Angsty teen, or early signs of depression?

Essedentesiast - (noun) Someone who hides pain behind a smile.


It is well known that kids go through the angsty teen phase of short and snappy tempers, rejecting their family, and wanting to spend more time with friends. But when does it stop being that, and start becoming something to really worry about?

A question that is remarkably hard to answer.


The beginning of my story...


As a child, I didn't behave in the same way that my older sister had. I was much more in-touch with my emotions and I knew what I wanted, whereas she had a harder exterior and a weaker backbone. She was the tom-boy and I was the girly-girl, she was street-smart and I was book-smart, she was creative with drawings, and myself with my words. We differed in many ways, and so I was often branded as over-sensitive, moody, and "a princess", whereas she was more pitied for being the older sibling who‘s little sister tried to 'overshadow' her.



Being a larger child, I was always bullied for my size. I remember my Mum's ex-husband telling 11 year old me "you're meant to be fit, not fat. You got the middle letter wrong." My dad's parents would say that myself and my sister "needed to diet" since before I can remember, and made demeaning comments towards us whenever we ate our meals. I had calls from blocked numbers and messages from kids in my high-school, calling me a "fat bitch" and a "huge whale"... I really wasn't.

Yes, I may be built like a brick shithouse and packed a few more pounds than the average kid of my age, but I was never unhealthy. Besides from that, no way should any child ever have to endure any bullying or teasing at all - particularly such personal attacks - from kids their age, or supposed 'loving' family members.


I was always 'over-sensitive' and internalised the things that I did wrong, or wish that I had done differently. My family had this quirk when I was younger, we would end phone-calls saying "(be) safe", and I remember being an emotional wreck if I hadn't said it to my Mum before I hung up, convinced she would have an accident on the way to work because I had jinxed it.

One December I forgot to wish a family friend who works in our local supermarket a 'merry Christmas' OVER EIGHT YEARS AGO and I still feel bad.

It seems I've always had an over-active guilty conscience for things that the average person wouldn't think twice about. It's a pain in the bloody arse!


Come the age of probably about 14 I wasn't the happiest of teenagers, as you can imagine. I was self-conscious, anxious, a smoker, and 'moody'. Whenever I would walk home from school I had to be on the phone to a family member because I was scared of being in the outside world on my own. I would get home and lock myself in my bedroom, music blaring and just sit there.

Staying at home alone overnight I had extreme paranoia; I would check if the doors were locked multiple times, grab a knife if I heard the slightest noise just in case (not at all practical when you have a handful of cats running about!), and could only fall asleep on the sofa so that I could hear if anyone tried to enter the house.


I tali to my cousin about it now, and she never used to like the person that I was. In her words I was "whiny", "talked too slow like I was looking for attention", and I was just "sad", and I don't blame her; I don't think that I would've liked myself either.


It was around this time when I started noticing these behaviours too.

I began feeling like I wasn't normal, that there was something extremely wrong with me, yet no one understood. They all thought I was just another 'angsty teen'.


The stigma...


It is no secret that there's a wide-spread stigmatism around mental health, and anxiety and depression in-particular. It's as if there is a fear amongst adults that if they were to admit that their child is depressed, that it must be a product of their upbringing, and therefore the parents must be to blame; so instead of sympathising or empathising, they react with sheer ignorance. Obviously this isn't the case. You can have a child with the most privileged upbringing and happy family, who will be diagnosed with depression, and you can have a child with the saddest story and most broken childhood who grows up to be perfectly happy.


Depression is more deep-rooted than having just one cause.


It makes it's victims seem unattractive, unreliable, erratic, fun-suckers, emotionally unstable, the list goes on.

After years of these words being drilled into your head, you begin to internalise these societal beliefs. You feel as though you can't show your weaknesses. You become secretive, self-critical, anxious, you limit your goals and aspirations so that you don't make a fool of yourself; you begin to live to please others, and that alone makes you lose yourself.


All of these shitty stigmas that society ram down our throats are what causes the victims suffer in silence. They make us feel like we are the ones that are broken and damaged, and not the uneducated, narrow-minded assholes who are spreading the toxic beliefs.


They don't look sad, so they must be perfectly happy, right?

He always make jokes so they can't be depressed, surely?

She gets out of bed every morning, so her life must be better - isn't it?


Don't be fooled by the silly notion that if someone seems to be smiling and joking, that they're okay; that's not the truth, and people who believe that are just ignorant. A lot of us suffer in silence, I know I did, and that not the way that it should be. If only we lived in a supportive, non-judgemental, open-minded world...


Here are some prime examples of famous faces who have battled depression.

You wouldn't expect it by looking at their faces though, would you?

Image 1: "RIP Robin Williams! You made us laugh!"by DineDreamDiscover is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Creative Commons

Image 2: "LADY GAGA"by Thaís Santos / @thaistitina is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Image 3: "Dwayne Johnson"by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity Photographer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons


Where is the cross-over?


(all information in this section found via https://aliciaclarkpsyd.com/what-is-teenage-angst/ )

Normal angst: Testing boundaries, messiness, rudeness, feeling self-conscious, spending more time with friends, emotional mood swings, growing pains, sleeping more, shorter tempter.

Time to worry: Persistant complaints of anxiety, fear, nerves, or depression, trouble sleeping, fear of failure, drug or alcohol use, extreme changes in their interests or of their character.


Did you know...


Per year:

  • 1 in 4 people experience some kind of mental health problem

Each week:

  • 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety or depression)

  • 8 in 100 people experience a mix anxiety and depression

  • 6 in 100 people experience generalised anxiety

  • 3 in 100 people experience depression

In a lifetime:

  • 1 in 5 have suicidal thoughts

  • 1 in 14 self harm

  • 1 in 15 attempt suicide

( above stats all from: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/ )


Also:

  • On average there is a 10 year delay between first experiencing mental health symptoms and getting help.

  • 1 in 6 school-aged children have a mental health problem.

  • 2/3 of children with mental health problems use professional services (teachers 48.5%, primary care professionals 33.4%, mental health specialists 25.2%)

  • Suicide is the largest cause of deaths in under 35s.

  • In 16-24 year olds, 25% of women and 9.7% of men have admitted that they've self-harmed.

( above stats from: https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/fact-sheet-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health )


Where you can access help...


Don't be afraid to ask for help from a friend, family member, teacher, or your doctor.

Although it is a big and (very) daunting step, a problem shared is a problem halved.

If you're too scared to talk to your doctor, a helpful tip I was told is to write down how you're feeling, thoughts, symptoms, and just hand it to over for them read. Although you might feel like its a bit of a weird thing to do (trust me, I did to begin with), they are used to it! They completely understand and they've seen it many times before.

Otherwise, here are some websites that can provide support.


Please...


Whether you're an adult or young person who's reading this, depression is a journey but you can find happiness and peace within it. It'll mask itself well and hide behind the happiest of faces, it doesn't always take the form of a crying or openly struggling person. But never assume someone is okay when we all have our own stories; you will only ever see a portion of other people's lives.


If you'd like to contact me, please feel welcome to use the contact box at the foot of the page, or otherwise email me at theartofblossoming@outlook.com


Until next time,


Abby x



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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Abby..

  • a receptionist 

  • a makeup and beauty addict 

  • a fabulous car DJ 

  • a bad luck charm

  • a chronic over-sharer  

  • a mental health advocate 

  • a lover of old and rare words 

  • a girl with a lot of love to give and a lot of stories to tell

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