22 Things You Do as an Adult When You Experienced Emotional Abuse as a Teenager

The teenage years are often characterized by peer pressure, styles you never thought would come back in fashion and of course — angst. But what we may fail to recognize is that many teens are really hurting. For some, the teenage years are a time marked by emotional abuse.

The adults who experienced emotional abuse as teenagers may have been the teens who were struggling academically, the ones with the tough exteriors or the ones who seemed to have it all “figured out.” The effects of emotional abuse present differently in every individual. It’s important to remember we never know what may be going on in the life of a young person, so we should strive to treat them with compassion and respect.

We wanted to know what kinds of effects emotional abuse in the teenage years can have on adulthood, so we asked our mental health community to share one thing they do now that stemmed from the emotional abuse they experienced as a teenager.

No matter what your experience of emotional abuse was, it is important to remember hope is never lost and there is help out there.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. If anything goes wrong, I immediately determine how it was my fault, and rehearse my explanation/apology. I then commence calling myself names and criticizing myself for allowing it to happen.”

2. “[I] constantly apologize for everything to the point who people get tired of me. [I] overthink, worry and second-guess myself in nearly every situation. [I] push people away who are genuinely trying to care [for] and look after me.”

3. “I get scared when people raise their voices. I get scared when people go silent and don’t express their emotions. I overanalyze everything I do, worrying it’s not good enough or that I’ll be in trouble.”

4. “I do a lot of things. I have trouble trusting people, and when I do trust you, I cling really bad to you. My therapist said thats part of the reason why I have borderline personality disorder and why I have abandonment issues.”

5. “I overreact to criticism. I take things super personally, even when someone probably didn’t mean [what they said] to come off as overly critical. Especially at work because we are all online, and tone or gestures are absent when communicating through emails.”

6. “I’m always taken aback when someone says something or tells me something and it isn’t the abusive and manipulative response I expected… Sometimes I don’t know how to handle it because it’s just so unexpected!”

7. “I’m always hyperaware, and it causes severe anxiety. I always know who is where, and constantly plan out the conversation in my mind, and become even more anxious when the conversation [doesn’t go] as planned. After any social interaction, I constantly review what was said, no matter how innocent, looking for the mistakes I made and berate myself for anything that goes wrong. If nothing went wrong, my mind makes me believe something did.”

8. “I feel the need to control everything. So I second-guess everything, analyze everything, overthink everything. I feel like a burden on others because I was treated as one for so long. It’s hard to undo the damage done.”

9. “[I find myself] projecting overconfidence to protect my fragile cracked sense of self-worth.”

10. “[I] jump to conclusions [and] predict the worse, almost to the extent that it feels so real I may even experience symptoms of a negative outcome that isn’t even going to happen.”

11. “[I] continue the cycle and destroy myself mentally every single day. I’m never good enough, I overreact to criticism, I’m terrified of being picked on, can’t look people in the eyes, overanalyze, have to control everything. Essentially I’m terrified of life.”

12. “I shut people out the minute I feel like there is even an inch of suspicion they’ll abandon me or hurt me… I hurt others before they can hurt me and walk away from them before they can walk away from me.”

13. “[My] startle reflex is off the charts. If you touch me without telling me you’re going to touch me, I jump out of my skin.”

14. “I have trouble with trust. Trusting others and trusting the world itself. My experiences from childhood, including my teenager years, mean that for me, some people really couldn’t be trusted and some situations did not get better. When faced with difficulties now, both in relationships and out in the world, my child brain can often get triggered and that makes it hard to look upon any difficulties with a positive light.”

15. “[I] keep my opinions to myself and only speak when I’m joking around or agreeing.”

16. “After experiencing intense bullying in my first year of college, I find myself being quick to blame myself if someone is awful to me (at work, on the street — whatever) since I was often blamed for the bullying I received then. I’m starting to challenge that sort of thinking by recognizing I don’t deserve to be treated like that, but it is still definitely an issue.”

17. “It’s impossible for me to see myself as a good person, and accepting positive feedback can be as painful as a blow to the gut, whereas if it’s negative feedback, I accept it without question. So, if I do or say or think something that I somehow deem as ‘bad,’ I continue the abuse towards myself. I repeat all of things ever said to me, over and over, until I have convinced myself I’m worthless.”

18. “[I] break down and self-harm because that was the only coping mechanism I knew at the time. Through therapy, I learned other ways to control my emotions that were overwhelming me.”

19. “I mistrust and kick out against authority. Also, [I] think everyone’s out to get me, to reveal what I’m ‘really’ like.”

20. “When someone is asking me to do something and I’ve tried and can’t get it right, I’m completely terrified to tell them. It’s like I’m a kid again, scared out of my mind.”

21. “I doubt myself — all the time — for any achievement. A whirlwind of 100 reasons to not be proud of myself beats around my brain. [I’m] working on finding the inner voice that’s my advocate at the moment!”

