A common feeling you might express is, “They just don’t get me,” or “If I told them, they’d never understand.”  Maybe it’s a relationship you’re in that you don’t want to tell your parents about. Maybe you aren’t sure if you’ll be accepted living a way that is uncommon or doing things that are socially unacceptable.  You often wonder, “Why won’t anyone listen to me? Why won’t they understand?” You feel frustrated that no one seems to listen.  

This causes you to feel alone, confused, angry, and sometimes scared.  Sadly, what you’re feeling is far too common. You’re trying to be the best you can but you feel like what you do doesn’t matter.  Or maybe you’re doing what others expect but nobody sees you. You’re trying to find out where you fit in and who you are but others aren’t patient with you.  

You begin behaving in risky ways to escape your problems or to possibly get the attention of someone who can help.  But living this way makes life challenging. You feel pain from your actions and are wanting something or someone to take the pain away.  Maybe you use things or hang out with people that are dangerous. Maybe you’ve considered a more permanent solution to take the pain away.

I met a 14 year-old boy who expressed similar things and endured pain of his own. He wrote a poem to express what he experienced:

Nobody loves me.  Nobody cares. When I need someone to talk to, nobody’s there.

I’m always there for them but no one’s there for me.  I give them all my sympathy; they give me all their grief.

I want someone to love me but no one’s willing to try.  I hide and hold back all my pain but in the end I cry.

So I’ve come to one conclusion: no one’s there but me.  Because I know that no one’s out there. Nobody.

Because of pain, you might be motivated to do whatever it takes to cope with it.  Research agrees. Here are some recent findings about other teenagers who coped with their problems but were severely hurting:

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 (4 out of 5 who attempted suicide reportedly gave signs but the signs went unnoticed).
  • About 38% of teenage girls and 41% of teenage boys have had sex at least once by their freshman year of high school. Further, nearly 250,000 children were born to girls within the ages of 15 to 19.
  • Over 32% of teenage girls and nearly 28% of teenage boys are currently drinking alcohol.
  • Over 20% of students, ages 12-18, have been or are currently being bullied.  
  • About 20% have a mental illness; however, it took an average of 9 years to recognize and to treat it. Mental illness was also linked to crime, dropout and suicide.

When the pain is too much to handle, we tend to cope with what’s available.  Unfortunately, those things have serious and, sometimes, irreversible consequences.  At this point, many look back at what they’ve done, wishing that they could have had somewhere to retreat that is judgment-free and someone to talk to, to cry and to have someone understand the meaning of their tears.  Gratefully, in many cases, this place that teenagers could retreat to is their home and the people they could talk to, that could understand the meaning of their tears, were their parents. But in other cases, the home wasn’t a place of safety and though their parents loved them, they could not help.  In the case of the 14 year-old boy I met, he didn’t have a home where he could speak his mind. Through divorce, his dad left the state and his mother was constantly working. He had no one. He was angry. He was hurting.

If your find yourself agreeing with these words, please seek help.  You don’t need to feel alone. You ARE important enough to listen to!  Understanding your pain IS important! Please don’t give up!

-Shawn Bills, LMFT


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