[Clock ticking] Boy: I remember having sad thoughts and asking myself, "Why are you, like, acting like this?
What's wrong with you?"
♪ If you feel very uncomfortable throughout the day, then you need, like, an answer of what is going on.
[Thunder] ♪ [Rain falling] Woman: I couldn't make sense of the emotions.
Why am I acting this way?
And it became a very frustrating thing whenever I'd look in the mirror and there's nothing wrong with me on the outside, there's absolutely nothing wrong to make sense of that pain.
When I'm mad on the inside, I'm mad on the outside.
I feel very unmotivated, disinterested.
My friends had no clue what I was going through at all.
I felt like, well, my mom didn't care and my dad was so busy and tired and...
I had so many emotions that I had to deal with.
I was like, "Oh, I could never be depressed, I could never be-- have anxiety problems."
I was always like, "I'll be perfectly fine."
I just didn't want to talk about it.
I just wanted to leave it alone.
It was constant sadness, and anything that I did, I couldn't find myself to be happy.
I was being reckless with my body and, like, taking a lot of drugs and stuff and just being careless and not caring if I wake up.
At that age, how are you ever gonna admit, "I can't see past tomorrow"?
♪ Woman: I think there's so many things you can say about mental illness.
It comes out of nowhere, and then it just creeps into your body, and you've got something inside you, and you don't know how to deal with it.
Narrator: Mental illness is one of the most significant health crises in the world-- as pervasive as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease-- but it often exists in secret and is endured in isolation.
♪ It's the place where sadness leaves off and depression begins, where nervousness becomes anxiety, excitement becomes mania, and habit becomes addiction... ♪ the place where simply living becomes painful.
Greek philosopher Hippocrates called it the "inner darkness," President Theodore Roosevelt the "black care," Poet Sylvia Plath "This dark thing that sleeps in me."
♪ Young woman: It's the overwhelming feeling of being stuck, like, stuck in my head, stuck in my feelings, stuck with this persona, like, this... person that people saw me as and that I couldn't escape from.
I can't even imagine myself without it, you know, when something so toxic becomes such a part of you.
Narrator: All of us are affected by mental health challenges in some way, whether in our own lives or the life of someone we know.
It is everywhere-- in rural communities and major cities, in the workplace, schools, even in our own homes, often hiding in plain sight.
Young man: You could see someone walking down the hallway, a kid on your sports team, the most popular person in school, the kid that everyone likes, you know, and you would never know that that person could be going through something themselves.
It's a silent battle that a lot and a lot of people go through and that hasn't really been talked about a whole lot.
Narrator: For some, it is a chronic illness.
For others, it comes and goes.
Some people can't put a name on it.
Those who can use words like "devastating," "hopeless," "a living hell" to describe their pain.
All too often, they are called "nuts," "crazy," "out of their minds," labels that perpetuate stigma and isolation.
Even professionals debate what to call it-- an illness, a challenge, a disorder-- but that doesn't change the way it feels, how it affects everyday life and relationships.
I do feel like once people find out you have a mental illness, they just sort of treat you a certain way.
People often say, "What's wrong with you?"
instead of "What happened to you?"
No, they really don't care, like, how, like, we feel, how I feel, and, like, it gets to me a lot.
♪ Narrator: Mental illness is, in fact, a disease, a complicated and controversial one that has been a part of the human condition for thousands of years.
While there are now hundreds of diagnoses based on all kinds of symptoms, the experience and the treatments are different for everyone.
♪ Man: I do believe that this is a very personalized illness.
It's hard for people to really compare one person's experience with another.
That's often what keeps people from getting help because they think, "Oh well, it's not that bad."
Well, compared to who?
Narrator: When you're suffering, it's hard to know what to do and even harder to find help.
It affects all ages in families both rich and poor, healthy and dysfunctional.
It most often appears in childhood and teenage years.
Trauma can be the trigger, from personal crises such as divorce and neglect to environmental disasters, racial injustice, and pandemics.
♪ Over time, the symptoms can progress and lead to increasingly extreme behaviors like eating disorders, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide.
Woman: When feelings become so excessive, where it really interferes with their everyday ability to live, that's a-- that's a challenge.
It can be at any age, and it can be very impactful, but it can be figured out.
You need to connect with someone who can help you, problem-solve, listen, sort it out, be able to work through those things.
Narrator: Intervention can help, and with the right treatments, you can feel better...
Boy: It was just a lot of confusion in my family.
Young man: I don't talk to my parents openly about my... Narrator: but the first and often most difficult step is to simply start talking about it.
Girl:... talk about them.
I never tell anybody.
Boy: At school, they were like, "Gabe, what is wrong with you?"
Woman: I was basically homeless because... Man: I am a gay man.
Man: On this planet right here, we all have problems, but that is the great thing about the human race.
Most people understand their problems, and they work on it to get better, but sometimes you might need just a little bit of help, someone to help get your life back on track, because you are the one who defines your life.
Narrator: These are the journeys of more than 20 young Americans from all over the country and all walks of life who have struggled with thoughts and feelings that have troubled and at times overwhelmed them.
They share what they have learned about themselves, their families, and the world they live in.
They speak for many of us.
They speak to all of us.
Woman: It's taken me a very, very long time to even speak openly about it.
My roommates don't even know half of this stuff that I'm telling you guys now, and I'm nervous.
Like, I'm kind of shaking inside, to even talk about it, but I feel like if I don't talk about it now then I'm wasting potential time where I could help somebody, and that's all I really want to do, is, I just want-- if I can even reach two people from everything I say or this story, then I did my part in this world.
♪ How would I describe mental illness to somebody who has never had it?
No experience of it?
Oh, my goodness.
♪ I would want to shake their hand first of all.
Congratulations you made it that far, you know?
Nothing's wrong with you.
I don't know if you could explain it to somebody like that.
Young man: It's person by person.
It changes with every brain.
With every set of eyes, it's different.
Samantha: I would ask you how you were feeling.
Then I would ask you if you believe that.
Man: We don't understand how common it is, we don't understand how important it is to talk about it and be open about it, so this is the problem that we all deal with in secret, and the result is that we don't deal with it well.
♪ Film narrator: The thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
What dreams, what feelings shape the pattern that we call the innocence of childhood?
♪ Insel: These are the chronic issues of early life.
About 75% of mental illness has onset before age 25.
About 50% before age 14.
So we need to respond to this with the urgency it deserves.
Boy: I started having sad thoughts around the end of third grade.
Just like random things that just happened throughout my day, things like if somebody smiled at me and I didn't smile back.
I just started feeling different from all my other friends and, like, my crowd.
Young woman: I remember as, like, a little kid I walked off into a field to, like, pick flowers and kind of heard, like, my friends calling my name, and I would turn around, and there was really no one there.
[Voices whispering] It was very confusing for me and kind of frightening.
♪ Woman: When it comes to mental illness, there is nature versus nurture.
The nature side is you were born with it, it's just in your genes, whereas nurture says it was all about your environment and what you were around and what your parents did or didn't do or what was in your community or not, and what we've come to understand was that it's not an "either-or" at all.
What happens to someone impacts how their genes are expressed, so what genes were there in the first place is going to play into it.
Dunning: Mental illness is really life.
♪ It encompasses all the things.
So as much as children were given the beautiful and smart, they also were given the challenge.
♪ Woman: I live on a Chippewa Tribe reservation, very isolated.
We have a beautiful culture, and we have a really good support system, but at the same time, there's a lot of drug abuse, a lot of alcohol abuse, a lot of poverty.
And dealing with being profiled as an Indian, that's very confusing for a person to grow up in.
Billie: I remember in elementary school my friends would tease me and say that I was a girl in a boy's body.
It was strange teasing, like oddly specific teasing, but also oddly accurate teasing.
Boy: My racial background, being Native American, Black, and Mexican, when I went to this one school, I didn't really fit in with any particular groups.
It was just because, like, I look black, but I don't.
One of my first, like, memories of that school was it was the first time we took the bus, and the three of us had stepped off together, and this girl looked at my kid brother up and down, and she went, "What are you?"
The first thing I said was like, "He's Black "like you and me.
Being profiled from the get-go, especially being, like, 9, 10, it's pretty traumatizing, you know?
It's unfortunate, and it's scary.
♪ Woman: When he's not happy, when he's sad, when he's struggling, he withdraws.
He sits in his room, and he refuses to come out sometimes.
Dunning: Early intervention and early detection for our children is about building the relationship with them, knowing your child, paying attention to the little nuances that may change, and then meet them where they are, not where you want them to be.
Love on them, learn them, learn about them, take time to be with them.
That is the one thing that I have seen make a bigger difference.
Woman: He feels like he's being a burden when he's not happy, so we have to convince him, you know, "Let's do something, "let's--you're not a burden.
You know, you were-- you were chosen to be here."
Vinson: Their first constructs for how the world works all happen in that home environment, and the parents really create that environment, um, or leave it to other forces to--to create if they're absent.
Morgan: My mom was a single mother raising two children at the age of 22, and I was left wondering why my father left me as a little girl, wondering why we weren't good enough for him to stay.
