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Mental Illness in Youth: How It Can Start, Clues It Is There

Mental illness in youth can come across as a phase your child will outgrow, but kids don't grow out of mental illness. How do you see mental illness in youth?

Mental illness in youth can be triggered by many life events and it’s not always easy to spot. After all, when you’re a child, you’re constantly discovering new emotions. But where do we draw the line? When do we decide that it’s a little more than just the common emotions of growing up? The quicker we see mental illness in youth, the better.

The Moment that Triggered Me into Mental Illness as a Youth

Everyone at some point in their life experiences a little glimpse into the struggle of someone with a mental illness; whether it’s something in your life that throws you into a whirlwind of sadness or something that makes you feel on top of the world. When you’re developing mental illness, those emotions stay longer and affect your life more than is commonly expected.

I can still remember the day that changed me, the day that triggered it all. My mom was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. I had gotten homesick at my friend’s cabin because I got an overwhelming feeling that something was wrong with my mom. The next day I got home, my mom had a check-up. When her and my dad got home from the appointment, I knew something was wrong. It was written all over their faces. They couldn’t find the heartbeat.

My mom was induced the next day and we were sure after hours of suffering through labor there was going to be the even worse pain of losing a child (How to Comfort the Grieving Child). But instead, I had myself a sister. We named her Hope.

Childhood Trauma Triggered Depression and Mood Swings

Throughout the next few years, depression started creeping into my veins, mind, and heart. By the time I was in fourth grade, my parents were concerned, and my behavior and mood swings were causing fights between my parents at home. My dad didn’t know how to handle my out-of-control behavior so he left dealing with me to my mom. When my mom noticed that discipline wasn’t working, she recognized that my behavior and mood swings weren’t normal for children. Mental illness in youth is like that.

I didn’t know if it was normal to feel that way. This left me scared and confused as a kid. Was I crazy? Was something wrong with me? I didn’t know what emotion I was going to wake up with. I didn’t know if I was going to make it a whole day without crying. My mind was a battlefield.

We Must Educate Parents and Teachers on Mental Illness in Youth

The mistake that my family (and many other families) made was thinking that I didn’t need help because I was just going through a phase and would get “over it” when I got older. Mental health in youth comes with the belief that there is mental illness in youth. We can’t help kids find their way if we do not educate teachers and parents on mental illness and what to look for. In this video, I go into the struggle of finding help as a kid.

Help for Mental Illness as a Kid: What I Wish Would Change

Author: Shelby Tweten

Find Shelby on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and her blog.

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