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What It's Like to Go Through High School With a Mental Illness


Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

For anyone, high school can be a challenging place to experience, but for me, it was more than just the average teenage “trial and error” time of life.

In school, I worked hard as an AP student. My grades were decent, and I was well liked by staff and my peers. What many didn’t understand about me was that I was fighting a constant battle inside my mind. One that people, for a while, couldn’t see. It was after my freshman year though that my symptoms became more obvious to others.

I struggled to stay motivated, and I often found myself caught up in the horrible and hideous thoughts infringing on my awareness of reality.

Quickly, suicide attempts, self-injurious behavior, hallucinations and dissociative episodes flooded my life like a massive tidal wave. I felt trapped, unable to breath under the pressure of what my own mind was, and still is, doing to me. Because of this, between my sophomore and senior year, I was hospitalized twice. My doctors covered me in diagnoses and medications ranging from antipsychotics to antidepressants to benzos and tranquilizers. They wanted anything that may help me become what they felt would be “normal” again.

I felt zombified by the drugs they gave me and was drifting from class to class hidden in a medication-induced cloud I couldn’t escape. Fortunately however, my symptoms, to some degree, subsided to a manageable level of intensity. I could get through the day without being tormented by my mind.

Until the day came that I couldn’t hid my pain and the meds didn’t rescue me like they used to. I found myself sitting in a bathroom stall between classes self-harming and ruminating on my feeling that I was never going to have a “normal” or “productive” life. I just wanted to be OK. I didn’t want to be sick anymore. I didn’t want to be the “crazy” kid that everyone felt sorry for in class. Being in school became too hard to bear…

Soon after my school figured out about my actions in the bathroom, I was asked to leave so I could attend a school for psychiatric students. Which is were I am today.

I’m continuing to struggle with mental illness, and as I approach the end of my senior year, I wish I had better control over my symptoms — but recovery takes time.

I hope other teens struggling realize they aren’t alone, and that it’s OK to acknowledge the fact you’re struggling. High school is suppose to be fun, and it can be, but for to many of my peers, it’s a daily battle just to get through the day.

Unsplash photo via Steinar Engeland


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