How we survived my daughter’s turbulent teenage years

The teenage years are the most crucial time of one’s existence. Why? Because this is the time when one is searching for one’s identity and purpose, and questioning everything – from “why schooling?” to “why marriage?” to “why me?”

Our roles as parents ought to go beyond merely functional ones – providing for their physical and educational needs and to be healthy and safe just aren’t enough. With my own children, I have vowed to be more than a Mom to them – I also want them to know that I am their friend as well. Having someone to talk to and to be listened to is a valid need, especially for teenagers. I want to give them a listening ear whenever they need it, and I will not judge them, no matter how ‘crazy’ their plans may sound. And this alone has done wonders to our relationship, because they know they can come to me for anything at any time. 

This trust needs to be built through years of listening and offerings of emotional support. I believe it can only happen when we throw out all our judgmental thoughts and replace them with empathetic love. But how to give that to a teenager with tantrums?

A raging teenager

teenage years

My teenage daughter started to have mood swings – she would be very happy for about two weeks, and then, suddenly without any warnings, her mood would take a dive into the dark abyss of depression. She would cry over seemingly trivial issues (or no issues at all) or she would rage over something casual that one of us might have said or done. 

Her social anxieties would also escalate and she would either sleep too much or too little. That affected her eating pattern too – she would binge on sweet foods or sweet drinks which she normally would not do. 

How we handled the situation and her moods? Here are a few insights…

Calming the mind

When teenagers have emotional outbursts, we as parents should try to handle the emotional situation calmly and with equanimity. Take deep breaths, take a walk in the park, cry with them if you have to… but after the emotional waves had past, we sat down and we talked and listened to her. 

Teach them how to meditate

The one thing that I’m eternally grateful for, was the opportunity to learn meditation when I was a teenager. It is a very useful tool to help manage negative thoughts and emotions for your teens. And today, meditation is recommended by doctors to practice a healthy practice and lifestyle. It helps me and my daughter.

One of the methods of meditation is called mindfulness, which is cultivating self-awareness and other-awareness by being mindful of our daily lives, feelings and mental activities. If you’d like some ideas on mindful activities with your children, have a look at our article here.

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Seek professional help

What to do, when, in spite of everything you have tried to make things right for your teenager, nothing seems to be working? This is an indication that you may need help from the professionals – you could seek out family counsellors, therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists – depending on your needs. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your issues with your teenager or schedule an appointment for him or her. Anxiety, depression, as well as suicidal depression are real. 

A happy ending

When her moods became more severe and more regular, we finally took my younger daughter to the doctor. And am I glad we did! She diagnosed her for PMDD – Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. 

Our daughter was put on a low dosage of an antidepressant, and the transformation was almost immediate – she is so much calmer and happier. It was as if the dark clouds that had been hovering over her for the longest time just suddenly went away! And for the very first time in a very long time, she did not have a meltdown prior to her period.

I cannot express how relieved we are with the transformation. We can all breathe again, without having to worry about her next episode of unexplainable depression. 

I survived my daughter’s roller coaster teenage years, and so can you! We are very fortunate to be living in current times when medical advancements have a cure for many illnesses that people of the past did not have. Educate yourself on mental health issues and do not be afraid to take the bold but necessary steps in getting the right medical diagnosis and treatment for yourself and your teenager. 

teenagers - Happy Go KL

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