Mental health: using healthy coping mechanisms to relieve stress

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.

This article contains sensitive discussion surrounding substance abuse, self destructive behavior, and anxiety panic attacks. Reader discretion is advised. If you or someone you know is experiencing substance abuse, self harm, or any other safety or mental health concerns, please refer to the professional medical resources found at the bottom of this page.

Mental health issues run in my family. My parents got divorced when I was three when my sister was one year old. I didn’t really know at the time what it meant or what my future would look like. I was a kid who did kid things. From time to time I would hear fighting or yelling in the common rooms of the house, but I tried to ignore it. Both my mom and dad had their personal issues ranging from substance abuse to OCD and anxiety.

Even when our split schedule between my mom’s house and my dad’s house started, it never really registered with me. It was really a struggle sometimes. Both my parents remarried when I was five and both had more kids a few years later. Parenting from my new step parents wasn’t a great experience. They didn’t get to know me — whatever they wanted just happened without debate.

As I got older, I grew close with my step dad.

My mental health was decently stable as a child, but as I got older, I struggled to make friends and was constantly anxious about little things.

I unfortunately had to learn what all little girls have to at some point: society believes teen girls are overly emotional and dramatic and that all our emotions were coming from hormones. I felt like I had no one to talk to and I felt like I wasn’t being heard. This continues even to this day. I have a hard time talking about mental health even with people I’m close to and care about. I feel guilty for talking about things I’m struggling with because people have told me events that are way worse than mine — do I even have room to talk?

I felt really uncomfortable crying in front of others because I felt over dramatic or like others would see me differently.

There was so much I wanted to say, but sometimes it felt better to bottle it all up and keep it to myself for the sake of others. I was really shy and insecure growing up. I would get bullied for my thin body type — “you should really be eating more.” That is when I began experiencing eating disorder symptoms.

At the end of middle school I was diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and mood and personality disorders. This led to unstable relationships with my friends, family, and even boys I was interested in. Self destruction was what I turned to in order to deal with school and social situations that stressed me out. 

Though I struggled academically, it was really hard for me to speak up and ask for help. When school started getting tough is when I built a relationship of distrust with my parents. Sneaking out every night, craving constant male attention, and lying to my parents about everything. Every time I got caught in a lie and got grounded, self destruction took over. I didn’t want to die — I wanted to feel real. I wanted to feel like I was somebody.

One day, something clicked in my head. I knew this cycle needed to stop or it would be endless. Nothing I was doing was going to help me get better.

Intentional breathing patterns and listening to music helped pull me out of the dark hole I felt stuck in. This calmed me down when I would get panic attacks or feel overwhelming sadness. I listen to music, focus on the sound of the music, and am able to disconnect while being in the moment at the same time.

When I was a kid, I’d twirl my hair around my finger to relieve stress. Whenever I’m stressed or worried or something is wrong, I always resort to hair twirling and sometimes don’t even notice I’m doing it. 

No matter what recommendations people give you, you have to find things that work best for you, whether it makes sense to others or not. As long as it’s healthy, do whatever best supports your happiness.

The reality is there isn’t always going to be a “solution”. Finding yourself takes time. Be merciful with yourself, and give yourself the time you need.


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 substance abuse, 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.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) national hotline can be reached at 1-800-662-4357.

Boulder County addiction treatment centers and detox assistance services and information can be found here. To speak to a substance abuse professional after hours call (303) 441-1198.

Mental Health Partners Addiction Recovery Center detox facility, open 24/7, can be found at 3180 Airport Road in Boulder.

High risk drinking and binge drinking resources are available here.