What to do if school makes you depressed and/or suicidal
If school is making you depressed or suicidal - there is nothing wrong with you. This is important.
The average school is not designed to be a pleasant environment... they're not really even designed for real learning, only for passing tests and jumping through hoops to get qualifications to get accepted into colleges/universities so that you can jump through more hoops to get more qualifications, so that you can work for someone else who will pay you money, so that you can eat. It is a pretty depressing thought if you actually think about it... most people don't really think about it that much.
What to do if you're suicidal?
Try to stop going to school as much as you possibly can. I know it's hard with people nagging you, maybe threatening you or even physically forcing you to go... but your life is important, far more important than some grades or your parents' approval.
Also, Read about alternatives to school. Our Help & Support page has some links to organizations that can help you get out of school.
If school is constantly making you depressed - There's a lot of stupid information about depression out there in the world. If school is depressing you, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you or the chemicals in your brain. School is a depressing and unnatural environment, and your depression is a totally natural reaction to it. Getting out would probably be the best thing to do (but far from the easiest thing to do, as you can probably imagine).
Write about it
People say that venting your feelings helps you deal with them. If you want to share your feelings with others, you can write a blog post about it which I can publish on the site. Instructions for how to do that are here.
You can also contact me here. I'd like to hear from you, and I read every message I get. Just keep in mind that I really suck at responding though! I'm not a therapist or anything, I'm just a person who was miserable at school and decided to make a whole website about it.
Here are some sensible things to read about depression as it relates to school:
- Why I believe depression is not a mental illness
- Society causes depression
- What causes teen depression?
- Intelligent people are more likely to be depressed
Depression and school:
I'm thinking depression is a critical effect of the lack of control teens have over their lives. The fact that it seems universally acceptable to deny young people the right to some or any control over their lives at a developmental point where they should be practicing making choices and learning from successes and failures in a safer environment than they will have when they leave home -- that seems utterly nonsensical.
My point is this: frustration and anger at lack of control in school and at home is a reasonable response. Lack of power to change the situation leads to head injury from banging against brick walls. But the brick walls don't move, and it is again a perfectly reasonable response to become depressed.
More Useful Links:
- Depression And Suicide - a lot of tips and insights and some more links.
- Help & Support - a collection of links and information to help you deal with emotional abuse, unsupportive parents, and (hopefully) being able to leave school for good.
- Convincing Parents - Convincing your parents or legal guardian to consider alternative schooling (or no schooling at all for that matter) is tricky, but if done efficiently it may be one of the prime factors that decides your fate and whether or not your parents will back you on any decisions you make yourself.
- What Should I Do If I Am Afraid To Disappoint My Parents?
- How To Finish High School Online For Free
- Web Learning - free online courses and stuff.
- ... And lots more info on the School Survival Wiki
Some thoughts about therapy / counseling:
If you're lucky to find a good counselor, it can help a lot. So to anyone who wants to try that - keep in mind you might have to try a few different people before you find one that feels right for you. They're only human, after all, and vary about as wildly as all the other people do. Don't be afraid to ditch a therapist if they're not helping you, and especially if they're making you feel worse.
It makes sense that unconventional people would be depressed in a place like school, because school is designed for conventional people, and even for getting people to conform. So, if school depresses you, I'd say it's safe to assume that you're an interesting & unique person, and school is crushing your spirit. If so, you might find some of the articles here interesting.
School can be traumatic
Here's a (really long) post I wrote about how school traumatized me, and how I'm still working on recovery nearly 20 years later.
More advice and ideas:
Since this post was originally on the forums, some people added their thoughts. Below are what I believe to be the most helpful ideas. I will also add more to it later.
Don't use your school psychologist for anything unless you have to. Find someone who isn't being paid by your main stressor. And trial them for a bit and know it's okay to leave! I only realized that "this person isn't working, let's find someone else" was something you were allowed to say after five years of therapy with an irritating lady who thought it was wrong to disagree with any rule or regulation. - no
(Regarding therapists) Speaking as a person who's spent years understanding the brain and mind and how they work, it baffles me to realize just how much "experts" pretend to know... and just how little they know. (And I know even less than that!) We've only scratched the surface of this fascinating social science... though you wouldn't know it just by asking some of the more arrogant know-it-alls in the field.
It seems to me that the goal should be not to find who knows the most, but who puts what little knowledge they do have to the best use, who understands that their job is to cure rather than confound... and while it's possible that such individuals would willingly associate with institutions of indoctrination, I certainly wouldn't be holding my breath. - Ky
In my worst moments, if someone I trusted had told me something like "It's all in your head", "You're imagining everything", etc. I would've imploded.
Good thing I didn't trust anybody then, because comments like these came in spades. If they were backed by the apparent wisdom of a psychologist, no matter how wrong they were, I would have believed it, withdrawn even more, done something (I cannot say what as I was never placed into that position) drastic. As it was, I was sick of everything- only concern for my sister and my absorption in works of fiction held me back.
And then I overcame the depression. I realized that not every person is an asshole out to hurt me; that good people exist, and I must reach out to them; basically, I learned more about the world and that empowered me to purge the unhealthy mindset of a wounded animal. Don't get me wrong; I still think I need therapy, but if someone tells me that I am imagining or inventing my childhood woes, I can smile and tell them to fuck off, no matter how many degrees or positions they have. A healthy distrust of authority is probably the best thing school and my parents instilled in me. - Rule_BreakerXVIII
(While this is all true, it may not be very helpful for someone who is currently suicidal or extremely depressed. I've decided to put it here anyway though)
We're only as helpless as we convince ourselves we are, and that can be a very hard cycle to break out of... harder still when the people who are only trying to help you are merely serving to push you back in.
Everyone experiences adversity, and no one can maintain optimal physical condition indefinitely. They're even survivable to some pretty extreme degrees just so long as they aren't followed by the loss of one's will to live.
The true power lies in the way we perceive the world. It always has. The most successful people are invariably those who know what success entails and have envisioned it properly. The most helpless people are those who have convinced themselves of their ineptitude and impotence. I've spoken before of the importance of a growth mindset; just by making the conscious effort to understand and change your cognition, you can start to develop and improve in ways you wouldn't have initially thought possible. A world of opportunity may open up for you.
It might even save your life. These things can only happen for real if you make them real, and doing that requires effort, which itself requires motivation. You've got to want it or you won't get it, and that's why it's important not to let your mindset stagnate or acquiesce to helplessness.
Not everyone has the foresight, knowledge, and persistence to overcome - not innately - but everyone can grow them. Ultimately, that's the very best thing they can do for themselves, especially when the world's begging them to stay down. The world is no authority - the only real authority consists of the masters we choose to serve, whether in the form of people, things, religious figures, or ourselves, and our progress is limited only by the cruelty of such authority. Pick wisely. - Ky
What would you add? Leave a comment below...
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