I’m that person that will get an A but be upset because I didn’t get an A*. I know I can be annoying – I apologise. But let me explain. School & education continues to be an important memory of mine. I promise that I wasn’t ever upset over an A grade – I’m extremely lucky to get the grades I did – but I did get upset because I felt like I failed people; failed my teachers, my parents and myself by not doing as well as I could. I seem to have kept that mentality with me as I’ve grown up.
My worst nightmare is disappointing people. No one has ever said, “I’m disappointed in you”, but I have seen the look on people’s faces when they were struggling to see where they went wrong with me. My friends questioned me things like, “How can you be upset when you have everything?”. And at the time I couldn’t answer the question, but now, 3 years later, I can. Nobody realises something is wrong when all the grades are perfect, the parents evenings give glowing reports and the person seems happy.
After all of their expectations had been kept up for 3 years, I started to crack. GCSE’s brought a new pressure. The pressure was unlike anything else. Any other past grades were worth nothing. GCSE’s, I thought, could severely impact my future. Unless I succeeded to the best of my ability, any future education establishment or employer would look at my grades and judge the person I am. I wanted to do the best so I could avoid the disappoint from others. Nevertheless, whatever grades you get, they do not define you, I know that now.
Your best is always good enough. However, people won’t know if you’re struggling unless you speak up, I learnt this the hard way. My mental health took a dive because I was trying to keep others happy.
This will not help anyone get better. Always speak up when you’re ready too. You’ll see that you aren’t alone, your emotions are extremely valid and it’s okay to feel the way you do. Some people will judge you, whatever you do. Some people judge when you talk too much, some judge when you don’t talk enough. Although, the majority of people I have met are kind and understanding. Judgements won’t affect you unless you let them. It’s hard, but try not to let them dictate who you are and what you do.
Trying to keep expectations up for so long led to my mental health getting worse. Art became a subject that people associated with me (mainly because I was there for at least 75% of my day). Subsequently, I became the ‘arty’ friend. That friend you get to draw the graphs and diagrams so yours look on point? Yeah, that’s me.
Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse my friends.
I loved drawing, it was therapeutic at the time. But as grade boundaries got higher, so did my stress level. I felt like I was drowning in drawings of cogs and gears and practice exam papers. All this made sense when I recently realised, I was going through my first stages of depression. Doing so, more teachers were asking why I was being so quiet in class, why the practice papers were coming out so low. My parents tried to help me with continuous support. My friends pleaded with me to tell that what was wrong. But I couldn’t tell them. I didn’t know what was wrong. I couldn’t let the their view of me change. I thought I would disappoint them. In reality, I would have had a more pleasant memory of school if I didn’t think so low of myself. If only I spoke up. My depression wouldn’t have continued as long as it has if the help was promoted back then.
Depression is like an unwanted friend that sometimes hates you, they sometimes comfort you and sometimes lie to you.
Depression is a killer that is never trialled. It continues to take lives but is never found guilty. Despite all the evidence against it, it remains unbridled. It is free to claim it’s victims. We have to be the defence, we mustn’t let it render us silent.
Nevertheless, with everything a mental illness brings, it should not stop you from evolving and improving yourself. You are so much stronger than you think you are.
Your mental illness does not define the person you are. It just takes you to make the first step, for me the first step was getting out of my house. I wanted to get out of the lonely place I was in. I had University set up for next year and I wanted to take this gap year to learn, improve my skills and recover. I started looking at the different apprenticeships within the creative industry (Creative Alliance is a good place to start). After applying for several, which I recommend doing, I got an interview with Beatfreeks, a youth engagement agency – and got the apprenticeship! Now I’m a few weeks into the apprenticeship. I’ve never come across a more enthusiastic, upbeat and welcoming team.
My name is Meescha, I’ve just started at Beatfreeks as a Digital Media Apprentice and I am excited to be working with such a lovely bunch of people.
Written by Meescha Bhamra.
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