When young people ask us tricky questions surrounding mental health, we might not know how to answer them all. Here are some examples of tricky questions we’ve been asked with example answers. Hopefully, the next time a young person asks us a similar thing, we’ll have a head-start on thinking of an answer.
How do we know whether we’re sad or depressed?
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between depression and sadness. Sadness can form part of a person’s depression but they’re not quite the same thing. When we go through a sad period we might worry that we’re becoming depressed; this worrying can make us feel even worse.
Sadness often links to a specific trigger. It’s an emotion that every single one of us feels at some point. Depression is a medical condition, that affects our ability to live our lives in the way we want to. For a depression diagnosis, certain criteria have to be met. They include how we feel, how long we’ve been feeling that way, and how it’s impacting our life.
If we’re worried, there are always people we can chat to, and it’s much better to talk to someone about it than to keep worrying. Sometimes we worry that we don’t feel “bad enough” to reach out for help. We don’t have to reach a certain level of rubbishy feelings before we’re allowed to talk to someone about it.
How do we know whether we feel stressed or have anxiety?
It can be hard to distinguish anxiety from stress, shyness, nervousness, or feeling anxious – they often look very alike.
Stress, shyness, nervousness and feeling anxious are emotions that every single one of us will feel from time to time. They are often in response to, or as a result of, a specific trigger. In contrast, an anxiety diagnosis is a diagnosable medical condition that can be much longer-lasting and has a significant impact on all areas of our life. When we live with anxiety we will often feel anxious most of the time. We might not remember the last time we felt completely relaxed. The intensity of our anxiety can vary, but it’s usually still there bubbling away in the background.
Whether we’re nervous, stressed, shy, anxious or have been diagnosed with anxiety, talking to people about our feelings can be a big help. There isn’t a rule that we have to be “bad enough” before we’re allowed to discuss our feelings.
Why can’t I be like [name]? They’re so happy and popular, not like me.
Every single one of us is unique! We might look similar to other people sometimes (we could even have an identical twin (or triplet!)) but absolutely nobody is identical to anyone else.
Lots of us have things that we’re thinking and feeling that other people don’t know about. We never know what’s going on in someone else’s head, or their life. There could be lots of difficult things happening for them at home, they might have fallen out with their best friend at the weekend, or they could be pretending to be happy but feel sad or lonely inside. We might wish that we were more like [name], but they could be looking at us and wishing that they could be more like us!
We are wonderful just as we are, and have unique skills, talents, and passions. If we were all the same, it would be super boring – so rather than trying to be more like someone else, it can be more helpful to look at how we can build our confidence in being ourselves.
What did I do to deserve this?
Nothing at all. Our feelings aren’t based on what we “deserve”. Bad feelings can affect us whether we’re four or 40, from England or Japan, have blonde hair or brown hair, or live in a house or a castle. We don’t always get bad feelings because we’ve done something bad. Difficult things don’t always happen because we’ve done something wrong. Sometimes stuff just happens, and there isn’t a reason for it.
Why does nobody understand me?
Feeling bad can be a very lonely thing. Sometimes it can feel like nobody understands and nobody has ever felt how we feel. But other people have felt, and do feel, how we feel; they might hide it, or only tell their closest friend abut it. We’re definitely not the only one to feel this way.
Sometimes it’s hard to help others understand us because we struggle to talk about how we feel or what we think. It might be easier to write it down, draw a picture, or use quotes to explain our feelings
How can I make it go away/stop?
We always can’t control our thoughts and feelings, or force them to go away or stop, but we can do things that help us to feel better. There are lots of different things that we can try!
Self-care, self-soothing, talking to support lines, reaching out to friends or family members, distracting ourselves with our favourite TV show, building emotional skills, and sleeping and eating well can all help. If one idea doesn’t work, we try another, and we keep on trying until we find things that do work for us.
When will I feel better? When is it going to go away?
Unfortunately, mental ill-health isn’t like having a cold or the flu. We can’t predict when we will feel better because everyone is different and different things help different people. Sometimes we have to try a few different ideas before we find something that helps us.
We will feel better at some point. Bad feelings don’t last forever. Life can be full of lots of different thoughts and feelings, and not all of them are nice. But however bad our feelings get, however horrible we feel, and however much they made us cry, they will always, always pass in time.
Waves get bigger and bigger before they come down. The sky can pour and pour rain for hours on end before the sun comes out. Our feelings can feel really horrible and bad and make us cry or want to hit our pillow, but eventually, they will pass, we will feel calmer, and life will feel a little brighter.
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