Woman: I didn't know how to talk to my parents about emotions and feelings.
That wasn't normal in our household, just coming from, um, my mother, who was from a different culture.
In Thai culture, they don't really express emotions a lot.
Lydia: My childhood was amazing.
I remember literally always, like, talking to my friends like, "I'm so lucky.
I have the best family," like, "It's me," you know, but my dad's an addict, and when I was in sixth grade, he relapsed.
We all parted as a family, and my dad went away to rehab.
Xavier: My childhood was very irregular.
Every action I did and my siblings did would just be something that we would have to think about really before we did it, uh, so that we might not upset my father because my father was a very different man.
Woman: I think the relationship between Dad and Xavier started to go south when he witnessed an argument between Dad and I that he shouldn't have, and it was difficult, and he still will have flashbacks and talk about it.
I was definitely a daddy's girl!
I loved him very, very much.
He had glioblastoma, which is a type of brain cancer, so I didn't really have time to enjoy most things that little kids do.
My father has been incarcerated off and on my entire life.
He's an addict, but growing up, when he was clean, he was an amazing father, but when he wasn't, it was ugly.
Samantha: I was living with my father and my stepfamily in northern Maine, and, um... ♪ he was accused and acquitted of... ♪ repeatedly sexually assaulting people.
We were moved out of the house and into foster care, and then eventually, I moved with my mom.
Girl: I was in, like, third grade, everything was great, and that's when everything went, like, to, like, crap.
My parents separated.
Then a few months later, they got a divorce, and it broke my heart.
I just felt like it was my fault.
Morgan: My stepdad came into the picture, and they were always, always fighting abusively, so I couldn't open up about what I needed.
Everything was my fault even if it wasn't.
Dunning: The child feels a responsibility for something that they had no hand in, and that is tragic.
You're just innocently in life doing what you do, being a child.
It's not your fault.
Parents are usually doing the best they can, listening and validating and showing and giving respect and coming from that place of love, but children, they're observers.
They're taking it all in.
They're learning from us.
[Child giggling] Woman: I was with my mom.
We had pizza, and we had those little Peeps that they have around Easter, and as a joke I put a Peep in some sauce, and I showed it to her, and she just flipped.
She threw the plate at me, asked me why I would do something like that.
At that point, you know, I kind of could tell that maybe there was something different, but I didn't understand.
Vinson: Why are so many kids having these issues?
Looking at things like genetics and early adversity, whether that was parental discord or someone in the family with substance use disorders or someone being incarcerated, we see, you know, these things sort of set the stage for mental illness.
[Children chattering] Man: What if you raised a child who grew up sunny, loved, and loving, only to watch that child slowly transform into a mysterious stranger, shorn of affect, dull of gaze, unresponsive to communication, and perhaps worse?
♪ Maclayn: I remember a lot of nights where I would sit in my bed and cry.
I always knew I was different, but I never really knew if I-- anything was wrong with me.
Dunning: With kids, you know, they will struggle for very long periods of time simply because they don't know what's going on.
They may want to isolate.
They may not want to tell anyone.
They don't have the words.
They don't know how.
Yeah, I did feel like I was keeping a secret from my parents, and that was another factor that--why I was getting upset.
You know, he would talk about his school and what happened at school, and it would be really minor things that most kids could kind of just brush off, but for him, they were really a big deal.
We tried to talk to the teachers.
"Oh, my gosh!
He's great in school!
He's always smiling!"
Then we figured out, OK, he's a good-- he's a good masker.
Dunning: Children just don't want anyone to know what's going on, and when they start to move into adolescence, they are already pushing back against lots of things, and it's hard to figure out what is really normal mood swings with teens versus what is--is it a true mental health challenge.
Then there can be lots more things that parents and kids are going like this about.
Man: I thought it was a good idea.
Girl: Absolutely ruin everything.
Susan, maybe your mother knows best.
Why does it just naturally have to be that parents know best?
Why can't you see things my way?
♪ Vinson: Adolescents are in the process of discovering their identity.
As they're trying to make that transition from being primarily identified with the family they're coming from to their place in the world that they're going out into.
Say it together!
Man: ♪ I've been there, despair ♪ ♪ Living on a prayer ♪ ♪ Been there when close friends didn't care ♪ ♪ I've been there, trying to pull it out of thin air ♪ ♪ I've been there, yes, I've been there ♪ ♪ Maybe you feel like nobody understands ♪ Man: When I was a teenager, I was very rebellious.
I didn't think that I had any issues, even when I was exhibiting textbook definition of what mental illness was.
Man: ♪ Like they don't know how they're gonna make it ♪ ♪ Through another day ♪ Dunning: So it really is a fine line between troubled and normal.
Some might ask, "Well, what is normal?"
♪ Man: We need to remember what it's like to be a teenager.
I think that a lot of adults don't remember when they were 15 what were they going through and what's normal and what's natural, and then what's the part that needs extra intervention?
Makalynn: I grew up in an area that was wealthy, but I was from, like, the other side of the tracks, so I didn't have, you know, growing up, we weren't-- we didn't have money at all, so I was constantly trying to fit in.
I lied a lot growing up just to make things seem greater than they were.
That's when I really started to act out.
I was constantly in the principal's office at school for skipping or for disrespecting a teacher or principal, fighting a lot.
I think at that time in high school when everyone's trying to figure it all out, you know, like, I really just wanted to understand myself.
We were never taught how to work through anything in school, especially if you grew up in a household that you didn't feel comfortable showing emotions.
The more you bury it, the more it's just building up in you.
I was one of the popular kids.
I dated the star football player, I was homecoming queen one year.
I maintained this image that I had to be perfect at school, and I did to a certain extent, and I just hid everything else behind closed doors.
Yaadieah: I did cheer, which was my favorite, I played lacrosse, I did track, and I did gymnastics.
I think my teenage years were happy for the most part but definitely a lot of insecurity just as far as the way I looked.
Billie: I lived surrounded by a bunch of farmland, and the people weren't very accepting, so I never really got a chance to explore my identity until I had moved here.
I started to wear more feminine clothes.
I started to wear makeup every day.
It was good at first, but the day I went to school with pink hair, my car ended up getting vandalized, and someone wrote "Queer" on the back windshield.
♪ Alexis: At school, I tried to be that happy-go-lucky, outgoing person, but I dealt with a lot on the inside, and not a lot of people knew.
I remember being too much, too loud, trying to be cool, but you're not really cool.
I started to get bullied by people I considered my best friends.
You know, these were the people who I thought were gonna be by my side, you know, living the best life ever together, you know, and they ended up hurting me the most.
It's a really big mind game with girls I feel like.
I was an emotional teen.
I wanted to know who I was, and I was trying to figure that out.
So where do I go, and who do I ask?
I didn't know how to talk to my parents.
My parents didn't know how to talk to me.
I was going through so much that it just spiraled until, you know, things just... exploded, I feel like.
♪ Yanerry: In eighth grade, I got a boyfriend, and we dated on and off.
He showed an explicit photo of me to classmates and his friends.
There was a lot of people talking about it.
Kids would look at me and laugh, mock me... and so when I became a freshman, I didn't want to be known as that girl.
I decided to change my name and go by the name Rose.
That way, people wouldn't think that it was me.
They were talking about this girl Yanerry.
Collin: You think this is how you are defined and that's how you're gonna be looked at for the rest of your high school career, but it's not.
What everyone thinks about you in high school honestly doesn't matter the second you graduate, but as a teenager, as far as stress levels go, I feel like it's--it's a lot different than maybe what I could imagine it used to be.
I feel like the world that my generation is inheriting isn't a pleasant one.
[Sirens] Man: Destruction...
Different man: Forecasters... Would you--who would-- Shut up, man.
♪ Man: ♪ I don't really know any way to convey ♪ ♪ The range of emotions I go through each day ♪ ♪ Got my ideas... ♪ Lucas: I think it's a world full of toxicity and people who don't understand others and don't take others' well-being and mental health and feelings into account.
Man: ♪ Stress I encounter ♪ ♪ It takes its effect ♪ ♪ Don't like the odds... ♪ Billie: It's important for older generations to know that we live in a very different world than they grew up in and what principles and values may have worked for them at that time won't work for us now.
♪ [People screaming] It's like running old software on a new hard drive.
It's not gonna work.
Reporter: Just how much water... Young man: It's a world with a lot of conversations that need to be had with adults on how they need to understand more about the younger generations and what we're going through.
George Stephanopoulos: 49ers quarterback knelt instead of standing during the National Anthem... Reporter: In the United States, new confirmed cases... Dunning: The pandemic has really increased a lot of people's anxiety and depression.
♪ Look at our kids.
Look at athletic events that have been taken, graduations, speech and drama, choir, all of those things.
They're really suffering because nothing's normal.
Vinson: The reality is our system was ill-equipped to meet the mental health treatment needs of our population before 2020, and it is not going to be better equipped to meet the increased needs after 2020.
♪ Collin: There's a lot of pressures that come along with being a teenager, especially in this day and age with the social pressures and social media.
