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Mental Health

A drawing of a suffering person represents how disorders can rip you apart from the inside out. This piece was drawn by Drew Legg.

Laurel Hennig, Writer

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Mental Illness is a real issue and not a joke.  People may try to tell themselves otherwise, but there is proof even if they don’t want to believe.  Some try to hide and pretend that everything is okay, but it has a habit of catching up to some rather quickly.  This was true for this sunset student;  and the consequence was 4 ½ months in a hospital for kids with similar issues.  

“I overdosed on Benadryl.  It gave me a seizure and they had to put me in a medically induced coma for a few hours.  That gave me pneumonia.  I had slight memory loss after that; all I remember is not wanting to be alone.   I had been diagnosed with Anxiety, Severe Depression, PTSD and Insomnia,”  says Belinda Jane*.

One of these significant challenges alone is difficult to deal with, put all four together and it creates a  difficult life.  Sometimes no one is there to help you through it.  Sometimes people don’t get it.

“My parents still don’t understand the degree of what I went through in those places and my father still doesn’t believe I have PTSD” says Jane*.

Even with a lack apparent parental support, she found friends in the hospital to draw inspiration from.  

“They were truly amazing.  They were so strong, words can’t even describe.  It’s amazing to have interactions with someone who has been through the worst things and yet are still trying to get better.”  

  • The Parry Center provides mental health service for youth. Belinda* spent 4 and ½ weeks here.
  • This is a schedule for the Randall Children’s Hospital Psychiatric ward. Belinda followed this Schedule while she was there.

While some people understand, others don’t: there are some who view mental illness as a joke. These jokes can make it hard to decipher if one is really in danger or if they’re being funny

“In this day and age we are surrounded by people using terms like ‘drinking bleach’ that make it difficult from a medical standpoint to tell if one is truly struggling or if they think it’s a joke” informs Jane*.

Based on this, maybe the next time you tell your friend to ‘kill themselves’ in a joking manner, think about the fact that they may actually be considering your suggestion.  

Many people believe schools should teach kids more about depression, self harm, and anxiety because they are real threats that people know so little about.  So much time in health class is spent on bullying when most of the time, the only real bully in one’s life is themself.  They should also be teaching these things earlier.  Adults may argue that the kids are ‘too young’ to be learning this material when in actuality students are already starting to go through these feelings of hopelessness.  A quote from the poem ‘If Only’ by Alexandra Henderson sums up my side of the argument really well.  

“Eight year olds are cutting themselves because daddy can’t stop talking shit about how mommy’s new boyfriend broke up their marriage” (Henderson.)  Kids don’t understand the extreme that is mental health.  And if this is true -which it is- you may be asking yourself the question, why don’t people do something about it.  Unfortunately schools don’t realize that they are part of the problem.  

“But you have to retain all of it, all the things you have to remember until you are shoving out memories from when you were five because you can’t remember it all and you have to make room in your mind for the empire that is China and the quadratic equation” (Henderson).

All of this can pile up on a person until they feel like they can’t breathe, and it happens to more people than you realize.  So if you, or anyone you know is having these types of challenges in their life, help them; help yourself.

* name has been changed for privacy purposes


Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255

  • Crisis hotline: 1-800-784-2433  
  • Depression hotline: 630-482-9696
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Mental Health