When i look back on my teenage years, i try to avoid thinking of the black hole i ended up in from 16 years old onwards. I count my teens as pre-16, when i actually enjoyed being a teenager and worried about homework and got up before 8am on weekends to go horse riding.
Everyone knows being a teenager is tough – hormones are raging, a social hierachy suddenly pops up out of nowhere and no “popular kids” would be seen dead talking to you: the kid who plays clarinet in the school band. And yet it’s so easy to forget. It’s easy to grow up and forget how it felt to be that age, to lose the ability to connect with that age group. I’m only 21 and i roll my eyes into the back of my head when i think about the things that used to worry me. Stupid stuff like best friends who i would never keep in contact with and Maths GCSEs that wouldn’t affect my work life because GCSEs are practically useless these days. Being an adult brings more serious concerns than being a 14 year old.
But there’s a fine line between being able to brush something off as just “hormones”, and very real depression. Depression doesn’t specifically target someone over 18. It doesn’t think “ooh they’re too young to be depressed i’ll leave them alone”. It can strike anyone, at any time, for any reason. Depression doesn’t even need logic.
It’s so easy to stereotype age groups and to forget that not all 15 year olds are ‘moody’ because of puberty. There’s such a stigma attached and so much denial from older age groups that it’s no wonder teens struggle so much.
Looking back myself, i don’t feel my depression was the result of hormone change. It was the result of multiple traumas throughout my life and my own genetic makeup that caused me to go down the depression route instead of the others. I hated being belittled because of my age back then and i still hate it now. Age has nothing to do with whether or not a person’s depression is real.
Don’t patronise or belittle people’s problems simply because they’re young. It feels real to them and that should be good enough for you.