Anxiety, tension, depression and being overwhelmed is a growing struggle for many teenagers these days.
Cutting seems to be on the rise for many teenage girls. They tend to want to hide it, so they often cut into their lower abdomen, thighs, and ribs. Feeling the pain, gives them relief, at least that's why some do this. The pain gives them respite and quiet from their confused psychological state. It's a coping mechanism because they don't understand another way. Then it can become an addiction...
The physical pain becomes pleasure compared to the constant psychological pain and suffering. A sadness pervades them inside, no matter how good they are at hiding behind a mask for others.
Worries and anxiety to fit in, succeed, the future, what to wear, how to be liked, getting good grades, getting a relationship, yearning for love, to be loved, etc. The totality can seem insurmountable, like climbing the highest mountain in the universe. They see no escape from the pressure. Some even result to suicide in extreme cases. Some have other ailments, like bulimia or anorexia.
Self-harm, in some way, affects millions of American teenagers. This is a plague of the 21st century youth.
Today's youth are often referred to as spoiled, coddles, helicoptered, and fragile. But the teenage depression ranges across demographics of area, higher school or college, and race. Although, financial issues can exacerbate the teenage angst, and girls seem to be more at risk than boys.
In 2015, 3 million teenagers between 12 and 17 had at least one episode of depression in the past year. 20% of boys and 30% of girls have had an anxiety disorder. These statistics are expected to be on the low end, as admission of problems tend to go underreported. The depression, and the self-harm are so secretive that it';s often hard for them to get help. Only 20% of young people end up getting treatment.
The millennials have grown up post 9/11. Meaning more insecurity about the world and the economic future and turmoil that has been going around for the past 2 decades. School shootings have also been ramped up in the public consciousness. Technology exposes teenage lives, putting pressure and anxiety on them to fit in and be liked even more. They have to manage school, social-media identity, a future career, the global economics, war, climate change, sexism, racism, and many other issues. The constant pressure is like a volcano, and they can't escape. They can't escape it and get some perspective.
For many teens, even thinking of getting their parents to understand is unimaginable. Parents don't realize the online world is synonymous with the real world for most teenagers these days. It is their reality.
There is a hyper-connectedness amongst the social media teenagers. Something happening to someone they don't even know in real life or even online, can affect them as if it was their best friend. The lives of everyone, especially willing teenagers, is being overexposed. Kids often know about news, such as tragedies, before their parents, because of how connected they are to the technologically exposed world.
In order to get recognition from their kids, many parents are trying to mimic aspects of their lives. The kids are now setting the rules about the new technological era, and bringing it into family gatherings and the supper table
Supervision and Control
Kids are also over-supervised and over-regulated, in some cases, still being treated liek a child with not enough room to breathe. The noose is tight! Despite being forced to follow their parents to events and such, with their phones by their sides they can be in another world of pain in a conversation while their surroundings are more positive. Even looking at other pictures, and comparing themselves to others, can lead to suffering of self-loathing, self-hate, low self-worth and value.
With the school shooting, suicides, cutting and general depression on the rise, parents are worried and often keep their kids under tight control and observation. But all this spying and checking in, seems to backfire and kids distrust their parents more, and share less. Even with all the social media monitoring, most parents are clueless as tot he lingo and cues that would indicate an issue with their child.
Parents can be in denial is they do manage to find something, preferring to think everything is fine. Other parents blame themselves for failing. But there are tools to help both parents and kids cope and learn from each other, such as group meetings and counseling.
Hashtags on self-harm on Instagram were at 1.7 million in 2014, but at 2.4 million in 2015. 30-40% of self-injuries are done by males.
There's also the opposite to paying too much attention and supervision, and that is to ignore and engage in parental neglect. The child or teenager ends up on a similar path of depression, self-loathing, etc.
Pain Relief from Self-Harm
Most of the research into self-harm and self-injury conclude that people who injure themselves use it as a coping mechanism to deal with psychological pain and suffering from anxiety or depression.
It's possible self-harm has always been an issue, but we are only more aware of it now because we are more aware of everything going on in the world in general.
There's a cultural social conditioning aspect to it as well. Rebellion from the establishment, into counter-cultures, has always been a feature of youth. In the 90's, advertisers and corporations manipulated the minds of youth to have them use their own bodies as billboards, as if it's "cool" and an "authentic" means of "self-expression". Piercings and tattoos went more mainstream than ever before. While some feel the pressure to be "perfect" in beauty, others rebel against this conventional image into counter-cultural identities.
The two most common threads of self-harm, are feeling disconnected or numb. They are lost, not feeling real, fake. This is part of the identity criss we have. To find ourselves in truth, to be in alignment with truth, while being pressured to fit into and conform to a false, sick and twisted society. The blood and cutting is a reminder of how real they are. There is a schism in our consciousness, where we are lost between the unreal society and falseness we live, and the reality of the physical world that underlies it all. There is a mix of reality and unreality that is driving us mad!
Not only can there be a feeling of wanting to shatter things, one can also reflect that as a mirror and feel shattered within.
Cutting research indicates there is a endogenous opioid engagement, possibly tying into addiction as well.
Many people are very lost, and reinforce the delusions other people have. There is a culture of acceptance and romanticism around cutting and self-harm, where this negative behavior is supported and reinforced to validate their pain and what they do cope with it.
Fadi Haddad suggests 5 things to keep in mind as a parent dealing with this issue:
- Talk about real stuff, not superficial pleasantries, get interested in what they are interested in.
- Pay attention, but don't smother them, just pick up on their cues, behavior, body language, and talk to them about what you're thinking as well, rather than just try to guess, be quiet, or control them.
- Resist getting angry, as that puts up a wall and shuts off the trust they need to share with you.
- Don't put off getting help, because waiting can often lead to it being too late... deal with the issue early on.
- Treat the whole family, and look at yourself in the mirror to see how family life is part of the situation. If the home is not an issue, then the home can help to heal the issue, together.
I want to address something that I alluded to earlier relating to rebellion and being lost from a sick, fake and false society. That much of this depression people have, is due to a schism and fracture between how reality actually is, and how they want, desire or expect reality to be that has been created from false images and conditioning. They have a certain worldview and perception, but reality keeps conflicting with it. The contradiction is often recognized at at unconscious-subconscious level alone though, and the manifestations of depression that result are a signal/cue to pay attention that something is not right, either with the world, or with our perception of the world. Truth is the way out.
Good luck to everyone in their families and relationships!
Thank you for your time and attention! I appreciate the knowledge reaching more people. Take care. Peace.
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Author: Kris Nelson / @krnel
Date: 2016-11-01, 8:03am EST