Sixteen years-old and from Atlanta, Georgia, Lyla enjoys volunteering, writing, meeting with friends, and supporting her own beliefs. She said once before, “Like Ghandi advised, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’”
“Every day would pass by…and I’d go through the same motions I went through the day before. I’d smile, pretend nothing was wrong, but inside…inside, I was crying out for someone to notice that I was struggling. It was like a black hole of depression. Once you started slipping, you couldn’t pull yourself out. At least, I couldn’t pull myself out.” –Anonymous
Teens, parents, don’t let depression overcome you. It’s not easy to annihilate, but it can be cured. Every little cut across your heart that is continually tearing, can be healed… But teens, you need to be able to reach out for help yourself… And parents, you need a few warning signs that you’re teen is suffering from these feelings.
- Recognize that this feeling isn’t you…it’s not who you are. You’re the teen who’s talented in your own way, smart, special, and loved.
- Start keeping a journal. Not a diary that includes every little detail about your life, just write down your feelings. If you’re angry at someone, don’t take it out on yourself, write it down.
- Pull aside your parents. It can be one, or it can be both. Don’t pull them aside after a long day of work, pull them aside when you know YOUR ready to discuss what you’ve been feeling, and you know in your heart that they’re ready to hear.
Sometimes depression and handling one’s dark feelings takes the form of intentionally harming oneself (example: cutting into one’s skin.).
- Teens suffering with depression start to alienate themselves from their friends.
- Talk with people who see you’re teen every day. Chances are they’ll notice a change in behavior, or tell you that the friend your teen has chosen has depression/cutting problems.
- Start having talks with your teen. Make sure no one is bullying them, or abusing them in any way. Do NOT get angry when your teen holds back information. Teens suffering with depression are used to keeping their feelings hidden within a layer of protection. They need a gentle hand to let them know someone is there for them.
- Look around their wrists, legs, necks, fingers, and their whole body for any unusual looking scars or cuts. Notice if they have any empty medicine bottles in their possession. This is a tell-tale sign of cutting and/or suicide attempts. If teen is suffering from unstoppable bleeding, or is fainting and unconscious, contact 911 immediately.
- It’s very important that when you find out your teen is suffering from depression or cutting, you don’t punish them for it even if it seems shocking. Teens hurt themselves in order to punish themselves; adding onto that doesn’t accomplish anything. It can even add to the original problem.
- Once you’re sure your teen is suffering from depression, it’s time to help pull them out of the black hole their slipping into. Contact a psychologist for minor counseling needs (example: no suicide attempts, minor cutting…) Contact a psychiatrist for major medication needs (example: suicide threats, major cutting…)
Families that have members with depression can make it through. It’s not impossible to have a fun-loving, challenge-taking teenager once again. It just takes time and love. Patience is not only a virtue in this situation…it’s a necessity. Having fun is something that can help. Maybe take a family road trip to the beach, or Six Flags, or Disney World. Or maybe, just have a picnic where you pick out your favorite food and share a few good laughs. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
“I started cutting myself. It became a thing that I did just to get the feelings off my chest. It was wrong. Eventually, a teacher noticed and became worried. She talked with my mom and I was immediately sent to a therapist. It took over a year, and I’m still working on it now, but I’m better. I’m able to go home after a hard day and tell myself ‘it’s not your fault. Tomorrow’s another day.’ I wasn’t able to do that before. Having my dog helped me along too; it’s always nice to have something warm to snuggle with. Writing in my journal helped me get the feelings off my chest, too. My parents helped in many ways. They didn’t punish me in any way when they found out about my depression and my cutting. In fact, every night my mom rubbed scar cream over the scars to make them go away. My mom doing that made me realize that it’s possible to treat myself in a loving way, and to help heal myself. You’re not alone if you’re a parent with a teenager who’s suffering from depression, or a teenager who’s suffering…I was there, and I know more that many more are there right now. Everyone around you loves you…and even if they don’t know about the depression, you need to know that they care. The best advice I could give you: Make good memories, make good friends, find something that makes you happy, and know, in your heart of hearts, that everything is going to be okay.” –Anonymous
Picture: Wolfs<3ul from Flickr
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