R U OK? Struggling with mental health
STAYING in my childhood bedroom is always nostalgic.
I've lived interstate for only a short while, but every moment I have in my old home reminds me why it was so hard to leave.
Before retiring to bed, I decided to go through my old closet that's still full of my junk.
I found plenty of knick-knacks, old clothes, and under a bunch of blankets, my old diaries.
During high school, I kept a daily journal for over six years, and if there is anything I can recommend to young people now, it's keep a diary.
It was hilarious to look into this time capsule of teenagehood.
As expected there were ramblings about school, work and of course, boys. I'm in my 20s now and already, high school drama has never felt more like a distant fever dream.
The girl desperately analysing whether or not she thought a boy was flirting with her is a different person to me now. It made me smile and laugh, but there were also words that stopped me in my tracks.
"I hate myself" and similar phrases were dotted throughout the pages. On some days it was a passing comment, and on others I went in-depth into how all-encompassing and dark the feeling was.
"I want to kill myself" was repeated several times.
I couldn't believe that my teenage self felt so tortured and broken. I had documented my life for over six years, and yet in a way I don't remember that former self. Or, I don't want to remember her.
Every horrible feeling I had was the worst it had ever been at that point in time, and within the confines on high school, problems felt unescapable.
As a teenager I couldn't find the perspective to see beyond what was hurting at that moment.
I was astounded. I know I wrote it and meant every word, but it's hard to believe those words are mine. According to BeyondBlue, one in seven young Australians experience a mental health condition.
The number of deaths by suicide in young Australians is the highest it's been in 10 years.
Mental illness is not elusive and reserved for "others", it doesn't sneak in unexpectedly through the back window. It's brazen and present, it walks through the front door and affects so many lives, yet we still don't talk about it.
I am no trained professional, I can only draw from my own experiences, but from what I've learned, it gets better. Life can change dramatically within a couple of years, and working through bad spots has made me a stronger person.
By finding small wins within dark times, and being lucky enough to have great friends hold me up, I was able to wade through the deep waters that felt viscous with eternity. It always gets better.
Today is RUOK Day. it's important to ask your friends, family and co-workers how they are feeling. If you can, take time out to start a simple conversation that could save a life.
If you are worried someone might be suicidal, contact Lifeline for crisis support. If life is in danger, call 000.