Mental health: escaping judgment by spending time alone (Opinion)

Welcome to The Mav’s mental health editorial series: The Patchwork Project

Anonymous, Writer

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. 

My parents have always been very “old-fashioned”, and I’ve never personally agreed with a lot of their traditional thinking. If I believe something different than my parents, they usually say I’m “brainwashed” and make it clear that they disapprove of what I believe in because it’s different from them.

In general, at home feels like a very judgemental environment, not only with my immediate family, but with extended family like my grandparents as well.

I enjoy spending time alone, and I try to spend as much with myself as I possibly can. Unfortunately, if I try to spend too much time alone, my parents think I’m trying to get out of doing something or am obsessed with being on my phone every second of every day. But none of this is true — I spend time alone because it lets me experience a little bit of freedom. The short periods of alone time I have at the end of my days has always been really important to me.

Hanging out with friends has been an escape, but the time I’m able to spend with them is little to none. School is a regular escape too. I try to spend as much time there as possible.

I have learned that mental health matters not just for myself, but for those around me too, because their wellbeing affects my own. Mental health has never come up in my household — it was always explained as just having regular cycles of emotions.

Depression isn’t depression, it’s sadness. Anxiety isn’t anxiety, it’s stress.

Finally, my family and I started talking about mental health. One of the reasons I think mental health was never a topic in my household growing up was because I have always had a hard time talking about my feelings in general. I’ve improved, and I’m working to understand the importance of sharing my feelings as my family and I have mental health conversations more often.

I never thought talking about mental health would do anything positive in my life. I wasn’t comfortable with opening up; it scared me. Up until the COVID-19 pandemic and mass quarantine, my family was never in a situation where we had to have mental health conversations.

The pandemic changed things a lot. Even though I had more conversations, they weren’t helpful because they were forced. My mental health has never been worse.

Throughout this time, I lost a lot of friends and made some super toxic friends too.

To be honest, I looked at mental health during this time a lot like my parents do: just emotions. Mental health was never even talked about in my house until COVID-19 happened, but even after that, I disregarded a lot of things I was supposed to be “learning” about mental health. When it comes to mental health, lectures don’t work.

My mental health and outlook on it has changed, and I have started caring more and more about myself and my environment. I’ve started realizing the importance of talking.