Picture by Julie Jordan Scott

Picture by Julie Jordan Scott

I thought I’d share with you a recent guest blog post that I wrote for the Youth Service at the Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust. I was really pleased to be asked to contribute to their new Youth Blog – an exciting platform, which will feature on the service’s website. Over the next few months, the new blog will include advice, information, musings and real-life stories from special guest bloggers, to support the emotional health of young people in the region. I hope you like my post and if you’re interested in becoming a guest youth blogger too, there’s more info at the end of this post. You don’t need to be an existing blogger, nor do you have to be from the region, you just need to have an interest in supporting the wellbeing of young people. You can also read my guest blog post here.

I’m pretty lucky to have not suffered any mental health problems in my life, but I do know a surprising number of people who have suffered with anxiety, agoraphobia, depression and various other conditions. And with two parents who used to work as mental health nurses, it is an issue that is never far from my mind. Not being any kind of expert on the medical side of the subject, I thought it was important to take a look at ways of coping with the struggles of being a teenager. All too often, teenagers come to attention for the wrong reasons because they don’t know how to cope with the emotions and struggles going on in their own lives and end up misbehaving or acting out. What is important, for all of us regardless of age, is to have an outlet for our stresses and worries. For me, I love to write, to go to the gym, and to be by the sea – these are the things that help soothe me. This post is all about writing as therapy and helping yourself to cope.

Picture by Erin Kohlenberg

Picture by Erin Kohlenberg

“Being a teenager isn’t the easiest. Take it from someone who knows, someone who has been there and done, or seen it all. I was lucky, I had a good group of friends and a great family around me to see me through it all, everything from bad boyfriends to constantly changing friendships and grieving for loved ones, but not everyone is that lucky. It’s one of those times in our lives that, when you look back on it, flies by, but at the time can seem never-ending. All those petty dramas, fall-outs and rows can seem life-changing and devastating at the time, no matter how much your parents or teachers tell you it isn’t the end of the world. Well it is for you, and sometimes it is hard to imagine a life the other side of the wall that has built up in front of you, and is holding you back.

Trust me, you’re not alone. I’m now 24-years-old and I still feel like the world gets a bit much sometimes. The problems are still very much the same – boyfriend dramas, worries over friends and family, trying to do your best at school or work but failing… But now we have a whole load of other ones to deal with as well, like money, buying houses, unemployment… the list goes on! My point is, we are all dealing with our own dramas and worries, and while it is easy to get caught up in our own heads sometimes, it is important to realise that others do understand what we are going through. It might not be easy to talk to them about the problem, but knowing they understand can help make things a bit easier by offering some small comfort.

So what happens if it all builds up and you can’t cope any longer? It’s important to have an outlet for all this worry, stress and anger, otherwise it will only take over your life. I let things get too much earlier this year and had to take a big step back from everything because I just couldn’t cope with even basic stuff any more. I let it take over my life and it started to ruin my life – don’t make the same mistake. I turned away from my passion for writing when actually it was journalism and blogging that helped bring me back to reality and to get my life back in order again. Writing is such a release for me – for some it is music, poetry or art but for me, writing is the most soothing of all. Despite being pretty articulate, I’m actually terrible at expressing my emotions in person – typically British! My boyfriend and I will row better over text than we do in person, because otherwise we just laugh when we try and explain the problem to each other!IMG_6816I’ve always found it easier to write down my feelings and thoughts, and it provides me with such a sense of calm. It’s almost like I’m counselling myself by putting pen to paper and just writing down the problem. I find it actually helps put the whole thing in perspective and that it helps me see a light at the end of the tunnel. When my nan died it was a shock for me. She had been ill for a while with cancer of the throat, but how poorly she was had been hidden from me and my sister so she could enjoy her last few months with us. I wasn’t fully prepared for her to go so quick and when she died I really struggled to cope. What got me through was taking it upon myself to plan the memorial service and writing a tribute to her, which I then read out in church. Reading it out is, to this day, still one of the hardest things I have ever done, but the writing of it really helped me to say goodbye in the best way I knew how.

Writing can be such a great tool for coping with your problems – that’s why I became a blogger, to fill the void left alongside journalism. Blogging helps me to deal with issues and problems in life, alongside writing about my passions. Whether you write a public or private blog, it is a great way of keeping a diary in the modern age – you can access it anywhere at any time – when you need it most. And sharing it with others can really help those who are suffering or struggling, just like you.”

Would you like to be a blogger for the day? Perhaps you have a story to tell or something you’d like to voice about a mental health issue? Well, now is your chance. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the NSFT Youth blog. The Youth Service is not only inviting young people in the region but also teachers, mental health experts, parents, carers, service users, friends and the local community to talk about a range of topics including: recovery, stigma, therapeutic interventions, loss and bereavement, self-harm, friendships, stress, anxiety, bullying, eating disorders and any other issues affecting young adults and children. For more information about the Youth Service, click here, and if you’d like to contribute, contact the team of editors to find out more.

What helps you to cope with struggles and problems? Do you find writing therapeutic?

Ab Lucy sign off