I want to bring you little tidbits I hear from my clients that are fascinating and/or important. Then I might give my commentary on it, or I might not. Just passing along thoughts from those who actually live the day to day of being an adolescent dealing with mental health issues instead of you just reading articles from those who have opinions about it.
A tampon machine has been installed at the local public high school in the MEN’S restroom. It was reported to me that the majority of students find this bizarre and actually “quite funny.” Most of the tampons were apparently extracted by adolescent boys who found the situation amusing and used them to prank one another throughout the day…The moral of this little anecdote is that adolescent boys will continue to handle the uncomfortable with humor and play no matter how seriously an adult wants them to take something. I personally hope nobody takes that away from them as humor is an excellent means of processing the uncomfortable (especially if it wasn’t done in a mean-spirited way).
A reflection on Hims and Hers- A telehealth company: A client has reported it is shockingly easy to obtain certain types of psychiatric medication for anxiety and depression. I have not vetted this company and cannot verify this report. I also do not know if this company prescribes to children. A cursory look at their website seems to indicate they prescribe for things such as hair loss, anxiety, and depression. This client told me it was easy to get a prescription for an antidepression WITHOUT EVEN SEEING A DOCTOR!!! This client is very astute on mental health issues and expressed alarm. Apparently one filles out a survey and then an email is sent with directions and a prescription.
-Sorry folks. After many thousands of hours working in the mental health field, I can’t get on board with this if this is true. Psychiatry is complicated. While some of my clients are correct in their self-diagnoses, many, many, many have been wrong. In some cases, taking an antidepressant would have caused a worsening of symptoms, not an alleviation. You simply have to talk to a doctor about meds before taking them. Period. I won’t bend on this opinion. Can you talk to your primary care doctor? Yes. That is an appropriate place to start. Your primary care doctor has theoretically received enough training to help you start the process. Sometimes they will prescribe, and sometimes they will refer you to a psychiatrist, neurologist, or some other specialist. In the 15 years I’ve been practicing, I’ve seen people need to see a rheumatologist, endocrinologist, pain medicine specialist, orthopedic surgeon, OBGYN, or oncologist for what initially appeared to be psychiatric symptoms. Your primary care doctor and/or psychiatrist know to look for other things causing depression and anxiety symptoms. Here’s the most important point: Depression and anxiety are not always the diagnosis. Very often they are symptoms of another underlying issue. Let’s use the metaphor of a skin rash. Sometimes a skin rash is the diagnosis, but a break-out on the skin can indicate many other things going on with the internal organs. Depression and anxiety are no different.
That’s it for today. I look forward to sharing other interesting tidbits with you next time. I am unbelievably privileged to get a front-row seat to everything going on through the eyes of the courageous, amazing adolescents I work with in therapy. It’s an honor, and I’m proud of all of you for hanging in there during what feels like tumultuous times.
Helping teens grow and families improve connections,
Family based treatment (aka Maudsley Method) empowers parents to act as a critical part of the treatment team when healing a teenager from an eating disorder. This is done in consult with a therapist, dietician, and medical doctor. Parents follow the advice of their treatment team to get the adolescent’s caloric intake back on track so health can be restored. This is a very emotionally taxing process, but it also hopefully keeps the teenager out of the hospital. Many parents have lost their authority to the eating disorder over the course of the last several months or even years. When they are not only given permission, but required to take back that authority, there are often encouraging results.
Eating disorders are so nasty! They are cruel, unkind, and abusive to their victims. They take over a person’s relationships, personality, ambitions, and dreams until you find your teen is a shell of her former self. I should know…I had one for 7 years. Now I help parents fight back against the eating disorder monster. Here are some thoughts on the process:
I have heard more isolation stories from clients starting school last week than in all my previous years of practice (14). One teen told me how she plans to sit in the library for lunch. Another told me he is never invited to anything with his so-called “friends.” A third talked about how she feels like all the friend groups are already formed and she has no way to get into one. In every single case, their hearts are broken and they don’t know how to fix it. I feel their internal anguish as I listen to them give me the details about their worlds. They feel as though they are looking in on a world where everyone is smiling, but that they are stuck outside. They so desperately long for even just one person to show the interest, love, and compassion that they see other teens so effortlessly get.
What gives? Why are some outsiders despite every effort and others insiders even without trying?
1) Charisma: A few people have a lot of this character quality. Most have some. Then there are those who have almost none. You know the type: They just can’t seem to say the right thing at the right time. They make others feels awkward with their awkwardness. It is easy to pick up on the fact that they are not entirely comfortable with themselves.
2) Social Awareness: There are people who lack this very important character trait. They talk too loudly, they don’t know when to drop a discussion topic, they stand too close to people…they just cannot seem to read a room. Teenagers are very socially aware and they often reject the child who has not figured out social awareness.
3) Projected Confidence: Teenagers who walk with their heads up and scanning for eye contacts project more confidence. This is attractive to others. When eye contact is made, these confident teens will wave or smile. People reflexively smile and wave back, which makes everyone like each other more. Think about all that is missed for the teen who walks with eyes downcast.
4) Respect: Adolescents who know where they stand on an issue and are not swayed by the crowd’s opinion are more respected. Have other respect you translates into them being more inclusive.
5) Going Where You’re Wanted: This is the #1 most important thing teens do who fit in. They do not try to force themselves in where they are not obviously included. Teenagers who go with the other teens that already like them are happier. This is likely a life attitude of being content with what you have.
Here are some other thoughts on the struggle for an adolescent wanting to fit somewhere:
At Teen Therapy OC, we know how important it is to strive toward having open and honest conversations with your teens about uncomfortable topics like sex. We know that in the adolescent development stage, teens are often exposed to information about human sexuality at different rates. This means that some children are exposed to sexual material and information earlier than others and this discrepancy can lead to misinformation spread by their peers. Because of this, we hope parents have conversations with their children about human sexuality and how to set healthy boundaries for themselves.
The “California Healthy Youth Act” is the sex education curriculum for public schools. We thought it would be helpful to provide the information to you so that you can educate yourself of what your 8th graders will be learning to prepare you to have conversations about the things they may not understand or may not be aligned with your family’s beliefs. Depending on your own beliefs and your evaluation of your child’s readiness for this level of information, you may choose to opt out of this program. If after reading the material, you are concerned, call your child’s school for more information about this curriculum and your options as a parent.
Here are some tips for talking to your kids about sex: -Understand that they aren’t going to be thrilled to have this conversation with you. If you give them choices about when and where they have this conversation with you, they will feel they have some amount of control. -Choose a time when there aren’t siblings or other people around to help foster a safe environment for sharing about what is likely embarrassing for them to talk about. -Ask questions about what THEY think about what they learned. -Try to avoid talking more than they do in order to help them develop their own critical thinking skills. -Ask the teen what they think are healthy sexual boundaries for teens. -Ask what reasons they have for choosing those particular boundaries around sex. -Be sure to stay calm and breathe slowly if their answers aren’t what you hoped they would be. This is a sign that their child brain is developing critical thinking skills, which is a sign of a maturing brain. You can still share what you think and why without making them “wrong or bad” for thinking what they think. -If your teen’s answers don’t align with what your boundaries are for them as their parent, try not to react negatively to their answer. Instead, validate that sexual desire is normal, but needs to be treated thoughtfully like any of our other human desires so that we behave responsibly. – It is important to clearly define your expectations for their boundaries until they become an adult and have the freedom to choose their own boundaries. -If your family has particular beliefs that don’t align with something taught in the curriculum, try not to pass judgment on the curriculum itself as being “bad” or “wrong”, but instead calmly and thoughtfully explore the differences with your teen.
Thank you for having the hard conversations. Being a parent isn’t for wimps!
“What is truth?” Pilate’s famous words echo in today’s culture in a way that is devastating our teenagers. Each teen is now subtly learning they get to define their own truth. They are being told they are so incredibly entitled to their own view that the world needs to adjust to and accept their version of truth.
Is it any wonder I see so many teenagers confused and upset about the world? They are being taught they are whatever they think they are; then they are hit with the harsh reality that the world is not inclining itself to their every belief. They end up feeling frustrated and more confused than ever.
Parents, you can’t immediately change what the world is doing or the messages it gives your children. However, you can help what culture you create at home. Allow absolute truth to exist in the home. Have rules, limits, boundaries, and discussions about what is what. As a counselor to this generation’s adolescents, my heart aches with the desire to see your kids thrive and be self-assured. You can help them on their way to this by sticking to what is right and true.
If you create a world with boundaries, unalterable truth, and rules, your teenagers can push against these walls. This is a vital part of adolescent development. It is like a butterfly fighting its way out of a cocoon. If you open a cocoon for a butterfly, it will die because it cannot develop the wing strength it needs. If you let your teenager pass easily through adolescence allowing their emotional state of the day to dictate their version of truth, they will die in their spirit because their intellect will be too weak to survive in this world. They will never have to wrestle with learning to accept or change things they don’t like. Instead your teenager will become one of those adults who expects the world to adjust to them. People who think that way flounder and have very little grit.
So please, while I am not asking you to be rigid and stubborn, do not take on the current cultural trend of cowing to every emotional identity your adolescent says is their current truth. Help them stay grounded in what is actually real. You will strengthen them by allowing them to struggle through.
Hello, I’m Lauren! If you notice your teen struggling, you might be feeling helpless, hopeless, frustrated or concerned as a parent. Try to remember, there is hope. I want to help your adolescent feel better. My hope is for them to enjoy their life again. I want them to feel confident they can handle whatever situations arise.