Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Why it’s imperative to Communicate with Your Teen about Mental Illness in your Family

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a weekend of picking out countertops, (yes, hubby and I have a home project) and fun stuff like laundry and housework.

I’m transitioning from running outside to running inside on the treadmill and I must say, it has been hard because running on the treadmill can be rather boring to say the least, but enough about that. I don’t want to talk about the treadmill today. LOL.

I was able to get some writing time in, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Sigh. There just aren’t enough minutes in the day sometimes, but enough about that, too. Today, I’d like to talk about the book I’ve been reading. “The Stressed Years of their Lives.”

It’s an excellent book and I recommend it for any parent whose kids are approaching high school or college age. It talks about how teen depression and anxiety are on the rise and how a mental illness can develop during this stressful period.

If you have a history of depression or anxiety in your family, it’s imperative that you communicate this to your children, so if they experience this type of reaction to stress, they’ll know what they’re dealing with. Sweeping it under the rug does not help them in any way shape or form. It only adds to their confusion and their shame.

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Sadly, when kids are experiencing anxiety or depression, they tend to lean toward self-medication or drinking and partying. When kids party too much, they can develop alcohol poisoning or even worse, OD. It’s because they aren’t experienced enough with drinking or drugs to know what their limits are. This leaves them vulnerable. When they pass out, they can be victimized by other intoxicated students who have impaired judgement.

Photo on VisualHunt

So, start talking to your kids now and tell them that anxiety runs in the family and it has many forms, like obsessive worrying, irrational fears, and perfectionism. These can all lead to an anxiety attack. Give them the information they need to identify what they’re dealing with, then give them the tools to help them handle the situation.

Unfortunately, we can’t prepare them for every stressor in life, but if we can help them develop their critical thinking, maybe they’ll have the tools to apply what they’ve learned from one situation to another.

In the book, it talks about how teens’ executive functioning skills aren’t fully developed yet, so that adds another dimension to the situation, because there’s no way to speed that process up. At least, not one that I’m aware of yet.

Photo credit: Daniela Hartmann (alles-schlumpf) on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

So, what it all boils down to is communicate with your kids, tell them if anxiety or mental illness runs in the family, so if they start developing symptoms, they’ll know to come to you for help or to seek out a mental health professional.

This book is pure gold for parents. I can’t recommend it enough. There is a lot to this book, so I’m going to be writing about it in a couple of different blog posts. So, stay tuned and let me know what you think! Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, Personal, Teen

The Book Every Parent Needs to Read

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy weekend of writing, family time, running, and cleaning. Yes. I was able to get all of that in in one weekend. LOL! Plus, a date night with my hubby! 😉

I also picked up a book recommended to me by one of my friends, so I thought I’d pass the information on to you. It’s called “The Stressed Years of their Lives.” It’s about helping kids handle the college years and beyond.

 

From two leading child and adolescent mental health experts comes a guide for the parents of every college and college-bound student who want to know what’s normal mental health and behavior, what’s not, and how to intervene before it’s too late.

“The title says it all…Chock full of practical tools, resources and the wisdom that comes with years of experience, The Stressed Years of their Lives is destined to become a well-thumbed handbook to help families cope with this modern age of anxiety.”
― Brigid Schulte, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of Overwhelmed and director of the Better Life Lab at New America

All parenting is in preparation for letting go. However, the paradox of parenting is that the more we learn about late adolescent development and risk, the more frightened we become for our children, and the more we want to stay involved in their lives. This becomes particularly necessary, and also particularly challenging, in mid- to late adolescence, the years just before and after students head off to college. These years coincide with the emergence of many mood disorders and other mental health issues.

When family psychologist Dr. B. Janet Hibbs’s own son came home from college mired in a dangerous depressive spiral, she turned to Dr. Anthony Rostain. Dr. Rostain has a secret superpower: he understands the arcane rules governing privacy and parental involvement in students’ mental health care on college campuses, the same rules that sometimes hold parents back from getting good care for their kids. Now, these two doctors have combined their expertise to corral the crucial emotional skills and lessons that every parent and student can learn for a successful launch from home to college.

