Puberty and emotional trails/depression - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 04-21-2013, 11:17 PM - Thread Starter
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so i want to open up space and talk about this. 


mods i purposely did not put this in the mental health forum because first and foremost it is about teens and i am looking for specifically teen issues. 


i have a mature 10 year old who is struggling. is she depressed? dont know yet. but 'down' enough to seek counselling and then see what that leads to. 


recently i read statistics that says one in seven teens are depressed. of course i dont buy that stat coz i think it would be closer to one in 3 or 4. coz of the shame factor i am sure there are many whose issues are swept under the carpet.


so if you are willing to talk about this - how are you doing? 


what kinds of things help your child. 


if you struggled through your childhood, i would like to hear that too.


i have a VERY sensitive, intense child who sees herself differently than the world sees her. coparenting and having 180 degrees differences in parenting styles have created stress in dd's life. 


it is really hard for me to see that dd doesnt see her 'talents' or 'positives'. for her that is just who she is and so its not so outstanding for her. i'd like to see her take more pride in herself. humility is good, but acknowledging yourself is good too.


so what helps your child? 


while we try to figure out what is going on ...


... i find the golden rule is now so important. enough rest, enough stimulation on all levels - social, intellectual, emotional... as well as a full stomach is so helpful. 


what helps you? i am having to learn how to parent my child, how to change what my idea of parenting is now, and do the exact opposite (mostly) of what i have been used to (silence vs. talk and explain). 


i am not sure what i am asking here. i just need more moms to talk about this issue so that i dont feel so isolated. 

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#2 of 13 Old 04-22-2013, 12:13 AM
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Don't know how much help I'll be but I can keep you company. My older dd is 11 so this is new to me and I'm not sure how to deal with it either. greensad.gif I def need to learn to shut up and listen more! It's hard to shake habits from the younger years when you can just FIX it. So much more complicated at this age.
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#3 of 13 Old 04-22-2013, 12:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by stormborn View Post

Don't know how much help I'll be but I can keep you company. My older dd is 11 so this is new to me and I'm not sure how to deal with it either. greensad.gif I def need to learn to shut up and listen more! It's hard to shake habits from the younger years when you can just FIX it. So much more complicated at this age.

you got it mama. you nailed it. 


today a parent told me to hang in there and work furiously at bonding with our children as deeply as they will allow it. and then you let them go and they will eventually return at around 23. or so. of course that is if i can survive through this emotional calisthenics. 


i have sssssssssssssooooo much appreciation for my own parents and other parents with older kids. 

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#4 of 13 Old 04-22-2013, 08:48 AM
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There are different kinds of "depressed." We have people in our family who are clinically depressed. They are on meds and they are having a difficult time no matter how much love and positive things are in their life. Then there are people like my DH went through a short depression many years ago but it was totally justified and a response to what was going on in our lives at the time. When life got better, he got better. 


My eldest is 16 and she was depressed between about 13.5 to 15. She hid away in her room, her stellar grades fell, her hygiene soured, she pulled away from family and friends... only connecting with kids who were self-centered and negative (like she was at the time.) I'm sure hormones played their part (she started her period at 14.) I have no doubt that lack of sleep was a big factor (she was averaging 3 to 4 hours a night.) For the most part though, it was a reaction to a very poor schooling environment (much like she'd experienced in kindergarten prior to a grade skip.) We moved her to an early college program that not only could challenge her intellectually but also didn't require her to be up at 5am. 


We didn't go the counselling route. We're not totally against it.... just the the examples we've had in our family have made us leary... seem to feed the self-centeredness more than pull them out. Again, just our experience with our own family members. Plus, we had a pretty good idea of what was going on with DD. We gave her time to turn-it-around. Maybe too much time but we were hoping she would come to the same realizations we had. When she was too far down to see a way out, we enforced radical change and she snapped back. At 16, she can really see what went wrong during that time, a poor environment and her own poor choices in how to handle it. I'm actually pretty glad it happened now that we are on the other end. Much rather her experience it while living at home than if she were off in college without us!


