We've all been there. That feeling of not knowing exactly who you are, what you are going to do in five years, if you'll get married, if your parents or guardians will be ok with your sexual orientation, if he or she like you more than a friend, if you even enjoy playing sports. OH MY! And test scores, studying, if you're going to college, if you even like the people you hang out with on a daily basis, yet wonder if they like you. I mean, the list goes on and on. And the good news (and bad news) is that some of us well into "adulting" still don't have our own answers!
I mean, where am I going to be in 5 years? I'll save that for another blog post or maybe my journal.
This period of moratorium or exploration can often feel unending and painful. Nobody understands you and never will. You are unique and alone. Or so you think.... But this anxiety and moratorium period are normal for ALL teenagers. There is a percentage of you (a comfortable percentage) who experience anxiety which affects day to day living, preventing you from completing seemingly normal tasks, attending social events, or even attending school on a regular basis. You may experience the physiological phenomenon of "fight or flight" or panic (anxiety) attacks regularly. This interference of anxiety in a teen's life has become concerning and past the threshold of normalcy.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. Anxiety Disorders are often comorbid with depression in many individuals. Think about it: you feel as though your mind won't stop racing, you don't want to leave your house due to fear of having a panic attack or saying the wrong thing or being judged or getting a bad grade on a test that you didn't study for because you felt too anxious. Again, you start to feel alone and misunderstood and may self-medicate with food, sleep, or even alcohol or drugs.
Ok, ok, ok. Get onto the good stuff: the hope, the solidarity, the autonomy you deserve during the treatment process IF you decide you or your children can't do it alone (psssssst: no one can do it alone).
-talk to someone you trust: a parent, friend, random great uncle.
-identify triggers to your anxiety: tests, social gatherings, certain places, etc.
-exercise: dance in your room (come to Ubuntu for Dancing Mindfulness Tuesdays at 6pm), jog in place, go for a run, take a bike ride, build a snow man (I mean, you most likely live in NE Ohio if you are reading this)
-have a schedule. be organized. routines are good.
- relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga (yoga unchained Tuesdays at 7pm and Vinyasa flow Thursdays at 6pm followed by gentle yoga at 7pm) (shameless plugs)
- Healthy eating and sleep.
And obviously, you may want to find a therapist or someone neutral you can meet with on a regular basis (if Ubuntu can't serve you because of insurance or other reasons, we will refer you somewhere that can.) There are also cases where you seem to have done EVERYTHING to cope with your anxiety and it still persists. There is absolutely no shame in seeking medical treatment.
Until next time, you've....i mean, we got this!