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Too short, too tall, flat, too skinny, too fat, too veiny, too short hair, way too long hair, too many piercings, boobs that are too big, too many pimples, too many freckles, too hairy, bad teeth, too much makeup, caked, ugly clothes, out of shape, bad at sports, fag. Here is just a taste of some of the things teens say to put their peers down.
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The silence and the stigmas that surround mental health makes this place that much darker, and that much scarier. If we open up the conversation, we can ease the guilt and shame that comes with having a mental illness -- it's as if battling with your own mind wasn't already hard enough.
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If there is someone reading this who is in that dark place of having a plan -- a plan of how they want to exit this life and when they want to exit it. Please wait and listen to me when I tell you that these thoughts are not with you forever. I know they are excruciatingly painful, but they do pass. I promise you they pass. I promise you are worthy, and that you are not alone. You are loved. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are brave.
There is so much pressure on these kids to not only thrive and compete but to be perfect. And our sense of balance is gone. Competition and excelling is good but what about having fun? Commitments are skewed. Genuine, quality family time is compromised because parents are stressed, pressured and rushing to get their kids to and from programs and to do too many things at the same time.
Suicide is hard. It is hard to even say the word let alone imagine that someone close to you might think that is the only path forward is to take their own life. It's hard to relate, surreal on many levels. But take a minute to imagine. Imagine losing one of the people you love the most by suicide. Does your stomach drop, your heart race, tears come to your eyes or even fear race through your bones?
The bullying I faced earlier in my life, was something that stuck with me and is still something that affects me today. My social anxiety and depression went hand in hand making events seem impossible, school lunch a nightmare and made my bed the only place I felt comfortable being.
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Mental illness is a very real and ever-present issue in my family. My wife suffers from bi-polar disorder and depression is prevalent in her family. The heredity of mental illness scares the life out of me Maddie. I am constantly looking for signs of it in my children. I've yet to really see any, but the scary part is sometimes you don't.
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The way we care for people with mental illness, isn't world class, and it's rarely quick. It's even worse for our kids. Or at least, because it's about kids, it feels worse. If your child is diagnosed with a mental illness, the neighbours don't rally the same way they would for cancer.
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Asking for help is hard! Accepting the help is even harder. On the path to getting better, the first thing anyone needs to do is acknowledge the state of their mental health. Teenagers use different ways to ask for help when in crisis. I encourage all teenagers to verbalize the need for help when under distress. We often find ourselves overwhelmed with tremendous stress before we ask for help.
None of the other significant adults in my daughters' life seemed concerned. Hope is a wonderful thing and I am a hopeful person by nature. Being hopeful feels good. Unfortunately, hope is not the basis of a sound health-care strategy when a loved one is on the verge of a mental health crisis.
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Every parent's worst and unimaginable nightmare is losing their child...On the surface many think how could this intelligent, beautiful, popular teenager take her own life. The reality is life can change in a moment and that decision making can never be reversed. What drives me crazy are the parents that look at Madeline's situation as an anomaly and think that this could never happen to my child... It's an irreversible decision that can shatter your family and alter your life forever.
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One of the most common questions that I get asked by youth, parents, teachers and people all over my community is "I have a friend or a family member is suffering or I think there is something wrong but I don't know what to do or how to help." And while we aren't doctors, clinical experts or parents there are things that we as individuals can do that can help. We can most definitely be empathetic to those that may be suffering or we may be worried about.
Maddie's last act was one of selflessness and not of selfishness. That is my belief substantiated by the tears that have flowed endlessly since that fateful night. We are not even close to understanding how these angels feel or the pain that they must be enduring. We must start to hold these delicate youths with greater compassion and not with misunderstanding and trepidation.
There are times I miss you so much, it makes me want to scream. There are times I get so angry, it makes me want to punch a wall. There are times I remember how we laughed like idiots and it makes me smile. There are times I get so sad; I just want to hug you again.