Why millennials are struggling with mental health issues

opinion piece

In a world where we compete to look like we are living our best life on social media, how many of us can honestly say we are truly happy?

Putting on a false smile in front of the camera, teeth gleaming, hair blowing in the wind – all whilst having a panic attack, intense palpitations, sweats of bead building on your palms. Look at you. You’re a walking contradiction. Your 10k followers on Instagram believe you lead the perfect life, but behind closed doors you often have dark intrusive thoughts. Penetrating thoughts that lead you to believe that you are worthless, lazy and a failure.

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Whilst social media may heighten the pressure young people feel to portray a perfect life style, it is far from the only issue contributing to mental health declination. Just imagine being trapped at your parental home until the ripe age of at least 28, working the most tedious job because employers won’t employ you in the sector you desire to work in; due to lack of ‘’experience’’- yet no one will give you a chance to gain experience. £40,000 worth of debt just to educate yourself, which in turn seems pointless as no one will give you a break? Brexit talks heighten the air of uncertainty. Political misdemeanour’s (corporate manslaughter at Grenfell Tower) and austerity push everyone to the limit both financially and socially. Young males being stabbed all around you on a daily basis. This is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on.

Would you want to live like this? Choosing between having children or a stable career? Working full time and still not being able to afford decent food?

Sounds like a really messed up Hollywood film right? Because this is the reality of how most millennials are living right now.

I believe that our generation are struggling. It is not entirely impossible to succeed in the current climate; it just takes a lot of determination and discipline. But naturally we mustn’t forget that all these factors can contribute to a person’s mental state and well-being.  Life in your twenties is naturally a time of self-discovery, finding yourself and who you truly want to be. With these added societal pressures, both off-line and online, it can become overwhelmingly destructive for some people. Individuals will always have personal issues, and these need to be reviewed individually. However, at a time in your life where you yearn to progress and the system keeps beating you down, it is completely de-motivating for young people.

Unfortunately we cannot change politics, or at least the negative trickling effects it can have on us. But what we can change is our attitudes towards mental health. If you see someone updating a Facebook status stating how depressed they are, instead of calling them an attention seeker learn to see it as a cry for help. There have already been so many suicides this year committed by young people. Simple gestures and listening can have the power to help mental health sufferers. We have to keep pushing for change, more recognition, more funding for mental health services.

As fucked up as this system is, it is never going to beat me.  

Yours Sincerely,

Michelle (A struggling journalist pushing for a break)

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How to (try to) control your anxiety 

top tips

At first you don’t even realise what is wrong with you. Overcome with a cold shudder, accompanied by fluttering palpitations, palms sweaty and confusion. Utter confusion. You can’t move. But hold on, 5 minutes ago you were fine? But now, now you can’t move. You can’t get up. There is a heavy invisible burden upon you. If you do attempt to get up, what if you fall? What if everyone around you bursts out laughing at you falling? 

Silly silly silly intruding thoughts enter your mind at this point and you wonder if it will ever stop. Until you get up, walk for a bit and realise you will be ok. That was it. Your first panic attack. 

The problem is, sometimes we don’t realise we are having one – or worse still we don’t know why they happen. I am referring specifically to panic disorder, whereby sufferers will have intense panic attacks. 

Unfortunately there is no fast cure to ‘healing’ these episodes. But you can overcome it, I managed last year to completely get rid of them. Unfortunately recently I have been under a lot of stress and they have returned to rear their ugly head. Here are my top tips on controlling your anxiety / panic attacks; 

1. Cut off the source of the problem

If you can pinpoint the stress or issue which causes the panic attacks you have a very good chance of ending them. You need to cut it out, whatever it may be. If this is near impossible, for example if your job is stressing you out and you can’t afford to leave. Perhaps discuss with your manager working less hours or moving to another department. You need to home in and pinpoint what aspect of the job is stressing you and causing these episodes. 

2. Coping mechanisms  

Along the way in this intense journey, there are a few mechanisms you can use to aid your recovery and help yourself. 

If you have a panic attack at night and your brain is doing overtime, thus resulting in not being able to sleep. I would suggest investing in some ear plugs, putting relaxing music on YouTube and practising breathing exercises. These techniques, in particular the breathing exercises will really help slow down the palpitations and regulate breathing. (This can be applied any time of day). 

If you have one during the day and you are occupied, you can try the breathing exercises. Or splashing your face with cold water, maybe leaving the room and taking 5 minutes to calm down. It’s jusg about finding out what works for you as an individual, we all suffer for different reason in different ways. 

Last but not least, keep things in perspective. Remember you haven’t always had this disorder, more than likely an event has triggered it. Which means, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can overcome it. It’s just going to take a lot of mental strength and determination. You got this!