Teen Talk

Teen unhappy with life. Is it a physical problem – or depression?

DEAR KELLY: I hate school. I hate my teachers, my classes and I especially hate getting up every morning when I rather be sleeping. I hate the idea that people think school is the only way to be successful and that you can’t make it being successful doing things like gaming. I hate my parents for pushing sports on me when I was younger because I hated it and I hated going to practice. I hate my parents’ friends who ask me what I want to do with my life when I’m only 17. I hate that my grandpa says he will give my his car only if I get good grades because I hate school. I don’t really care about the car if it means I have to do what he wants. I don’t care what people think about me.

My parents let other people talk but when I talk about how much I hate school, they flip out and tell me how lazy or unappreciative I am. I hate that they post things on Facebook that make it seem like we are a perfect family when I know that things aren’t. I know they wish I was different and more like my brother, who plays sports and gets good grades. I want to do my own thing and can’t wait to be on my own and live my own life.

What do you think about all of that? Also, I had to write this for my English class – and I hate that class the most.

Logan

DEAR LOGAN: Your unhappiness is pretty obvious. Even though you hate English class, I am glad you wrote to me.

As silly as this may seem, I think it’s time to get a physical. Share everything you told me with your doctor. There is no shame in how you feel. Hopefully they can do a simple blood test to rule out anything physical that might be happening to cause your mood or dislike for so many things in life. Things like acne medications or imbalances with your thyroid can cause anger and depression as well as other hormone issues related to being a teenager. A trip to the doctor could be an important first step in figuring out why you feel so much unhappiness and anger.

If the doctor rules out everything, would you consider seeing a counselor? I know you might not like the idea of talking with a stranger but between the choice of talking about what is going on or moving through life feeling so bummed about everything, talking things out could be really beneficial. Life is too short to hate so many things about it. Finding out why you feel this way and becoming empowered to make choices that help you feel better is essential to finding happiness. Unhappiness is sometimes not caused by a situation but rather your thoughts and response to the situation. Working with a professional to respond differently or redirect your negative thoughts or feelings can be a game changer.

There is a strong possibility you are struggling with depression. In teenagers, depression shows itself with agitation, extreme irritability, anger and exaggerated reactions. Depression can be very damaging if left untreated and often doesn’t just “go away” like people hope it would.

It feels like you are battling everyone and even though people like your grandpa are trying to assist or motivate you, you are pushing them away by being resistant and annoyed by their effort to help. Let me ask you a tough question: How is that working for you?

If you are lucky to have a grandparent who cares about your education, parents who tried to put you in sports to help you be a part of a team and make friends or even your parents friends who are asking you about your future, consider yourself blessed. No family is perfect, but having supportive people in your life is a little bit of good fortune and can make the journey into adulthood a smoother transition. Be careful not to push everyone away and let those who love you help you find some happiness in your life.

Many young people look forward to being on their own and making their own decisions. That’s normal. But you also have to learn how to handle authority, work hard at things you might not want to do and maintain valuable relationships with important people in your life. Talking with a counselor can help you work toward finding a better balance in your life that includes independence, acceptance, forgiveness and happiness. Developing a healthy approach to life, finding a good support system and learning to share your feelings will allow you feel more positive about your life the choices you will face ahead and the road you will travel on into adulthood.

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