During my teen years, there was a few times when I wanted nothing to do with life. Life was my worst enemy. Waking up every day and sharing breathing space with other people who ‘didn’t understand me’ was a daily struggle. I invested all of myself into toxic friendships that made me feel like I was never allowed to be my true self. I fought with my parents over the smallest issues. I took in every word that ‘friends’ said. Emotion always trumped logic. At the end of the day, everything I did to try and improve myself would leave me feeling stable for only a few hours.

Now that I’m 20, I often reflect back to those dark days. I can even talk casually about this now because I know how common teen depression really is, and I’ve come SO far since then. Yes I still have days, weeks, months, where I feel useless, where I want to just crawl up into ball and disappear. However, if I could go back in time, twenty-year-old-me would most likely smack teenage-me and say ‘grow a pair,’ among other things. But also, I would probably give myself a list of things to live for and look forward to. It was a gradual process for me to learn that, above all, some things and feelings you just have to wait out. And while you’re waiting, it’s the small victories that begin to help you get a grasp on the fact that life has a lot to offer you.

1. First and foremost, before you read this list, you really have to want to be better. It’s appropriate to mourn the loss of a friendship, relationship, or your will to live, but you have to commit to your well-being more than you did to whatever drove you to feel this way. You WILL defeat this.

2. Remember, there are people your age, younger, and older, fighting for their lives every day. Whether it be illness, or living through political unrest, you may have it better than millions of people simply because you have certain freedoms. Don’t take that for granted.

Now I know, this doesn’t always help, in fact saying this can make you feel worse, but if you truly think, there is always people worse off, in some ways in can make you feel better, not suddenly, no, but in time you will.

3. The years after school. Once you leave school is when your life truly begins – this is EVERYTHING to look forward to. It is a blank slate and a new opportunity for you to exercise your full potential. You meet new people, you could join new clubs and teams, and every day is a new learning experience.

4. Learn to cook. You, your mum, friends, family, will be stoked, you’ll carry this skill with you for life, not to mention the experimenting you can do and the list of ingredients you can get to make a masterpiece.

5. Clean. Once again, not only will you feel refreshed after, but if family and friends come round, they’ll also be super proud. Also, your basic Google search will show multiple studies proving that cleaning helps to alleviate stress.

6. Get a job – another thing to distract you from the darkness. Plus, money ..! Now you can buy that new top you was waiting for, or even save up for a whole new makeover, hair, nails, outfit, the lot ..!!

7. Commit yourself to a new series. It will be the best significant other you’ve ever had. Once you’re done with one series, on to the next one!—a valuable lesson in moving on.

Although I have to admit, it definitely sucks when all the series end, so try to make a list of show after show so that you don’t get bored. Not to mention it’ll help you take your mind of off things and help you relax.

8. What’s that one thing you’ve always wanted to do ..? Travel to another city, country ..? Even if this goal is currently out of your reach, create a vision board to make things more specific, and start saving from your new job. This will help you plan out the details and be more prepared when the opportunity arises ..!

9. Get a pet. Whether it be a cat, dog, fish, or chinchilla, you’ll begin to realise that this animal is alive to love you. It will only be around for a fraction of your life, but you will be around for its’ entire life. While it’s true that friends and family need you in their lives, this animal is literally dependent on you from start to finish. You are their life.

10. Instead of using that energy to think about the past and the future, donate your time more wisely. Yes, donate – it’s good for your soul. Volunteer your time for community service. You might not be able to help what has already happened to you, but you can help the future of other people. And it looks fantastic on your CV.

11. Who looks up to you ..? A sibling, a cousin, or your five-year-old neighbour ..? If you can’t stay alive for yourself, your family, or your dog, stay alive for the person who thinks your existence is valued.

12. I always wish that I had time to read more. This is going to sound lame, but reading leaves you more informed, makes you think, and expands your vocabulary. Then you can slam dunk on everyone with your knowledge.

13. Find new music to listen to. Replace ‘our song’ with ‘your song’ – the one tune that makes you feel like a fricken firework.

14. Lastly, there are only two days of the year that you can’t control: yesterday and tomorrow. Today, you will be farther from sadness than yesterday, but even closer to happiness tomorrow. I use the term ‘happiness’ broadly. This term is a noun, and nouns consist of people, places and things. Thus, you may come to find that happiness comes in the form of the people, places, and things that make you happy. So, keep an open mind when exploring, because finding something new that makes you happy is the biggest of small victories.

Bethany S
Bethany was diagnosed with Raynauds in March 2017, Erythromelalgia in October 2017, as well as low blood pressure a positive ANA, Hyper-mobility in June 2018 and PTSD in August 2018. She wants to share her experience with people to try and help them out, and in the process, help herself out.