Author: jessicak16

Hearing “You’ve Changed.”

Hearing “You’ve Changed.”

“You’ve changed.”

How many times have you heard that phrase? What does it mean? Is it a good or bad thing? As a young kid, upon hearing this phrase several times in my freshman year of high school, I was perplexed. I questioned it and pondered its connotations regarding my development. As a student in high school, I know that change is inevitable and imminent during my time in school. My freshman year has been very formative and I have been changing at a very rapid pace; I’ve assimilated into various friendship groups, participated in sports, was a solo instrument player, and my overall personality underwent a complete transformation from middle school. I wasn’t sure whether these changes were “normal” during the high school transition. My grades also dropped slightly when I entered high school—when this first happened, a myriad of questions stormed through my brain: was I less focused? Was I never truly prepared in middle school? Was all that middle school praise insincere? Have I been mediocre my entire life and just never thought about it?

Coming to think about it a while later, change is simply a representation of growth; not only physically, but socially, emotionally, and intellectually. As we meander through life, we experience events that anger us and excite us. The product is our character and personality. As we meet new friends and try to fit in, our personalities change. As we establish and maintain boundaries, we may not appear as sweet or kind as we used to be. Although we should strive to be kind, we all have limits and that’s something I struggled with in middle school. The anger and resentment that emerges from those events when we let people take advantage of us and cross our boundaries are the best experiences to learn from.

In middle school, I was the shy, insecure girl. I suffered endless panic attacks, my face went burning red whenever I stepped in front of a crowd, I often refused to make eye contact in the halls and was scared away by authority. I barely spoke to anybody. I didn’t have too many friends, but many acquaintances. I had a crazy fear of being judged. It wasn’t until I discovered my passion for playing the violin that maybe that’s what I wanted to pursue—it was the one thing I was confident in. So I continued that in high school and I do not regret it. It helped a lot with confidence—and so did running and sports. You meet amazing friends through these experiences. As a result, I enjoy high school much more than I ever enjoyed middle school. The competitive atmosphere and challenging academics become a humbling experience that encourage you to work harder as you recognize progress in the journey. And coming out of adversity as a better person (which takes months of hard work and good relationships) becomes the most exhilarating, amazing feeling in the world. For the strong fighters out there, “it gets better” is quite cliché—but no phrase rings with more truth—it takes time.

Honestly, I don’t think change should be taken as a bad thing unless it involves self destructive behavior—in my case and others I know, most people are simply growing and learning. Some people around you—family members or friends—may not like it or it may take time to get used to these changes. And that’s okay—it isn’t always bad—but healthy relationships should be accepting of good change and growth.

Feel free to let me know what you think of change in the comments below. Whether it be an account of your experiences or comments on mine or others, write anything because I love to hear you guys’ thoughts! They matter a lot to me and I will try my best to respond.

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Furthering the Depression Discussion

I just read an article, Spending Your Entire Life Wanting to Die (link: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/spending-your-entire-life-wanting-to-die) based off the memoir This Close to Happy by Daphne Merkin. I saw the book in catalogs and have been dying to read it.

Overall, this article communicates ideas to audiences that correspond to the possible factors contributing to depression, ranging from how it appears to outsiders, modern society’s perception on it, family issues, one’s household environment and many more. I would just like to elaborate on this. Having experienced some of this on my own, I’ve always wanted to look into it to understand why victims feel the way they do.

The symptoms associated with depression are either so simple and overemphasized that people see it as something that has lost meaning, or depression is communicated often as just a serious health condition that outsiders see it as that: something to sympathize for. For one who has experienced depression, and please feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts on it, the symptoms are much more complex than that. The stories behind the symptoms and how they impact us rise beyond those listed in healthcare pages online. They kill us—there are stories behind every person who experienced depression—and society tries to sympathize without full understanding.

Household environments are different for everyone. I like how educators encourage parents to support kids, but how many parents out there actually do that? How many parents are busy and working hard? How many kids grew up in unfortunate environments or experienced unfortunate events that have changed them?  Unrealistic expectations are traps for failure. Parents are all humans with disparate personalities and we cannot expect every kid to be a happy, jolly soul all day. Educators once judged me for being sad in school and on trips where everyone was having fun but me. And you know the education system is absurd when educators are part of the reason for your depression in addition to unsupportive parents. No parent is expected to be perfect, but having ideal students or judging others without knowing them as complex humans is just unacceptable.

