Teens face many challenges as they move through middle and high school. Often we think their focus is on fitting in, what to do when they are bullied or even figuring out if their crush likes them back. An area that often goes unrecognized through all of their changes is the signs of mental illness.
Demi Lovato is known for her roles on Disney T.V. shows and movies as well as for her pop singing career. She was one of the first teens to share publicaly her struggles with bulimia, drug addiction and bipolar disorder. By making her personal story known, Lovato has really helped teens see that mental illness can affect anyone including superstars who seem like they would be the happiest people on earth living their dream. In an interview with the Huffington Post, she shared “I was looking out my tour bus window, I was living my dream, and I was just sitting there, looking out the window and crying, thinking, ‘Why am I crying? What’s wrong with me?” she said.
Lovato was fortunate to have friends she trusted who saw a change in her demeanor and reached out to her: “They were sensing that I needed help and they came to me, and I… trust the people around me. When I saw what they were talking about, I thought, ‘You know what? It’s time for me to get help,'” she told HuffPost Live. “I don’t want to be miserable anymore. I deserve to have a better life than this.” This realization helped her receive the medical attention she needed.
Helping to draw awareness to mental illness and the need for there to be better programs and treatment is helping teens who might suffer from similar symptoms and wonder what is happening to them. In her HuffPost Live interview, Lovato shared that she didn’t know why she was so depressed and thought there was something wrong with her. She didn’t tell anyone what she was experiencing. This fear of reaching out for help is very common especially with teenagers who already feel like they are different.
The risk in not telling anyone about symptoms can turn into a situation like Lovato experienced, where she turned to drugs to feel better not realizing that that it was a chemical imbalance in her brain causing her to feel severe depression. Lovato is inspiring teens to realize that “there is nothing wrong with them” she said and using her singing as a vehicle to reach them has been very powerful. Her platform BeVocalSpeakUp.com offers resources for recognizing symptoms and treatment.
Signs of Bipolar Disorder:
These diagrams above show the different symptoms that might be present in someone who has bipolar disorder. This disease can take as long as 10 years to diagnose and people often suffer 15-20 years before realizing they have it. Understanding and recognizing the different symptoms is the first step in helping someone find the right treatment.
Share with your daughter these signs and help her know that if she or any of her friends have symptoms of mental illness they are not alone. If this was helpful, let us know on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!