Originally, I was ashamed about struggling with my mental health. I spent the first year trying to cope alone. I thought I was lying as I couldn’t believe that anyone could feel this level of pain without imagining it, so it was difficult to reach out.
A lot of passing comments have been made from supportive adults in my life, its only now that I realise how much they have affected me. A trusted teacher once told me that I was ‘behaving like a little girl’ and was ‘too old to be feeling this way’. I was told to ‘stop wasting people’s time’ and I was ‘being a burden and impacting my friends too much.’ They even said that I shouldn’t be so unhappy because my family always went on nice holidays.
I was regarded as being ‘too difficult to deal with’ which didn’t correlate with how I had been seen previously. When it wasn’t an easy fix, they thought I wasn’t trying to help myself and were frustrated.
My feelings were completely dismissed, and I was told that ‘I hadn’t experienced any trauma so I shouldn’t be struggling’.
This fed into my own disbelief about myself and how I was portraying what I was going through and made me feel even more isolated.
I wasn’t allowed to complete my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition because I was a liability. I wasn’t even allowed to go on a walk around the city with my group as a practice. I felt demonised for what I was going through, completely misunderstood and not trusted.
These comments all came from trusted adults and, being a young teenager myself, I believed them. I had no explanation for how I was feeling so it became internalised. These remarks still go through my head daily and have stopped me getting help when I really needed it, because I was afraid of people thinking the same things.
I’m 17 now and in June 2019 I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. It was like having a mirror held in front of me for the first time. I thought people would finally understand and value me for what I had been going through and my feelings would no longer be overlooked because there was a label on my experience.
However, this should not have been the case. I should have been respected from the beginning by the people I was confiding in. My feeling should not have been disregarded because everyone thought it was a ‘phase’ and blamed it on me being a teenager. My feelings shouldn’t have been regarded as ‘just being hormones.’
It's already hard enough for young people to speak up about struggling with mental health. For them to be met with ignorance and have their experience discarded doesn’t make it any better. No one should feel their experience is invalid because they don’t have a name for what they are going through. We ALL have mental health. We ALL have good and bad times. You shouldn’t have to be labeled to be listened to.