Tag Archives: Youth MOVE

Reaching Out

April 27th, 2015

rowofkidsReaching out and helping youth and young adults is very important. To give us attention shows us that you really care. Reaching out and helping is one of the best things that anybody can do. Look at all the trouble that happens to youth on the streets every day or that’s caused by youth and young adults.  We search for support with our actions. We speak out to you with no answer. It’s our cry for help.

I am amongst the youth and have done things in the past in an attempt for attention and support. I have set fires and even fought at school. I’ve been to different programs in three different systems. I stuck with a few programs for a while but eventually ran or decided they were not for me. One program has been helping me for five years now. I think they will always be there for me.

I have been going to PPAL and Youth MOVE for five years. It is a wonderful placed to go that reaches out to you. They talk to you, ask you how you’re doing, and offer you help whenever they can. PPAL has helped me a lot. Helped with things such as getting my ID, helping me find a job, and given me people I can talk to.  PPAL has groups every week for youth and young adults. It’s a good place to talk because it’s not run by doctors or people sitting in the corner with a clipboard, it is just youth talking to each other. We have dinner together. I can also hang out with other youth and young adults that are around my age group and listen to their experiences. I can get feedback about how I can deal with some of my experiences in the past or even problems I have now.

Before coming to PPAL I was really scared to talk about anything and when I opened my gates and started talking, I felt so much better. I began coming constantly and kept getting support emotionally and now I help as well. I help set up the groups and run parts of the meetings. Sometimes I stay away for a while and am worried about going back. I worry about how I might be judged. PPAL doesn’t judge me for why I was away. They welcome me back and help me get back on track. They offer to help.

I am a troubled youth just like a lot of youth. Many of us feel alone and like we have it the worst, but you are not alone. Talk to somebody. Open up. You might find somebody who is reaching out to you. I can personally say that a lot of people at PPAL know what they are talking about. We don’t fake it. We know how you feel. We will help.

 

This blog was written by a 19-year-old young adult member of Youth MOVE Massachusetts. They have lived experience in mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. Their strengths include leadership skills and writing poetry to name just two.

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How PPAL has Helped Me

March 4th, 2015

leaveshouseI know that Youth MOVE and PPAL are specified as a non-therapeutic group. That is because clinicians are not allowed to attend the groups or meetings. There is no therapy involved, yet they have helped me through a lot. They gave me a place to go when times were tough. I looked forward to going to the Youth Groups and attending the conference each year. That was possibly the only thing that kept me looking forward.

I’ve been home schooled for the past 2 years of my life because of issues with bullying. I remember being so afraid the first time Lydia and my sister Bella, also an intern, talked me into going to one of the youth groups. I hadn’t been close to kids around my age for awhile. I remember saying to Lydia that I was too scared and shy to be there.  Their exact words to me were, “Oh good, you’ll fit right in!” So with that I went into that youth room scared out of my mind but came out a completely different person.
I started to get excited to go to group each week! If I missed one on my own accord I’d feel bad – like my week wasn’t completed. It gave me a sense of hope in myself. I thought I’d never get to go into a place with other teens and come out alive. Without PPAL I may never had been able to fully go to a place surrounded by people and actually feel safe.

I started my internship at the age of 13.  I was glad I could be a help to the staff there. Lydia, Meri, Britt, Beth, Chandra, Pawel and others are all like a family to me. I’d gladly spend more time at the office than sitting around at home! I did simple things such as fold brochures, set up the room for group, make copies, clean up after group, and yet I was always thanked with so much enthusiasm.  It was nice to finally have something to do and I actually felt useful for the first time in a long while.

The main way PPAL has helped me is the support they have given me. I was able to pick myself back up thanks to the support I got from PPAL and Youth M.O.V.E.  I never could’ve accomplished so much without knowing that they were right there cheering me on.  Also, another important fact is they provided a place to go to get out of my house.  So to those whom it may concern, I do not go to the group for the pizza. I don’t even really like pizza. I go to see the family I have made there.

Ally C is an 8th grade student from Worcester, MA. She has been writing since a young age. Some of her hobbies include writing poetry and drawing. This is her first blog for PPAL.

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My Anger, No Longer My Danger

December 22nd, 2014

angrysadgirl4I have been angry for a long time, and I have let that anger overpower me without actually thinking about it. All I knew was that as awful as I felt, it still felt good to have something other than myself be in control, and I held on to it like a lifesaver while I tried to keep from drowning in the sea of heartache, loss and betrayal that became my life. Although I looked to the anger to save me, and even grew to kind of love it in a weird way, it didn’t come without a price.

