All opinions are those of the writers themselves and do not promote any official view or stance of Mead High School or St. Vrain Valley Schools.
This article contains sensitive discussion surrounding suicidal thoughts, self destructive behavior, obsessive compulsive behavior, eating disorders, and personality and identity disorders that may be triggering to some readers. Reader discretion is advised. If you or someone you know is experiencing self harm, suicidal thoughts, or any other safety or mental health concerns, please refer to the professional medical resources found at the bottom of this page.
I grew up in a traditional and idealistic family, where myself and my siblings all have relatively close relationships with our parents, and our home is a happy place for the most part.
I was close with a family member who struggled severely with mental health when I was younger, and though it was never said out loud, I understood from a young age that I needed to be mentally okay — my family was busy pouring resources into mental health support for this person.
Though I know neither of my parents would’ve ever blamed me if I let them know I were struggling too, the toll that would take on my family was too much for me to ever speak up.
From where I’m currently at in my life, I can look back and clearly see the unhealthy coping mechanisms I’ve practiced in the past and sometimes continue to practice now in difficult moments: unhealthy overworking, forced numbness, and dissociation from reality.
Emotional numbness is a concept I feel is often brought up, but very few who haven’t experienced it fully understand its toll. Personally, I stripped my personality down to such bareness that I sometimes questioned if I was human. I labeled myself and was labeled by others all throughout middle school as selfish, cold, and fake.
But the truth was that I lacked empathy for not only others, but myself, because I knew that if I let any emotion in at all, everything I’d been holding back for years would all come at me at once.
I experienced severe mental health rollercoasters throughout middle school, bouncing between questioning possible identity and personality disorders I’d developed to episodes of depression where my self-esteem was so low, I refused to interact with myself for periods of time — look at myself in mirrors or spend time alone with my thoughts. I refused to take away the homework and the activities I was packing my life with because if I stopped, everything I didn’t want to feel would catch up to me.
Freshman year was the first I remember truly beginning to fantasize death in my own life. I experienced almost constant disturbingly detailed and gruesome thoughts about taking my own life and often contemplated if speaking up and getting help would be more painful than just letting my life go.
Being genuinely afraid of my own mind was a terrifying feeling.
I briefly experienced eating disorder symptoms freshman year, using going extended periods of time without eating and then purging to attempt to get rid of disgusting sensations that seemed to be all around my body.
My obsessive and compulsive behavior also hit a peak, and manic cleaning, organizing, and repetitive behaviors came to a point that was uncontrollable. I convinced myself this was normal. I convinced myself I was okay.
Contrary to popular experience, the pandemic was one of the best things that happened to my mental wellbeing. It forced me to be alone, spend time with myself, and listen to my thoughts, as uncomfortable as it made me at first.
I spent time doing things that I loved not because I wanted to fill time, but because I wanted to learn and grow. My focus on school, for once, was not so extreme that it was unhealthy. I actively learned about myself because before then, I genuinely couldn’t tell you who I was as a person.
As the peak of the pandemic closed and I was forced to face the life I had before (and hated), I began participating in self destructive behaviors, which rapidly resulted in an addictive on and off loop I’m still working to learn how to control.
My relationships with family and friends were crumpling right in front of me.
Eventually, I opened myself up to the possibility of professional therapeutic support through a local medical facility.
As I participated in therapy, I grew to become increasingly aware of how dark the place I had been in was; I hadn’t noticed in the moment. I worked and am still working to better understand ways to never get that low again.
I am still making progress. I’m learning how to best include healthy habits in my daily life. There is no way to learn what makes you happiest and most stable until you spend time with yourself and your mind to acknowledge how you feel. Everyone’s healthy habits are going to be individualized for them and their lifestyle.
Anyone who surrounds themselves with constant perfection and business, anyone who was or is at a point of simultaneously hating and not understanding themselves, anyone who refuses to spend time alone because their thoughts consume them — I understand you. I don’t judge you, and I encourage you to actively work to surround yourself with people who will support you instead of labeling you and telling you that because you think and act differently, you’re wrong in all that you do.
It isn’t true.
I encourage you to work towards spending time alone, as terrifying as that may sound.
Emotions are not a waste of time. They are not inefficient or unproductive. If you’re working to understand and connect with your emotions, you’ll find that other areas of your life improve, including the amount of energy you’re able to put into your activities and the relationships you have with others.
If you or someone you know is seriously struggling negatively with mental health or mental illness, has been practicing unhealthy coping mechanisms, or is experiencing any form of suicidal thoughts or ideations, please reach out for help.
In case of an emergency in personal health and safety, call 911.
The Weld County crisis walk-in service, North Range Behavioral Health, can be found on 928 12th St., Greeley, CO 80631. For Boulder County, Boulder Crisis Services can be reached at (844) 493-8255.
The local crisis phone number, available 24/7, is the following: (970) 347-2120
If not in a crisis, the North Range Warm Line is available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day and offers professional mental health services for free. They can be found at (970) 347-2359. This service is also available in Spanish.
Colorado Crisis Services can be found at (844) 493-8255. You can also text “TALK” to 38255.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be found at (800) 273-8255 for those in serious and immediate threats to safety.
Other mental health resources include the North Colorado Medical Center/Banner Health — you can call (970) 810-4121 or visit 1801 16th St., Greeley, CO 80631 — as well as the UCHealth Greeley Hospital. The hospital can be reached at (970) 652-2000. Their address is 6767 W. 29th St., Greeley, CO 80634.