Stepping into the mind
Teenagers can be complex specimens at the best of times. Trying to navigate a world between childhood and adulthood all at once.
It’s no wonder they get so disoriented transitioning back and forth between the two worlds daily if not more. It is understandable that they will sometimes lose their way.
Influences from friends, parents, bosses, college tutors, grandparents all wanting to pull them in different directions. They want to grow up and take responsibility for themselves but still need and want guidance and to be shown the way.
They fight against the rules as they try to carve their path into the adult world.
Life is a whirlwind of external pressures. Feeling of trying to please everybody purely because they haven’t quite figured out just who they are yet.
For parents, this time can be equally as confusing. Watching your baby grow you fight your battle with feelings of still wanting to look after them but knowing they need to find their feet.
Without awareness, you find yourself becoming equally as unpredictable; pushing them away only to pull them back. Life as a teen parent in many ways is just as hard as being the teen.
How do you cope when your teen is depressed?
More than likely you’ve been there too, you know what it’s like to feel like you’re failing, you can’t do anything right. To feel the pressures of people trying to drag you on ten different directions. Being so confused you don’t know where to begin.
Tragic is the emptiness that befalls the lost.
You feel desperate to help, but you can often only empathise you can’t get inside their mind. If you could, you know for sure, you’d box up those thoughts of inadequacy and defeat and burn them with fire.
The panic stage!
Once you find out your teen is self-harming the fear and panic can be overwhelming.
Your mind spins with all sorts of wild self-accusations. It must be me, have I done too much? Am I doing too little? I made this happen.
You rack your brains trying to find a reason why and you blame yourself.
Then on comes the second stage the proactive we’ll fight this stage you scour the internet incessantly to find solutions, people to help, doctors and therapists.
You fiercely protect only to end up coming across smothering and belittling.
How you can help
STOP! Don’t panic! Self-harm isn’t always an attempt at taking their life. You will, however, need to be vigilant.
You’ll need to get your head in the right place first before you start wading in! Easier said than done, believe me, I know. I can guarantee you won’t be any help if you act like a raving lunatic, and are all over the place.
Ultimately you may push your teen further away. This is the last thing you want as you NEED to be able to talk about the problem to stay up to date and current with how they are feeling.
Understanding self-harm is the best place to start.
Most self-harm stems from feelings of losing control and pain. Feelings of anxiety and depression are, more often than not, thrown into the mix as well. Each a mental health issues with an array of symptoms.
It is important to acknowledge self-harm is not a form of attention seeking.
Practical steps you can take as a parent
In my experience, hiding all sharp objects doesn’t necessarily work. Yes, you don’t want them to have access to these dangerous items, but a determined teen will find a way.
Eliminate the most obvious and immediate tools but don’t let your guard down. Remove sharp objects, lock away or hide pills and poisons.
Talk to your teen. Let them know it’s ok. Let them know even though you can’t understand completely, you get it. The worst thing you can do is make them feel ashamed.
If you have other children in the house be sure to talk about safety; Saftey for themselves and smaller prying eyes and hands!
Ask them that they keep any blades hidden away in a high non-accessible position.
Make sure they understand hygiene is essential. Clean tools and skin will minimise the risk of infection.
Be sure to and keep on hand dressings and antiseptic cream such as Savlon and Sudocrem from a chemist.
Let them know if they are ever worried or scared they can come to you any time of day or night for comfort or help.
Even though it’s distressing to think about you will be best to have a plan of action if the situation ever arises whereby you require emergency medical help.
Remeber to look after yourself as well
Caring for and worrying about your kids is something that comes part and parcel of being a parent. However, there will be times when it feels more testing than others.
For you to provide the necessary support, love and care you also need to keep your own mental health in check. Looking after you is just as important.
Keep in mind this isn’t your fault there’s nothing you could have or can do to prevent things from happening. You just have to deal with life one day at a time, letting your teen take the lead.
You will find some tips for looking after your own mental health in this post here.
As a parent, the best thing you can do for your teen is stand up and be there. Be open and honest with them about your fears and worries. Ask them to keep you involved and share as much as they feel comfortable with.
Trying to force change or push them into situations they aren’t comfortable with will only make things worse.
Self-harm in a very intimate and personal matter the best thing you can do is offer advice and support. Talk to your GP if you need further advice or feel as though your own mental health is suffering.