22. “I give teenagers and young adults the time of day. [I] talk to them with respect and take time with them [so I don’t] treat them like I was treated.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via chronicler101.

22 Things You Do as an Adult When You Experienced Emotional Abuse as a Teenager


College can be one of the most exciting and rewarding times of a person’s life. It can also be one of the most stressful times a person might ever encounter. Mental illness is a topic that isn’t often discussed when it comes to college, but it’s one of the biggest problems facing young students today.

Why is mental health such an important topic for college students, and what can we do to help solve the crisis that is facing college students both in America and around the world?

Why college?

College students, and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, are at the highest risk for developing a mental illness. Many young people experience their first episode during this time period. There are a number of theories as to why this age bracket is most at risk, including:

1. Hormone changes.

The brain is still developing as individuals enter young adulthood.

2. Stress.

High levels of stress have been associated with the emergence of mental illness symptoms.

3. Alcohol.

College students are more likely to experiment with alcohol during their time at school, which has also been associated with mental illness symptoms. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder are most commonly diagnosed during a young adult’s time in college, but they aren’t the only possible diagnoses. Surprisingly, students are not abusing drugs like marijuana as much, as they are actually being used to treat some cases of mental illness.

4. Stigma

Mental illness is a very touchy subject for a lot of people. It is often negatively portrayed in the media, and even mentioning a mental illness can evoke a negative response. This negative stigma can discourage people from seeking help for their mental illnesses, especially in college, when many are likely to be more concerned about the opinions of their peers.

How to spot the symptoms:

There is often a distinct lack of information on mental illness and even less accurate information available for students and instructors. Knowing the basic symptoms of mental illnesses can help both the people who are experiencing those symptoms and their friends and loved ones.

Each diagnosis will be different, and two people with the same diagnosis might present totally different symptoms. Generally, though, you can look for:

1. Changes in behavior

You might miss classes or blow off social engagements you would have otherwise enjoyed.

2. Slipping grades

This is often tied to the behavioral changes. Skipping classes can lead to failing grades.

3. Weight changes

Gaining or losing weight in a short period of time could be a symptom of mental illnesses like depression or anorexia.

4. Physical changes

Other than weight loss, symptoms like headaches, hair loss and other physical changes could be indicative of a change in mental state. If you don’t know what to look for, these symptoms and behavioral changes can be easy to overlook.

How you can open the door:

The biggest change we can make to help address the current college mental health crisis is to provide support for those who ask for help, and information for those who want to learn how to help. We need to create an “open door” policy for focusing on mental health.

Colleges can help by keeping a psychiatrist or therapist on staff that students can visit for help. Having someone on campus, someone students can go to without worrying about making a doctor’s appointment or talking to their parents, might encourage more students to reach out for help.

Check with your school’s office to see what services they have available. If they don’t offer any mental health services, try contacting the dean of students or another similar official to see what changes can be made to make mental health resources available to students.

College, for many young adults, marks the first step into the real world and for many students, it can be stressful and overwhelming. Mental illnesses are most likely to manifest during early adulthood, so creating supportive environments where students can ask for help on campus is the next logical step toward countering the mental health crisis that is appearing on college campuses across the country.

A version of this post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

On Thursday, John Green announced his new book, “Turtles All the Way Down,” which comes out later this year, is inspired by his own experiences with mental illness, namely obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Green is best known for his book “The Fault in Our Stars,” which was turned into a movie in 2014.

The full synopsis reads:

Turtles All the Way Down begins with a fugitive billionaire and a cash reward. It is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. In his long-awaited return, John Green tells Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity

Green said in a statement that he has been working on “Turtles All the Way Down” for years and that “this is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal.”

Green has been open about his experiences with anxiety and OCD in the past and has been an advocate for the destigmatization of mental illness.

Green’s honesty, intelligence and authenticity has long helped thousands of fans to recognize there is no shame in facing mental illness and that as a community they can work together to destigmatize it.

Fans of Green have already responded positively to news of his new book.

“Turtles All the Way Down” is available for pre-order and will be released on October 10, 2017.

If you live with a mental illness, there might be a lot of things you wish others knew about your experience. It can be hard to open up and discuss living with a mental illness. However, having these conversations can foster a greater understanding of mental illness and reduce stigma.

For its most recent campaign, Time for Change, a U.K. based mental health organization, shared the hashtag #Iwantyoutoknow on Twitter, encouraging others to share what they wish people knew about living with a mental illness.

Joanna Kowalski, Head of Marketing and Communications at Time to Change told The Mighty:

We wanted to show how myths and assumptions about mental health problems affect the people that experience them. We’re a social movement, so it’s important that messages come directly from real people. #Iwantyoutoknow is about giving people a way to break down stereotypes and explain what mental illness is really like. By doing that, we can help to change the way people think and act about mental health.

Thousands of people responded to the initial tweet, sharing their own experiences and reminding others that having a mental illness does not make you weak.

What do you want people to know about living with a mental illness? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on social media using the hashtag #Iwantyoutoknow.  