 

 

In our society, suicide is the second largest killer of our young people today. Let that sink in. It’s the second largest, know what the first is? Accidental overdoses and alcohol poisoning. I don’t know about you, but these statistics scare me. What is happening to our young people today?

I compare my teen years to my kids’ teen years, and it is a totally different era. I know it was a long time ago, but still. 😉

I was so much more active than kids are these days. We used to play kick the can and capture the flag with our neighborhood friends until dark. Summer was a magical time. I was outside all day. Kids these days are not. We have become the indoor generation. I try to get them outside for at least an hour a day, but when the weather’s bad or it’s too hot. It isn’t always possible. Parents are caught between providing for their kids, meaning both work or making sacrifices, where one spouse stays home, and maybe having their kids apply for student loans to get through school. Then the kids are strapped with thirty thousand dollars or more in debt when they get out of school. No wonder our kids are stressed.

 

Photo credit: Mitchio on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

 

According to the authors of the book, we are in a constant state of striving. Striving toward our goals, striving to be the best we can be, and striving to live our best life. So, our kids lack the skills of self-care and behavior management that they so desperately need, and they are woefully unprepared for college life and beyond. I agree with this statement. I remember the high anxiety I felt during those early years. Fear of making a mistake and becoming a failure before the age of twenty-five.

As parents, we need to teach our kids reasonable expectations. They aren’t going to have it all by the time they’re twenty-five. They just aren’t. It might take them a few years to find that perfect job or the right spouse, and we have to teach them there are going to be bumps in the road. For example, room-mate issues, nasty break-ups, and sometimes getting fired from a job. We have to teach them to manage dealing with a bad boss, because sometimes you have to put up with that because you need the job. They must learn the world is an imperfect place and life just isn’t fair. We must teach them strength of character, grit, and resilience. They must learn how to overcome obstacles, deal with rejection, and learn to keep moving forward.

 

Photo credit: Sangudo on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

This book is going to give me insight on how to do just that. I’m hoping it’ll give me tools to help my kids manage their fears and anxiety, so they don’t become paralyzed when dealing with some of the issues I’ve mentioned. And lastly, and most importantly, it will help me convey to them that when life does become too much to bear, like a nasty break-up or getting fired from a job, that they can reach out for help. Help from parents, grandparents, and even professional counselors. So, I will keep you all posted on the golden nuggets I get from this book and I urge you to pick up a copy yourself.

Do you have any tried and true methods of helping your teens deal with anxiety and depression? What are they? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in community, Public Service Announcements

Gone Too Soon

 

This week I’d like to dedicate this post to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. It makes me sad to think these bright, creative people had such scary demons they felt the only recourse they had was to end their lives.

 

Photo credit: annainaustin on Visualhunt / CC BY

Photo credit: AIGA New York Chapter on Visual Hunt / CC BY

Depression is such a scary thing to deal with because your brain tells you lies. It tells you you’re not good enough. Your family will be better off without you. You’re a burden. And it never stops telling you these horrible things. I imagine Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were dealing with these demons for a very long time and the battle wore them out.

I wish we could pull together and fight this disease. Please, if you’re feeling down talk to a professional before it’s too late. Someone who can help you with these intense feelings and help you back to a healthier way of thinking.

If someone isn’t available please call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255 and let them help you.

And if you don’t suffer from this disease but you see someone struggling with it, please reach out and lend them a hand. Sometimes all they need a little guidance back to the light.

RIP Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. You will be missed.

Posted in Uncategorized

Chemo Update Number Seven

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you.  I’m back today with another chemo update. This one is late in coming because of the holidays and the emotional issues that go along with chemo.

I was prepared for the physical side effects, but sad to say the emotional ones have blindsided me. I wasn’t prepared for the anxiety and depression that seems to go along with treatment.

The anxiety hit me like a runaway freight train. One day I was fine, the next day I started worrying about everything. Even little everyday things seemed to cause an inordinate amount of stress for me. Couple that with the stress of raising two little boys and there are some days I’m wired tighter than a piano string.

