I am a high school student, and I am fully versed in the world of mental illness and suicide. So many of my classmates have experienced mental health related problems, talk about them, and have shared their insights with me. The quotes used below are from just a few of the unbelievably strong people I know.

“How did it get this bad? This thought continued to tear away at me every day. The answer is simple; I held it in. I only told two of my friends. I was stupid, thinking that everything would be okay, that I could handle it all” -Belle A. (MN).

When you let the little things go, you let yourself go. Sometimes you can’t handle everything on your own, and that doesn’t make you weak. Asking for help is what makes us strong. “Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, it’s a means of survival” – Belle A. (MN).

Don’t wait until you’re scared. Don’t wait until you’re contemplating ending the wonderful life you have ahead of you.

“She doesn’t tell too many people how she feels, she’s afraid they will judge her. She cares more about what other people think than what she thinks of herself. Because she doesn’t want people to see her upset, so she puts on her mask. The real her hides behind the smile” -Chrissy H. (MN).

You are brave and you are strong. Don’t be ashamed of your struggles, it’s how we grow and become.. Well, us. “Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, it’s a means of survival”- Belle A. (MN). Don’t hesitate to get help when you need help, your mental health is bigger than what others think of you.

Most of the time we know when things are getting bad. Over 21.4% of adolescents experience an extreme mental health disorder. You are not alone. Belle and Chrissy, the beautiful writers quoted above, are just two out of many who worried that they waited too long.

Taking care of your mental health is more important than what others think of you….MENTAL HEALTH is bigger than what others think of you! It is time to break the stigma around mental health.

Last year our school lost two students related to mental health conditions, and that extreme loss, as Chrissy puts it eloquently, “opened the eyes of many students towards the lack of communication around mental health. Sadly the school failed to do anything to change its ways” – Chrissy H. (MN). This is nothing to be said about schools, or even people, but the lack of education about mental health.

These students should have been able to reach out for help, and to try to address the problems before they took over. So until the whole world knows how to help, what should we do?

Don’t sit back and watch things crumble. Whether it be your life, your friend’s, your mother’s, or your lover’s… You can help.

How to help before it gets scary?

Talk to your friends. No, your best friend is not a therapist. But friends, are well, just that. Your friends, a built in support system. Talking to friends is a great first step, they will help talk you through the hard parts, and may even help you reach out to someone else. Which brings us into our next step…

Talk to a trusted adult. This sounds cheesy, like something you learn in elementary school. But honestly, it’s the right way to get your challenges out in the open. The worst thing to do is hide and feel like you’re alone, that you’re fighting alone. 

Talk to a professional. The most important step, if you worry your inner thoughts are doing more than just bringing your mood down every once in awhile, you should seek help. This doesn’t make you weak, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed of or ashamed for.

“Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, it’s a means of survival” -Belle A. (MN).

Here are just some of the ways that I have found that can help you let off steam, center yourself, and be happy. Maybe it’s best to train yourself to handle bad situations in other ways. But, here is a list of relaxing and safe behaviors to get in the habit of distracting yourself from the daily turmoils we all are facing:

● Read

● Write

● Paint

● Go for a walk

● Take a bath

● Play with a child or an animal

● Take a nap

● Hug someone

● Say 100 things you love about yourself, OUTLOUD!!

● Journal

● Play a game

● Exercise

● Cook

● Go on an adventure

No matter what you do, take care of YOU. You are the most important person that you will ever know. Without you, the world won’t be the same. You are unique and wanted and loved and beautiful and smart and kind. You are worth it. If you feel like you’ve passed the point of small acts of helping, please reach out to a suicide or mental health hotline, your family, or a professional right away. You can make it out of the dark, because there truly is light at the end of a dark tunnel.

~Reagan Alexander

A high school student committed to breaking the taboo at her school and throughout the world.