For a lot of people high school will be some of the best years of their life. Yeah, there will be the stress and pressure that comes with exams and assessments but there will also be memories that will last long past graduation.
But for some, high school isn’t an easy ride. With 27% of you saying that you saw a mental health professional in the last year and 24% saying you haven’t, but you need to, it’s clear that not all of us are living the teenage dream. Not to mention the fact that the PISA international study of students’ wellbeing shows us Aussie students aren’t doing great when compared to everyone else.
All of us will experience stress at some point or another. When you’re being pushed through a system based on rankings and marks, the pressure will get to you. But for some students it’s worse because they’re going through the whole high school experience with depression and there’s a difference between struggling to get through your exams and suffering from a mental illness. Having depression is more than just having an off day or feeling nervous about exams; it's so much worse than that.
It’s days where you struggle to get out of bed in the morning not because you need a couple of extra minutes sleep but because you physically can’t make yourself face the world.
It’s knowing you should see your friends and go through with plans but not being able to because you don’t have the energy.
It’s trying to get through your homework or get some study done but not being able to focus on any of your notes.
It’s breaking down before walking into your exam room because you’re not sure you can make it through.
It’s wanting to tell your friends how to help you but not even knowing how to help yourself.
It's being torn between doing everything you can to hide your depression and desperately wanting help.
It’s the struggle of trying to explain to people when they ask what’s wrong, or why you’re depressed and dealing with people telling you that you just need to snap out of it or get over it.
Depression is a mental illness that impacts individuals differently. But when you’re in high school, it can make getting through the day harder than anyone can imagine. Some days will be good; there will be moments where you feel like you have everything under control. But some days will be the opposite, where you will wonder how you’re going to get through the next hour, let alone the rest of your life.
High school is hard. Surviving high school with depression is even harder.
But for anyone who is struggling, you will make progress, I promise. You will move forward and no one will see how far you've come but any step forward is progress. Sometimes people won't see the dark place you've come from and they won't understand how far you've made it or how much you've already achieved.
You will have people that think that you are overreacting or not trying hard enough to just 'feel better'. Despite it all, despite the days where you have no energy or strength to keep going, you will–you will make it through your worst days and get to a time where the bad days are far and few in between and the good ones are more common than not. I made it through and I have faith that you will too.