It’s officially that time of year: the lights are up, the gifts are being wrapped, and it’s finally getting colder outside! Personally, I love the magic of the holiday season. I love getting to see family, eating delicious food, and decorating my tree. However, the holidays are not always “the most wonderful time of the year” for some of us, and it’s easy to see why when you stop and think about it. Despite the beauty of the season, there is a lot of stress that results from the upcoming holidays: grades, extracurricular activities, family, etc.
As a student myself, I speak from experience when I say that the stress of grades right before the break is overwhelming. Maybe you want to bring those grades up, maybe you just want to maintain your “A” average; whatever it is, it’s a lot of pressure and hard work. Which is fine…until you realize that (important as hard work and grades are), school is not the only thing that a student has going on in their life. Most students are involved in sports, clubs, and various other extracurricular activities; many have siblings that they take care of until their parent(s) get home. On top of this we also have to do well in school, which is even harder if you take AP, Gifted, or Advanced classes. These classes are great for experience and challenges, but are also equal to college classes and therefore, way more difficult. For people who are only fifteen to eighteen years old, this is an incredible amount of pressure, and what makes it worse is that there is this idea now that if you don’t have exceptional grades, you’ll never get anywhere in life and no one will be proud of you, which is incredibly devastating.
I’m a member of two clubs and was in a sport for three years, and as amazing as these activities are, practices and service projects take up a ton of time! Some will say that the simple solution to this is to “not do so much.” The problem is, it’s not that simple at all. In order to look good for colleges, students are pressured to not only join sports and clubs, but do exceptionally well in them. When you factor in trying to care for siblings, keeping grades up, and helping around the house, this is a lot to deal with and would sometimes overwhelm even the most capable person. And as amazing as coaches are most of the time, sometimes it feels like they don’t remember that you also have school and your sport is not, and cannot always be your top priority. Don’t get me wrong, sports and extracurricular activities are great and help most people to come out of their shell, make new friends, and grow, but there has to be some kind of balance, because no one can handle everything at once.
As for family, here’s the thing: not all family is good for you. This isn’t always the case, most of us are blessed with wonderful families who love us despite our imperfections. However, there are also plenty of us out there who have certain family members that don’t treat us the way we should be treated: they bring us down, constantly criticize us and/or our other family members, and they bring an overall negative energy into the house when they step through the door. This is incredibly tough for any of us, young or old, to deal with; quite honestly, no one should have to deal with it at all. Sometimes we get dealt a bad hand, though, and it’s usually frowned upon to stop talking to these “negative Nancy’s”, so many of us are forced to face them year after year.
So why lay these issues out? I chose to discuss these things because I ultimately wanted to discuss depression, specifically adolescent depression. Many teenagers face depression from these things and more, especially around the holidays. Just the other day, I heard someone at school say that they were single right before the holidays and it brought their mood down a lot. Although sadness is not nearly the same thing as depression, it can certainly lead to it. How do you tell the difference? If you feel hopeless, empty, and like nothing is ever going to get better, you very well may be experiencing depression. If you’re just kind of sad one day, then you’re sad, not depressed. The thing that most people don’t understand is that depression is not simply feeling sad or under the weather. Depression is feeling so numb that you actually start to forget what happiness feels like. You fake more smiles in one month than you ever have in your whole life up until this point, and you wonder what the point is in growing up and going to college because you think you’ll never amount to anything.
Depression is incredibly dangerous; it can lead to eating disorders, self-harm, and even suicide. So what should you do if you’re feeling this way? The best thing to do is to find someone that you really trust. In a way, this is a matter of life and death, so you need someone who you know won’t just dismiss you or not try to help. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. It will be incredibly difficult, and as much as that sucks, it’s completely normal to be afraid because having mental health problems is super hard to admit to. There’s such a stigma behind mental illness, and because of this many people feel more inclined to give up than to get help. You have to look past this stigma and get what you need, it’s important; you’re important. Talk to this person, be completely honest, and work with them to see what the best solution is to get you better. If you think your friend or family member is struggling with depression, be easily accessible: don’t judge them, listen to them, and do everything you can possibly do. Even if all you can do is clean their room for them because they don’t have the energy to do it themselves, they’ll appreciate it more than you know because depression sucks away every bit of motivation and happiness a person has. So do what you can, and don’t be afraid to get them help even if they don’t necessarily want it. They may be mad at you in the moment, but their life is worth them being angry at you. Trust me.
Blog posts do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of the team at B Curriculum, LLC. They may not be consistent with the messages within the Truth, Facts & Lies education program. All authors are teenagers. The purpose of this blog is to create a forum in which teens can share their opinions and experiences.
A message from the Truth, Facts & Lies team:
When spending time with friends and family this holiday season (or anytime throughout the year), it is important to know how to detect symptoms of depression. Look for the following red flags:
· Isolation/withdrawn behavior (this could mean a decrease in normal social or extracurricular activities, spending more time alone, not answering calls or texts, seeming more quiet than usual, etc.)
· Drop in grades
· Increased irritability
· Suspicious social media posts that indicate a struggle
· Change in sleeping habits, such as sleeping more or less than usual
If you notice these symptoms in a friend or family member, do not ignore them. Offer help or support; alert a trusted adult if you believe that person may be a danger to themselves or may need more help than you alone can provide.
What Should I Do If I am Considering Suicide or Harming Myself?
If you are in crisis and need help, call this toll-free number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. You can also visit the Lifeline’s website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
The Crisis Text Line is another free, confidential resource available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Text “HOME” to 741741 and a trained crisis counselor will respond to you with support and information over text message. Visit www.crisistextline.org.
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