New Book: Letters from the Unloved, The Hidden World of Teen Depression
As I think of reasons for starting this website, I remember how depressed I was for so many years at school and at home. It got to the point where I was constantly self-harming and suicidal. One day I tried to hang myself in the school bathroom. I felt alone, uncared about, and had nobody to listen to the reasons why I was depressed. Now I have more emotional support and I feel more in control of my life.
I've noticed that now I rarely get depressed. And it has been a very long time since I last cut. When I do feel depressed now, I can always identify the specific reasons or causes for my feelings. Earlier, when I was a teenager and less in control of my own life, I felt overwhelmed by the number and variety of my painful feelings. There were so many and they were so constant I couldnt sort them out. Now, though, I can. And I can take time for myself when I need it.
Because of my own experiences with depression and having come so close to taking my own life, I decided to help others suffering from similar painful feelings. For the past few years I have been working as a volunteer with a youth suicide prevention organization. Listening to other young people has helped me understand my own situation, and helping others younger than me has given my life more meaning and purpose. I have also helped put together a book which documents some of their stories. You can get a paperback copy of the book from Lulu or a PDF copy directly from me in exchange for a donation of any amount.
Through my volunteer work with depressed and suicidal teens, I now see things in a different light. I find myself questioning and reflecting on things I once took for granted as just the way things are. I lived the first 9 years of my life in Mexico. In Spanish they say asi es, or thats how it is. But now I wonder if things have to stay the way they are now, or if we can change things for the better. I am beginning to wonder, for example, if perhaps too much emphasis is placed on medicating young people with the possible intention of merely numbing their unwanted feelings.
Since I started listening to others talk about their depression, I have noticed clear patterns in how depressed teens are being treated at home and in their schools. And I am seeing that I am not the only young person who feels the way I did, or who has the kind of problems which caused me such pain.
I have also come to realize there are serious problems with the way we are treated and viewed by society. For those of us who are most suicidal, it seems people who say they want to help us at times seem to be more intent on changing us. Our real feelings seem to be discounted or trivialized. I wonder if it might be more helpful, for everyone, to seek out and listen more seriously to the reasons behind a teens depression. Perhaps there is more of a cause and effect relationship than we have yet realized. If this proves to be true, it could help us in our suicide prevention efforts. Certainly no one wants to see a young person take their own life. But what is the best way to prevent these tragedies? It is my hope that this website and book will help us answer this question.
It is also my hope that with this website I can become somewhat of a voice for depressed and suicidal teenagers. I am posting their stories so as to help more people become aware of, and understanding of, teen depression and suicide, with the goal that one day we can help them become free from what depresses them. If you are a teen or young adult, I invite you to share your story with me. Or even if you are older, but you can still remember what it was like as a teen, please write and tell me what depresses you.
Thanks for caring and helping,
May 2012 note about "pain syndrome": I decided to post this letter from a volunteer on the main page, so it has a better chance of reaching someone who finds it helpful:
The reason I am writing is because I just discovered something really interesting that I thought you might want to know about. It is called a "pain syndrome". A few months ago, I started getting severe pain in my wrists (I couldn't bend them or anything). After almost six months of wearing splints all the time and doing exercises that only made the pain worse, I went to see a rheumatologist. She diagnosed what I had as a pain syndrome, which means that there is no physical cause for my pain, but that does not mean that it isn't there. She said it was probably because I had fallen on my wrists many times in skating. However, she said (when my mom left the room) that a pain syndrome is very common in people who not only do activities that traumatize their joints, but also have a lot of emotional stress in their lives. I wanted to write and tell you this because apparently what I have is becoming more and more common, and it can cause permanent damage if it is mis-treated (aside from the amount of invalidation you get from adults because they say that you are faking). I know that I am probably not the only teen who uses your site who has the same problem, and I would be very happy if more susceptible people could learn about pain syndromes to avoid the experience that I had.