Everyone is scared to be open regardless of how they're feeling.
That isn't who 17-year-olds in 2019 are.
They aren't open about their feelings, and if they are, they're looked down upon, which is terrible.
♪ A troubling new report today spells out what all that time on social media is doing to our teenagers.
It also outlines what parents can do to make sure their kids stay safe.
[Typing on cell phone] [Cell phone chimes] [Typing continues] [Whoosh] [Typing continues] [Whoosh] Young man: Social media itself is good and bad for teenagers nowadays.
I feel as if though it's a good outlet to find someone to talk to and make friends, but I also feel like it puts a lot of pressure on kids nowadays.
It quickly becomes another form of isolation, you know, if I'm constantly focusing on my phone and these different media outlets and not engaging in the real world.
Sometimes, it's just out of control where all they're doing is looking at social media, and they're kind of distracted.
They're not connecting.
I don't think that they see that as a problem.
Alexis: I hate when people say, like, "Oh, the youth "are so stuck in, you know, their technology, and they don't even care about the world around them!"
They were born in that world.
They can't help that when they were a toddler an iPad got thrown at them.
That's what they think what playtime is.
I actually joke a lot that Twitter kind of raised me because I've had a Twitter since I was 13.
I'm 23, so that's 10 years of my life.
If you wanted to have a social life, you joined social media.
Lydia: If you don't have Snapchat or Instagram, if you don't reach the specific standard, it can definitely feel really isolating.
Samantha: Like, on Snapchat, like, all your friends would be hanging out, and then you see that you're not there and you didn't get the invite, and then you're like, "Well, what did I do wrong?"
♪ Um... ♪ it sucks.
On, like, Instagram they have to look a certain way for people to think they're attractive... [Camera shutter clicks] to feel positive about themselves.
Collin: And when you're trying to make yourself fit to what everyone else wants to see you as, it's impossible.
[Cell phone chiming] Lydia: Everybody is so fake on social media.
Like, me, like, I'm so fake.
I mean, I hate it.
I hate it, but I'm also a part of it.
I--I add into that.
Alexis: It's literally competition.
"If I'm an object, I'm gonna be the best object," you know, "and I'm a better object than you are, and you're gonna know it."
That's how we lift ourselves up personally.
Collin: If you're so invested into that, then those little, tiny things that everyone else notices, those little, tiny blemishes that really don't matter at all can tear you down.
These are 10 things that you can do to be more attractive.
Fix your body language.
Ava: I think every girl is OK with being average.
[Camera shutter clicks] It's just that other people are not OK with it.
Ashley and I are on our way to get filler.
Like, look at that.
Like, excuse me.
It kind of squints.
Anna: I think celebrities are posting all these pictures, and, like, girls try to be someone who they're not, and it really takes, like, a toll on people.
Makalynn: I think social media is extremely damaging for everybody but especially for somebody who is suffering from mental illness.
It makes the things that people say on social media hit a lot harder.
You take stuff, and you just overthink it, and you make a mountain out of a molehill, but it's a very real mountain.
Yanerry: I had this close friend who was making fake Instagram pages about me and my ex, saying like, "Oh," like, "you know, what a whore, " "Who hasn't she kissed?"
I also found out that things she would do to me she claimed that I did it to her, and I got very paranoid.
I felt like I couldn't trust anyone.
I noticed that I was struggling in seventh grade, so I'd say 13.
That's when I started to be called names on social media.
It would never end.
When I told them, like, it hurts me, they wouldn't--they don't care, but it's not true, and, like, it gets to me.
Why would you post certain things like that?
Billie: Some people may believe it's just them being honest.
Lucas: Watch what you say and who you say it to because you never know what somebody's going through and what can affect them and how drastically it can.
♪ Ava: I felt like I was not enough, and, like, I would think what it would be like if I wasn't there.
At first, I thought it was just me trying to get attention, but then I realized, like, it really wasn't.
Like, I really didn't want to be there anymore.
Davidson: If you can't say something to their face, you shouldn't text it, you shouldn't post it, you shouldn't snap about it, and that should be your first rule.
Vinson: A lot of the narrative around it is that it is bad and causing people to be superficial, and everybody's comparing each other to their highlight reels, and there is a component of that for sure, but it's not all, all bad.
Dunning: In some instances, it's how kids connect and how they do make friends, and that friend may be in Japan, and they might be in Miami.
There's also a lot of communities online, people you can meet through social media that are there just to help and make sure that people know there's somebody there that cares about them.
♪ Billie: Being sort of dissociated from the rest of the world gives us that sense of comfort and sense of home.
When I was struggling, I know I used to, like, go on, like, YouTube and watch all these videos about, like, people who were depressed talking about their depression, talking about their suicidal ideations.
This is not something that is easy for me to talk about.
Lydia: And I just felt like I wasn't alone.
Woman: ...refused to talk about it with anybody.
Vinson: In my opinion, things like Instagram and TikTok have really democratized who gets to have a voice in society.
It allows young people who normally wouldn't be able to drive a narrative to be part of telling a story.
Today, I'm going to show you the top 5 outfits you can start wearing to get your crush to like you.
News anchor: When it comes to social media, seemingly real people are influencing young people from their self-esteem to what they buy.
So-called Instagram... Angel: I feel like it has a very major impact on the way that we act.
News anchor: The social media influencer market is a multibillion-dollar industry.
Welcome to my first YouTube video.
Naked Heat Palette.
Angel: It influences us in our social life, the way that we talk, the way that we act.
Reporter: Another viral TikTok trend going... Reporter two: Seen an increase in social media threats made towards schools across the country.
I will do whatever the top comment says, get hit by a car, whatever.
I'll do it just for you guys if you want to see that.
Billie: It doesn't matter what people think of you just as long as you are being yourself and who you are and doing what makes you happy, and I wish I could say that, but I can't.
I care a lot what people think of me.
Social media, at this point, it sort of seems like it's more important than your real identity.
If I wasn't on social media, I wouldn't talk to anyone really, so I don't really feel like I have a choice, honestly.
Davidson: I think kids really see that screen time is a problem.
So they know that it's an addiction, but they just don't know what to do about that, so they just feed into it.
[Typing on cell phone] Angel: When you're a teenager... you're at a certain stage in your life where you're kind of like a beginner in whatever you're experiencing.
It's kind of like a first try at everything in life... ♪ and when something abrupt like someone you know dying from suicide happens, it hits like a wrecking ball.
Everyone is different.
[Slide projector clicking] ♪ It's very difficult to understand what to do from there.
♪ Morgan: Nobody is exempt from trauma.
We all go through it just on various levels.
Everyone has their own problems, everyone has their own tragedies.
Amira: A traumatic experience, it's always there.
It's just about whether it chooses to present itself or not.
It just chills out and waits for its moment to respond.
[Clock ticking] [Crash] [Crying] [Sirens] [Gunfire] [Police radio chatter] Woman: Hands up!
[Alarm clock ringing] Kennedy: There's no way for us to tell what type of event is gonna have what type of effect on what type of a person.
Everybody's got their own story.
Leah: In time, I could tell my mother was a drug addict.
Seeing someone that you love turn into a completely different person, it's traumatizing.
I felt like she ruined who I could have been, what I could have done, the person that I could have become.
Living with my dad was probably a more stable situation, but there was issues there, too, especially when he got remarried.
You know, I was trying to express how I felt by being miserable to live with.
I was acting out.
♪ Lydia: My dad relapsed.
He went away to rehab, and I felt like I was losing him, he didn't care about me anymore.
Man: Lydia knew me for most of her life as a sober father, and then she didn't.
♪ I think she was 12.
My father committed suicide.
I had, uh, a really bad relapse that continued as a cycle of relapses, and she watched me struggle.
I was so depressed and angry.
So I was like, "It's all your fault, Mom!"
She was like, "Lydia, you're so much like your dad."
And I was like, "Well, if my dad can do this, like, so can I."
Amethyst: I found out my dad died the day after Christmas.
The year after he died, I started kind of treating other people pretty badly because I didn't know how to handle grief properly.
Anna: Ever since I was little, my dad was an alcoholic.
One time when I was little, me and my sister were hiding under our beds because we were scared of everything going on downstairs.
One of our doors in our houses was just cracked down the whole thing because, like, my dad punching it.
It's just kind of hard to talk about.
It's just really hard.
Dunning: Family strife, it plays an incredible role.
When a child is watching a parent do crazy stuff that they don't understand, they're like, "Well, what should we do?
"Should we, like, retreat, should we go to our rooms, "should we not say anything?
Because what if it makes it worse?"
Man: ♪ It's about time ♪ Vinson: Actually, children who are in situations where they are exposed to domestic violence have outcomes that are similar to if those children themselves were the ones that were receiving the abuse.
So it's not always the best thing for families to stay together or for people not to get divorced.
♪ Xavier: Cigarette smoke is a very triggering thing from my past since I associate that with getting beat by wooden sticks.
Yeah, that's happened.
He would hit us for seemingly no reason.
Honestly, sometimes I can't even really remember why he did it.
There was one time we had, like, these, Oreo things, and nobody was going to question my father to get another one because he would've just said no.
