#MHYALit: There is Hope When You’re Dealing with Depression by Jodie Andrefski
Today as part of the #MHYALit Discussion we are honored to host author Jodie Andrefski. You can find out more about the #MHYALit Discussion and see the posts here.
In The Society, the main character, Sam, had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and then did not receive mental health treatment. On top of that, she was going through an extremely stressful time in her life—her father went to prison, her parents divorced, and she was the victim of extreme bullying. Sam felt like she just didn’t fit in at school, and often fell into the low side of her bi-polar disorder, the depression side. Because she did not have a positive support system in place that she turned to, Sam ended up dealing with all of the stressors in her life in a very unhealthy manner. And unfortunately, Sam is not alone in this.
Too many teens are going through similar stressors in their lives, whether they’ve been given a mental health diagnosis or not. In fact, many teens are not even afforded mental health care because they don’t realize that help is out there or because they themselves or the people around them, don’t recognize the signs that there is a deeper problem. Something more than a “bad day.” Or they may not have health care coverage, so they think that there are no options available. Too often, these teens may feel like there is no hope in the midst of the depression they are feeling. I’m here to encourage you and tell you that this is not the case.
In my previous work as a county crisis worker, I’ve met with many teens dealing with issues very similar to Sam’s—stress from school, home, friends, relationships, and more. The common thread that I saw repeated was how each teen felt alone or as if they didn’t fit in, and that no one would really understand what they were feeling or experiencing. As a result, it often took a long time for the individuals to reach out. They may have first tried to deal with their stress using unhealthy coping mechanisms like acting out, withdrawing from their friends or social activities, self-harming, using drugs or alcohol, or, in extreme cases, attempting suicide. This is an alarming trend.
While it’s completely normal for teens to have a rollercoaster of emotions, feeling down for an extended period of time could be a red flag that something more is going on. Some signs to look for either in yourself or a friend who you may suspect may be dealing with depression are:
- Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping much more than usual
- Feeling sad or down for most of the day
- Lack of interest in hobbies or extracurricular activities previously enjoyed
- Lack of energy
- Regularly being cranky or irritable
- Persistent headaches, stomachaches or other aches/pains
- Significant weight loss or gain (without trying)
- Abusing drugs and/or alcohol
- Self-harming (ie cutting, burning, etc)
The reality is, a startling number of teens are dealing with depression and other mental health disorders, with teen girls being more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than boys. According to the 2014 SAMSHA report, approximately 2.8 million adolescents in the US aged 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. That’s over 11 percent of the adolescent population, and according to some recent studies, that number is rising. We need to be aware of what to look for, and reach out to friends and our kids if we see them exhibiting warning signs.
There is help out there. Each county has crisis hotlines to call where you can talk to a trained crisis counselor if you feel like you are going through a tough time and don’t know where to turn. Even if you don’t have medical insurance, there is no charge to call a crisis hotline. There are also some great websites available with resources on depression and other mental health issues, as well as stressors like bullying like Sam faced.
If you are being bullied or are feeling depressed or having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, there is help out there. Please reach out.
Some websites to visit are:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
To Write Love on Her Arm https://twloha.com/
If you would like to chat right away to a trained crisis counselor via text message, send a text to 741741, and a counselor will respond via text message. (Part of TWLOHA)
You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255
Counselors are available 24/7 in both Spanish and English languages.
Meet Our Guest Author
Jodie Andrefski lives in a tiny town in PA that no one has ever heard of with her teenage daughter. She received her BS in Secondary English Education from Penn State, then taught a few years before changing focus and going back to school for her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.
Andrefski always loved both reading and writing, and wrote for several websites and magazines before deciding to write novels. She writes YA Contemporary, most of which involves at least some kissing. The Girlfriend Request was her debut novel through Entangled Crush, and The Society is her most recent release through Entangled Teen in May 2016. She’s a firm believer that just about anything can be cured with chocolate or by watching an episode or two of a favorite show on Netflix.
About THE SOCIETY
Welcome to Trinity Academy’s best-kept secret.
You’ve been handpicked by the elite of the elite to become a member. But first you’ll have to prove your worth by making it through Hell Week.
Do you have what it takes?
It’s time to find out.
Samantha Evans knows she’d never get an invite to rush the Society—not after her dad went to jail for insider trading. But after years of relentless bullying at the hands of the Society’s queen bee, Jessica, she’s ready to take down Jessica and the Society one peg at a time from the inside out.
All it’ll take is a bit of computer hacking, a few fake invitations, some eager rushees…and Sam will get her revenge.
Let the games begin. (Published 2016 by Entangled Teen)
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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