Category Archives: What Youth Are Saying

music

How Music Helps Me Cope

musicMusic can be used as a coping skill for some people. It can also be used to relax people or calm them down. I personally make and listen to music to get my mind off certain things. It’s a stress reliever. By focusing on the rhythm of the song, along with the words and the beat distracts me from my problems. Eventually I will have to deal with my problems, but for a short period of time or however long I listen to music for, I am less stressed out.

When I get a chance to write music, I will write. I write music because I love to do it. It is the only way for me to express how I feel. I first picked up the interest when I was in 5th grade. I was either eight or nine years old, I can’t remember. But I didn’t officially start writing until I was in the 6th grade. I made a lot of progress. There were a few occasions where I decided to give up on making music back in 7th grade. I didn’t go long without writing though, because I couldn’t stop. There are still times where I don’t write for a little bit because I’d be busy, but besides that I write a lot. I never really felt that counseling was a good way for to express my feelings so I express myself through my music.

I use my music to talk about some problems I have faced or am currently facing. One in particular that I talk about has to do with my father. My father left my life when I was really young. I was about 6 years old when he left, and I still have a lot of anger towards him almost 10 years later. Counseling doesn’t work for me, but making it a topic of a song is a lot easier for me to express my feelings.

The author would like to remain anonymous, but has recently connected with Youth MOVE Massachusetts and wants to let others know of alternative ways to cope.

Living with ADHD

woman looking at her phoneDo you ever walk into a room and forget what you went in there for? Or maybe you’re mid-conversation with someone and your head slowly starts turning towards the television, even though you’ve probably seen that same episode a thousand times. ADHD is kind of like that but with a million more distractions.

Sometimes from one room to another I’ll think of about thirty irrelevant and unrelated things, but I can only remember about 3 of them by the time I get to the next room and forgot what I went in there for. It’s really hard when someone asks me to do something in an hour or the next day, because I can be so focused and ready to do it when they ask for the favor, but an hour or a day later, I’m not even thinking about it. Sometimes when conversing with others, they are talking to me and everything is okay. But then they say one word or phrase and it makes me go on a tangent in my head. For example,  if someone is talking about how they got their cat a collar, and my mind could focus on the word collar and then I start thinking about why people wear clothes or put clothes on their pets, and it keeps going from there.

Then out of nowhere, I slowly tune back in to the conversation this person has been having by themselves for the last 10 minutes. I can’t stick with something for more than probably 20 minutes without getting bored, and it’s not that the task or the person themselves is boring. It’s that my mind just wonders off at the most random of times.

If a task is too time consuming it drives me crazy. And the worst part is that I can’t sit still. So it feels like there is constantly a battle going on in my head about whether I want to jump up and do something or just sit and let my mind race. And you’d think with someone’s mind that races about the most random ideas and unlikely scenarios I’d be able to come up with a conversation or even something to do when I’m bored, but it’s actually very difficult when it comes to self-entertainment or conversing with someone.  The best I can come up with is maybe some video games or a movie. And even those only last me so long.

One of the best ways I keep myself busy is through working. It’s easier when someone gives me a task, and I work in an environment where a lot of small tasks finish the overall goal, so I feel rewarded. I also like that because it doesn’t just feel like an ocean of work flooding in all at once. At the end of the day with the help of family and friends I manage to keep myself together. I’m a work in progress but I do a good job most days.

Paige Shepard is a member of Youth MOVE Massachusetts. Paige enjoys working with her hands and currently is a successful roofer. Paige also has a few pet cats who she adores and loves hanging out with her friends.

 

teen mother and child

A Letter to Other Young Mothers with Mental Health Concerns

teen mother and childMy name is Elizabeth, and I am diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), Depression, and Bipolar Disorder. I found out I was having my son Michael at the age of fifteen. Although I knew I had depression and bipolar disorder, I was not diagnosed with BPD until after I had Michael.

From my own personal experience, people don’t seem to take me seriously once they find out I am diagnosed with a mental health disorder, specifically BPD. If you type “BPD mothers” into any online search engine, all you get is hurtful articles about how horrible mothers with BPD are. The stigma is horrible! Add “teen pregnancy” to that and I’m a walking, pickle-craving joke.

If I were to give advice to any young mothers that might be reading this, it would be that you are doing just fine. There is no such thing as a perfect parent and it’s okay to ask for help! Having a child is nerve-wracking and you aren’t going to know how to do everything by yourself, so don’t be ashamed to ask for support. And that you are not just another statistic. You are your own person, and you can succeed if you choose to do so.

Lastly, take care of yourself. I know it’s hectic to keep up with everything you are responsible for sometimes, but in the long run, remember that both you and your child will benefit from it!

*all names have been changed to protect the privacy of myself and my son

stained glass

Religion ≠ Treatment

stained glassWhether or not you believe in a higher power, it should be general consensus that some things are outside the hands of God. This isn’t the case for everyone, including my mother. I started exhibiting signs of mental illness early on in my life, but received no help… instead we prayed. I would pray every morning and every night. Begging to feel better, begging for relief.  By the age of 12 I was experiencing severe mental health issues and the school stepped in and put me in therapy.

My mother was still adamant that God was the only one who could heal me; my mother had become a huge barrier. My mother refused to give consent for medication even though I desperately needed it.  She fought against the appropriate treatment more and more, not realizing how ill I became because of it.  By the age of 13 I was severely self-harming and in dire need of the appropriate mental health care. My mother was still a barrier, still adamant that God was the only way, and becoming even more disruptive to my mental health needs.

I was struggling in school, I was struggling at home and there was no relief in sight. By the age of 14 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features as well as OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My mother did not take these diagnoses well, saying that the voices were demons and evil spirits following me and that God could make it all go away. I became more and more ill.  At the age of 14 I attempted suicide. The lack of appropriate care had taken its toll. I spent a week in the hospital and was then released back to my mother.

Not much had changed, my mother still a barrier and I becoming severely ill. At this point DCF stepped in, my mother still in denial of my illness while I suffered. I spent 4 years in DCF care. Still set in her ways, although she has seen the progress I have made, she is still in denial of my mental health issues. I hope things had gone differently, I wish that she would understand. I guess all I wanted was my mom to see religion is not treatment and prayer is not a cure.

Maddie is a 23 year old college student and mental health advocate.

Two teen girls

How The Power of Peer Changed My Perspective

Two teen girlsReceiving peer support and meeting people who work in a peer role within the mental health field has made a huge difference in how I think about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder on a daily basis. Knowing that other young adults are going through similar struggles, and that a lot of them are doing so without being hospitalized, makes me so hopeful in my own journey, and makes the bad days not so terrible.

Meeting older young adults who have been out of the hospital for over five years and have successful careers and jobs that they enjoy, makes me hopeful about my near future and the short-term goals I have that seem unattainable and frustrating to me right now.

And seeing adults over 30 who have a life-long, chronic mental health diagnosis, but have graduated college, gotten married, have had kids, or career success, or both, and had the most successful, fulfilling, and happiest lives despite dealing with severe symptoms and emotionally challenging days, those people make me hopeful for what possibilities this life can offer me if I want it.

Life isn’t perfect and sometimes there’s months or years filled with more bad days than good. But for me, knowing that just because I struggle does not mean that my life cannot be what I want it to be, is exactly what keeps me motivated every day to work towards that, and lets me find the little glimmers of light even when at first all I see is a pitch black tunnel.

This was written by a young adult who wishes to be anonymous but has been an active leader with Youth MOVE  Massachusetts for a number of years.