He would hit us if he found out.
Turns out, I guess he finds a wrapper, which he probably ate.
I guess one of us had to, like, own up to doing it, and I think it was either my brother or my sister who owned up to doing it even though they really didn't, and, uh, even after that, he still hit us all 3 for, I guess, wasting his time.
I don't know.
I'm not him.
♪ Yanerry: My ex-boyfriend in high school, I expected him to understand that no is no, but it--he just didn't.
♪ The meaning of love kind of just went away for me, but then I thought this is a guy that's supposed to love me.
Maybe I shouldn't feel this way.
I was very back and forth with myself until I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't take it anymore.
I started having sleep paralysis.
I would see him standing over me and pinning me down, and I would hear screaming.
I became very suicidal.
♪ It can absolutely lead to a very dark place.
I may have an adolescent or a child that comes to me who's witnessed some horrific thing, something that no one could ever imagine, suffered at the hand of a parent or an auntie or an uncle or a coach or a trusted person, even your friend.
And then someone says to them, "That's a long time ago.
You just need to get over that."
That's not how it works.
Time... can erase a little bit of the--the pain, but they are forever changed.
♪ Makalynn: My dad's full-blown addiction, it was just normal, commonplace for me growing up, but looking back now, his effect on my life was very traumatic.
♪ So my resilience definitely surprises me.
Knowing what it means to-- to hit one of these highs or to hit one of these lows and being able to bounce back, um, standing tall, that's amazing to me.
Insel: The people who you think have had some of the worst experiences can use those to cope and to grow and develop and succeed, and others really struggle.
Vinson: You might have a hard time identifying that something is wrong, but there is a point at which the symptoms become so significant that it makes it hard to get anything done.
Dunning: The challenges of life cross every single one of us, but in that same breath, we can learn how to deal with those challenges, just as you would learn how to deal with anything.
So let's look through all of the symptoms, and now we will go forward together and figure out how to tame it because it can be figured out.
[Audience laughing] I didn't know much about mental illness.
Like, I knew it existed, but I was very ignorant about it.
Like, people would say stuff to me like, "Oh, he's depressed" and I'd be like, "Why?
is his Wi-Fi not working?"
[Laughter] The thing is I had to figure out what was going on with me, OK, because this is not an illness where you just pop a couple of pills and you're OK in a week, you know?
This thing stays with you, all right?
So I do a lot of reading up... Yaadieah: I came from around D.C., where I had people of different ethnicities, different languages.
I didn't really feel like I stood out, but when I first got to college, I felt like a sore thumb.
Everyone was white.
It was just something I wasn't really comfortable with.
It slowly started getting worse and worse over the weeks.
I would just get very anxious, I wouldn't go to class, I stopped going out with my roommate.
I just stopped going out of my room sort of at all.
I don't really think there's a good way you can explain that to someone.
♪ Leah: I didn't know that you could put a name to how I was feeling when I didn't want to go to school.
Lucas: Anything that was not part of my set plan in my head of how my morning was gonna go, I wouldn't do it.
Samantha: I thought it was just, "Oh, I'm a little nervous.
Oh, I'm a little sad," and then you feel such intense, deep emotions, and...you know, you realize it's more than that.
We all have a little anxiety here and there.
Some might ask "What is normal?"
When anxiety becomes bigger than you are, we have a problem.
♪ Maclayn: If I didn't participate in class when other kids were raising their hands, I'd get anxious about how, like, it would, like, make me look.
Anna: I don't sleep over at people's houses.
I like just being near my mom.
I just like always know where she has to be, always know where she is.
Like, I track her on my phone.
I think it was around 13 or 14, you know, when everything started happening.
It just came out of nowhere.
I was scared a lot.
I would literally stay awake for 4 days at a time.
That's day and night, no joke.
Dunning: It may manifest itself in physical symptoms, where you might have headache, you might have tummy ache, you might have body ache.
Thinking about going to school was, like, I would get physically ill. My hands would shake, or my whole body would shake, and I couldn't stop the shaking.
Samantha: I got hives in social studies class in ninth grade, and I went to the nurse, and she's like, "You're just having a panic attack."
And I was like, "What?"
I have had, um, issues with anxiety and panic attacks since elementary school.
Leah: It was a combination of having to move with my dad, being bullied by a teacher, and then being left alone a lot, all kind of culminated to the point where I was just-- I was a nervous wreck.
When you get to that point where, you know, you're in a panic attack and you're like, "How do I make this stop?"
[School bell ringing] Dunning: It can be repetitive thoughts.
In your brain, it gets caught on a loop, and it just goes over and over and over until it wears people out.
Anna: If you're, like, about to take a test, you would think the end of the world was coming.
"I'm gonna fail this, "I'm never gonna get into college or anything, I'm never gonna have a good life."
Lucas: I'm like, "I didn't do the homework.
I can't take that test."
I couldn't just do my best.
I had to do perfect.
Dunning: "If I choose this, what if I don't choose that?
"Well, if I choose this, well, what if that's "not the right decision?
"Wonder what the teacher's thinking of me.
"I wonder if she's gonna call on me.
my mom's home.
"I didn't put the toothpaste back just right.
Is that gonna be OK?"
♪ Davidson: What is it that you're nervous about?
Sometimes, they'll say, "I'm just generally anxious."
When you're generally anxious, what does that feel like?
It felt like this force that was just pushing on me constantly whenever something was wrong.
You become so afraid of the outside world that you just stay in where you are safe.
Anxiety, uh, has a number of symptoms.
One of the ones that can be most disabling is avoidance.
So if I know a situation makes me feel anxious, I just don't go into situations like that, and that can have really negative implications for school or for interacting with other people.
♪ Lucas: I was a good student in middle school.
I did my work, stayed out of trouble.
I was a good kid.
As, Bs, never had an issue, but in high school if I was 30 seconds late, a minute late, if something was out of place when I woke up, like a strand of hair was this way and I wanted it that way, I'd just lock myself in my room and say, "I can't go."
And it was always a constant battle between me and my parents.
And my parents were always there.
Do you want to go do this?"
"Say, your friend texted me and asked me if you want to go over to their house."
And I'd be like, "I don't want to do anything today.
I'm just gonna sit inside" on my computer with what I could control, and when my dad first started bringing up the whole anxiety thing, I would always just shut it down right away.
I'd be like, "I don't have anxiety."
Got to the point where I ended up in truancy court my sophomore year with, I think, about, like, 60-something days absent.
It was bad.
Davidson: Sometimes, a kid has a real change in their mood and their personality.
Not being themselves and not being the kid who we're used to seeing could be something as simple as just having a really bad day, or it could be something much more intense.
They need to have some sort of caring adult that they can connect to because that's the first big step to getting help.
♪ Lucas: I always thought anxiety was just a small, little thing that you could feel when you're nervous about something.
I didn't realize that it can be part of a way bigger picture.
Fernandes: Every single day is a battle.
On some days I love my life, and on others, I just can't get out of bed.
I shut down emotionally, worry about things that are not likely to happen, and I'm tortured and paralyzed by my own thoughts.
It's like you know how to swim, yet you're drowning, but you don't die.
Audience member: Ooh!
[Typing on keyboard] Woman: When I was little, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said, "Small."
If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story.
So when I evaporated, of course, everyone congratulated me on getting healthy.
Girls at school who never spoke to me before stopped me in the hallway to ask how I did it.
I say, "I am sick."
They say, "No, you're an inspiration."
♪ How could I not fall in love with my illness?
♪ Billie: I remember our bathroom had a scale in it, and one day, I was curious and decided to step on the scale and see the number, and when I saw the number, I really didn't like it, and I started weighing myself every day, trying to see the number go down.
I'd go upwards of 4 or 5 days without eating.
It's this feeling of guilt whenever anything would go into my body that's meant to fuel me, meant to heal me or help me.
[Indistinct chatter] Vinson: Eating disorders really run a spectrum.
So you have some eating disorders where kids are not eating enough, you have some where they're eating too much, but there's a way that they may be using food, to help them feel better because of other things that are going on.
Yaadieah: Growing up I was always fixated on my body image, even from a really young age.
At college, I was sort of eating for comfort, and then I would get upset at how much I ate, feel ashamed, and I would have to find a way to get rid of it, so purging was just sort of the next step.
Purging just gets a little bit difficult to hide, so I would just exercise to burn off that same amount of calories.
♪ I would wake up in the middle of the night when my roommate was sleeping, and I would start working out because she was starting to get worried about how much I was exercising.
♪ Billie: A few months ago, I was in my English class, and I hadn't eaten anything all morning, and I was sitting at my desk, and I started to feel like I was going to pass out, but I was too embarrassed to pass out in front of my whole class, so I groggily got up out of my desk and somehow walked to the bathroom and then passed out in the very back stall.
♪ I wanted to just sort of shrink up and freeze and be smaller and not be noticed by people.
Yaadieah: I lost about 30 pounds in, like, a month and a half, and my friend just sort of like pulled me to the side and had, like, an intervention.
