Monday, 19 June 2017
Mental Health Mondays #5 : "You'll grow out of it..."
So it's my birthday tomorrow and I'm turning 20, which is terrifying because I certainly don't feel big enough to officially be an adult forever! But anyway, this got me thinking about how often when you're demonstrating mental health issues as a teenager people think that it may be a phase or something that you'll grow out of. I don't know whether scientifically there is any evidence for this kind of thing but I suppose the onset of puberty can lead to mood changes etc. and perhaps this is why people think it may be such a temporary thing.
As someone who has now been struggling with chronic mental health issues since I was 16 it seems clear to me that this cannot be a "teenage phase" and I have less than 24 hours left in order to get over it if that is the case!
I'm not trying to suggest that there is no way to recover from a mental health issue and that me and others like me will necessarily struggle every single day forever for the rest of our lives. It just occurred to me that thinking this way can be very harmful to young teens who are trying to reach out. Just because someone is young it does not mean that they shouldn't be taken seriously and treated with care and respect. Opening up and reaching out for help is an incredibly brave thing to do and this should be thought of in the same way regardless of your age.
As I've mentioned before, more than once I've not been taken seriously when talking to healthcare professionals about my problems, once the doctor even told my dad she thought I was skiving school when I explained how I felt unable to get out of bed, just thinking back about that makes me feel so disheartened - especially to think that there may be others like me but much more vulnerable being told the same thing. This particular occasion was much earlier in my life and at the time I didn't think it was a mental health thing but looking back at it, it seems likely that it was but yeah, the response I got from healthcare professionals as a scared 13 year old was not helpful and it's really quite upsetting to think about.
I guess that by writing this post I'm hoping that it'll give readers a chance to think about whether they may be guilty of putting someone's struggles down to their age and treating them differently because of this. I suppose what I would encourage is that, regardless of whether you think it's just a phase someone is going through or not, if they come to you asking for help and acceptance don't tell them you think it'll pass off. Doing this risks making them feel worse and at the end of the day, everyone's experiences are valid and people deserve love, care and support for as long as they need it whether they "grow out of it" or not.
Have any thoughts based on what I've said? Whether you agree or not please feel free to leave a comment with what you think!