It is pretty normal for girls to get "moody" when they head into puberty (and for girls, that can be 10.) I guess you just have to decide if it's puberty moody or an actual depression.

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#5 of 13 Old 04-23-2013, 08:18 AM
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What seems to be working in my family is lots of mom time and family activities. As kids grow up, the natural inclination is to spend less time with Mom, not more. Even though DD didn't want to go at first, I sort of insisted (and sometimes bribed!). For her, getting out of the house is the biggest deal, especially when she is at her lowest. She and I genuinely enjoy antique shopping. Well, really, we never buy anything; more like a museum trip. Or maybe we will go out to buy some gourmet ingredient at the local upscale grocery. And spend an hour looking at the fancy overpriced selections.  Last summer, we went out to the nearby farms, bought cases of fruit and vegetables, and canned them together. Although I am available to talk if she wants, I NEVER bring up problems, depression, anything heavy during these times. This is strictly about maintaining/repairing the bond. We talk about current events, family gossip and news, things like that.The only purpose is having fun together. We go out at least one weekend day and one or 2 evenings a week, sometimes with brother, sometimes not. I started by taking her out to movies; lately we have found other activities we both genuinely enjoy. Luckily, because I could not have afforded to keep that up for long.


I don't think this is a cure-all. And it is totally dependent on buy-in from the child. My daughter was seriously depressed a couple years ago. We tried a couple different therapists, but never found one who "clicked". Although we tried anti-depressants, she was one of those teens in the statistics who become suicidal on them. Not trying that again! I suspect she mainly just outgrew the stage, as her hormones settled down. But this habit has stuck, and we are really enjoying our time together - not all parents of teens can say that!


Good luck to you, meemee. I know how scary it can be, watching your child struggle, and not being able to jump in to fix it.

Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#6 of 13 Old 04-23-2013, 08:24 AM
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I was like this. I will say that I was pretty suicidal from like 9 to 12. I contemplated running away, killing myself and so on. I did encounter some abuse in that time frame but I had already had issues before the abuse. I was the most disgusting thing that ever existed.


I grew out of it. I remember feeling such strong feeling of self loathing. But the it eventually went away. I don;t really remember why it went away. I got my period at 10. I was very secretive about these feelings though. I did get a bunch of friends at 12 maybe that was more it. That group acceptance. But I think my hormones leveled out because pms for me was self loathing and then as i got older it lessened.

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#7 of 13 Old 04-23-2013, 12:33 PM
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I don't know if my experience will be helpful as I endured almost 5 years of sexual and emotional abuse as a child, so my case is extreme, but I did attract friends who were also anxious, depressed, or had low self esteem as a teen. I think good bonding experiences with parents and other role models are important, as well as finding something the child really excels in. I know I absolutely hated myself because of what I had been through, even though I was very precocious as a young child and knew I was smarter than my peers. My elementary school wanted to skip me a grade, but my mother did not allow it as she had bad experiences being a year and a half younger than her peers, so I spent 2 hours a day in the principal's office during kindergarten "reading" instead, go figure. But once 12 came around, I was a mess. I ended up going to therapy 3 times a week after a nearly successful suicide attempt in 7th grade, and I agree that therapy is not necessarily the best route for depression or anxiety at this age. For therapy to "work", the person has to be interested in making changes, and the self awareness required to make it worthwhile doesn't develop for most people until later in life, especially if your DD has not been subject to any major trauma. Getting her to feel good about herself is way more important.