With that anger came long and severe bouts of depression. Some days I was so desperate to stay home that I deluded myself into believing that I was physically ill, giving me the perfect excuse to cancel whatever plans I had for the day, or the entire week. I cried often, too; at home, in the car, in the grocery store, in my sleep. Everywhere. I knew I was angry and I knew I was in pain, but I didn’t know what I needed to do in order to make it stop, nor was I sure I wanted it to stop. I was comfortable in my misery. Of course, people were concerned and I got the attention I wanted and needed by outwardly expressing my anger. Other times, I was less dramatic, even secretive, and relied on my self-mutilation to communicate to those around me that I was in pain.

Very recently, a family friend took their life, and it was devastating and a real shock. I know what you’re thinking- this was my turn around. This was that life changing moment that made me realize that I didn’t want to be angry and depressed anymore, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Their death, their choice to take their own life made me think that if it was so easy for them to just end it, then why couldn’t it be just as easy for me?

I started obsessing about the idea of suicide. I didn’t exactly have a well thought out plan, but I thought that if I could just do it, get it over with, everything would be better. So I spent hours on the internet researching everything I could about suicide- the history, famous people who’d done it, different methods. To be honest, I was completely frightened by the fact that I was actually considering suicide, but I was also being extremely willful. I felt like this might be the best option. It was either that or live in pain and perpetual confusion about how I was feeling for the rest of my life.

So I started a Pro and Con list to see whether the pros or the cons about suicide would outweigh the other. Some of the cons: I would never see my family again, never see my boyfriend, my rabbits or my friends. I’d miss the trees, the stars, the moon and Harry Potter. And the pros: no more depression, no more crying, no more hurting my loved ones, no more hurting myself, and best of all, I’d get to see my father. And that’s when it hit me. The reason I’d been so angry everyday for what seems like an eternity was because I was holding on to the day my father died, every day after that and all of the events that transpired due to his death. I was angry at him for leaving me, I was angry because it was, and still is, unfair that I’ll never be able to see him again and I was angry because life was hard without him. So I held on to that anger because it was like holding on to him, and if I let go of that anger, well then I was letting go of him, too. I thought that if I didn’t get upset while thinking about him, if I didn’t cry, then I didn’t care about him, and that somehow made me a horrible daughter.

After a lot of reflection and a lot of talking and exposure, I think I’m starting to see that I can live my life while missing my dad. I still have days that I can’t seem to shake this insurmountable grief that I have, but I’m finding that I am enjoying things that I haven’t been able to in a long time. I’ve ceased my research on suicide and instead replaced it with research on holistic living, something my father also cherished. I wouldn’t say that I’m happy now, that my anger is completely gone, but I’m getting there, and I can’t help but hope that my father would be proud.

Chandra Watts is our guest blogger. She is a young adult who draws on her own life to change how the world sees mental illness. She is one of the founding members of Youth MOVE Massachusetts.

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The rent is due

September 25th, 2014

stopThe things that stick with us the longest are kind of funny in a way.

No matter what positive feedback I get in my day to day life as an adult,  there will always be seven year old me inside my brain to counter it. “You’re UGLY!  Too fat!  Crazy!  Nobody cares about you!” She giggles like some sort of annoying poltergeist that I can’t exorcise from my house. Doesn’t matter if it’s 3am and I’m barely awake, or if it’s 2pm on a workday and I’m trying to get things done- there she is. Don’t know really who invited her because it’s not like she even brings snacks.

She’s the boy in second grade who told me to kill myself. The teacher who told me I was too dumb to get into college in sixth grade. The doctor who told me I would be prettier and happier if I just lost weight.  The people who gave up on me because I couldn’t just “snap out of it”. At the end of it, she’s me. Never happy with myself, always the pessimist and the harsh critic.  It’s me versus me versus them inside my head twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. If it’s exhausting just to read that sentence, you get the idea.

It used to take me three hours just to get dressed in the morning, because I’d try on everything I owned six times. Allowing time in between to scream at myself for looking disgustingly fat, punching myself in the gut, and re-composing myself.  I’d hold in all my emotions, no matter how much I was justified in feeling them for fear that the person would see the real “psycho” me and leave. Better to be a doormat than to be alone. Better to be sick than to be fat. Better never to try than to be confronted with possible failure.

So I guess it’s fair to ask why I let it happen.

