I’m making an observation. Our youth in general have a problem. Coping. If things aren’t going the way they anticipate- they don’t know how to deal with it. They lack the skills needed to cope.
As a parent of teenagers and young adults- where did I miss the mark in teaching my own offspring this very valuable life lesson? I try to think back to when they were younger. Did I coddle them too much? Did I not give them the chance to suffer the consequences of their poor choices? Did I tell them that even when they lose they’re still a winner? And if I did these things- was it taken out of context?
I see an inability to cope in very normal hardships. For example: struggling in a relationship and they want pills because they can't deal with it or can’t sleep and they want an aide to help them. I give them my input and advise based on my very similar life experiences and yet it is thrown to the way-side (because I “don’t understand” what they’re going through).
I really want to say, “Hey! I DO know what I’m talking about! Just amuse me and *try* my advice for a week or two and see if it works or not.” Sometimes I want to just smack some sense into people, but I know that is not possible (I promise, I have not actually tried).
So... as a floundering whatever I am to these people what can I do?
For example, how do I help them understand that if a relationship is sour and you are about to go through a break up you’re going to be sad? You may cry and your heart will hurt and you will be depressed for a while... and that is actually very completely normal, even expected. Many people have been there, and it’s OK. You’ll pick up the pieces and learn and be a better person from your experience.
How do I help them understand that having a bad day, or 3, or even a week (ugh month!?) is perfectly normal? Everyone has bad days. But it’s okay because it won’t be like this forever. I know because I’ve been there.
How do I help them understand happiness is not up to the people around you, but for you to take charge of it?
How do I help them understand they have more power over their situations than they realize? You can decide if you’re going to dwell on the bad things or dwell on the good things. You can be thankful for what you have or envious of what you don’t have. You have the power to like things other people don’t like (and vise versa) and know it’s OK! You have the power to agree to disagree and move forward. You have the power to put your energy and time into alienating yourself, putting it all in 1 person, or invest in a variety relationships around you.
(I feel like "have balance" is my new mantra). I could go on about THIS, but that would be another blog.
How do I help them understand just because they may be going through a rough patch does not mean they need a pill to get through it? Quick diagnosis of depression devalues the very important need of the medications available. (Side note: not to get all Big Brother on you, but this is a lucrative business and Big Pharma isn't out for your best interests. If you want a pill they will get you a pill because they will make money off of your struggles. They don't care about you.)
How do I help them understand just because someone you know takes anti-depressants for their situation does not mean what you’re going through is less. I understand your hurts and struggles are real. I understand they're raw and sometimes fresh and you don't want to feel that way.
How do I help them understand that while a pill can do a lot of good it is not a cure for rough patches of life? Taking medication because you don't like to feel bad, at best, is a band aid and won’t stop these feelings from coming back. Hard times will always consume you if you don’t take the steps to get through it. If you’re taking something to cope you’ll always have to take something and that will do more harm for your well-being.
On this line of thought- How can I help them understand going through a rough time does not necessarily require a diagnosis of depression or anxiety? (Honestly- I think everyone deals with some levels of depression and anxiety, but learning how to cope and work through these is a part of life). Every hiccup in a relationship with someone does not mean an immediate need for counseling (although I am not opposed to therapy at all, we just can’t use it as a crutch).
Disclamer: This is my personal opinion and these comments are not to take way from those with an actual chemical imbalance and going through proper treatment- or those not diagnosed that need treatment that have tried to work things through. If you are going through something and can't do it alone- if you don't feel like you have someone to confide in- please call the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255