I was able to get some anti-anxiety medication and it seems to help, but I still feel anxious sometimes and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide out until this process is over.

Of course, I still have some physical symptoms like the nausea, but that’s not as bad as it was in the beginning, which does help. The newest side effect is the numbness in my hands and feet. This is scary for me, because it generally goes away when you finish chemo, but it can be permanent. So of course, this causes me some anxiety as well, but there’s really nothing I can do about it except pray that it’s not permanent.

However, it does help to write about all of this, it eases some of the anxiety, and hearing from all of you helps. Your kind words and prayers make me feel less alone in this battle.

I also have a wonderful support system. My hubby who has picked up a lot of the slack even though he has encountered some health issues of his own. My family and my husband’s family as well as colleagues from work have all stepped forward and made offers of assistance.

I want to say thank you to everyone who has assisted me at this time in my life. I’ve been blessed by not only strong family members and colleagues, but by authors, editors, and publishers as well. Thank you so much for your support and prayers they mean a lot to me. Thank you. I am truly blessed.

Posted in Family, Health, Teen

Teen Depression: What it looks like and What You Can Do

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you. Because we’re on vacation and I’m dealing with some health issues, I’m reblogging this post from a year ago. I hope you don’t mind and I hope it helps you with your teen! Happy Reading!

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you!

I’m back on track today discussing issues that affect young adults. Today I wanted to touch on a topic that affects many people, but it’s especially tricky to spot in teenagers. That issue is depression.

According to Familyfirstaid.org, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young adults between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four. I don’t know about you, but I found this statistic staggering!

The most common cause of suicide is depression. That being said, I’m deducing that since suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teenagers that many teens are depressed, but only 1 in 5 teenagers receive help for this ailment. So, my theory is that if we start treating the depression in our young people the suicide rate will drop.

According to Helpguide.org, occasional bad moods and acting out is normal…

View original post 366 more words

Posted in Uncategorized

Teen Depression: What it looks like and What You Can Do

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you!

I’m back on track today discussing issues that affect young adults. Today I wanted to touch on a topic that affects many people, but it’s especially tricky to spot in teenagers. That issue is depression.

According to Familyfirstaid.org, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young adults between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four. I don’t know about you, but I found this statistic staggering!

The most common cause of suicide is depression. That being said, I’m deducing that since suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teenagers that many teens are depressed, but only 1 in 5 teenagers receive help for this ailment. So, my theory is that if we start treating the depression in our young people the suicide rate will drop.

According to Helpguide.org, occasional bad moods and acting out is normal for teens as they go through puberty and try to find their place in the world. This behavior can look like depression, but it’s not. Depression is different. It causes an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, or anger.

So how can you tell if your teen is going through the regular teenage angst that all teens go through or if what he/she is experiencing is depression? This is a very good question.

Again, according to Helpguide.org, the answer is the length of time the symptoms have been present and the severity of the symptoms. Long lasting changes in mood, personality, and behavior are all red flags to a deeper problem.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of depression. You can find them all at Helpguide.org.

  • Sadness or Hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or Frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Loss of Interest in Activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Lack of Enthusiasm or motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

What can you do if you suspect your teen is depressed?

  • Offer support- Let your teenager know you’re there for them.
  • Be gentle but persistent- Don’t give up if your teen shuts you out at first.
  • Listen without lecturing- Resist any urge to criticize or judge once your teen decides to talk
  • Validate Feelings- Acknowledge the pain and sadness they are feeling

Getting treatment for Teen Depression

Take your child to your family physician and get a complete physical. Make sure you explain your teenager’s symptoms of depression.

Seek out a Depression Specialist

If your family physician does not find any health issues causing your teen’s depression then speak with a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in adolescence, and then listen to the advice of your counselor.

Teen depression is a serious situation, but there is help out there. You can visit Helpguide.org for more information, and I want to thank them for the valuable information used in this post.

If you have any insight into this issue please leave a comment. It may help someone who is suffering from depression. Thanks so much for stopping by today.