To the Depressed Teenager Who Doesn't Believe It's Going to Get Better
If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
The popular slogan “it gets better” sounds empty and hollow. They don’t know you, right? They don’t understand the depths of what you’re going through. You’re different, broken. You’re never going to be better. Screw them for even saying that.
I’ve been there too. Starting at age 14, I thought nothing but cowardice was holding me back from suicide. I believed wholeheartedly it was never going to get better.
Spoiler alert: it did.
Here’s how getting better works. This is the part nobody tells you.
1. There are people who are going to help you.
The vast majority of people are selfish jerks, if not actively malicious, but there are a few gems out there who will genuinely try their best to get you to better places. They are out there and you will find them. They can be doctors, they can be therapists, they can be friends and lovers. They will teach you lessons by accident and on purpose. Be the best person you can be for them, because they’re worth it. Even if they move out of your life, what they did for you lives on in your refusal to give up on yourself.
2. There are methods you’ve never even heard about that professionals can use to improve your life.
You might avoid therapy thinking, “What is more whining going to do for me?” Instead, think of therapy as one-on-one tutoring. Sure, therapists need to get to know you and your life and your situation (which does involve plenty of “whining”) but then they help you figure out how to deal. Together, you can work on solutions that work for you. Some of them will be weird and silly, but they will work because you have discovered them yourself. You are unique, what you’ve been through is unique, and therefore you need your own unique game plan.
3. Someday, you will be in control of your life.
Forget what everybody has said about high school being the best years of your life. High school is a living hell. You’re pretty much an adult and yet you have no control over your life. When the school district or your parents say jump, you say how high. It sucks.
Just wait until you’re older before you decide life isn’t worth living, OK? By then, you could be in Taiwan. Or Cuba. Or Burning Man. Or just a plain apartment with people who love and understand you. You can spend your money on what you think is important. You can make your own schedule. You can eat whatever you want. You can cut off toxic people entirely, including family. Of course, once you’re out there, you’ll find you actually want to do the responsible thing for you, but you get to decide what that looks like.
4. Getting better is hard work.
It’s trying 15 different medications. It’s going to therapy and talking about the last things in the world that you want to talk about. It’s doing the exact opposite of what you desperately want to do. It’s about hearing and acknowledging the hard truths about what you’ve done to others and owning up to it.
And it never ends. You choose and re-choose recovery every single day when you get out of bed. You’re never going to be perfect, but you’re going to strive every day to be better than the day you were before.
This is not about “bootstraps,” nor is it about “tough love.” Both those concepts are harmful and ridiculous. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re off the hook. Just like an athlete, you have to be constantly moving your way to a better place if you’re going to get anywhere.
5. You’re never going to be “cured.”
Some part of you will always be sad and sick. You will always be fighting. It gets a lot easier with time and with practice, but the shadow will never leave. Sometimes, you will mess up and relapse, and you need to accept that. You will have bad days.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing, meaningful life. It just means you’re going to end up 10 times stronger than the people who kept you down and screwed you up.
Right now, I have found some medications that keep my brain in some sort of order. I’m in therapy and I do a ton of work on my own. I have had three or four people in my life who have encouraged me and taught me how to do better and how to love myself more. Recovery is the central focus of my life, but I’m getting somewhere. And the more I work on it, the better I feel and the faster I get where I’m going.
6. None of this is fair.
You’re going to have to work ten times harder to get through life than other people with more agreeable brains. You did nothing to deserve this, but it’s up to you to fix it.
Get angry about all the needless, meaningless crap you’ve been through, tap into that spite and let it help you grow and keep growing.
Decide today, and every single day from now on, that you’re worth it.
A version of this article was originally published here.
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Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash