NEED HELP? 1-800-273-8255 TXT "CTL" to 741741
These past few days have been okay for me. The internship at Turning Point was a great opportunity for me, and it also allowed me to confront some of my own demons as well as helping others acknowledge theirs.
A few weeks ago, we were brainstorming ideas for a podcast and we came up with the following title: Early Warning Signs of Mental Illness. The idea was to look back on our childhoods and think about parts of them that had seemed normal at the time, but that we now realize were early symptoms of our mental illnesses. Most of the time, I am perfectly fine talking about mental illness, but this time, I felt small and lonely, just how I had felt when I was a kid. This was my first time feeling emotionally triggered by a discussion around mental illness. We recorded the podcast, and I was okay, and we all moved on. (You can find the podcast in the media room archives).
Except I had therapy last week, and I was talking to her about it, and she said, “Why do you think it made you so uncomfortable?”
I had no idea what to say. She suspected that I had some demons lurking in my subconscious, that were preventing me from comfortably talking about my mental illness growing up. So, she asked me a question that forced me to confront the demons.
“What would you say to your younger self, knowing what you know now about your mental health?
I immediately started crying. I was crying, so I don’t remember all of what I said, but here was some of it:
you have a mental illness.
you are not alone.
there’s nothing wrong with you.
it’s going to be okay.
i am crying again writing this (don’t worry they are tears of growth and self-acceptance;) ) but I got so emotional because that was exactly what I needed to hear when I was little. When I was a kid, I felt so alone, I felt like there was no one else like me in the whole world. it meant so much to comfort my younger self, to both offer and receive words of hope and healing. we often tend to be very critical of our younger selves, thinking that we didn’t like who we were at a certain time. it can be helpful to ask yourself why. forgive yourself, and heal yourself, one step at a time, just for today.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I can totally relate to this as well. I can recall several occasions when I was younger and I would have like crying spells or would have difficulties relating to others and I couldn’t understand what was going on. No one around me, at the time, could either. I feel like I am at a very different point in my life in terms of how much progress I’ve made to this day, but I still remember what it was like before I knew what was going on. It was scary not being able to control my emotions and being looked at in a weird way, often with others threatening to tell on you instead of trying to help. I am glad I now know what’s going on as well as have better supports.
oh Vanessa this is breaking my heart reading this because I’ve been exactly where you are. When I was in a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) Outpatient group I began to learn that I should always be talking to myself with the same care and compassion as I would to a 3 year-old. You would never tell a 3 year-old they were stupid for making a mistake, right? So why should you tell yourself that!
As I continued individual therapy, my therapist guided me through parts therapy where I would identify and talk to those insecure younger parts and tell them what they needed to hear, because, this is important – we can take care of our own needs! It sucks that there is something in our past that has caused pain or was not validated, but we can make sure these “parts” of us, our inner child, are taken care of. And exactly like you said, it can be so simple: you are not alone, you are loved, you are worthy… Even writing those out just then hit something deep inside me that had been calling out to hear that validation. I think it can be so powerful to take care of your own emotional needs. Recently I’ve been trying to listen to my parts when I get upset at something or someone and figure out the root of my emotions. A lot of the time it is because some need has not been met, being able to recognize this in myself really helps to communicate it to others and get that need met.
Wishing you so much love and support on this journey <3
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
Learn More »