Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PTSD - Post Teen Stress Disorder

This post is for the teens who read my blog. Adults are welcome to read it, too, but it isn't for you.

My husband, who somehow ends up having deeply interesting conversations with strangers on a regular basis, was talking with a psychologist and mentioned that he didn't understand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The psychologist said, "Have you ever had that dream where you are back in college but missing a final or some variation of that?"

"All the time."

"Then you understand PTSD. There is a physical reaction to stress and your brain and body remember it, and in those dreams you're in that physical and psychological memory and your brain cannot understand that it doesn't need to be stressed out about that anymore. PTSD is that sensation compounded."

So, interesting, right? But here's the thing. I've never once had the "I signed up for a college class but haven't been attending and now it's the final and I'm dead meat" dream. Nope. But I very regularly have a dream where for whatever reason I didn't finish high school and I have to go back.

Yup. Pretty much my ultimate nightmare right there: RETURN TO HIGH SCHOOL AND NEVER GET OUT. (It was even more awesome when I'd have the dream pregnant and get asked to prom and think, "First of all I'll never find a maternity formal, second of all, it's kind of inappropriate, right?") (Which might leave you wondering why, if high school was so awful I am still suffering mild psychological trauma ten years later, I choose to write from teen perspectives. But that's not what we're here to talk about today. [Perhaps that should be discussed on a couch. To a therapist.])

Today I am here to tell you that it's going to be okay. Maybe you've screwed up. Maybe you're just worried you're going to. Maybe you feel so much pressure to be building building building for your future you wonder if you even want that future, or you can't sleep because you're convinced the future you want will never happen, or you cry when you are in the shower and no one can hear because you're doing it WRONG and it's going to ruin everything forever.

It's not.

That's the best thing about being a teenager: you can screw up. I'm not advocating making huge mistakes because you will definitely have to work harder and stress more than you would have had you not messed up, but fact of the matter is, you're probably going to at some point.

And when you hit that point, you might worry that it's over. This nebulous, hazy "future" you have sitting like those horrible little cartoon devils on your shoulder, might whisper in your ear that you've blown it.

I'm going to tell you a story that very few people know. (HELLO INTERNET. HAVE SOME OF MY SECRETS.) When I was a junior in high school I struggled with depression. I'm not sure why; unlike in most books there was no huge trigger, no big THING that made me depressed. I just was. And because I was depressed everything felt huge and overwhelming and too much for me. So I did something really stupid. I maintained every single other aspect of my life (I was a big fat faker and very good at it, too) but I stopped doing anything in my honors pre-calculus class.

Anything. At all.

I went to class. I sat there. I didn't do any of the homework. I don't remember what I did on the tests, but when that second term report card came home with a big F in the middle of my straight A's, I laughed and said that the teacher hadn't put in all of the assignments yet and it wasn't really an F. My parents trusted me because when I wasn't depressed I was an honest kid. But that depression monster made me hide things, shove them away into corners of my brain and my life, pretend like they didn't exist. Like math. If my math class didn't exist, then I could handle everything else.

This continued until almost the end of the year, when I could no longer hide everything, when the dark secret corners had seeped out into the entire room of my life.

It was over.

Everything was over.

I was living every day in fear, fear of being discovered, but even worse the fear of knowing that I had ruined everything. All of my dreams. All of my plans. They were over, and I had blown it, and it was all my fault because I was stupid and couldn't handle a dumb class and couldn't tell the truth and couldn't ask for help and couldn't sleep and couldn't even feel like I was supposed to.

To tell you the truth, I remember almost nothing from those few months. I don't remember how my parents reacted when I came clean that yes, in the middle of all my honors and AP "A" grades, I had failed two terms on math and was well on my way to failing a third. I don't remember what they said. I should, but I don't. The second half of my junior year is a gray blur of fear and failure.

One thing I do remember is this. After everything came out and we met with the teacher who agreed to let me make up all of the course work I had missed (a miracle and a very generous decision--turns out those adults we are terrified of as teenagers actually love us and want us to succeed) I was walking home from taking a makeup test, sure I had failed. Again. Even when I was trying to make everything better I was still just screwing it all up. As I went to cross the road and cars sped by I had a thought.

A brief thought.

A thought that maybe if I stepped out in the street and got hit by a car, this whole math thing wouldn't matter anymore.

Now, to be clear: I did not want to die. I was not suicidal. But I had let things get so bad and so blown out of proportion in my mind that the idea of being hit by a car seemed like a good solution. Looking back, it was such an irrational thought so as to be almost insane. Probably actually insane. But that's the thing when you are living in fear and depression and pressure: you aren't thinking rationally. You can't.

Gosh, this is getting heavy. Sorry about that. Here's where it gets better.

In the end I walked home. I did not let myself get hit by a car. Life wasn't easy, but I kept fixing what I had messed up. I worked on being honest with myself and my parents again. I worked with the very kind teacher who understood that sometimes sixteen-year-olds screw up. She let me redo the coursework from where I stopped, let me redo the tests, let me come into her class every day during her free period and essentially take the class again to make up my failed grades. I swallowed my pride at being "smart" and hired a fellow student to tutor me. I didn't get A's. I think I got three C's. But those C's buried in my other good grades were enough that my dream college didn't even notice them.

So even though I'd messed up, seriously screwed up, and temporarily derailed myself and my future, it was fixable. It wasn't easy. It was long, and it was hard, and it wasn't fun. But I had parents who loved me and wanted to help me succeed. I had teachers who cared and wanted to see me secure a good future. And I wasn't an adult yet.

You're a teenager. That's AWESOME. Maybe you're like I was and feeling like you are drowning in all of the potential futures you could have. Maybe you've already done something hugely wrong, made pretty much the biggest mistake you could. Maybe you think it's over. I am here to tell you it's not. You'll have to keep walking, keep moving forward. Yes, your life would be much easier if you hadn't done that thing you did, but the amazing thing about being you is that those futures spreading out in front of you? They're all still there. You might not have the same path to them that you thought you would, but they're still there and you can still have them.

Take a deep breath. You'll get out of this. And when you get out, things will be so much bigger and so much better than you can understand right now. All you have to do is make it through in the best way you can. Just remember how many people you have that care. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to need help. Be brave. Make the hard choices. Do your best.

Also, for the love of Pete, have some fun while you're at it. And if you see me in your dreams dazedly wandering the halls of your high school while wearing a formal and seven-months-pregnant, just smile and pat me on the back and remind me that I made it through. Just like you're going to.


Chelsey said...

This is an amazing post for everyone, I think.

Recently I found myself thinking about my own trig and calculus teachers who did much the same thing after I had to miss a month of school and fell incredibly behind. While other teachers doubted I'd succeed, this man (whose class I had the most trouble with without missing class), was the one who was the most patient and helped me the most.

For a while I had an 11 overall in his class, but I came out with a C. I've never been prouder of that C

I don't mean to make this about awesome Math teachers, because it's not really, but I know something similar happened to me in eighth grade and the teachers who didn't get it allowed me to fall into a depression, so in a way it relates.


Sheepa said...

That was really lovely Kiersten!
I would like to add also that even though it feels like NO ONE understands - there will always be SOMEONE that does. You're not alone, everyone (every single person) makes mistakes and no matter how old you get something will always happen to make you feel like it's all over. But it's not.
You're alive, and that's hope in itself :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for opening up to encourage others! It's not just teenagers that need to hear this; it can be helpful to anyone in a transitional period of life. A lot of people tend to overlook how terrifying and depressing the unknown future really can be.

I'm out of my teens now, but I'm still adjusting to adulthood. I still have most of my life ahead of me, and I'm still hearing the same old same old, "Oh, you can carve out a wonderful life for yourself! I wish I could go back to those days!" from people who have already climbed the huge hill and made it. I think, "Yeah, easy for you to say. You already *made* it, and now you have all this experience and hindsight that would make things easy if you went back and succeeded yet *again*. Do you even remember what it was like to feel scared to death that things won't work out, no matter how hard you slave away?"

So, to end my little rant, thanks for the encouragement. Your understanding is very much appreciated. :D

V. Rossi said...

I love this post. Really I do. Thank you for sharing this.

Jordanne said...

Thank you for this. THANK YOU. I swear sometimes that my parents are forgetting what it's like to be a teenager on purpose just to make life harder for me. But I know that they aren't, really. Also, I'm going to be a junior next year and NO WAY am I going to take HONORS pre-calc. I'm taking regular and I worked hard to get to pre-calc from regular Algebra II. I'm not the smartest person in my grade. I haven't gotten straight A's since 6th grade. I constantly like to tell my friends (who ARE straight A students) that even though I don't get grades like them, that I'm just as smart. I had depression problems in 8th and 9th grade. After a move between 9th and 10th grade, it came back. It made me do all sorts of things I don't normally do. Like disrespect my parents, "forget" to do my homework, and stop going anywhere and become a hermit. (words my mother constantly said to me and still occassionally does: "You never want to DO anything anymore!") I got a therapist. I got help. I'm on the rise and even though the future is really, REALLY hazy...there's going to BE one and it's going to be one that I want. I love it that adults like you are writing about and for teenagers...hearing stories like ours (with a bit more excitement and fantasy thrown in) is what makes a lot of things worth going for. I asked my dad to get me a sparkly yellow taser before I go off to college. He said yes as long as it's legal in the state I go to. So yes, thank you Kiersten...for understanding and sharing your story. (I always end up sharing one of mine in return though...sorry!!!)

PS: I have a dream that I'm preggo all the time! Really, really, terrifying....

PPS: Did you get my e-mail? I was one of the random drawing winners but I'm not sure that you got my e-mail with my info in it! :/

JH said...

I think you have your next book out of this post. I can so see a story about a teen struggling in highschool. Maybe the student tutor can become a love interest ;)

I had the same problem with Geometry.I don't think my parents even realized I was failing it. It ended up trickling into my physics classes later cause I didn't understand the geometry portions. I had an awesome teacher who worked with me every week to get my grades up to passing.

KT Simpson said...

Thank you... just, thank you.

But, also, what if something else we don't have any control over (like a "trigger" you mention) causes us to make mistakes. How do we fix that, then?

But I think from now on, I'm going to save this post and read it. Every. Single. Day.

Thank you <3

Kiersten White said...

KT--It's okay to need help. If you have something you feel like is out of control, you might benefit from therapy. Talk to your school counselor and your parents. And work on what you can control yourself. I let myself get into really destructive thought patterns which led to depression and destructive behaviors. Once I was able to identify those thought patterns I was able to recognize them and pull myself out before it got past the point where I could. I know a lot of teens are going to be dealing with things a lot more serious than I did, but I think the same things apply: you do the best you can, you make the best choices you can, and you find people (hopefully your parents but if not them, then counselors or teachers or clergy) who understand and will help and support you.

Some people will always have things that handicap them in a sense. Physical problems, psychological disorders, serious trauma that wasn't their fault. It's not fair, plain and simple. But you can figure out how to work around and with your specific problems to build the best life you can.

And again, always, it's okay to need help!

My Life With Books - Jennifer K Jovus said...

This is an excellent post Kiersten, and probably one that was difficult to write. Thank you for sharing.

Even as adults we can feel this way too. When In vitro and ICSI failed (infertility treatments) I wanted to be dead. Not die, I just wanted the desire to be a mother to die. I think that it may be human (female) nature to bury fears and hide them away. Its unfortunate that when we do this we creat even more fear and suffering in our lives.

The important thing is that we learn along the way. I believe when we share these experiences we may be able to comfort someone somewhere and relieve thier burdens. And if it's just one person, thats ok, because you made the world a better place - for them. (and those that love them ♥ )

You hold a unique position with our youth and I am impressed that you care enough about them to write theis. Thank you!

From a fan and former teen. ;)

a eberting said...

Thank you. -from a teen

Nikki said...

Wow...thank you. This is great. I just graduated last May, barely, and considered it a miracle. I did enough work to get by and now I've got no idea about colleges or anything, but I know I want to go to a college for a Library and Information Sciences masters degree, and I know I want to be a children's librarian if I ever get the chance. I've got the beginning and the end figured out, I'm just a little hazy in the middle.

Also, that's a wonderful description of PTSD...I never heard it explained like that before.

Kiersten White said...

Nikki, I have a friend who barely made it out of high school. He's in medical school now! It just took him a while longer to get there. Community colleges are inexpensive ways to get moving toward a degree and build up good grades to transfer to a university and then eventually grad school for library sciences.

I am rooting for you! You'll figure it out : )

lora96 said...

Wonderful and brave and honest.

I struggled for years with depression before seeking treatment which helped amazingly--it turns out I still have a personality! And it isn't "blah get away from me I want to hide!"

Also, my darling husband was once a depressed college student who drank, cut his classes and flunked out. Years later, he went back. He finished his degree. I think that was a lot harder than going straight through from high school like I did--it took immense courage to say, hey, I screwed it up but there's NO RULE that says everyone gets only ONE CHANCE.

kllamp said...

Very well said! I'm currently working on a short story based on something that I went through when I was 15.
I'm writing it so those going through a simialar experience know that you can get through it. You will come out the other side, and it will make you a stronger, better person. There are people in your life that care and can support you, help you get back up, most of the time the hardest part is admitting to yourself that you need to ask for help.

We all need to remember that without the sorrows and challenges in life, we wouldn't appreciate the joys and accomplishments. This is a life lesson, everyone, not just teenagers are learning everyday.

Keep up the awesome Kiersten!


KT Simpson said...

Kiersten - Thanks. I have seen a therapist for a while. We're at the point of seeing what's happens next. Kind of a limbo space. But sometimes it's so easy to forget things they say and fall back into that mindset :-/

But, honestly, it is so, so great to see that you were able to get out of that depression and be where you are today. And hearing that is really helpful and inspiring. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jen said...

This is so great, Kiersten! I've been out of high school ten years now and I often look back and wish someone would have told me what you just wrote out. I wish I would have known how to roll with the punches more, how the mistakes I made would make me the person I am today, and I wish I would have had more fun during it all. I remember those things now, so thankfully my twenties have been much better than my teens.

I currently teach job building skills to GED students and many of them have such amazing stories. They are so courageous and inspiring. Because of them, I truly believe any mistake or situation can be overcome if you're willing to fight for what you want.

Stephanie Perkins said...

I love you.

Thank you.

Wynter said...

Thank you. I'm going into my senior year of high school and most of the time it feels like I'll never make it through. My sophomore year was the worst so far and I often struggled with the thought that death was an easy solution.
I'm doing much better now, but I still have days when I don't feel like going any further. The next time that happens, I'm going to come back and read this post again. Thank you for giving me hope that I can make it.

Zareen aka Taco said...

I'm 16 and starting my junior year of high school in the fall. Usually, I'm one of those academically motivated, straight A girls. Sometimes, though, I wonder why I'm trying so hard. Will I ever make it? Are my hopes and dreams realistic, or are they ridiculous and too far out of my reach? There are times when I just want to throw everything at the wall and give up. And then people like you come along and remind me that it will be okay, no matter what. Call me crazy, but you honestly just made me cry.

Thank you, Kiersten.

Kiersten White said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, Zareen, ALL of the teen comments on this post have made me tear up. I just want to hug all of you. Awkwardly. And then give you cookies and tell you about how all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mom and an author. And I am : )

Wynter--You can make it! And I am so genuinely sincere when I say life gets better and these things that are so hard now will become easier to handle. Which doesn't mean they aren't hard now, but just that there's hope : )

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Kiersten. I wish someone had said this to me when I was 16, but actually it's incredibly helpful to hear now too. I'm approaching the end of my college days, and The Future is looming, and I'm freaking out just a little bit (or a lot) from all the Pressure. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you, so much.

The Story Queen said...

Okay, I'm tearing up a little right now.

I had that big, huge thing last year that I just want to shove away in a dark corner and never have to think about again. At the time, I felt like the absolute worst person in the universe for it and to be honest, I still don't feel so great. What really got me through everything though was my mom. I am so lucky to have her. I remember being so lost for what to do and she would hug me and tell me everything would get better. It did, too, because she was there every step of the way after that, helping me.

Thank you for sharing. I hope I never have to experience that nightmare...

Rebecca said...

Thank you for this post. I'm in my early 20s and the inner teen in me needed to read that. I've suffered with depression at least since I was 9 years old. Maybe younger, but that's when I remember my first suicidal thoughts occurring. My home situation was bad and it got to the point where if any little bad thing happened my mind would automatically come up with 5 different ways to end it all. Junior year of high school I was close to acting on it, but my then boyfriend (now husband) saved me.

These days I am not struggling as hard as I used to--in fact most days I'm happy even though I have no clue what I'm supposed to do with my life. With him by my side--and not allowing manipulative people to have control over my life--I'm doing so much better.

Seabrooke said...

This is an awesome post. As Anonymous 3:42 said, your words aren't just for teenagers (though they may be especially appropriate for individuals that age) but are applicable to anyone having a tough time of it. I'm 31, an age by which I'd fully expected to be married, have a house and a solid career, perhaps kids... Instead, I'm still figuring out how to make my life what I want it to be. A long-term boyfriend but no job yet, much less a career, we're still renting, and the idea of bringing kids into this financial situation is a stretch. I have moments where I feel like throwing my hands in the air in despair, conceding that the life I want is out of my reach. It's wonderful to be reminded that we all go through this, at some point or another, sometimes many times - and that with a little hope, hard work and perseverance it's still possible to get where you want to go, no matter where you currently are. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Jessica Secret said...

I just came out of a depression. A short one, but one nonetheless. This month has just been truly awful for me, for a lot of reasons. Some I don't understand.

I'm not struggling with calculus or anything close to that like you did, but this post just kinda reminded me that life goes on, and just...thanks. I kinda needed that.

Honey said...

Saying thank you just isn't enough to express how I feel about this post and about you.

It'll have to do though. So.

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

Camille said...

Thank you so much, Kiestern.
Right now, my problem isn't failing a class. That was my problem this semester. Now, I'm moving. This post inspired me to think forward. Honestly, I'm absolutely terrified of starting a new school and not knowing anyone. I start High School this year, which makes it WAY more terrifying. I'd always pictured High School as a good time. It would be hard, sure, but I would spend it with my friends. Now, I just can't even think of starting High School. I get extremely anxious every time I do. This post, as I said, helped me look forward, and it helps with my future. So, thank you. You're awesome.

Anonymous said...

thankyou for writing this sometimes i just get teary but i have no idea why or sometimes i just want to curl up in bed even if my friends want me to go out with them and sometimes everything just seems too big or too hard and i cant sort annything out in my head and i know im fifteen and why should i care?...i dont want someone i know to see this so i'll post it as anonymous but yeah, thanks again.

Kate said...

Thanks Kiersten, I think you helped so many people with this post, included me, its an answer to a prayer.
Yeah, I've found that I would never make it through life if I didn't have such a good relationship with my mom; because I've come to learn that even the bestest friends will once in awhile pull the rug out from under you, and it happens when you least expect it. But family is hopefully always going to be there. Even when I can't talk to my mom, (because for the moment she might be included in my problem) I have a brother or sister to turn to and they totally get it! I love family! I'm so thankful I have mine! :)
And I'm so thankful for my faith. I don't think with out the knowledge I have from my faith that I would be able to cope nearly as well as I do, even though sometimes it feels like I'm not coping at all, I still know in my heart that I am being supported and lifted by my Father in Heaven. :)

Sarah said...

Wow. that was amazing.

It sort of helped me. Sometimes in my life when im working towards what i've always planned for myself: 'Go to university, study maths, get a degree then get a job. During all of this finish that pesky novel i've been trying to write and hopefully find out its not a pile of poo. Get it published, start to get other things published and finally live my dream as an author.'

wow. thats long. But sometimes i sit there and think. why? why am i working this hard for maths when really it is just a back up plan. then i remember. financial ruin if i dont make it as an author.

that sort of thing scares me every day. what if i've made the wrong decision about university? what if i dont really like maths once it gets hard? what if i never make it as an author?

what if i never find someone as awesome as Hot Stuff who will support me through this writing and be my rock?

But then some days i sit there and go. hey, im 18. i have like 70 years left in my life (i hope) so its not as if im running out of time. life works in mysterious ways, normally getting you to where you want to be even if you didnt want to be there at the beginning.

Like my mum wanted to be a doctor and worked really hard until her teachers told her she couldnt do it, that she wasnt smart enough. so she didnt care anymore and eventually couldnt get in to do medicine. so she picked zoology,thinking it was nearly the same. and she hated it, barely passed. but now she has a good career in finance, two kids and a husband. she says she's never been happier.

but sometimes you just want a crystal ball to look into your future and see that your life wont be as bad as you think it will.

I bet you sometimes just want to go back in time and tell little you that its going to be awesome. But then what if that changes your life? what if the depression made you who you were meant to be to be an amazing author?

So i shall just live my life and see where it goes. And even if i feel alone sometimes, i can just look at this post, then phone my best friend, and feel better.

Thankyou :D

(and sorry for the long post, i didn't realise i had this much to say)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Kiersten. It was really reassuring to see that I wasn't the only one who has stood on the side of the road, contemplating on getting hit by a car/bus/truck/biker/whatever just to escape/"solve" my problems.

I just barely made it out of my junior year (YESSSSS FREEDOM) and can totally relate to your post. I myself suffered from depression in the first semester or so of junior year (because of a relationship that went horribly wrong,some family problems, and academic stress) and contemplated 'solving my problems' (not really 'suicide', like you said) by doing things like jumping off buildings/running into streets/etc.

I'm glad to say that I'm much happier now (it IS summer, after all and senior year is still a few months away), but still found this post to be really helpful. I will keep what you said in mind in case bad stuff happens in my senior year, as well.

Oh, and I would also like to thank you for writing Paranormalcy (and working hard to get it published). I know this is random, but it really isn't, since I read your book during one of the darkest times of my life and it gave me many laughs/chuckles. Reading it really shined light on an otherwise awful day and let me forget my troubles and move on with my life.

You are awesome. And possibly one of my favorite people in the world. Reading your blog posts (I subscribe via email :D) always makes my day. I'd buy you a box of chocolates and send it to you, but I unfortunately (or fortunately? I guess it depends on how you look at it) have no idea where you live.

Thank you again, and I wish you luck on your future writing pursuits (good luck on editing/revising all those novels!).

Kelly said...

Thanks for posting this, Kiersten. I'm at college and although I'm only 17 (I live in the UK), I've failed Maths and thought I'd messed up big time. I still haven't passed yet but I get my results back next month, so hopefully I will pass this time. :)

I struggled with depreesion too, although I don't much anymore. I'm not suicidal either, but I did breifly wonder one day what it would be like if I wasn't here. My gosh, those were bad days a few months ago. But I'm not depressed anymore now. :)

Thanks again for posting and I hope you continue to have success with your writing. And I can't wait for Supernaturally. :D

Meadow said...

I almost have no words in response to this. It's very beautiful. Thank you for what you do, Kiersten. On one hand, I think wholeheartedly you should be a teacher because students need someone like you, but on the other hand, I think you probably reach a whole lot more teens with your books, so that's perfectly fine too. Bravo!

patdwhite said...

You Rock.
I love you.


Madeleine said...

I had no idea when I began this post that it would address an issue I've been having troubles with myself lately.

Not that I've made some enormous mistake or flunked out of a class (though I'm sure I'd have a mental breakdown if I did that. If I get anywhere near an F, go ahead and reserve a padded cell for me), but I've certainly felt that overwhelmed sensation - when everything is just too much. I've started a process that's helping me overcome the anxiety (and the depression the anxiety leads to), and my life has definitely started to improve.

Ambition and high expectations of yourself are all fine and dandy until they start to break you down. Then, they're holding you back more than they're pushing you forward, and something needs to change. I'm working on that.

Anyway, this comment got kind of out-of-hand, but my point is: I get it, and it's nice to know that others do, too.

Emily said...

Oh how I can relate to this post. I'm long out of high school now, but I remember trying to get my associate's degree before I graduated from high school. I was taking somewhere around 20 credits of college coursework, in addition to my high school classes and a part-time job. My parents put a lot of pressure on me to succeed. C's were not options.

I really liked this boy, and he used me, pretty badly. I wasn't doing as well as I wanted in school. (well duh! with 20 credits). I was driving home from work one day and was approaching the bridge that I took on my way into my small little town. For one brief moment, I thought about driving off that bridge into an oncoming train. It would have looked like I had fallen asleep at the wheel or something.

But, I made it through high school, and even college. Now I'm married and have a baby. The things I did in high school don't matter anymore. When I got to college, I got to leave the boy that broke my heart and everything that came with it behind. It was glorious. And it happens to everyone.

Thanks Kiersten for a great post.

Emily said...

I also forgot one thing. I remember going to my mom and telling her that I thought that I was struggling with depression. She laughed in my face. I know that she loves me, and she loved me then. But, she didn't know how to deal with what I was feeling, and didn't believe it, because I was so good at stuffing.

But, I had friends that knew and helped me. And I had some teachers, one in particular, that cared about me. So, even if you think that your parents aren't there for you, there is someone there for you.

storyqueen said...

You are wonderful and so very brave for posting this.

I remember well being poised on that same curb...



Anonymous said...

I'm a teen and I have depression I have to take medication for. No one in my class knows except for my 2 best friends. I don't know if it's worse to depend on these little pills to keep me sane or to be depressed without them but either way it sucks. I get A's and I'm on the High Honor Roll and I'm pretty well-liked in school but when I was at my lowest point I actually thought about cutting and you know what stopped me? I was afraid of the scars because then people would know. NO ONE besides the people I've known since I was a baby ever get it but then I read this post and I was like, holy shit. Thank you so much. I can't really describe how much this means to me- I'm not a writer- but it's really, really big. Thanks, Kiersten.

rockinlibrarian said...

Always an important message!

I think it's really important that you pointed out that there doesn't have to be some big, horrible "trigger" thing to start someone (particularly a teenager) feeling so hopeless. I had a lot of serious chronic depression problems as a teenager (and beyond-- but they're worse as a teenager. Because EVERYTHING is worse as a teenager-- that's another important point!) But according to all the books I read and shows I watched and so on, I had a perfectly acceptible life-- loving family, comfortable economic situation, lots of natural talent that made schoolwork pretty easy, and no major traumas. I felt I had no RIGHT to feel like I felt... which just made me feel worse. I'm glad when someone points out that depression or other bad feelings are NOT ALWAYS LOGICAL. Well, they pretty much NEVER are. But that doesn't make them less true.

(And most of my PTSD dreams ARE my back-in-high-school ones, too. Occasionally elementary school. Occasionally also the period when I tried unsuccessfully to be a classroom teacher).

Anonymous said...

This is just 'wow.' It really made me feel better and just.. normal. I get depressed easily, whether it's over thinking about the future or something simpler, or I don't care about anything. I rarely feel anything for anything. I hate it.