Anecdotally, ever since we were young kids desperate for support and affection, regardless of whether our parents openly displayed love or not, there is this feeling inside us convincing our mind that maybe they do love us. Even if they are abusive or in conflict, we have hope that deep inside, beneath all the anger, they do love us anyways. And that wishful thinking is why we cling to them even when there is tension. But as we grow older, we become more skeptical of others and uncomfortable with intimacy because we aren’t sure what it will bring to our lives or we may question its authenticity.

Furthermore, household environments are complex for everyone. We strive everyday to understand why our surroundings are the way they are. Everyone has been through different experiences in their lives. As a result, some people make a big deal out of petty problems. If you come from a relatively affluent neighborhood and household, you are not immune to depression. If you come from a household in a neighborhood with poverty, you are not immediately prone to depression. It is absolutely ridiculous to think that someone cannot be depressed due to external values like wealth or even education. When I was depressed, I went to school and put on a happy mask so no one noticed. When I consulted my guidance counselor, she let my teachers know. Soon enough, they all accused me of lying about depression just to make teachers more lenient on grading because my drop in grades stressed me out in addition to the depression. I barely slept at night. It was bad. One night, I broke out with bloodshot eyes and a pit in my stomach. It was difficult to force myself to pull through school while being miserable. You can be one person at home and one at school. It’s what depression can do to you.

Concluding all of this, I just want to note that in this society, there are a lot of misunderstandings regarding depression. The symptoms appear simple but are much more complex than they appear on the surface. Depressed individuals may have masks and it is important to look beyond that in order to help them, and to not be impetuous to judge them. Household environments are factors in the overall development of children, and external things like wealth, power etc. do NOT determine one’s chances of encountering depression. We all have different stories and backgrounds behind us, and as educated humans, we should always refrain from developing ideas about individuals we barely know or jumping to stereotypes. Yes, depression is serious, but we need to stop overlooking it just because there aren’t many vicarious accounts of it. If you want to talk or have any questions or concerns, feel free to comment on this post. I hope we can grow as community members and continue fighting for what we want.

Be Alert: Depression Today

Among the many mental health issues that may be experienced in life, depression is among the most prevalent and fatal. According to The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, depression is the cause of over ⅔ of the 30,000 reported suicides in the United States each year. Although the age of onset for depression varies, as many as 1 in 33 children and 1 in 8 adolescents have clinical depression.

Whether the depression is mild or chronic, it is important that one seeks help immediately following diagnosis. Even while showing early warning signs, it is important to recognize them and avoid isolation. If the symptoms go unrecognized by the patient or by people surrounding them, the symptoms may worsen and overall deteriorate the individual’s mental health, physical health, and relationships.

During depression, thoughts are distorted. Patients have a negative outlook on life and believe that the world is cruel and that no one wants to help them, leading to isolation and hopelessness. Those feelings then cause the individual to keep everything inside of them and swallow up the sadness, causing symptoms to worsen if untreated. On a personal account, depression developed through overthinking, loneliness, and isolation. It occurred after a dreadful experience that I did not tell anybody about. The minute the experience began, self-deprecating thoughts swarmed in my head for weeks, and that had never happened to me before. But even while it was detected, I did not do anything to stop it. Now, that’s called self-destruction.

For parents, I would strongly advise them to ensure that their kids know, early on, that they are open to conversation and that if kids ever experience tough events, they can tell the parent. Adolescents and children may experience adversity too intense to be handled alone, so it is important that parents provide guidance and support. This does not call for a dependent relationship on the parent: this calls for the parent to talk through the event with the child, teach them proper coping skills, and eventually let the child use them on their own. The kid will eventually “spread their wings” and use those skills, but only after they are taught. If parents notice persistent warning signs of depression, or any disorder for a matter of fact, in an adolescent, do not instantly mistaken it for a “typical teenager attitude” or impetuously assume that the teenager is simply moody. Adolescents are moody by nature, but persistent symptoms should not be dismissed; it may be a sign of something worse. The number of times I have heard of depressive symptoms being mistaken for “moodiness” or the “onset of puberty” cannot be expressed in numbers. Parents, teachers, siblings, or anyone surrounding those you care about should always be on the lookout because there are those who suffer in silence or conceal their sadness in masks.

I find that those who have experienced depression are better at understanding, empathizing, helping, and being alert for symptoms in others in order to ensure that people do not go through what they went through, or experience a relapse. Regardless of its intensity (mild or severe), depression fundamentally affects mood: that in turn affects academic performance, motivation, relationships with others who are unaware of the depression, work life, and willingness to live. Now, whether you have experienced it or not, be on the lookout, offer support, and reach out to those who are suffering: they may feel too alone or hopeless to talk to others themselves.