what you are. That doesn’t discredit your emotions or make them irrelevant, it just means that there are people out there who can relate to your struggles in some sense and can honestly say that they have been through hard and draining times too.
“Don’t let society hold you back from believing in yourself and having the confidence to seek out what makes you happy and healthy.”
A second way that I hope that I can encourage you is letting you know that you shouldn’t allow someone to discredit your feelings when you have a serious issue. What you consider a serious concern for yourself doesn’t just have to be something that a doctor can diagnose, a serious concern could also be in reference to things like your confidence and body-image. You may look down on yourself for a feature that you feel very negatively about. Maybe it’s something that you were born with (like hair color, skin color, biological gender, your nose, face shape, etc.), or maybe it’s something that you developed overtime or noticed as you got older (like acne, difficulty with school, social awkwardness, a bad habit, etc.) There is definitely help for these things, but pinpointing and acknowledging the issue is hard because it can feel like you’re admitting to having a weakness. But acknowledging a quality of yourself that you dislike can help you get on the path of seeking out a solution to it in a healthy manner, and in a manner that keeps your respect for yourself prevalent.
Society puts a lot of pressure on people to be skinny, hold certain beauty standards, get the highest test scores, abide by ‘gender roles,’ and to be a superhuman in a world filled with people who are obviously not that. These expectations are draining and damaging to people whether they are trying to fit inside of that mold or not. What doesn’t help the situation of overwhelming expectations is the bad habit that a lot of people have with comparing themselves to others.
You look over at someone’s paper and see that they have a higher score even though they are bragging about not putting effort into it. You study your butt off for a test and the slacker in class still seems to know everything by looking at it once. Or maybe you’re on the other side of this situation. You have to lie about how much effort you put into a paper just so your classmates don’t know how much frustration it put you through. You pretend to be the slacker in the class when in reality you sneak in study sessions whenever you can.
These expectations can be toxic and detrimental to overall health and they stop people from getting treatment because they believe that the majority of society will look down on them. “About six million people are affected by late life depression, but only 10% ever receive treatment.”(3) “Over 80% of the people that have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving any specific treatment for their depression.”(4) Not only that, but “the number of patients diagnosed with depression increases by approximately 20% each year.”(5) Hopefully by seeing these statistics and data you will know that there are others out there who are also wary of seeking help. Even without our common knowledge there are so many of us who need to know that we’re not alone.
The issue can start small, like eating a little less each day, until you are more concerned with the idea of holding off on eating than the idea of being healthy. I’m not suggesting that one random missed meal is a sign of an eating disorder, but there are very relevant signs to pay attention to that could mean that something is wrong. Even if you aren’t able to get in contact with a doctor soon, contacting a professional is still preferable over self-diagnosing. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a doctor right away it’s still a good idea to have someone that you can express your feelings to in the meantime. If it’s not a family member or a friend, there are support groups that meet up physically and online. For people who need a safe place, these can be havens. Just keep in mind that doctors are here to help and that they can provide you with things, like medication and therapy, that those support groups will not be able to.
You must also keep in mind that while friends and family can be great sources of comfort, they will not be able to help you the way that a professional will be able to. While support is good, certain issues require professional care. A good idea for meeting with a doctor is to have some sort of plan in your head of what you’re going to tell them about your symptoms so that you are prepared to explain your situation in a more clear and organized way. Being prepared takes a lot of stress out of the situation and can make the healing process easier for you.
The point of seeking help is for you to attempt to take back some of your peace and happiness. Treatment is not an overnight answer, but “up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments.”(6)
Even if the issue in your life isn’t depression, there are still ways that you can improve your situation. If you’re worried about a grade in a class you’re currently taking, you don’t need to worry about looking dumb by seeking help for that class because by doing so you are improving yourself. If you think that you have a problem regarding weight, be willing to fix it healthily and don’t worry about how others will react. Don’t let stereotypes about your geographical locati
on, subculture, race, or your personal insecurities hold you back, be willing to improve yourself so that you can feel a sense of personal achievement in knowing that you helped yourself.
A lot of the issues in our life can seem like they’re never going to go away, that you’re helpless against them, and that there is no solution, but you would be surprised at what is available to you to aid in your process of healing. Don’t let society hold you back from believing in yourself and having the confidence to seek out what makes you happy and healthy. Remember, when it comes down to it, you are the one who is going to have to wake up every morning as yourself, not classmates, not people on the internet, or any other members of society. You are the person who can help yourself the most. Stay healthy, stay confident, stay woke. Adios.
Thank you to DBSA for helping people with disorders and for being a reliable resource for spreading awareness to those who are less knowledgeable about these disorders!
Sources (by order of appearance)
1(Center for Mental Health Services, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1996)
2(National Center for Education Statistics)
3(Brown University Long Term Care Quarterly, 1997)
6(National Institute of Health, 1998)
Alanna Anderson in a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram