What do you think of when I say the word ‘teenager’?
Do you say ‘hormonal‘, ‘mood swings‘ or ‘acting out‘?
Of course, there are many stigmas attached to teens in society today. Though I guess there has always been judgment throughout passing generations; I don’t think it’s a new thing.
What does a teenagers behavior really mean? what’s the problem? and how can we deal with and help our teens?
My question is, can we really blame all our teen emotions on something are dire as an age boundary?
I for one, believe that while our brain chemistry is affected in our teen years. Sometimes that’s got nothing to do with a teenager being fussy, temperamental or unpredictable.
I feel like in some ways, I was completely different as a teenager to who I am now. Yet, It doesn’t mean that it was all down to hormones.
Part of it is that fact I have learned, grown, and understood my own thoughts and feelings.
I wish I could have done this sooner and not in my 20’s.
Age has absolutely nothing to do with mental illness and everything to do with how society ignores the trauma and stress that we endure at a young age,
Which is why I wish we would stop using the wording “it’s just a phase“.
I say this because, for me, it was not a phase. Many of my thought processes are exactly the same as they were eight years ago, I just have learned to manage them better now.
In fact, this assumption that we can blame it all on our teenage years is very dangerous.
Young people have been turned away by their family, doctors, and teachers because their problems are not deemed ‘real‘.
As if being 18 means you can’t have more emotions other than heartbreak, friend problems and school stress – which are valid feelings that shouldn’t be ignored.
It’s incredibly invalidating to tell a person that their feelings are just a phase and that it will pass. No one knows what the future holds, a person may find themselves better or they may not – it’s not down to a third-party to assume.
I remember when my father told me my night terrors would pass I would be fine when I got a little older – I still have night terrors but it’s evolved into insomnia.
I also remember when I went to a GP because I was so scared of everything, I was being called a hypochondriac and drama queen by so many people.
The doctor told me it was hormones and refused to look into it or help me.
What I have now is crippling anxiety – I sometimes imagine how much stronger I’d be if I was given my diagnosis and support for anxiety when I first asked.
I even got told that my suicidal thoughts and self-harming were attention seeking and due to it being a ‘teen thing‘. And yet, ideation turned into a real attempt and my self-harm lasted for about 7 years.
I was ignored and judged based on my age group. My mental health was not considered and nor was a root cause.
What this has done, has left me with so much more layers and trauma, which could have been entirely preventable.
Which means it’s so much harder for me to work on my mental health now because there is so much going on that has festered.
Imagine a weed growing in the garden, you ignore it, so it grows more. Years pass and before you know it, you have a weed problem that will take so much work to remove. It’s so overwhelming that no one wants to help but you know you can’t do it alone. The weed should have been dealt with at the start.
I wonder, how many casualties or accidents based on mental health could have been prevented if the teenage stereotype was ignored?
Don’t we owe it to our young, to our children (future, past or present), to take them seriously and treat them like the adults they will be very soon?
If teens are expected to get a job, drive, got to university and fend for themselves. They should at least be treated like a person who is able to have real, valid, thoughts and emotions. Because they are a person, a human and they are valid – just like you are.
So, the next time your teenager is complaining about their heartbreak, exam stress or they are seemingly acting out. Give them a hug, support them and let them talk – listen and stop jumping to conclusions.
We all have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, from our friends, family, and society.