A Letter to My Youth Group Teenagers, as I Handle My Mental Health Issues
To my youth group teenagers,
I love you all. Never forget that. Ever. I’m here for you – as much as I possibly can be. Remember that. You can come to me with most anything – I’ll understand. And, even if I don’t, I’ll try to. Always. I know what it’s like to have leaders you love brush off a serious issue. I know. I won’t be that leader for you. Trust me, I have what you would consider “serious issues.” I have overcome most of these and still fight others daily.
Back to you: I care more than enough to sit with you while you cry, to hug you when you fall apart, to listen when you reveal the weight that has been holding you down, to buy you a meal, to pray for you, anything… I absolutely care. Don’t let the world trick you into believing that no one cares or that only family can care about you. I will say: I have so many family members who are not blood-related to me. These people do not share my last name – but, they do share a love for my well-being, future, and our friendships. That is love. I am part of that family for you. I love you. I care. I’m here.
If you didn’t know already, I’m in the process of finding the right mental health assistance for me. It has been quite a lengthy process. This doesn’t make me incompetent to lead you. In any regard. This doesn’t make me unreliable. There are moments when this process has me exhausted and broken down. You may not see my face in person as often. But, I am not inconsistent in my obligations to you. Understand that. I love you. If you need me, call me or text me – I will talk to you, text you back, whatever you need. I am not incapable. Simply, I have obstacles I must push through every day. There are days I feel weak. But, I can function. I can excel. I can achieve greatness. I do these things in a strength that is not my own. I need support. And so, I tell you this: you cannot do it alone – and neither can I. I am privileged to be a source of support for you.
Everything comes down to perspective. My personal struggles are strengths for me to lead you.
Lastly, I plead for your understanding in how I can help you. I know how dark the darkness can get. I know how painful it is to feel alone. I know how scary it is to feel trapped inside your brain. I know the terror of an anxiety attack. I know how shameful it feels to ask for any kind of help – I still feel it (although there should be no shame). I understand the guilt. And the irrational, horrifying thoughts. The endless repetition of it all. I understand the insomnia. Then there is the exhaustion, monotony, and muddled thinking. I get it.
There is darkness I’ve experienced but no matter what you tell me – I won’t be scared away. I won’t. No matter what you tell me. I embody courage only because I have challenged many fears. I can support you through some of these dark moments and fearful bouts. Teenagers, keep on. Everything will change year after year. Seasons will come and they will go. But, you have my number. Even when you are moved away or in college. Remember this: if you need an ear to listen, I can provide that for you. I love you. People love you.
Darkness is temporary. Rise into the day.
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Thinkstock photo by Kikovic