When it comes to the future, I always think my dreams will never happen, that it will just suck.

BUT! This make me feel better, more optimistic about life in general. It's good to know it's normal to feel like this.

Thank you for an amazing post!

NeuroHormone said...

You're not only highly entertaining. You're also a great person Kiersten.

I struggled with depression last summer and I feel like I've got the upper hand today. I'm just starting to really get rid of it. What you felt, I felt it too. The idea of disappearing is just so tempting.

Well, I'm printing it.
I want to keep it somewhere where it will last. =)

NeuroHormone said...

I'm printing it on a pink sheet of paper.

Megs said...

You have an amazing way of expressing yourself. You always have. I'm not only impressed by this awesome post, but by all of the comments as well! Thank you for who you are, and for these great reminders. I'm sure we all need them. Sorry I was so clueless. Eh, let's face it - I sort of still am. But I'm working on that.

Love you!

Angela Felsted said...

*sniff* You choked me up.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Confession: I read this and I am far from being a teen.

Thank you for using your blog for good. You continually amaze me with your sincerity, humor, and compassion. Not to mention, you just have a way of saying things that makes people feel like they're okay.

I had a similar depression/failed classes situation in seventh grade, but with social studies, science, and math. Depression can hit anyone at any time, with or without a trigger. And when it does, people like you make it better by helping us past that first hurdle: not feeling broken anymore.

And when you realize you're not permanently broken, you can start to put the pieces back together.

Dana Elmendorf said...

You always speak from your heart and I adore that about you. Thank you for sharing a not so pretty part of your life.

Anonymous said...

thank you i needed this

Nekokat~chan said...

for a while in 7th grade i had an f in Advanced l.a.(writing/reading)(AKA ALA).

and LA is my best subject (besides choir, but i don't think that counts).

and i was all in denial. like "PFFFFT! i turned that in! what's that in my binder? i dunno but i can tell you it's NOT my big test that i aced but forgot to turn in so now i'm probably gonna get a C on it."

yeah that kind of denial.

but i fixed and as of year end i had a B+.

and, by the way, i have supernaturally ordered on amazon and i just got paranormalcy today:)!!

Jeakat said...

Only just catching up on the blog (I know, I'm a terrible person!).

Amazing, one of the best things I have ever read. Ever! And it's not just teens who think their lives are over as soon as they make a mistake. I'm 24 and I've been making mistakes my whole life (not that I'm bragging, I just seem to have a talent for it), and each and every time I end up beating myself up about it and just making myself down. Yet with reflection, and our ever-present friend hindsight, I've realised that most of my mistakes, or things that I thought were really huge deals, have more often than not turned out so much better than I originally planned. No ones life turns out exactly the way they planned it to. Some people might end up where they want to be but the how they get there and the twists and turns along the way are all unexpected.

Bad news for teens, the need to succeed and the pressure you put on yourselves doesn't disappear when you get older. The good news, you get much better at dealing with it and letting things go!

roid said...

>"Today I am here to tell you that it's going to be okay."

Haha, no.
Ironically i found this blog post while googling to try to figure out if my experiences in high-school gave me actual PTSD, over 14 years ago.
I've been a mess since.

The Story Queen said...

I know this is old and that I already commented, but fast forward 4 months and it means more to me now than it ever did before.

I've always been the "smart kid"... except in science. I just don't GET it, yet I work harder for it than any of my other classes. I honestly thought that I did fine on my unit test (1 of only 4) but it turns out I got a 40%. I'm so scared and I feel so awful. I told my parents (in tears) and they're as supportive as ever but I don't know what to DO now.

On a not so fantastic note, my chemistry teacher is entirely unwilling to give me extra help. She's busy every time I ask her for help at lunch or after school and refuses to let anyone in the class make up the mark.

I'm considering getting a tutor, but then I also keep trying to convince myself that I can handle it. I know this is probably stupid since my track record with chemistry has never been good but I'm terrified to take that step.

Anyways. Thank you for sharing. I hope it gets better.