She was telling me how much, like, weight I lost and how worried she was about me, and, like, the whole time I was like, "What is this girl talking about?"
Because I was just so drained.
I had no energy to really think properly.
My thoughts were scattered, I was always crying or upset or emotional at something.
I could feel my body, sort of, like, deteriorating and wasting away.
Vinson: It doesn't necessarily come with them being thin or what society may think kids are trying to get to with having eating disorders.
For some, it is about control that they're trying to exert in some way.
Insel: When my daughter was a teenager, she had anorexia, and I couldn't see it.
So why couldn't I see that my daughter was dying of anorexia?
♪ Partly because it doesn't come packaged that way.
Anorexia is all about perfectionism.
And she was superb in every dimension.
And as a parent, I was completely missing the fact that what she was striving so hard to do was gonna kill her unless she got help for it.
I have treated a lot of people with anorexia nervosa.
I knew what that looked like, and I should have known better, but with my own daughter, I missed it until she was the one who stood up and said, "I need help."
Yaadieah: I spend a lot of time in the grocery store when I go.
I have to check the labels for everything.
I also feel like people are watching me, everyone's, you know, watching my grocery cart.
It's just a very overwhelming experience.
Well, you don't have to do drugs and alcohol, but you do have to eat, and you have to eat every day, so food is not really something that I can escape.
Woman: Often I have been gripped by the terrifying fist of a sadness so complete it shut out the sun entirely like an eclipse.
I had landed on the other side of myself, a stranger to me.
♪ Isabel: I needed to decide what I needed to do, so I left.
3 kids and 4 suitcases.
♪ Xavier: When my parents got divorced, it was an upsetting thing for me.
I kind of became distant from my mother.
I started developing the personality that people are just dumb.
I don't see that I have to care for other people.
I don't like physical touch much anymore.
I don't trust a lot of people.
And I get intrusive thoughts that make me upset.
It just kind of downward spirals into an even worse mood.
And then I just kind of shut down.
Isabel: That defeated feeling is so vastly different than the kid that I know.
This is the kid who didn't want to bring home a report card 'cause he had a 99 as his lowest grade.
And that's when I know that's depression speaking.
♪ Vinson: People's experiences of depression can manifest with feeling sad.
People often feel tired, their energy goes down.
And sometimes it is interpreted as them being oppositional or disrespectful, and I see it happen a lot in children and adolescents.
♪ Kennedy: Whether it's exactly like everyone else, probably not, you can't ascribe the same characteristics for every person because everyone's got variations on the same.
Just waking up and hating everything, yourself, your life, everything.
The feeling is being pulled into, like, quicksand.
There's always something pulling you down and holding you in that dark spot that you're in.
♪ Samantha: It physically pains me.
You feel like you're being stabbed right in the chest.
You feel like a void.
I want to crawl up in a ball and just sob.
Billie: It feels like you want to cry, you have to cry, but then when you try to cry and release it, there's nothing there.
Kevin: You just feel like black and white, all or nothing, thinking about the world and how everything is doomed and everything's a waste of time.
You're never really happy, and you're always just upset and don't feel like you.
Ava: You don't want to go anywhere besides your bed.
And your mind is, like, just dark.
I was feeling so, like, lost in, like, my thoughts.
I had no idea what was going on.
Dunning: You can't console them.
They can't concentrate, they can't think, so--so they hide.
Alexis: I just didn't want to leave my room because that was where I was alone, where, you know, I could let all my emotions out if I wanted to.
I was trying to figure things out, but you're still in it.
♪ It's honestly the worst feeling you could ever feel.
It's not a--it's-- you feel like you're never gonna come out of that.
When you--when your self-worth and the way you look at yourself is non-existent, um, that's--that's miserable.
[Clicking] Angry, that's what it was.
I was angry a lot as a kid.
The depression coupled with anger, just bouncing back and forth.
I just became so angry, and I didn't let myself feel sad.
It was all anger.
I'd create drama in my friend group because I needed something to distract myself with.
♪ Vinson: People do not realize that irritability and anger are sometimes the emotions that depressed people really lead with more so than being sad.
♪ Samantha: There was a boy who I had social studies with, and we went to a party together, nothing happened, and then he told the whole school every-- something happened.
And I couldn't take it.
[Chuckles] I actually went to his house with a baseball bat.
But he wasn't home.
Dunning: Depression in junior high and high school, that anger really starts to come out.
It's hard to figure out what is really the normal mood swings with teens versus what is the actual-- is it a true mental health challenge?
I lived in this one-bedroom apartment with my mother and my sister, and I literally locked myself in a very kind of large closet just to be away.
I'd sit there and I would just cry in a closet.
And then I'd go to school.
You know, you put on a face, a facade.
You're happy, you're bubbly.
And then you eat lunch alone in the bathroom.
Kennedy: For self-preservation, you don't want people to know the ugly truth behind door number 3, so you're doing your best to distract them in all kinds of manipulative ways.
Morgan: I was about 14 or 15 years old, I think, is when my mental health issues really started to hit.
I definitely maintained that everything is fine, like, "I'm happy" image at school, but I just kept all these painful feelings from everybody.
Because all you're thinking about is yourself.
You think you have all your friends, but you really feel that you can't even talk to your friends about any of this.
So that feeling of desperation, that feeling of loneliness, that no one understands, started there.
I couldn't see a future for myself.
I just couldn't imagine it.
Maclayn: I was struggling, and I didn't really want to tell anybody, but then it just got too overwhelming for me, and I just would, like, break down every night.
Even my mom, for example, was just like, "Just move on."
I went over to her house, and we watched a movie, and it was fine, but I was, like, really depressed, and she's like, "So did that cheer you up?
Are you feeling better?"
And I'm like, "No.
I'm still [beep] sad."
Sometimes you grieve for the person you used to be, and that just makes you so much more depressed.
It's a painful, downward spiral every time.
♪ Dunning: How hard it is for you to get out of bed and just be awake and alive?
I'm asking you to do one step further.
You are worthy of love.
You have value.
So seek it out, find it.
♪ Loving who you are starts with you.
♪ Yanerry: Have a conversation with yourself about it.
That it could help you feel more comfortable to speak to other people.
Align with yourself first, and then align with someone-- your parent or a teacher, a trusted person.
And it could be a friend.
The people that are in your life truly want to know.
Collin: Finding your person that can help you through times like that is extremely important.
And once you start talking, then you'll realize that that's your person and that they can help you through these struggles and that you aren't alone.
Just hold on, you know, give yourself time and talk about it.
♪ Woman: I have never seen battles quite as terrifyingly beautiful as the ones I fight when my mind splinters and races to swallow me into my own madness again.
♪ Nicole Lyons.
♪ Amethyst: Signs that something was wrong started a little bit before my dad died, but they didn't really kick into overdrive until about a year later.
[Rock music playing on headphones] I tended to be really hyper and energetic.
♪ Ahh ♪ ♪ Amethyst: It often ends up making me lose any sense of impulse control, then ends up in full yelling matches with my stepmom.
And then everything would just kind of crash... [Cheers and applause] and I would get into a more depressive state.
♪ Makalynn: There's no threshold for me.
There's no limit.
When I haven't been to sleep in 3 days and, you know, nobody else is wanting to hang out with me anymore because I'm just being too much, then that's--that's where it becomes a problem.
[Thunder] I engage in just reckless sexual behaviors.
I'll feel so restless that one time I drove in the middle of the night to Pittsburgh just to turn around just because I needed to go do that.
♪ Dunning: Mania.
We're going really fast, pressured speech, thinking grandiose thoughts.
[Fireworks popping] We have this grandiosity that we can do anything.
So who would not want to feel like that?
Vinson: When they are manic, people don't have good insight.
So the people around them can see that something is different, but the person themselves might have a hard time identifying that something is wrong.
♪ Kevin: When you're manic, you don't really feel like you have a problem.
There was a lot of tangential thinking, a lot of rapid speaking, a lot of jumping from topic to topic.
But at the time, I didn't have the knowledge base to understand that.
Vinson: Their mind is moving too fast for them to actually complete anything.
♪ And usually after a manic episode, there is going to be a fall into depression.
And It's almost enjoyable for a little bit.
But then there are also always feelings of defeat, where I cannot force myself to get out of bed and do what I need to do.
And I can't deal with the world.
Constructive criticism automatically turns into a deep-seated angry insult towards me.
Looking back when I was a kid, I would get so upset and so frustrated, and crying and screaming wouldn't help.
So I resorted to aggression in a lot of ways.
♪ Amethyst: I can overreact if something sets me off the wrong way.
Sometimes I would slam some of my things on the floor.
I would often slam doors shut because I needed some sort of physical release.
It was almost like I was watching everything I did in third person.
I couldn't think at all before I said or did something.
♪ Things got to be a bit too much, so my stepmom tried the last thing that she thought possible.
She decided to send me to a Christian boarding school, thinking that maybe if I gained any faith in God, that it would help fix my behavior.
♪ The boarding school was very tolerant of me at first, but I had the worst episode that I'd had in a while, and I was thrashing around and throwing things pretty violently.
♪ So they decided that I had to leave the school.
