I’m writing to you because my emotions are out of control and I don’t know what to do. Some days I feel fine, but others I feel like everything in my life is awful and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. It started last year when some girls from my school started to bully me on YouTube. They would post awful videos where they would say some really nasty things about me. It got really bad until my mum found out and called my school. Ever since then my moods have been really up and down and I’ve hardly wanted to leave the house. Now whenever something bad happens it feels like it’s building up to something even worse. I’m worried there’s something wrong with my head and I don’t know where to turn for help. I’ve tried talking to my mum but she just tells me it’s normal ‘teenage mood swings’.

Dana, 15

Answer And Solution

What you’re experiencing are the after-effects of being bullied. Many victims of bullying suffer from crushed confidence levels long after the bullying has stopped. They find that they can’t cope and/or panic when anything upsetting happens to them. What you need to do is talk to your mum again and also contact one of the bullying helplines for advice and support. It’s vital to do this now because if your feelings are not addressed properly they can grow and turn into something more overwhelming and serious, like depression. Right now it may feel as if your despair will never lift, but with the correct help and support you will start to feel better and more hopeful about things.

When Everything Hurts – Common Issue And S0lution

hurt teen girl

Your teens are a time of intense change that can play havoc with your emotions. It’s normal to have moody days, perhaps due to hormones or because you’ve reached a certain stage in your  menstrual cycle (periods). Gloomy weather or the prospect of a weekend packed full with homework essays can also, at times, make you feel pretty low!

Often, feeling a bit depressed is linked to something specific. Perhaps you’ve argued with your mum, fallen out with your best friend, failed an exam or the boy you like hasn’t noticed you. At these times you can feel so miserable that you start to wonder if things will ever get better. But it’s important to remember that these feelings will pass – maybe tomorrow, or in a week or in a few months. To help yourself, talk to a close friend you can trust and get the sad and negative feelings out of your head. Be kind to yourself, reassure yourself that things will get better and bolster your confidence until you start to feel good about life again. These low and gloomy feelings are real, but they are not signs of depression, and they don’t call for a trip to your GP unless you feel like this all the time.

Of course, teens can get depressed just like anyone else, but you need to remember that people who are ill with depression have serious symptoms of emptiness and despair. They are unable to look on the bright side, often can’t sleep (or sleep too much), eat too little, or binge on food all day, lose all track of time, can’t concentrate and cannot become interested in anything. The good news is that all but the most serious depressions can be helped by taking regular exercise, eating well, going to sleep at a regular time and challenging your negative thoughts by talking to someone you trust.

Talking helps because the more you talk through your problems (this can be with a parent or counsellor) the easier it is to start to unravel your feelings, make sense of them and find a way to get beyond what’s causing your depression and sadness. If your problems don’t ease by talking about them then you need to see your GP. This is especially important if you are harming yourself or thinking of harming yourself. This in itself is a big warning sign that you need to take action and seek professional help through your GP.

In other cases, depression can develop and become a ‘syndrome’ such as social anxiety, substance disorders (drug addiction) or bi polar disorder (manic depression). These types of depression need to be treated with a mixture of therapy and, in some cases, medication. Bi-polar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings. The sufferer may feel excessively low and exhausted on one day, and ‘high’ and ‘overactive’ the next. During these periods behaviour can seem exaggerated, making little sense to family or friends. Bi-polar disorder is a serious condition and qualifies as a serious depression.

If you or anyone you know shows signs of either depression or any of the disorders described above, then the next step is to talk to family about it and visit your GP. With the help of a type of therapy and counselling it’s possible to alleviate many depressive conditions.

It happened to me

I was the last girl in my class to get my period. I didn’t start until I was nearly 16 and I was also the tallest in the class. Most of my so called friends started their periods around 11 or 12 and became interested in boys. They teased me because I wasn’t into the idea of boys at all. Around this time my parents divorced. Having been really good with my schoolwork, I just couldn’t hack it and when it got to the stage of not handing in any homework the teachers got really angry with me. I felt terrible all the time. I spent a lot of my time in my room. I started cutting my arms. It’s odd but it was the only thing that helped with the pain I was feeling. But one day mum saw my arms when I was coming out of the shower. She took me to our GP who checked me out physically and then he referred me to a therapist, someone who specialised in treating self-harm and depression. It took time but I’m enjoying life a lot more now, I’m coping well with sixth form college and most importantly, I wouldn’t even consider hurting myself again.

My parents insist I’m in bed by 9 o’clock!

strict mother

My parents think that 9pm is an acceptable time for me to be in bed. I want them to understand that I’m not a little kid anymore. All my friends’ parents let them stay up and they even get to watch late night TV! Mum and dad say it doesn’t matter what other families do and say I need a proper night’s sleep. If a ‘proper night’s sleep’ is so important then why aren’t they in bed by 9pm too?

Answer

I’m afraid your parents are right when they say that you need a good night’s sleep. Teenagers need about 9 hours sleep a night for them to function at their best. Older adults need far less (6+ hours). If you’re talking about school nights then it is essential you get enough rest – it’s no good if you end up nodding off in class! Different families have their own rules but the best way to get your parents to consider your viewpoint is to put your ideas across calmly and not to make demands. I doubt they’ll change their view on staying up late on school nights just yet, but see if they will relax the rules a little for the weekend.

My parents don’t even have Facebook accounts!

facebook acounts

It’s like my parents and I live in different centuries. They don’t even have Facebook! I talk on Skype to my friends in Japan, use Facebook and Twitter to keep up with what people are up to and Instagram to post and check out interesting pictures. When my mum asks me what bands I like I’d be happy to send her playlists from Spotify or Deezer but she doesn’t know what they are. It’s the same with satellite TV and YouTube – they usually dismiss them as ‘rubbish’. I don’t expect them to change overnight but I wish they were a bit more ‘connected’ as I think it would improve our relationship. What do you think?

Solutions

The key to getting your parents to tech up is to emphasise the positives of new technology not bombard them with tech jargon and ideas they haven’t yet grasped. Step one would be to teach them to send a text message, then build up to things like email and social networking. One great way to get them to embrace the online world would be to create a Facebook profile page for both of them and link them up to their friends so they can see how easy it is and how useful and fun it is. There’s also a great site called Teach Parents Tech (www.teachparentstech.org) where they can watch videos that show tech beginners how to do a variety of things from share photos to upgrade their browser. Above all don’t get so exasperated with them. They spent years teaching you how to do everything from eat to walk and read, now it’s your turn to return the favour.