Jule is 15 years old and from Germany. She submitted this #griefheart and I asked her if she wanted to do a post about herself. So many who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses find relief in music. I know for Charles it was also a lifeline. I think this shows an incredible sense of hope, self awareness and maturity.
Like many others, it started with school bullying
I have always been rather worrisome, nervous and thoughtful, but I was ten years old when things started to get bad.
I was in sixth grade and one of the best students of my class in all subjects except for P.E., and for some reason, some people seemed to be really jealous of my marks. One boy in my class, let’s call him Draco, in particular.
Every time he had noticed I received another good mark, he called me a swot. Every time I failed at an exercise in P.E., he openly laughed at me and imitated me. I know that compared to the bullying other people have to face, this was minor, but I was only ten and this was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I started crying a lot, especially the days before P.E. lessons.
I simply didn’t know what to do. I often lost hope, didn’t know what to do. And someday… someday there was this tiny little thought arising at the back of my head. The thought that if I died, I would not have to face this again.
This was the point where I should have asked for help, but I know nobody would have believed me. “You can’t be depressed, you’re probably just a little sad. You’re only ten,” is what they would have said. It’s not even their fault, it’s part of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Many, many people seem to think kids can’t have mental health problems like adults do, but this is so wrong.
Mental illness doesn’t care, it has no minimum age
It doesn’t differentiate whether you’ve had a long happy life before or whether you’ll grow up not knowing what being in your teens and preteens without random surges of anxiety and depression is like.
Luckily, I did receive help, but it did not come in the way I had expected it. It came on my 11th birthday in the form of a chart hits CD my grandparents gave me.
There was one song I liked in particular: Paradise by Coldplay. It’s a song about a girl who can’t deal with real life anymore, so she starts dreaming of paradise, a place where she can be happy and fearless, and that’s what makes her hold on. I could relate to this song a lot and I listened to it all the time, just because it showed me that I was not alone.
Some time after that, I bought the whole album by Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto, and the other songs, who are all very colourful and life-affirming, helped me a lot too. I fell in love with the band, bought all albums, found other fans online.
Now this band was my life, and I had something to hold on to, I had found my own paradise. And when the dangerous thoughts kept appearing again, I could fight them by thinking, “You won’t be able to listen to Coldplay if you die.”
Simple as that, but it worked
This was almost five years ago, and so many good things happened since I decided to hold on.
In year seven, Draco stopped making fun of me and in year nine we even worked together in many Latin lessons. We will never be friends, but I am so happy about how things developed.
Also I wrote a letter to Coldplay in 2013 and they sent me an autograph back, which means they read my letter and they care. I saw them live in 2016 and will see them again in 2017, which I never could have done if I had given up. I will graduate in one and a half year and I want to work in politics, especially to fight for the rights of the mentally ill.
Despite all the good things, I will never be cured. I have suffered phases of anxiety, depression and compulsive thoughts through all of my youth and I always will. Two of my friends died in the past year which triggered somatic pain disorder, a lesser known mental disorder where you get psychosomatic pains in different parts of the body.
It’s not easy to live with, but all the good things that had happened helped me find the courage to go into therapy, which helps.
If I could give one piece of advice to other mentally ill young people, it would be to try to find something you love to hold on to. You might find it at unexpected places, but keep looking for it.
I know not every mental health story has such a happy-ish ending as mine did, but I know you can keep going until the day you can think the way I can think: “I’m not cured, but I am okay.”