Category Archives: What Youth Are Saying


I Refuse to Sink

thumbMental illness has been something I’ve struggled with for the majority of my adulthood and more prominently during my childhood. However, I feel as though I’ve improved immensely regarding my self esteem, relationships with loved ones (and even not-so-loved ones), overall temperament and outlook on life. The way that I began to see myself as worthy and whole, and was able to conquer the majority of my depression and insecurities is when I stopped looking to others for validation and approval.

I realized slowly, and after years of intensive therapy, that only I am capable of making myself happy. The key to happiness and high self esteem (in my opinion) is introspection, self-reflection, and the ability to develop a sense of autonomy. It comes with patience and practice. It comes with listening to your conscience. Lastly, it comes with knowing and truly believing that eventually, everything will work out in your favor.

My initial diagnosis for several years was bipolar disorder with psychotic features. I was treated and medicated for said diagnosis aggressively, only to be disappointed by the continuous regression of my emotional stability. After being hospitalized several times for impulsive and self-injurious behaviors, I was connected to a new psychiatrist who presented the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which seemed to fit my array of symptoms a lot more accurately than bipolar disorder. After being weaned off of a significant amount of medication I was taking for bipolar and being put on a low dose of an antidepressant, I began to feel relief from much of my symptoms and was finally in a place to be able to practice coping skills and self esteem exercises that my therapist had suggested.

I am now planning on attending college in the fall and have a part time job. I keep myself mentally healthy and stable by going to therapy every week and being an active participant during every session, writing and journaling, exercising several times a week, practicing distress tolerance and mindfulness, and most importantly, realizing I am human and no human being on this planet is perfect. There will be times where I need to reach out for help, and that is completely okay.

Nina is a working college student who hopes someday to work in the mental health field. She lives with her amazing, supportive mom and loves taking trips to the beach.


Lockers: A Flashback to School

LockersWhen I see a set of lockers, all I can think about is my short, but traumatic stay at a public school. It was fifth grade, and I had just left a private school that I had attended for three years. I thought that bullying at the private school was awful, but once I started public school things got much worse. It was an absolute nightmare.

The students and teachers at this public school had no clue how much anxiety and depression I was withholding. During my time there, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The teachers, despite my diagnoses, seemed to think I was simply a “trouble child.” They obviously had no experience in dealing with a student with my level of mental health needs.

As bad as the teachers were, the youth seemed to be even less accepting. I would get multiple phone calls a day from my so called “friends” harassing me because of the behaviors I couldn’t control. I reported them to the school, but nothing came of it. The teachers brushed it off as “kids being kids.” With the anxiety I was feeling, the constant teasing and bullying was detrimental to my mental health. 

I barely left my house when this was occurring, let alone going to school. No one seemed to have any compassion towards me. They ignored my feeling, and left me alone on several occasions. When I was by myself my depression was almost unbearable. I didn’t know how to manage my anxiety, so I ended up keeping it inside until I would yell, scream and kick.

I ended up exiting that school in October 2007, and started at a therapeutic school in January of 2008. There I was able to stay until I graduated high school with highest honors. My journey can be seen as a reminder: even through struggles, you can make strides. Despite me cringing when I see lockers, I can also see the progress I’ve made in my life, even though I had many challenges.

Rachel is a young adult who has aspired to be a writer her whole life. She lives at home with her mother, father, and 6 wonderful animals.


We Wear This Stigma Like Vampires

vampireThey say we are vampires, sucking all that we can from the life around,

Darkening the corners of the room with our minds,

Hiding ourselves from the harsh light of day, because that is what we are made to do.

They say we are nothing good, keep your kids away from us, what we have is contagious,

What we have, it can kill you too.

They blame us for our tendencies, they blame us for our destruction,

Though it’s only us who’ve been destroyed.


These perceptions of danger, this fear of a life that we did not choose,

Burns like the sunlight on the skin of those of us who dare to venture out.

But even the prettiest diamonds have to go through the dark

To become beautiful.


And maybe this life that we would not have chosen, given the choice,

Will serve as a light for those who are still shrouded.

For we are only a product of our making, and

Even the darkest of beings can offer something of extraordinary beauty

To a world biased against them.

Dani is a 24 year old college student and mental health advocate living with bipolar disorder.  She enjoys writing poetry and singing, as well as being the proud parent of 2 adorable felines.


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.