Is she interested in dance or music or archery/fencing/martial arts at all? Anime? A lot of "hobbies" have a good teen following in many areas, so if you can get her involved in something that she enjoys and excels at, she may make some friends as well who know her outside of school and any stigma attached. A lot of my friends at this age had a reputation at school for not being great students or being "weird" or what have you, but did activities where they could meet kids their age outside of school, and fared better than those who did not. I even had friends who got scholarships in college for some of these activities, even though their academic records weren't so great, and have successful careers now. But spending quality time with *you* and other adults they care about is the most important. My parents drug me to plenty of things I didn't want to do going into it, but ended up loving (for me, world music events and slam poetry competitions got me to play music and write). My DD has been "forced" to go to plenty of things kicking and screaming, but looks back positively, and loves to sing (I take her to see live music whenever I can) and does very well in choir.
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#8 of 13 Old 04-23-2013, 12:55 PM
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I had some depression as a child, and I remember feeling like there was nothing special about me. I didn't end up needing therapy so nothing that serious, but if this isn't at that point, I wonder if nurturing a talent or helping her work on something about her she can hold onto as special would help? I know you said she doesn't see her talents, but maybe helping her see them by getting her involved in some group or class related to them would make a difference? My daughter who is this age is crazy emotional and moody, but her self esteem is really good. I think it's because she does have a talent that makes her feel special. It does not eliminate the moodiness though, I'm afraid. She's still in tears over this or that pretty often.

Best wishes to you and your daughter. It is a tough age, and I remember how lousy I felt at that age.
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#9 of 13 Old 04-23-2013, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post


recently i read statistics that says one in seven teens are depressed. of course i dont buy that stat coz i think it would be closer to one in 3 or 4. coz of the shame factor i am sure there are many whose issues are swept under the carpet.





I think that the 1 in 7 is a projection --- someone's best guess about how many teens are depressed. There are a lot of happy teens too -- a lot of teens are thriving, especially as they get older.


One of my DDs was DX'ed with depression when she was 12. She saw a cognitive behavioral therapist weekly to work on how to handle emotions. That seems a long time ago -- she's 16 now, and happily plugging away as a freshman in college.


I think that all parents go through (or need to go through) a transition as their kids enter adolescents. It really is a different deal. My best advice to get through this transition is:


1. Get the professional help your DD (and may be you too) need


2. Take care of yourself. This is a marathon, not a spirit. Take care of yourself.


3. Try to spend some time with your DD just having fun, or at least being neutral. What does she like? What she likes is the starting point. Talk to her about her favorite music, or YouTube video. Keep it light.


4. Visualize her as the strong woman she is becoming. Don't let her get stuck in her head in this awkward and sometimes painful transition phase. See past where she is -- they need us to believe in them when they can't believe in themselves. hug2.gif  But don't feel like you have to push her there, just know that it is out there and that SHE will find it.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#10 of 13 Old 04-23-2013, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
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mamazee dd is of the type that feels who she is - is herself. not someone special or smart. she DOES admit she does somethings well, but doesnt feel its all that outstanding about her. and if i point out the competitions she has won she says - well that's just me. its who i am. good at some things not so good at others. that doesnt make me anything special. 


she is changing schools next year and will be going to a very demanding middle school. i am hoping that program will challenge her finally. 


the problem with our life is dd does not have a go to person with whom she feels comfortable talking to. i had an aunt with whom i was very close. but unfortunately dd hasnt bonded that intimately with any of my friends. and the ones she has are really busy. it is due to this lack that we are seeking out a counsellor. rather in the process of interviewing a few to see if they would be good match.


at this moment this feels like a puberty thing. but we ARE seeking out counsellors since dd has expressed suicidal thoughts to her teacher and her grades  have tanked. i am really really hoping we find a good counsellor that dd can connect with so she can have philosophical conversations with others than her mother. she can sometimes be so like a 40 year old and then suddenly switch to her 10 year old self. most kids cant relate to the 40 year old in her. a couple of nights ago she told me that emotional pain can be even worse than cancer. 


dd and i do get to spend a good amount of time together. I am the only person in the world she feels that gets her - so sometimes she tells me to take care of myself so i wont die. 


it is sad to see those of you who have suffered during your teens. esp. with so much more stuff than just puberty. i am grateful to hear how you all came out of the stage kinda on your own.  


i am so grateful to talk to you all and get this out there. 


and linda thank you. taking care of ones self is a huge thing. yes i am working on it. 

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#11 of 13 Old 04-24-2013, 07:04 AM
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It could also be that what we colloquially refer to as "depressed" may not rise to the level of diagnosable clinical depression, though still interfere with functioning/be on an attentive parent's radar/suck. There are also other labels, like "adjustment disorder" and "bereavement" that may have similar symptoms but different criteria. Or perhaps it's 1/7 at any given time (because depression is episodic).


