It was the last week of the 8th grade. I was sitting with my friends talking about high school and how excited and scared we were. I turned to a really close friend of mine and she told me about how she has been getting bad grades and how the teachers didn’t help her. She also didn’t seem like her usual self: someone who is very energetic and bubbly. But that day she was quiet and didn’t look like she was all there. After we talked she left and I stayed with some other people. After a while, I went to find her and she was in the bathroom on the floor bawling her eyes out and talking to herself. I ran to her side and asked her if something happened. She didn’t respond, she kept crying and I had no idea what to do. She got up and started banging her head against the wall and yelling that she was a failure. I was trying so hard to calm her down but nothing was working, I started to get very overwhelmed and scared. I wanted to get help but I couldn’t leave her alone, what if she hurts herself? I couldn’t risk it. Luckily two of my other friends came into the bathroom and immediately helped. Then one of the girls got up and said, “ we need to find a teacher, now!” I nodded my head and ran out with her. I began to cry, I had no idea what one of my best friends was going though. We found a teacher and I explained everything. She agreed to help and ran with me back to the bathroom. Once the teacher started to talk to her she calmed down. It turns out she was very stressed out, while everyone had already got a letter back from the high schools they applied to, my friend hadn’t gotten anything back and she didn't think she was even going to go to high school. All the stress got to her and she had started to cut herself as a way to forget about everything. Hearing that my friend didn’t want to tell me anything was upsetting but I thought to myself, Maya you can’t be mad at a time like this, she needs your help. I used to think that cutting was something attention seekers do because people would and still romanticize mental illness and self harm. Now when someone tells me that they cut or that they used too I try to get the idea of attention seeking out of my head because there are people especially teens that need help. According to teenrehabcenter.org, “Nearly 10% of kids in the U.S. deliberately hurt themselves at some point, with incidents most common around the time of puberty (ages 13–15). Females report doing it more often than males, although the problem demands equal attention no matter who is involved. In 2013, nearly 500,000 people visited a hospital for injuries related to self-injury.” Teens that self harm generally do it because of the adrenaline rush they feel while doing it. Also according to teenmentalhealth.org 1 in 5 teens suffer from a mental disorder. After this experience is when I started to take mental illness and self harm serious. I began to educate myself on different mental illnesses and how to help. Like in the beginning of 9th grade my friend had a panic attack, I had no idea what was happening but she was having trouble breathing and she looked kinda scared. After she calmed down she told me that she sometimes has panic attacks, not knowing why. So when I got home I looked up how to help people get through a panic attack and now if she has one I know how to help her out. Ever since of all these experiences now when I make new friends or I talk to people on social media I tell them that I am here if they want to talk about anything, anytime, I will listen. Mental health and self harm is not something that can be taken lightly. If you need help please talk to someone. There are plenty of resources out there like www.teenhealthandwellness.com , where you can find tons of different hotlines with professionals you can talk to.
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