Society currently finds itself in an awkward paradigm. New generations marred by mental health issues and an older generation stoically in denial of its existence. Unfortunately for the former, the latter are now the ones attempting to treat us. Or, as the World Health Organisation figures show, not treat us.
Thirteen years old is not an age I like to discuss because that is the year my brain decided to make the world look different. So different that I didn't believe I would live to see my 16th birthday - I certainly didn't want to - so it's almost inconceivable to believe I will be greeting 30 in a few weeks time when 13 feels like yesterday.
My teenage years were a living hell. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was psychotic. I was also badly self-harming. I spent most nights anxiously pacing my bedroom, crying, eventually passing out from mental exhaustion at 4am only to have to wake up for school 3 hours later. School was just as hard, not least because I was bullied by other students for my bizarre behaviour as well as by 'friends'. Technology was beginning to seep into our lives which meant that I couldn't find a safe haven at home due to receiving hateful emails, instant messages and anonymous texts; there was no escape.
That was my life for several years and I lost count of the amount of times I skipped school and college to go to the doctor by myself asking for help. Every single time I was turned away saying I was 'typical' and to return with my mum and whilst I may not have knew what was wrong with me at the time, I certainly knew that what I was experiencing was anything but typical.
Though I don't remember much between the ages of 13-19, one night haunts me because I managed to convince myself that I wasn't in my bedroom at all but actually on a mental ward suffering schizophrenia. I told no-one how scared I was or what I was going through for fear I would be told I was 'crazy' but I knew something wasn't right.
Nobody believed I needed help until I was 18 years old, by which time the psychosis had been replaced with severe depression, when a student counsellor saw my swollen face from a night of insomnia and crying and rang the doctor on my behalf. That's five years without help. Five years of trying to convince the adults in my life that there was nothing typical about me and that I was desperately ill.
Unfortunately, in those five years, I became angry and resentful at the lack of help I received which only furthered my isolation. I rejected (and hated) my family, didn't talk to my friends and held the world's emotional weight on my shoulders. I lost count of the amount of times I fell asleep with my arms still bleeding or sedated from the pills I had downed. My family thought I was simply a 'typical teenager' going through the motions, inexplicably angry and secretive when in actual fact, I was psychotic facing suicide on a daily basis.
Seventeen years later and I have finally accepted that, for me, depression and anxiety will never completely leave me, just dissipate. I have lived as best I can. I have had loving relationships, good jobs and have travelled throughout Asia, sub-Sahara Africa and lived in Australia alone. I have faced my demons on many occasions but I continue, like most, to face them alone; without the help and guidance I have needed so many times wondering if my life would have been different with help from the beginning.
Those 'lost' years of my life are still the elephant in my room between my family and I. My behaviour was, quite rightly, inexplicable to them and I wrongly believed (due to my psychosis) that they didn't love me enough to see my illness but, whilst I understand what they went through, I can never forget or forgive the pain and isolation I experienced through their lack of mental health awareness.
We need education from homes to schools and youth-targeted institutions, priority in government funding and an overhaul of a system created by a stoic generation for a generation allowed to be more informed about their emotions and thoughts through education. Without these, there will continue to be generations lost to broken minds and a growing suicide rate throughout almost all demographics. Our generation is a ticking time bomb already detonated.
We are not typical.
But we are also not alone.