Are you in high school and dealing with anxiety and depression? I completely empathize with you because I went through the same thing and know how difficult it can become to cope with it. But do not lose hope, you can definitely come out of this. Let me share with you my story of dealing with depression and anxiety in high school and the things that helped me deal with it.
My depression and anxiety story
I was 12, going up to high school and leaving primary school.
I didn’t know what depression was at the time because I was never told about such things nor was I taught about it.
I thought that, when I get to high school, it was going to be the “best high school in my entire life”. Apparently, it wasn’t.
I had friends, I met new people from other primary schools and I was doing well in class. But was I happy?
It was strange, I always told myself that I am happy the way I am now. I got what I have. It didn’t convince me when I started to feel… Sad.
People always saw me as a humorous and happy person. Even though they jokingly made fun of me because I was small, I always clicked in, smiled and laughed as well.
That was until I started to feel sadder than ever, I would always come home tired, taking the happy mask away and play video games to cheer myself up.
My family didn’t care because they were always so busy with their own lives to care about their own daughter. It’s kind of true when they say that Asian parents only care for their son. They gave my brother the full attention and I was there, left in the dust.
It wasn’t until I met a girl, someone who looked like she was breaking apart and alone all the time. My friends at the time were hanging out with guys more often and leaving me out aka the time when there were 4 seats, but I couldn’t sit with them because all those 4 seats were taken. So, I had to sit alone all the time and that was when I start suffering from anxiety. The anxiety of being made fun of for always sitting alone and getting picked on by the teacher (we all hate when that happens).
Anyways, back to the girl, she looked, like I said, alone and sad. I befriended her and we then became best friends but that didn’t work well during those 4 years of high school.
Wearing the happy mask
I suffered depression really badly, I would cry at least 2-3 times a week at night, I would come home feeling tired and not wanting to go to school the next day. My old friends became more distant and changed as a person and me? Well, I still had that happy mask on. That happy mask was kept on for 5 years. I never told a single soul, not even my best friends at the time that I was suffering from this serious mental illness.
The more I hid it, the more I was scared to let it show in my face. As a shy introverted girl, I hid it all, continued the happy mask but it decays into me having social anxiety and trust issues. I lost many past friends because of this and I always turned myself down in any situation because I thought I wasn’t good enough or because I was in fact, blaming myself.
Running into deep depression
It was then when I was 15 that I was really deep into depression. I had arguments a lot with my mum because I didn’t want to go to school. She thought I was just lazy and that I was being overly dramatic but really if I could tell her, she wouldn’t understand.
With depression, you can’t get out of bed. You can’t take all those negative thoughts and put it aside. It’s right there, attached to you, forcing you down and shutting you out of reality. I was at home mostly the time and when I went to school, I would always fake sick like a stomach-ache or a headache just to go home early and lie back down in the bed.
I couldn’t take it any longer, I had happened to try to take away my own life, to get away from all the bad stuff and to get away from everyone, thinking they wouldn’t care. But I was scared of death. And thank god for that because if I just did it, I wouldn’t be here right now writing this.
Dealing with depression – A few self care habits that can help
I finally decided to look up depression. I also ran into a post about self-care and how to take care of yourself. After all those years, I changed my behavior, slowly and learned more about how to take care of myself. It might not have taken all my depression away, but it has made me realize that there are still things in life that are just waiting for you at the end of everything.
There are plenty of ways you can handle depression without going to therapy (because we all know that therapy is very pricey). For a student like me, I can’t really afford going to it, but it would be most likely help if you did go based on the experience my best friend gave me.
So, how did I deal with depression and what ways did I get through it? Here are a few things that helped me immensely and I am sure it will help you too.
1. Stay true to your comfort
I realized that public school really didn’t suit me. No help from the teachers, the bad kids always got in trouble and all I did was sit there, staring at the teacher yell at the bad students while wasted minutes fly away. All those minutes could be used up for something productive. And anyway, with the long wait, all those wasted time got to be covered up.
So at 16, I convinced my parents to let me do online school. I did everything to convince me to independently study my finals till graduation. I didn’t drop out, I just did something that really suited me.