Since my stepmom had moved to New York, I ended up living with my biological mom and brother.
When she first got here, um, things were all right for about, you know, the first 3 or 4 weeks, and then the wheels kind of came off.
[Laughs] A lot of screaming, especially at bedtime, to the degree that I was afraid that the neighbors were gonna get pissed off or concerned.
Amethyst: People who go through this kind of thing, they don't want to, and they would never wish it upon anybody.
It's just something that we certainly can't help.
Melanie: This is a brain chemical issue.
This is an outburst caused by her brain.
It's not her doing it just to be an obnoxious teenager.
It's beyond her ability to control.
Amethyst: With my manic episodes, it would be nighttime, and I would be sent to go to bed, and I would be doing all sorts of artsy things.
♪ I even started cutting up some of my old clothes and bedsheets.
For a little while, she had this notion of being like a fashion designer.
She would cut her clothing, she would cut the bedding.
Not cool at all.
Kevin: You have these highs where you feel like, I'm in tune with all my creative powers, and I would sit down and I would work on a painting, and I'd kind of be transported into this time and space where time and space didn't really exist.
I'd just focus on the art.
Painting, drawing, comics, anything that has to do with expressing yourself, I'm all for.
I love making music, videos.
♪ How I come up, but now that I got... ♪ But there's also that depression that sets in, that crash that happens after the mania.
And this all happens over and over.
♪ Makalynn: I was just hyperactive all the time as a kid.
I used the phrase, "There's a war going on in my brain."
[Crying] That was the only way that I could make sense of what was happening.
Makalynn: I would act in a way that I knew was inappropriate or unnecessary, but I couldn't control those feelings.
And then towards the end of middle school, I found drugs and alcohol, and I was able to, like, silence the--the war in my brain.
I was able mute that.
[Dripping] Justin: We all deal with things in different ways.
And we are all introduced to different things.
So maybe it was an initial choice.
Let's be honest.
Maybe the first usage.
Maybe it wasn't your choice.
But that continual usage becomes a coping method.
♪ Dunning: So maybe you start drinking, or maybe you start smoking weed.
That's how it begins.
♪ Self-medicating can look like prescription drugs, exercise, even addiction to porn, anything that is out of balance of what your life would look like without it, because you're trying so hard to figure out how to fix what you may not even know you're trying to fix.
Billie: It originally started with just, like, taking a sip or two just, like, walking by, and then it turned into, like, half a bottle of whiskey from our pantry.
Samantha: I stayed inside, but I could go out if I had smoked weed.
Yanerry: My friends were smoking, like, marijuana, and when they told me that it just brings you a place to pure happiness, I was completely open with trying it.
Davidson: The two big things that a lot of our kids are struggling with are marijuana and electronic e-cigarettes and things like that.
And whether that's to mask or hide a mental health issue or that is the mental health issue, you're not always sure.
Leah: My best friend, we were both, like, depressed and anxious.
We tried smoking weed.
We tried doing Xanax.
And our classmate had cocaine, and we're like, "Let's try it!"
The fact that I told myself I never wanted to be my mother, and then here I was, on my way to being my mother.
But when you're at that stage, you don't care.
Justin: It was my freshman year of high school.
I lost my best friend, and then after he passed away, um, I started to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
It's the easiest thing to cope and deal with your, uh, pain and problems, but it's just putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound, basically.
I just remember it as being, like, my first sign of mental health symptoms looking back.
I started doing drugs in seventh grade.
I was self-medicating from the overwhelming feeling of being stuck.
It's like all your feelings are, like, stirred up in this pot, and you're just, like, sitting in it, and you can't get out.
And when I was high, I didn't--I didn't feel that.
I didn't care.
People who are experiencing distress are going to look for ways to feel relief.
What people choose is going to depend on what's available to them, what's been modeled to them, and what from their own experience works for them.
And sometimes things work short-term, uh, but not long-term.
And those are the things that we'll often refer to as maladaptive coping mechanisms.
Makalynn: In middle school, I started drinking and using drugs.
That was the--the major relief that I found, um, from my own head.
It felt like it took away all my emotion for a second, and, like, when I would think about a sad thought, two seconds later, be like, "Wait, what was I thinking about?"
Like, you know?
As if someone took me and put me in a different person's body who was just happy.
Vinson: Often there's this sort of narrative, "Stop that," "Don't do that," "It's bad," "Just say no."
Well, if the child still has the symptom and you're not giving them something else to help them with that symptom, they're gonna go back to what they believe works for them.
Dunning: Why would you not want to take care of something that is making your life a living hell?
It's like a state of, like, "Oh, my gosh, I don't-- "I don't have to think about that.
"I don't have to do that.
I can--I can be at peace in my brain."
What a gift!
[Rain falling] Until it becomes a challenge.
♪ Man: Young people all across the country have been swept into addiction.
Woman: 50% of teens have misused a drug.
Woman 2: ...especially young people are gaining access in their parents' cabinet... Woman 3: Many young heroin users start With opiate painkillers like Vicodin.
Woman 4: Teens and young adults dying from an opioid... Woman 5: The U.S. is in an ongoing crisis.
Lydia: When I was in, like, eighth grade, I had started taking pills every day.
And it was... it was really bad.
Any pill I saw, it's like a pull, a physical thing where you just, like, go for it, You don't even think about, "Oh, I want to take these pills right now."
It's just you take it, you put it in your hand, you pop them in your mouth, you know?
Kennedy: People with addiction are chasing what is an obsession.
You are not in control of your own thinking.
And it's a terrifying concept because how do you get out of it?
You can't think your way out of it using the same thinking that got yourself into it.
♪ Davidson: I've had substance abuse issues when I was an early teenager, and I'm pretty open about that.
I smoked pot for the first time when I was 10.
And when I was 13, I was shooting up heroin almost daily.
Part of it was social pressures, part of it was also not just feeling OK in my own skin and wanting to feel OK. ♪ Justin: But there comes a point where things stop working.
I tried cocaine, ecstasy.
I didn't leave my apartment for, like, two weeks.
I got fired from a really good job.
And I constantly blamed other people, the employers, but the whole time I was in denial about my addiction and had this onset that was brewing.
Makalynn: Drugs and alcohol definitely helped me mask the symptoms.
But after a good 3 months of silence, aggression once again reared its ugly head.
It evolved to taking whatever pill I could find in the medicine cabinet, stealing my mom's liquor, trying to reach that state of oblivion 24/7.
♪ Julie: I was in my teenage years.
My husband was 10 years older than me.
He had his own mental illness and issues going on.
One day I found him.
He had hung himself in our backyard.
My world was yanked from underneath me.
It was very hard.
And even many years later... ♪ You know, the healing still continues.
After my husband committed suicide, that's when I met James and started another phase of my life.
I got pregnant again, but, you know, relationship challenges.
♪ We split up.
And things got bad again.
I wanted to feel better, so I tried a bunch of different street drugs-- ketamine, cocaine, crack.
♪ It was just like this overwhelming feeling of--[inhales] everything was OK. That's when it grabbed a hold of me.
As a young mother, I lost my home, I lost my job, I lost myself.
And my kids suffered a lot.
"This isn't my mom."
You know, "What happened to my mom?"
"Where's my mom?"
"I want my mom."
♪ Lydia: I always felt like I needed to hide something.
Whenever somebody would be like, "Lydia, can I talk to you?"
My heart would start racing.
I'd be like, "[Beep].
They found out."
Like, "They found this, that, that."
And, like, I had so much that I was hiding from everybody.
I think everyone thinks, uh, "Not my kid," you know, "This won't happen to my kid," Lydia: The first time they ever found out, they found empty pill bottles in my bag.
I think they just hoped that I was just testing things out.
They grounded me, and they took my phone away.
It didn't matter how many consequences I got, nothing was enough to stop me from taking what I wanted.
♪ My life was gonna end one way, and that was being addicted to drugs, so why not start now?
[Thunder] Davidson: I wish somebody was there to help me with the struggles that I was having.
I feel like I had a point of view that kids needed to understand that you can get through it and get to the other side of it and be OK.
There's people that can help you to get through whatever it is that's making you feel the way you're feeling right now.
And we'll take it one step at a time, and it's not gonna be easy, and it's gonna be messy at times, and that's OK, because once you're on the other side of it, you're gonna realize how much stronger you are as a person.
Man: ♪ I've been in the back of a squad car ♪ ♪ Handcuffs digging in my wrists not far from ♪ ♪ Feeling suicidal ♪ ♪ My life up and down like a seesaw ♪ [Siren] ♪ Late at night I asked God for ♪ ♪ A response, but it's like a dropped call ♪ ♪ Or one placed on hold ♪ ♪ My heart pumps cold, blood boils... ♪ Kevin: I went to art school as an undergrad.
And I had, like, a semester left, and I just wanted to not have to focus on school and all the pressure I was under.
And I remember I stayed up for several days, wandering around the city, kind of going on long walks.
♪ Man: We talked every Saturday.
And on this particular phone call he said, "Dad, Dad, food doesn't taste good."
I said, "What?"