Mornings can be difficult for anyone. But mornings for me often mean a battle against my mental illnesses that I usually feel like I’m losing. I catch myself uttering the phrase, “Mornings are hard,”  when asked how I’m doing and I’m not feeling well. I try to say this phrase in a joking manner because I don’t actually want to talk about how I’m feeling. Because quite frankly, I don’t always have the energy.

I have been saying this phrase a lot lately, so I wanted to give insight into what I mean when I say, “Mornings are hard.”

Tired is an understatement. I’m exhausted.

I don’t normally wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. I sleep restlessly during the night, waking up every few hours from discomfort, nightmares and other issues. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep. I go to bed fairly early and can be in bed anywhere from 10 to 12 hours. My sleeping pattern has changed ever since I started taking a certain medication again. No matter how much, or how little sleep I get, I am exhausted when I wake up.

My friend anxiety likes to visit.

For the past month I have been waking up feeling dread. I feel unable to move or escape my racing thoughts. A lot of my dread stems from work, but it could really be from anything. I have severe anxiety and I often have anxiety attacks in the morning, making “mornings hard.”

I’m not being lazy.

Someone once told me that I am lazy and just don’t want to go to work or have any responsibilities. That’s false. I love working and will put my heart into whatever it is I am working on. But there are times where I’m in bed 15 minutes before I have to leave, debating on whether or not to go into the office that day. It’s not because I am lazy — my mental illnesses make me physically unable to get out of bed in the morning.

Sometimes hard mornings are the start of a depressive episode.

One of the major signs that I am about to enter a depressive episode is when mornings start to become harder than usual. During depressive episodes, everything becomes harder to deal with, but mornings have never been easy when I’m depressed and it can throw my whole day off.

None of the reasons listed above are “excuses.” I am taking the appropriate steps to correct my sleeping patterns and practice self-care when it comes to my anxiety and depression. My mornings may be hard, but I’ll get through them. I just ask that you please be patient with me.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via DAJ

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I’m feeling really “flat” today. To be honest though, I have been feeling this way for a few days, but have pushed through because it’s been lovely to reflect on 16 years with my dear husband. However the rather frustrating fact remains that my mental illness doesn’t really care if I’m trying to celebrate a milestone — no, it does not care one little bit.

People would likely say, “What are you talking about? You have a great life! Others have real problems to worry about, you should think of them.” And while I feel blessed for the great things I do have in my life, you should never judge what you don’t know. The great things cover, but do not remove, years of trauma, self-doubt and my struggle with depression and anxiety. The great things make it possible to hold on, but they do not magically blot out pain and hurt.

I am feeling flat, down, melancholy — depressed even. I feel this sense of frustration and turmoil, and I’ve been recently working on expressing some really deeply buried thoughts and feelings in my personal and private writing. This is the writing that stays hidden and I do not share here or anywhere. While in one sense I feel proud of myself for being able to put these painful feelings into words, there is a part of me that feels really upset that I have not just “moved on.” I am angry at myself for still letting things that happened so many years ago have a place in my thoughts, a place in my life.

Then there is the frustration I feel at myself for being upset that I’m upset at myself. Yes — I am “that girl.” I was raised in a family where I was not allowed to be “negative” in any way. I was to put any fears or discomforts aside and not “harp on” about them. So when I experience negative emotions, I feel a deep sense of discomfort and guilt. It makes it very difficult to let out the poison of trauma and anxiety when I am scared of feeling the sadness and anger that often comes with it. I am always remorseful of the negativity of my feelings.

I am tired. Some days it doesn’t bother me, it feels like a physical tiredness and I can deal with that. Sometimes though when this tired feeling seeps into my bones, into my soul, it becomes a whole new level of tired. I could maybe describe it as “soul destroying.” It makes me want to weep. I want to weep for who I was, for the pain and confusion of my past. I want to weep for who I am, for the turmoil and frustration of my present. I am scared to weep for who I might be in the future. I am afraid she will still be feeling this way in 10 or 20 years.

This weekend I realized it had been a while since I thought out my suicide plan in a clear and concise way, and I felt good about that. But then that good feeling was chased by panic and fear of the unknown. I stood trembling before the unknown of the future, and worrying about what it might look like. There is fear in recovering, because I do not truly feel as though I deserve to be happy.

It is hard to know what to feel some days because nightmares assault me each night again lately. They steal my joy and make my sad and afraid. This flatness feels familiar but it is no longer comfortable. I have tasted little bits of happiness as my brain has become healthier, and that has made me desire more. But I am still unsure if it will come to me, and I am confused about if it would be OK for me to want that.

My past should not have a place in my present, but it tries it’s best to convince me of the opposite, loudly telling me it belongs wherever I am, whenever I am and will always shape whomever I am.

Yet the question remains, do I truly deserve to be happy? Only I can answer that — it has to come from within.

Follow this journey on The Art of Broken.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via lekcej.

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