2. Binge watch a new series
It’s unhealthy to be totally attached to a new tv series but it can help you get distracted from a bit (ok maybe a lot) from the sad reality.
When I would get depressed or stress out of countless things in my life, I always lean towards finding a new TV series to watch (like my Korean Dramas) and feel good again because it makes me focus on the fictional story.
But like I said, it’s unhealthy when you’re really addicted to the show and I would recommend just binging it during the holidays (or you might procrastinate on your work).
3. Light candles or incense
I don’t know why scented candles lifts my mood. Whenever I light up my favorite candles, I end up feeling more calmer and at peace. I also become more productive and motivated.
I’ve seen and read many posts online that say scented candles “ain’t a self-care thing”. To me, this is not true.
Looking at the flickering flaming lights can be really relaxing mixed with the scented aroma. It’s a reality check for me.
Countless times, it has helped me bring things into perspective – on what is going wrong in my life and how I can change it. It inspires and motivates me. So if you have never given it a try, please do.
4. Remove negative people from your life
I’ve had so many negative people in the past and to this day, I still have people that bring negativity in my life.
I’ve been depressed because of these negative people and I hated it. I wanted to get away. Far, far away so that I can be by myself. But being alone isn’t right either.
Some people are afraid of letting go. It’s like a toxic relationship. Your mind is wrapped by the other person and you feel threatened or blinded by love that you can’t let go. That goes with friendships as well. You can’t let go probably because you don’t want to be a loner.
Friendships can be nasty and toxic if you don’t keep your eyes and ears out. If you do let them go, you’re more likely going to feel happier and relieved. I felt this way after I stopped talking to an ex-friend who was using and betraying me.
So if you have negative people in your life, learn how to deal with them and as much as possible – ignore them.
5. Have the good people by your side
Even though I did say remove negative people, this doesn’t mean you should remove every single person out of your life. That’s also a bad thing and can cause major depression.
I used to isolate myself during my days and it took a hold of my thoughts and emotions, leading them to… well, “bad thoughts”. If one of my best friends wasn’t there for me, then I would put myself in much more danger.
It’s always good to have the positive people there for you and to listen to. My best friend would listen to me during my down days and I would feel even better and relief afterwards because I let all that out of my system. Now that he knows, he would know when my depression or anxiety triggers.
Positive people (like my best friend) are there to support you and help you when you need it. But don’t ever take them for granted because when they are there for you, then you need to be there for them.
If I had to say one thing that helped me reduce my depression, it must be meditation. I didn’t find out about this until I started self-caring in 2016. If you don’t know what this is, it is a technique where the individual (you) is practicing mindfulness.
I usually thought meditation was for those people who follow Buddhism religiously. As I did my research on it, it turned out that meditation can be done by anyone.
Simply, the first start to meditation is a guided meditation or reading a meditation book that gives you more of an idea on the history and instructions to meditating for beginners. Just to let you know that meditating can be done at anytime and in anyway if it feels comfortable for you.
If you don’t like sitting still, you can always do Yoga. The same thing but more with stretching out the body and muscles.
7. Listen to music you can relate to
There is plenty of music for different types of emotions and different types of days where we just need something to relate to. The lyrics or the music can get deep as to what that artist intends it to be.
For example, listen to Ikon’s “Im OK”. The lyrics there can relate to any young teens to adults, feeling like they must hide away their problems and be pressured into acting like they’re fine.
If you checked out the music video’s comment section (on youtube), you can read tons of comments where they express their problems and how they can relate to the lyrics. I listened to this when I had problems at home with my relatives coming to stay and it helped me get through.
When I was suffering from depression, I always had music on my side whenever I need it. Like binge watching shows, it’s there to distract me from the bad things surrounding me.
I always like to put on my headphones or ear pods, put on a favorite tune, close my eyes and let myself drift off into calm mode. Or just until I fall asleep eventually.
So please do try these techniques out when you’re feeling depressed. I know that these might be a distracted and can help temporarily but if your depression is serious, you need to get professional help.
There are people that care and will listen to you. Know that other people out there are suffering the same mental illness as you, and that it’s okay to not be okay. Please talk to someone if you’re feeling depressed or suffering from anxiety.