Tuesday, 19 December 2017

What My Teenage Years Taught Me

"Your teenage years are the best years of your life, don't wish them away", says every adult but are our teenage years really the best? You don't have bills to pay and you don't have an overwhelming amount of responsibility but being a teenage is tough, especially in today's society. Considering that tomorrow is my 20th birthday, I thought that I would reflect on what I have learnt from being a teenager before I leap into being a fully grown adult (maybe just a half grown adult). 

Its safe to say that for me, being a teenage was quite a disaster from beginning to end and I am more than thankful to be putting these years behind me. My teenage years have been spent in crippling anxiety and depression, spending more time wishing I was dead than alive, numerous visits to my local hospital, trying to grow up and become independent and trying to find the best way to balance my illnesses and a life worth living. It's tricky. But I have almost made it out of this part of my life so without further ado, let's get straight in..

  • People come and go, even the ones that you didn't expect to and this isn't always a bad thing. I cannot express this enough, I have friends who I have grown up with and known almost all my life but who I rarely speak to now and it isn't either of our faults, we have just drifted apart and gone separate ways in life. There is no point in holding grudges over something that can't be helped. I still hold a special place in my heart for these people and do still consider them as friends but you never know, we might cross each others paths again in the future. It is so important to remember that in regards to friends, quality over quantity is the best approach to have. During school especially, I had a huge amount of friends but only a couple that I was extremely close to. Some of these people are no longer a part of my life but I have also met other friends along the way, again some of which who have left but others who I am more close with than I ever have been to friends before and who I couldn't imagine my life without. I have also realised that some of the people who walked out of my life, despite it hurting at first, was for the best as I am much better off and happier without them.
  • Although education is important, your health is a bigger priority. I spent too many years allowing my health to deteriorate in order to make my education succeed. Funnily enough, I was still failing most of my subjects and in the most recent years I have learnt that being alive and healthy, is far more important than getting amazing grades. This realisation only hit me when I missed six months of year 11 (essentially, the most important school year) to focus on my health and receive intense, 24 hour treatment. I sat my GCSEs in hospital and only passed five of my subjects, each one getting a lower grade than my target. Your education can be redone at any age whereas there is no redoing life if you end up dead.
  • If you've noticed that you constantly feel rubbish or are struggling with your mood or school, you must tell and talk to someone, no matter how hard it seems. I know that everyone says this, and it is hard to believe that telling someone will help, but it really will. I wish that I had spoken to someone when I first realised I wasn't well because it could have prevented things spiraling even further downhill. On the other hand, you need to realise that there isn't a quick and easy fix and there will be people who you put all your trust in for them to leave your life, leaving you wishing that you still had your secrets. There will also be people who have helped you just by supporting you and who you with be thankful for throughout your future, despite losing contact with them. Talk to someone, your parents, a friend, a teacher, a doctor or anyone that can support you with starting to get help, it'll be so beneficial in the long run.
  • Not everyone understands, but it isn't always their fault. Throughout my teenage years, I have come across so many different people who simply don't understand me or my illness. I have had friends who have left, because I was too much to handle and they didn't know how to support me which isn't their fault, because how can they support someone who won't let them in and tell them what's going on? However, I have also come across many professionals who don't understand. I have had teachers who was certain that there wasn't anything wrong with me and that I was just attention seeking, I have had doctors refuse to give me pain relief because I did this to myself, I have had other doctors tell me that I clearly don't want to die if i'm receiving treatment and I have even had fully qualified mental health professionals tell me that I am going to be this way forever and there isn't anything that they can do to help or support me, unless I know what I want or what will help, which I obviously don't know because if I did, I wouldn't be there in the first place.
  • High-school is hideous. I despise high-school, it was such a bad time in my life and I think that people can be so cruel without even realising that they're doing so. High school is full of drama, rumors, bullying, judgement, bitching and hormones. People can be mean and comments can be easily made that can affect others so negatively. Luckily, I didn't have an awful time at high school, the only rumor that got around about me was that I was locked away in a nut hut, but I suppose that meant that I didn't actually have to tell people myself, so I am quite thankful for that one. However, I wasted so much time worrying and being upset over small, irrelevant things that really didn't matter, so irrelevant that I can't even remember most of the things I used to get upset about.
  • Alcohol is over-rated. I didn't really start drinking alcohol till I was about 16, and even that was only at parties. When I turned 18, I didn't really see the hype and realised that the majority of the time, alcohol makes me feel worse, especially considering that I am on medication that I'm not supposed to drink with. I think I can count on my hands the amount of times I have been clubbing, it's just not as good as people make out, but it's one of those things that you've got to try for yourself, just don't drink too much because being sick isn't as enjoyable. 
  • Drugs are illegal for a reason. It's no secret that I am against drugs, I have seen what they can do to people and as someone who has struggled with mental illness, I don't think that having a good night is worth gaining long term mental illnesses. Everyone thinks that it'll never happen to them, but it really isn't worth it, they are illegal for good reasons, even the ones that don't have direct side effects of death. Don't use drugs out of peer pressure, even if people laugh at you, walk away and leave those people in the past because they clearly aren't good friends.
  • Family is everything, and so important. I can understand why not everyone will agree with this point, I am very lucky to have the relationship with my mum that I do but it wasn't always that pleasant and I, like most teenagers, did go through a phase (quite a long one) of despising her. We clashed a lot, she was trying to help me when I didn't want to be helped and she didn't let me do everything that I wanted to (funnily enough). But we got there in the end, and I would be so lost without my mum and brother.
  • The only person that can help you, is yourself. This is such an important phrase and it is so true. If you want to get better, the only person who can fully change things and help you is yourself. Doctors and professionals can support you along the way, they can give you coping methods, medication and therapy but in the long run its you who have to do all the hard work and you who have to want a change. If you don't want to get better or for things to improve, then it's not going to happen. It is hard, everything about recovery is hard and there are good and bad days, but it really is down to you to want things to change. It also takes a long time, it isn't a quick process but it will happen.
  • Independence is freedom. Being independent is something that I have only been able to do recently, mostly due to the fact that I had to be checked on and watched to ensure that I was keeping myself safe but it is essentially freedom, you can go out when you want, you can make your own choices and decisions and within reason, can do what you want. I couldn't imagine going back to being young and having to tell my mum everything that I was doing, although I do still tell her everything, both bad and good but the difference being, that she no longer tells me off and instead tries to guide me in the right direction. Trying to be independent can be daunting and difficult at first, but it gives you so much privacy and space. Having said that, it is important to know that your family will always take you back in if things go wrong.
Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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