"I don't want to talk about it.
I don't want to talk about it."
Kevin: And I believe I took some homeless people out to get breakfast one morning.
Pete: And then I called back and he said, "Dad, Dad, I think I took some homeless people to breakfast this morning at McDonald's."
And I thought, "OK?"
And he said, "I don't want to talk about it."
And then he called back again, and he said, "Dad, I'm having trouble knowing reality, what's real and not, am I dreaming or not."
♪ Yanerry: It started out as me hearing my friends say my name, and then I noticed the more sad that I was getting over the years, the worse it kind of got.
It went from just saying my name to a woman just screaming at the top of her lungs.
Then I was alone in my bedroom, and I just saw, like, a shadow standing in the corner.
I was wide awake, but I actually saw it.
♪ Vinson: Psychosis is when someone has a break with reality.
It's hard for you to tell what is generated by your brain versus what is actually in real life.
So you may have people who are experiencing things like hearing voices or seeing things, and it's so distressing to them and alarming to them that, uh, they may be reacting to those voices or to what they're seeing.
Dunning: Typically we see it later in an adolescent's life, maybe 17, 18, 19, 20, responding to external stimuli that--that doesn't exist for you, but it does for them.
♪ Justin: I was 22 years old, and I experimented with crystal meth.
I'd walk the alleys in Miami Beach.
I started to see things that weren't there.
I became very paranoid, delusional about people following me, people out to kill me.
My family got involved.
♪ And they decided I should go to rehab.
And I stopped doing drugs.
I felt better.
But the symptoms came back again.
This time, I thought my family was in trouble in New Jersey, and I told them they had to be careful because the mafia was out to get them, the terrorists... [Gunshots] Al-Qaeda.
When there's no drugs or alcohol present and those symptoms come back again, that's how you can tell if somebody has a serious mental health issue.
♪ Yanerry: They are 3 different shadows for me.
There's one shadow guy.
He's just like a tall man in all black, and he kind of just stands in the corner and stares at me.
♪ And there's one of them on his hands and knees and kind of just crawls around on the ceiling or on the walls.
And then there's one shadow where I can see in my peripheral view, but every time I go to look at him, he just runs away.
♪ Then I started to see shadows in school.
They run by me or a shadow passes through the walls and stuff.
I would bring it up to my friends, "Do you guys see that over there?"
And they're like, "What?
What are you talking about?"
And that's when I was like, "Oh, you know what?
That was my breaking point.
So, I kept it a secret most of my life.
♪ Pete: For 6 months, Kevin seemed fine.
And then all of a sudden, he got in the car one day and he was driving, and Kevin didn't know whether he was awake or dreaming.
So to test it, he took his hands off the wheel, and he closed his eyes.
I did sort of a Jesus-take-the-wheel thing where I let go of the steering wheel, and I ended up crashing into a parked car.
I kind of was just doing it.
It--it made sense at the time.
Justin: I mean, imagine if you couldn't tell the difference between what was really happening in your life and what was happening in your mind.
You'd feel that everything you knew was a lie and that you'd been lied to your whole life, and that you found some new information that out of nowhere, you could trust for some reason.
And then you're trying to explain this to the people that you have in your life.
And they distance themselves farther and farther from you because of your behaviors.
♪ Vinson: I think one of the biggest misunderstandings about psychotic symptoms is that people think that if you have them, you must look crazy all the time.
There are people who may still have symptoms but are able to function, who find coping ways to deal with those things and interact with other people.
♪ Yanerry: I was very scared of it at first, but after a while, it became a part of my everyday life.
Because I see it, it's my truth.
It's very much real to me.
♪ We are getting a look at the damage caused by a man yesterday who climbed on the roof of a business and went berserk.
This was the scene on... Lucas: If I ever saw somebody acting out, acting angry... Reporter: He does suffer from mental illness.
I would be like, "Oh, that person's crazy.
"That person's losing their mind.
They don't know what they're doing."
I wasn't any, you know, different than any, um, I hate to say this, but normal person that thinks that negative way about mental illness.
Back in high school, I had a friend who had some psychiatric issues, and I made fun of her, and I drew in her yearbook a picture of her wearing a straitjacket, and I made light of her situation.
I tell people all the time, kids are cruel sometimes, and I was cruel with them.
Reporter: ...take a toll on individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole.
Reporter 2: who is battling his personal demons is also battling his neighbors, and they say enough is enough.
Kennedy: There's something particular about a mental illness that frightens people.
If we walk by a person on the street who is in active psychosis, we turn the other way.
And if we walked by someone who fell over and is bleeding, we'd call 911.
This is the most clear-cut case of a double standard in the way that we treat people.
Billie: It is naturally human nature to be afraid of what we don't understand because that's just what we are.
We take comfort in the things we know.
The stigma comes from a legitimate fear that if other people know that this illness is present, they will treat you differently, ostracize you.
They will not include you.
Kevin: I think stigma is kind of like covering your ears or your eyes and not wanting to realize that mental illness could possibly affect you or your family members or your loved ones.
That if you got a mental illness, you're gonna be crazy for the rest of your life.
It's like the self-fulfilling prophecy as well.
If someone is constantly telling you you're this, you're that, then you kind of start to believe it.
Alexis: You're like, "Yeah, I wouldn't want to be around me either."
Like, I'm an emotional wreck, you know?
You don't see that kind of shame with most other medical illnesses.
I didn't really want to talk about my feelings, because I didn't want people to look at me in a different light.
You want to, like, hide and just not be by anybody and just be alone.
If I were to hide this or to be ashamed or to not talk to people about this, it would be festering inside of me and it would eat at my soul if I weren't able to share it with other people.
Billie: You leave people to make these assumptions about those that suffer with mental illness rather than letting us actually speak our story and say, "Hey, this is how these symptoms actually affect a human."
Everyone is different.
Everyone is unique in their own ways.
No one ever understands what someone went through or how their feelings are.
And once you really get that thought in your head, it's hard to sit there and be so cruel.
♪ Yanerry: I know you're scared, and I know the fear of being judged is a fear that I wouldn't want my worst enemy to feel.
But you should learn to really love yourself and accept it, because you can spend your whole life worrying about it.
When you look back, you just wish you could have accepted it and lived your life as close to your normal as possible.
Woman: There was a very fine pain, like the swift and fleeting burn of a drop of hot candle wax.
The chaos in my head spun itself into a silk of silence.
♪ Billie: I felt so empty and so unmotivated that I didn't want to live, but I didn't want to die either, so I just didn't care.
But the act of cutting reminded me that I was here today.
♪ I had a knife laying around, and I was playing with it, and I, um, decided to see how sharp it is on myself.
And I kept doing it.
♪ What sane person would think that hurting themselves would stop the pain?
♪ Vinson: So self-harm is something that is often misunderstood.
Normally it falls into one of two categories.
Um, and getting somebody's attention is not one of those two.
Uh, the first is that they feel numb and they just want to feel something.
And the second is someone who feels overwhelming negative emotions, like anger or sadness or anxiety.
It allows them to feel something else other than that.
I learned it in a book that I read.
Um, once I started, I couldn't stop.
Yanerry: I watched a movie that had self-harm, and I kind of, uh, wanted to try it.
I was like, "Oh, well, this is a way to, like, get everything out."
It doesn't make you feel better.
It's just... relief as you could say.
Just doing it... just gets a weight off your shoulders and stuff.
Makalynn: It was a little bit before eighth grade I started cutting myself.
You know when you shake up a pop bottle and you open the lid up a little bit and that fizz comes out, that's kind of what, you know, hurting myself did.
Leah: I'd just cut myself or burn myself or bite myself so that, um, I wouldn't feel all this pain that I felt inside of myself.
Alexis: I was just scratching and scratching and scratching until I would ultimately bleed.
I hated who I was, and I hated how I felt other people viewed me, so that was the damage I did to myself.
I actually kept a hammer in my room and, um, I would hit myself in the legs with a hammer, you know, because a bruise was a lot easier to explain to my mom or to a teacher at school than a cut on the inside of my wrist.
One of the things that I thought would take away from the anxiety, like going up to something and just punching it as hard as I could.
It didn't really help, it just hurt the [beep].
Vinson: Self-harm isn't done with the intention of someone ending their life.
It indicates that there are very limited, adaptive coping mechanisms for dealing with negative emotions or for dealing with hard times.
I don't want to die, but, like, I want to feel some type of pain or whatever.
I don't really remember.
But then I did it right in my bed, like, crying, thinking about what these people said to me on social media and how they don't care.
♪ Leah: It's addicting to get that instant relief from the pain.
But at the same time, you are harming yourself.
And God forbid something really bad could happen to you just trying to get those few seconds of no pain.
It had, um, gotten worse, and that I, um, was, like, doing it on my arms and legs and stomach now.
Leah: I was cutting on my leg 'cause I was ashamed of what I was doing.
And you get gauze, and you wrap your arm up, and you wrap your leg up, and you wear sweaters in the summertime.
And nobody asks.
And it's weird.
Leah: I don't remember my dad asking me about the cutting.
I don't think that he wanted to talk about it.