Both of my kids at about that age seemed to become much more aware of how the world works and to focus on things that are wrong in the world and scary situations (like asteroid impacts, 2012 apocalypse stuff, nuclear war) that were completely beyond their control. They also seemed to be starting to be aware that the adults around them were fallible and they sometimes see that as hypocrisy.


I think it's been helpful for me -- and it took me awhile to get here -- to see these moods in myself and in the kids not as something to be cured or fixed quickly, but as times to acknowledge and be in while they last. (I am not talking about major depressive episodes, suicidal ideation, or other severe symptoms.) My 14 year old had a minor tantrumy, whiny, toddlery episode the other night, which is not typical for her. It was not directed at anyone (including herself). My first urge was to shut it down or fix it, but I just kind of let it be and took the time to listen to her without really commenting. It helps me to see it as something that is happening right now rather than how things are, and to see her reactions and my reactions as how we are feeling rather than as who we are. (Now if this were a nightly occurrence or if she had been raging, I would be looking at the bigger picture or addressing the behavior more directly.)


With my daughter, it helps that she has two excellent female teachers who model health, strength, and acknowledge some of their own challenges while clearly being in charge of their classrooms and clearly being the adult in their one-on-one interactions with their students.


When I was that age, the impact of life-long physical, verbal, and emotional abuse really started to show in my mood and self-image, and the difficulties in my parents' marriage were escalating. I think that the mood stuff was not abnormal, but the situations in my life were toxic and crazy-making and I'm only now starting to separate who I was from what I experienced. When I finally started seeing a therapist at 17, it was helpful. I was also a big reader and found books on psychology, feminism (important because my father was such a rampant misogynist), and communication and I had at least a theoretical sense that things were "off" and it wasn't just me who was too "sensitive" or whatever.


I believe in therapy as a healthy way of addressing normal challenges and not just a last-ditch effort when mental health crises can no longer be explained away or ignored. I think it would be great if people did therapy routinely as a supportive process at challenging times in life.


Want to talk more specifically about the coparenting challenges? It might help to post about that in Single Parenting also.

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#12 of 13 Old 05-07-2013, 05:36 AM
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With my 13 year old daughter it has also been a challenge knowing whether what she deals with is to be expected, and what may need more help. She has been bravely dealing with anxiety and occasional depression for nearly two years, and I think she is turning a corner. Through it all I felt like I didn't know how to help many times, but I would just tell myself "you have to teach her to take care of herself" and something would materialize to help. The first thing we did was identify her triggers-and we did what we could to either remove them or minimize them to give her some relief. Homeschooling enabled us to give her a serene haven where she could relax and not feel so bombarded. Another trigger was the isolation she felt from being different-we set about taking her to places and exposing her to all we could so she can see the world is far more than the small little town we live in. We exposed her to some positive female role models. The biggest trigger of all was leaving childhood behind-she was in no rush to grow up. We had a lot of success working with a msw who did cognitive therapy, which as you may know is the process of taking negative messages we may have about ourselves and repatterning them into more positive ones. I believe that depression is anger turned inward, so we worked a lot with her on expressing her anger which helped a lot. She has learned that getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and being productive in a satisfying way all help. We aren't a religious family, but I've asked her if she wants to explore that-her answer was no, but I do try to help her be in touch with some sense of spirituality and trust in the universe. We spend a lot of time together as a family, get together with people, and I've tried to establish an enjoyable routine that makes our homelife feel full of good energy-i.e. taking care of animals, gardening, cooking together, etc. She has improved so much-I wouldn't say the anxiety and depression went away for good, but she has definitely learned self care. Hopefully with more time and as her confidence grows stronger, she will be able to head the feelings off once they first appear.

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#13 of 13 Old 07-17-2013, 01:33 PM
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Hugs to you OP, I struggled with depression and anxiety as a young teenager and didn't have the supports at the time, not until I was about 16. I don't have the answer for you, just reading along because I suspect my children may struggle with something like this and one daughter is 8. Good for you for being a good mama, caring and thoughtful. Your daughter is fortunate to have you.

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