Adamo: I look at services like Login here, and I’m thinking, if I knew that this existed, if I knew that there was a drop-in program where I can go chat with somebody, that would’ve made a world of difference.
Participant 1: It’s much more accepted, like you said, nowadays. But there is still that stigma like, “Why can’t you do it and everyone else can?” And coming here was still a struggle, like it was hard to admit that I needed a little bit of help. But, I mean, I’m so glad I did. It’s totally fine to need help. Most people do.
Participant 2: I just moved to a new school, and the school was right across from my apartment building, and I noticed that every morning when I had to walk to school, I could literally not cross the street to get to school because it was a busy intersection.
And I couldn’t cross the street and the anxiety was so bad that I’d have a panic attack and just walk right back into apartment.
Participant 3: It’s kind of like your story. I was a bit scared to go on my own. And, um, I remember at one point, I’d get the teachers to drive me home and pick me up from school, and my social worker at the time would have to come pick me up from school, so they really hooked me out with Login.
And I think it really helped because I had someone to talk to all the time, like even during school hours, I was able to call on someone, and it was good having someone to depend on.
Participant 2: My problem wasn’t that I didn’t want education. It was that I just couldn’t go to school, couldn’t go home. It was too scary, so I couldn’t do it.
Participant 3: And everyone was like, “Oh you’re just a skipper.”
Participant 2: They were like, “You can’t get on a bus?”
(Multiple people agreeing and talking at the same time)
Participant 4: Mental health, it’s like a forest fire. Like, if you don’t treat it at its beginning, like, it keeps spreading.
Participant 2: Yeah, but there are so many services to help you, but you just don’t know about them.
Adamo: Mental health, for example, is something that I think almost every teen needs to be talking about. I remember high school to be very hard, okay. It was, like, challenging. It tested my mental health.
Participant 3: Like I knew something was wrong when other people were questioning you. You know? Like, why (interrupts herself) or you couldn’t do something that everyone else was doing, like, at pace. Like, walking down the street or walking to your next class, kind of thing.
Like the easiest assignment that everyone’s doing in five seconds, and you’re sitting there like, “I don’t understand this.” You’re too anxious to get started because you don’t want everyone to think that you’re dumb.
Participant 5: And it’s also hard when people don’t want to listen to you. (Group agreeing) Like when you self-diagnose, like, I swear I have this symptom, and they’re like “no, you’re just crazy.”
Participant 2: That’s the worst. Like, when I tell my psychiatrist sometimes like I think I might have this, she just laughs.
Participant 5: Exactly, I hate that so much.
Participant 2: She’s like, “I’ll diagnose you.” And it’s like, I think I know myself pretty well.
Participant 6: Personally, my anxiety sort of comes in waves. Like, for a while I’ll be really okay, and, then, all of a sudden I just feel like I’m not at all like the person I was a couple of weeks ago. For some reason, it’s still sort of embarrassing or awkward to bring it up.
I know when I started coming here, I would just say “oh, I have an appointment,” and this guy I really liked was like, “For what? For what?” And I was like, “Really?” But just talking about it, with anyone, over and over makes it so much easier. Whenever you see movies with people with mental illness, they’re usually like bonkers.
(Other participants agree that, that does happen)
Participant 5: They show just the worst parts of it. Like, yeah that happens, but it’s not everything they are.
Participant 6: That’s the reason why when people hear mental illness, they think of American Horror Story Asylum. Like, it’s not that scary. It’s something that lots of people deal with, and it’s important to represent people dealing with it the way that a lot of us are, which is that we go on with our lives, like we do our thing.
Participant 2: The TV series Degrassi, for instance. Like, in this new season and past seasons, they normalize mental health issues. Like, movies, I feel like for mental health, are the complete opposite of what you want to be looking at. Like TV series, spend actual time on the characters, and to show what they have, and their symptoms, and how they live a normal life.
Participant 3: Yeah, they show from beginning to the end, whereas movies, it’s just the end. Sometimes they don’t even show the recovery process. It’s just like the juicy part, the climax.
Participant 7: When I first, um, started getting depressed, I was, um, no one really noticed because nothing had really changed. I was still spending a lot of time in my room all alone reading a lot of books. I’m not doing alcohol. I’m not doing drugs. I’m not smoking. I’m not doing any of that. But it’s still not necessarily the most healthy of things I could’ve done.
Participant 1: I feel like whatever you do, whatever your habits are, it should be to escape. You should still be able to embrace whatever’s going on in your life.
Adamo: There’s this quote I heard. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Sometimes you’re going to stumble upon something that you like, so spend a lot of time with it. But, then, you go back and live moderately and try to share your time.
What if your friend is going through something? How do you know your friend needs help, and, then, how do you actually help them, especially if they say don’t tell anybody?
Participant 2: I’d love to hear this, because I’m still struggling with that. I have so many friends who need help, and, it’s like, what’s your limit in helping?
Participant 7: There’s certain things, like on one side of the line, that until then you do the best that you can to help them. You try to convince them to go and seek out help. You give them names of places they can go. You say you’ll go with them. You give them all the support you can. But if they cross the line, you have to tell someone.
Participant 5: What’s that line?
Participant 8: Self-harm. Harming in any way. Drugs. Drug abuse. Stuff like that.
Participant 2: You try to give them resources. You try your best to educate them.
Participant 9: I read a quote, “A person will change when the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of the change.”
Participant 2: The thing I find with mental health is that you, actually, cannot get better unless you are trying. You have to try. I was just on medication. I wasn’t doing the therapy. I wasn’t doing the counseling.
Ultimately that made me feel better, but once I got off my medication, I was back to the start. It’s like a broken leg. Yes, you’ll take your medication, but you have to get up to physical therapy, too.
Participant 1: It gets annoying at some points, like oh my god, why can’t I just get better? But it’s a process.
Participant 2: What strategies do you use to calm down when you’re so anxious?
(Different participants say meditation and medication at the same time)
Participant 2: Wait, medication or meditation?
Participant 7: I said meditation. I’m on medication, but sometimes that’s not enough, and I gotta do meditation, as well.
Participant 1: Control is so important, so I make a point to control everything I can control. I wear a lot of makeup because I can control that. I can control how my face looks. I like to just have the things that are in my control in my control. It just makes me feel more stable.
Participant 7: If it’s not too bad, meditation helps control it. But if I get really bad, I just like to forget about the world for a while and just breathe and let it all go away, and then I come back to find myself calmer already.
Adamo: Honestly, what’s really interesting from what I’ve learned in this conversation. You guys seem to have such a strong sense of understanding about how you guys feel, and when those triggers are, and I think that is something that you guys are controlling really well.
And sharing with other people is going to help other kids have that sense of perspective, you know. Because sometimes you do need somebody from the outside to say, “I feel exactly the way you feel. You’re not alone.” You’re so great at explaining and describing, and really teaching us about the experiences. Thank you.
Participant 9: It’s good to get into groups like this and just talk.
Participant 7: I’ve never really done this before.
Participant 5: I really need to pee.