Samantha: Why is nobody questioning it?
Dunning: People cut because they want to feel better.
So I will ask you, "What was that feeling that you were trying to get to?"
Then we'll have a great discussion, and we can be more fruitful in getting to what's really going on.
At the end of the day, it's really not worth it because you're left with scars and your pain is still there.
Morgan: I think self-harming is more than just cutting yourself.
Activities we do daily that are just more socially acceptable like drinking, smoking, not sleeping enough, not eating enough, these are all self-destructive behaviors but they're just more socially acceptable.
Amira: It's hard whenever you have to balance things like work and school and other people even.
Anything can trigger, you know, your...whatever you've got going on, really.
And if you're already upset, if you're already in an unstable head space, it can trigger so much more, you know?
Kennedy: I think we all can see whether these illnesses are causing us to be in situations that, you know, are not where we want to be.
Julie: I didn't know what was going on, I just wanted it to stop.
I didn't see any reason to even try to be sane.
If I take one pill, if I take one sip of a drink, it's over.
And all the sudden, you're in that cycle of denial, where you really are not in touch with reality.
You're not seeing things clearly.
I was shutting away my friends and the people who loved me.
I felt like I had a disease, you know, and I couldn't help myself.
It's gonna eventually come to the time where it's over and I just stop caring.
Kennedy: You have an illness that lies to you, that tells you you're the one that's gotten yourself in this situation.
As if you would wake up in any given day and decide to jeopardize your career, jeopardize your relationship with your family.
No human being would willingly put themselves in a place where they could be castigated, criticized, demeaned, and marginalized.
You are hijacked by your brain illness, and then it's really not hard to see where this goes.
Yaadieah: I knew my day was gonna be bad.
I was having a hard time just talking to anyone.
I wasn't talking to my friends.
And I also felt like I was a burden, everyone would honestly be better off if I just wasn't here.
My mother was never home.
I'd wonder if I just killed myself and she just came home to me dead.
Billie: I was already under suicide watch by my parents.
I skipped my meds for a couple days so I could build some up and then took all of the meds that I had, and...
I laid in bed and waited for the meds to kick in.
♪ Mary: Maclayn went to school.
Then we got a call from the counselor that he had really talked about, "I don't have a purpose here, I'm done," and just kept saying the words, "I'm done, I'm done."
I had thoughts of like wanting to end my life and that, like, I wasn't meant to be on this Earth.
Mary: He never said the word "suicide."
Joe: But when he starts asking those questions, I mean... At 9.
You just--you just want to crawl in a corner and cry yourself.
It was terrible.
We don't know what to do.
♪ Angel: You may not know this, but you mean a lot to the people around you.
Your family, your friends, your coworkers, your teammates, all those people care about you in some sort of way.
You need to understand that your life matters.
Often, if you can just prevent somebody from making an attempt, you can also not only save their lives for that moment, but they may not make another one.
Davidson: I've had kids that leave my office, and I'll say to them, "Hey, um, can you make me a promise?
"I need you to promise to me "that you're not gonna hurt yourself tonight, and that you're gonna come check in with me tomorrow."
And that might be the one thing that they hang on to that makes them get through the night.
♪ As much as it's just words, it means a lot to them.
That's the first step.
♪ Isabel: I was looking to get him help, but before that could ever happen, he had voiced suicidal ideation.
♪ Your kid doesn't want to live.
♪ At second grade, you should be full of life, you should be riding your bike or busting your butt on a skateboard, not wanting to end your life.
You have a lot of life.
Alexis: It was just too much to bear.
I have two younger brothers.
I wrote them good-bye letters, just apologizing for being so emotional, being such a burden, "I'm sorry for leaving."
And then... [Sighs] when I--I put my letters in their room, I couldn't go through with it.
I couldn't do it, because I was so worried they would find me first.
That's literally the only reason I'm here.
Justin: You matter.
You may not realize it right now, but your struggles are for a reason.
There are so many ways out, and suicide is not one of them.
Well, it was actually on social media.
These boys didn't care how I felt, they just wanted me to feel guilty, and they kept pushing, pushing till, like, I, like, couldn't deal with it anymore.
I actually was, like, really scared, but I actually tried to hurt myself.
♪ Yanerry: I overdosed on Ibuprofen.
My stepfather had, I guess, searched online that people can't overdose on ibuprofen, so no one came to help me.
I was by myself, and I remember lying on the floor.
And I was just like begging God to take me.
♪ And then I saw, like, a shadow standing in the corner, but I wasn't scared.
I actually felt comfort from the shadow.
Even if it wasn't real, it kind of made me feel like someone was there for me.
♪ Morgan: I just took basically the whole bottle of my migraine medication.
I didn't make a huge deal out of it, and then I just went to sleep, and the next thing I know, I woke up in the hospital, my eyes like opening up really slow, seeing my mom's face, "What did you do?
What did you do?"
And then I just went back to sleep.
And I was honestly pissed.
I just want kids to know that it's just-- you're never alone and that there's always gonna be someone who cares about you and that you're gonna get through this.
Morgan: After that, two years was rock bottom.
I was in a very abusive relationship.
My parents wouldn't give me any space.
I was running out of the house, I was crying, my mom, she was chasing me.
♪ And I just threw myself in the middle of the road.
[Crash] My mom saw the whole thing, and I was hit by a car.
Windshield was shattered.
Then my body was like whomp, whomp, whomp.
And I think that was like a breaking point, snap, my biggest snapping point.
Lydia: So there was barely any joy in my life, and when it was, it was like momentary, it was very short-lived joy.
And then it ended, and I was like, "Well, [beep], "I am just like--I'm just gonna pop these pills, and if I die, I die."
Erick: Watching your kid struggle like this and really not knowing if they're gonna make it, uh, it's the most terrifying thing I've ever known.
♪ Pete: Then all of a sudden, I became that parent.
You sit there and watch this person slipping away from you and you feel so helpless.
You don't get interested in mental health because--it's--it's not like the ski club, you know?
You only get involved because you get dragged into it.
This is not a calling I ever wanted, and, uh, then once you get into it, I can't believe you don't feel a responsibility to do something about it.
Lives are being lost.
♪ [Man vocalizing] Dunning: If you're still in the storm and you don't know where to go next, hold your hand up, reach out.
There will be brighter days.
I know, you're like, "You don't know me.
You have no idea of my journey, you have no idea."
You're right, I don't.
You're right, I don't.
But I do know about lots of other kids' journeys.
They are very different than yours, I'm sure of that.
But what I know is that you're worth it.
You have value.
You are worthy of love.
You are worthy of being alive.
You're fighting this fight that you truly have no idea whether you're going to win or not.
You're beyond courageous, you're beyond courageous, and you're stronger than you know, so keep the fight, stay strong in your resolve, because you're worth it.
♪ Justin: There's a whole life out there just waiting for you.
Announcer: Next time... Billie: I think I don't actually give my therapist enough credit.
Makalynn: I know now that medication is necessary.
Man: You think you can love it out of them, that will fix it.
No, it doesn't.
Insel: People do overcome having a mental illness.
I am bipolar.
This is OK. Maclayn: I'm just me.
Announcer: Next time on "Hiding in Plain Sight."
[Kevin "Earleybird" Earley's "Convey" playing] ♪ Earley: ♪ I don't really know any way to convey ♪ ♪ The range of emotions I go through each day ♪ ♪ Got my ideas, but I've been known to stray ♪ ♪ Consequences for my actions I pay ♪ ♪ Try to be accountable for all that I say ♪ ♪ Handle my business and make time to play ♪ ♪ Options and choices I carefully weigh ♪ ♪ Mold my ambition like handfuls of clay ♪ ♪ Stress I encounter, it takes its effect ♪ ♪ Don't like the odds, but I still place my bets ♪ ♪ Wandering lost without a safety net ♪ ♪ Play Russian roulette with rusty bayonets ♪ ♪ I've been in the hold... ♪ Announcer: Learn more about the "Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness" film and explore mental health resources at pbs.org/plainsight.
Also join the conversation online with #PlainSightPBS.
To order "Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness," on DVD or Blu Ray, visit shopPBS or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
This program is also available with PBS Passport and on Amazon Prime Video.
Earley: ♪ Get misconstrued when I take your advice ♪ ♪ My rage is an agent of change and I'd like ♪ ♪ To not speak, but I can't always says something nice ♪ ♪ When I offer even the slightest critique ♪ ♪ I'm attacked and crucified ♪ ♪ By thoughts that are weak ♪ ♪ Tried for so long to maintain my mystique ♪ ♪ But the people I meet treat me like I speak Greek ♪ ♪ I don't know how often I can reiterate ♪ ♪ The same ideas that I've been trying to communicate ♪ ♪ Unsuccessfully I wrestle with the human race ♪ ♪ In a way that seems doomed, I don't want to lose face ♪ Chorus: ♪ Can't convey ♪ ♪ Words today ♪ ♪ Can't convey ♪ ♪ Words today ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Can't convey ♪ ♪ Words today ♪ ♪ Can't convey ♪ ♪ Words today ♪