10 October 2014 09:51 am   1

By Sirohmi Gunesekera


Shyala was sixteen but not Sweet Sixteen. She was often sad and there were times when she thought of taking her own life. She compared her life to those of her friends and felt she was missing out. Her parents were often bickering and she felt herself to be at the receiving end of their anger and rustration.

“I can’t bear this pain any more. If I don’t tell someone, I will commit suicide,” she wrote in her diary. Shyala was often withdrawn and she little knew that her mother Carla was very worried about her.Carla tried telling her husband Joe but he only said that Shyala should take up a sport. Shyala was their only child and she did not know that most of their fights were over her and the way she was growing up!


Her parents would have been shattered if they only knew that she was contemplating suicide. Shyala looked back on her teenage years and a trained counsellor would have traced the depression to Menarche. When she grew up, she was embarassed and began to feel shy although others showered gifts on her. Her parents did not impart Sex Education to her and her mother only told her to expect periods every month. But Shyala’s friends told her frightening stories of childbirth and the girl began to feel depressed.

A Woman

“You are now a woman and must  bear the pain that all women bear,” said her mother. Carla, in her ignorance, little realised that she was frightening and intimidating her daughter. How many Shyalas are there in this world? And how many mothers are intimidating their daughters when they attain Menarche which is a normal process of life? There are many causes of depression especially when it comes to the growing pains of teenagers. It is important for teenagers to have someone they can confide in. Ideally, a mother and father are best but sometimes it is not possible.


Ignorance of the facts of life and the beauty of natural processes such as Menarche, Sex and Parenting are the lot of many young people. This results in Depression and teenagers, sharing wrong information among peers, are very vulnerable. Elders, especially parents, teachers, counselors and doctors should be roped in to give the correct information and counsel the young.


Teenagers are liable to mood changes and they should be trained to recognise their feelings. Negative feelings like fear,’ shame, anger and jealousy should be identified and the teenager should be trained to fight and try to overcome the negative thoughts. They should then be trained to replace a negative feeling like anger with a positive feeling such as love for a mother, remembering a cuddle received as a child. In a family where there is an adolescent, the whole family should be sensitised to recognise the dangers of rebellion, withdrawal from common activities and other signs of depression. Peer Pressure is also common and must be recognised. “Just because your friends do it doesn’t mean it is right.” But it takes courage and self-respect to fight Peer Pressure.

A balanced teenager is the ideal and every parent must aspire to help their growing child.

(All names are fictitious / Images courtesy internet)


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