Mental Health in Your Family Tree


Hello! So before I get into my topic about adolescence, I’m just going to introduce myself and give you a little bit of a background of where I’m coming from.

I am an 18 year old gay male, currently living in the Pittsburgh area. I grew up in a smaller town on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, and my graduating class was less than 100 people. I tend to be pretty liberal, and in the future I want to help victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault. So that’s me in a nutshell!

My story begins in 11th grade. I had always been a great student, turning in (mostly) all of my homework, paying attention in class, and getting good grades on quizzes. For some reason, be it nature or nurture, I had always thought that school was pretty easy. Up until this point, and then it all began to snowball.

I was very involved in high school, and the amount of activities and organizations that I was involved in couldn’t be counted on two hands. In the beginning of the year, I started to get these new feelings. It felt like I physically wanted to do the work, but mentally I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  However, usually after taking a break from school, it was easy to come back and get things done. During this time, I was also working at Best Buy and the holiday season was approaching quickly. Now you as the reader might be able to see where this is going, but at the time I had no idea.

As I started getting more hours at Best Buy, I began to put my school work on the back burner. I told myself excuses like “Ohh, I’ll finish it later” and most of the time I did, but sometimes I would just be too tired. I’m sure you may already know, but your junior year in high school is one of the most important years. It’s one of the years that bears the most weight when colleges are looking at your transcripts. Needless to say, my grades were begging to slip, and since I have control issues, I started to struggle.  I struggled tremendously with coming to terms with the fact that for the first time in my life, I may actually fail a class.

One night after I got out of work from Best Buy, I lost it. My mom picked me up and I was sharing with her all the problems I was having about getting stressed out over things that weren’t always in my control.  It turns out that my family has a history of mental health issues including anxiety and depression. My grandma has been on anxiety medication since she was in her 30s and my dad had been prescribed anti-depressants in the past. A lot of the issues that I was having were genetic and I didn’t even know it at that time because I had never asked.

That is why I want to encourage all of the people reading this to post to talk to somebody you trust in your family about your family’s mental health history, because a problem that you may be having could be genetic and you may have never even realized.

Now that I am older and I realize what my situation is, I have learned to control my anxiety in most cases. Sometimes things are out of my control and that sets it off, but most of the time when I listen to music, do some deep breathing exercises, and read or write, I feel in complete control of myself. I realize that it may not be as easy for others to do the same, but none the less, I encourage you to start finding methods to relax and calm yourself. Although I still struggle sometimes, remembering that nothing lasts forever, and knowing that it does get better helps me get me through it.

I hope you all have enjoyed my first blog post, and I look forward to reading yours!

Have you ever asked your parents about your mental health family tree?  If you feel comfortable sharing, we’d love to hear from you!

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