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Growing up before mental health was a thing

7 replies

moutonfou · 18/06/2017 10:22

I've always had trouble with my mental health but was an adult before I even heard the words mental health.

As a child I developed obsessive tendencies - routines I had to correctly follow, otherwise repeat etc. I started to genuinely believe I was in a Truman Show style set-up. I didn't tell anyone because I was already thought of as weird enough. I've no idea how I did it but one day I just thought 'enough.' and forced myself refuse to engage further in any of it.

I had a severe phobia of fire and didn't sleep properly for several years.

As a teenager I felt constantly sad and self-harmed. I had zero confidence or resilience, was bullied, and school didn't give one as long as you were passing your exams which I was. Again I never told anyone for fear of being labelled more of a weirdo than I was.

I've only realised as an adult that I was suffering from mental health issues, because these words simply didn't exist (to me at least), weren't said by anyone or talked about by teachers; you were just a weirdo and you kept your weird thoughts to yourself.

AIBU to wonder what I might have been - and what pain I might have avoided - if I'd grown up today in the age of mental health campaigns, pastoral care, school counsellors, open discussion, Internet forums, etc. and been able to get support?

Does anybody else wonder this?

OP posts:

scaryclown · 18/06/2017 10:28

I am very glad I didn't grow up with all this fear inducing labelling and drugging.

At my school I was weird, and 'had obsessive thoughts' and didn't fit in, would talk to myself on the way home and often felt very sad and lonely.

At university, I was 100% normal. My small town would probably have had me sectioned, but I was just around fucking dull one-dimensional dullards. I am back in that area and often feel the same.

We used to link feelings with life, circumstances and events, whereas now we presume dull contentedness is normal with and variation being treated as a brain or mental disorder. That's just not right in my view.


Crumbs1 · 18/06/2017 11:36

I worry we over label quite normal patterns of thoughts and behaviour that form part of growing up as mental health. Serious mental health disease is disabling and life changing, I am not in denial about people having mental illness but..... teenagers fret and worry about fitting in and always have. They can be moody and sullen or twitchy. It's part and parcel of forming their identity as adults. This isn't mental illness, it doesn't need a label that turns them into a 'sufferer'. They need to be taught resilience from an early age instead of parents rushing in to sort every minor problem and intervene in every playground squabble ( and no every squabble isn't bullying). Children need to grow up with the belief they can sort out their own friendships and deal with own problems. We shouldn't be fighting all their battles (particularly where battles really don't exist).
True bullying is horrible and damaging, true mental illness is horrible but it is probably now over reported and that is damaging a generation.


Nikephorus · 18/06/2017 11:41

I'm with OP. If there had been more awareness of mental health when I'd been a teenager (and diagnosis of Asperger's) I'd have had a much better time of it. For starters I might have avoided years of depression & an eating disorder. I just needed someone to talk to & I lacked the ability to ask for help.


CheshireChat · 18/06/2017 13:44

To be fair, it's quite natural there's more people diagnosed with MH issues as they aren't ignored anymore or shipped off when they're more severe. That doesn't mean the dismissive way MH issues are treated now is actually useful- 'oh, you suffer from X, here's some pills. Bye now!' approach.


Atenco · 18/06/2017 14:24

I think, OP, you are overestimated the ability of mental health professionals. I think they are good/necessary in severe cases and sometimes there are some truly talented ones who can help in less severe cases, but it is not a magic wand.


silkpyjamasallday · 18/06/2017 14:38

I understand where you are coming from OP, before mental health was widely talked about I'm sure it made those who were suffering feel even worse than they already did. However, I have grown up in a time when mental health is more of a 'thing' and I don't think it is much better than it was before. I suffered eating disorders and severe debilitating depression as a teen, and because everyone was labelled 'depressed' or 'anorexic' those of us who were really suffering were told we were attention seeking and it's all this new awareness that has made people think in such a dismissive way, like @scaryclown. The dismissive attitudes and outright denial of mental health issues in teens is what causes so many to kill themselves, I knew 3 people who have ended their own lives, all in the last 18 months, 10 people over the last 5 years. On the surface, neither my life nor theirs seem particularly bad, maybe even desirable but depression and other things are all internal and there is a stigma over talking about it and with so little help available it's no wonder people bottle things up until they can't cope anymore. The internet and social media have made life relentless in a way is wasn't before, there is no escape from bullies or negative thoughts comparing yourself to other and finding yourself lacking when you are constantly connected. I stopped engaging with anything social media related and just got shunned in real life even more.


deckoff · 18/06/2017 15:33

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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