I’ts okay not to feel okay. And it’s okay to talk about it

During the tough times we must find ways to help ourselves power through the hardships

‘Your One Good Adult is someone who is always there for you: someone you can use as a safety net when you fall on hard times.’

‘Your One Good Adult is someone who is always there for you: someone you can use as a safety net when you fall on hard times.’

 

We all have our dark times. Times when we feel as if even our shadow has abandoned us. But these moments define who we are as human beings and it is at moments that we must decide whether we will let life make or break us.

Do we have to let life break us or are there ways of helping us power through the hardships? The answer is yes, and whether you know it or not we can all overcome obstacles. We can do this by speaking to a friend, a family member, a teacher, a co-worker or anyone you feel comfortable speaking to. And this is hard: but, believe me, you can do it. You are not alone. There is always someone who has your best interests in mind.

The One Good Adult concept has been of great help to me. Your One Good Adult is someone who is always there for you: someone you can use as a safety net when you fall on hard times.

This person should be someone you interact with on a regular basis, someone you know you can rely on. Someone who will genuinely listen to you. Your One Good Adult could be your mum, dad, brother, another family member or a teacher.

My uncle Martin is my “go to” person. When times get tough I always know I can turn to him, whether that’s for finance, my mental health or just advice on how to improve my gym technique. He is always there (even though he lost me in Dublin Zoo when I was a kid).

I also find the support of family and a group of friends that you can trust with your life makes a big difference, and I’m lucky to say I have both. I’m talking about the sort of friends to whom you can just say, “I need you”, and they’ll be there. Or the sort of friends that will never let you take the long walk home after a long night out.

I have the best friends in the world and if it was not for them I don’t think I could battle the challenges that present themselves in everyday life.

I know that some young people find it hard to speak out even though there are many different services that allow us to get our voices heard.

Another perception we tend to have is that young men are more likely to hold back their feelings and take the “macho” route by keeping their feelings bottled up by dealing with stuff themselves.

That might happen some of the time but let me tell you from my experience as an 18-year-old from Dublin, the problem isn’t actually getting the lads talking.

Of the 2,571 young people who engaged with Headstrong’s Jigsaw services last year, 57 per cent were female and 43 per cent were male. Now I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like a lot of boys were not afraid to speak out and share their feelings.

Starting with 12-14 year old boys, the top presenting issues in 2013 were anger, anxiety, tension, worry and behavioural problems. When it comes to the category of young men, aged from 21 to 25, the issues were similar in terms of anxiety, tension, worry. But feelings of depression, and alcohol use, also featured. Interestingly, depression is still the one issue we are all reluctant to speak out about.

We can never tell what a person is thinking or how a person actually feels. One thing we can be sure of is that we all wear many masks in an attempt to hide how we really feel. Do we really need to? I don’t think so. The most valuable lesson I have learned through my tough times is that it’s okay not to be okay.

Aaron Murphy is 18 and is from Ballyfermot in Dublin. He is a member of the youth advisory panel of Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, a charitable organisation supporting young people’s mental health. See headstrong.ie: 01-4727010.

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