Why do I bother ruminating over things that usually happened a long time ago, can’t be changed, and in the long run are from people who don’t matter? Why do I let them live rent free in my head, running up the electric bill and eating all the ice cream?  I’ve been sitting here pondering that for the last half hour and the only answer I have for you is, “I don’t know.” But I guess you can consider this my eviction notice. I will never be perfect, but I am not going back to where I started. I have gained weight, but that doesn’t make me disgusting. I have lost friends, but that does not mean I’m a monster. I have messed up so many times in so many ways, but I am by no means a failure. I AM ME. And as landlord of me, I no longer possess the time and patience to let my life be run by a snotty seven year old.

I will slip up. I will negative self-talk, fall back into bad habits and I am sure that there will still be rough nights. But for the first time, what matters is that I am trying. I am fighting. I know that in the end, victory is not a destination, but a temporary state that I need to renew.  If the only victory I can muster some days is being strong enough to walk out of the house and ignore the mirror, than it is still victory.

Brittany Bell is our guest blogger.  She is a 25 year old peer support specialist at Youth MOVE Massachusetts.  She has recently created and held a workshop on Youth Crisis boxes for PPAL’s annual conference.  She hopes to bring awareness and support to the learning disability and mental health communities by sharing her experiences.  When not advocating and blogging, Brittany likes to spend time creating art, gaming and playing with her bearded dragon.

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The attention just encourages her

June 23rd, 2013

d. sharon Pruitt24, flickr, creative commons

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bull. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” ― Jim Morrison

Drama queen. Melodramatic. Overreactive. Attention Seeking. Attention —- (insert your nasty moniker of choice). We’ve all heard them before. Thrown around when a person is annoyed or frustrated with another person’s behavior; I don’t think most people even realize that this too is a form of stigma. You’re invalidating the experiences and opinions of someone. They don’t realize that the message behind those words is so potentially detrimental to another person.

It’s a cultural thing in a way. We’re often taught from an early age to “buck up”. Hold things in, put on your big girl pants and get over it.. Because if I can get up every morning and deal with what life throws at me, why the heck can’t you!?  We’re not taught that anxiety means a lot more than just “hey, this is kind of uncomfortable for me.” Or that depression is so much more than “I’m pretty upset right now.” Or even that the slightest random little thing can become a trigger, which is a bigger deal than just being something you don’t like to be around. These feelings can be all encompassing, to the point often of being crippling, and need to be understood better.

I’m here to say that I am tired.

I am tired of being told that I am not allowed to be depressed because someone somewhere in this world has it worse. I am tired of being told that I am overreacting to something simply because it is a big deal to me, and not to the other person. And most of all, I am tired of being told to stop being so “attention seeking” when I react.

All human beings are social creatures. Some more than others, in a variety of different forms and methods. We operate as a species from such a wide variety of life experiences that it is foolish and ignorant to take someone’s emotions and decide they are invalid. Some seek attention through “negative” means because they have never known any other way. Some are just plain fed up with not getting attention through more socially acceptable methods to the point that even negative attention is better than nothing.  That doesn’t make them a “bad” person. Just a person who copes with things differently than you, and that can with time and effort be guided in the right direction.

Instead of shaming or stigmatizing people,  what we need to practice is support. If a person is making an effort to reach out to you, through whatever means that may be, at least it is an effort. At least this person recognizes they may not be able to get through something all by themselves.  I’m not talking about those whose lives thrive on creating chaos around them, that is entirely different, although still valid. They too are still human. I’m talking about the girl who in a moment of loneliness and desperation makes a suicide threat because she legitimately feels like nobody cares. The person struggling with circumstantial and perhaps other mental hurdles, who is venting because if they don’t get it out somehow they feel like they might explode. The person who is so tired of being constantly bombarded with neverending optimism from others that it’s starting to feel condescending.

Listen folks: sometimes LIFE SUCKS. This is a fact, and that is ok. It is ok to be sad, or angry or any other number of emotions. When we arrived here on this earth what was the first thing we did? We CRIED. Because we were small, helpless and frighted, and needed support. Because we were alive, and part of being alive is to feel.

So the next time someone in your life is having an emotional reaction to something, I want you to do something for me. Don’t offer advice unless they ask,  don’t tell them “Oh I totally understand” if you’ve never been where they are, don’t patronize and say “It’s ok” because in that moment, no it is most certainly not ok.  All I want you to do is listen.

Brittany Bell is our guest blogger.  She is a 24 year old youth advocate at Youth MOVE Massachusetts who is studying to become a youth counselor.  She hopes to bring awareness and support to the learning disability and mental health communities by sharing her experiences.

 

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