Torment of being a teenager

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A 17-year-old Spalding student, who was so overwhelmed by pressures at school she responded by self-harming, can at last celebrate alongside South Holland’s successful A-level students.

All Megan Vellam ever wanted was to be a vet, but she says a year ago she was unsure of her future – like many students who today might not get the grades they require to go to the university of their choice.

However, she claims lack of support at not making the grade at Sir John Gleed School plunged her into a very dark place.

Megan, of Roman Bank, said: “I don’t mind talking about what I did – I cut and burned my arms for the majority of school.

“The teachers knew I wanted to be a vet, but I struggled with sciences and they said I would never be one.

“I was bullied at school anyway and with teachers also constantly pounding you about the future, it does cause depression.

“I didn’t know how to cope with depression, so I took it out on myself because I didn’t want to hurt others.

“I used to cover it up with my jumper, but one day I thought I’m not going to hide it any more – let them see what these pressures are doing. The cuts and burns were clearly seen when wearing my shirt. I was crying out for help.”

Life is looking brighter for Megan since starting an animal management course at Stamford College.

She said: “I got the help I needed and found other ways of dealing with stress.

A talented artist and rock music vocalist, she said: “Now that I’m at college, we have more freedom and haven’t got the constant pounding about our future so the depression isn’t as intense.

“Also with help from college staff, I have found alternative ways of dealing with it like drawing and music.

“Songs such as ‘Saviour’ by Black Veil Brides have really helped - and lyrics like ‘A saviour will be there, when you are feeling alone’.

“Now I’m set on joining the army to pursue my veterinary career.”

However, she says many of her friends have been struggling with depression. She said: “School causes so much pressure nowadays on students about obtaining places at college, university and it’s so hard to find work.

“The statistics of suicides among the young are frightening.”

Depression Alliance estimates there are around 19,000 suicide attempts by UK adolescents every year and more than two million children attend GP’s surgeries with some kind of psychological or emotional problem.

Her message to students as they open their A-level results: “Just do your best and if you fall at the first hurdle, get back up and try again.”