“I can’t believe she did this,” Mrs. Batten begins the sad story of her family. “She was such a good girl, she never complained, she never created problems for us.” It seemed to me that we gave Debbie everything she needed: clothes, comfort, religious education. Why did she even want to commit suicide? How could she take these pills? Did she really want to die, or was she just trying to attract attention? I’m so confused. She became so mean and sullen. I could not talk to her, and she herself did not want to talk to me. She just wanted to sit in her room alone. And her marks in school were getting worse. ”
Mrs. Batten was sitting on a chair, her shoulders were lowered, there was no ordinary gleam in her eyes. While she was talking about her daughter’s problems, I realized that she is now as lonely and as confused as Debbie. This is a typical example of the helplessness of parents who do not know how to handle a teenager.
“When did you notice these changes in Debbie?” I asked.
“About two or three years ago,” said Mrs. Batten. “But it happened so gradually.” Until recently, we did not attach any serious significance to this. I want to figure it out. She is now fifteen. When she finished the first school year in high school, we noticed that she became indifferent, and above all, to school. Her marks left much to be desired. The teacher complained that she was in the clouds, did not work in the classroom. She was very concerned about Debbie’s behavior. It is a pity that we did not heed the advice of Mrs. Collins. She is a very good teacher.
Gradually, Debbie became indifferent to life. One after another, she quit all her favorite activities and seemed to lose interest in everything, even the church. She began to avoid her best friends and spent more and more time alone. She talked a little. But a year ago, things got worse. She completely moved away from her old friends and began to communicate with the guys from the street. Her character worsened, and she looked more and more like her new friends, because of which she often got into trouble, and sometimes big ones.
We tried almost everything. First, as a punishment, we beat her. Then they forbade her to go out and deprived of some other entertainment. Finally, we tried to give her something as a reward for good behavior. We talked with everyone who, as it seemed to us, could help. I really think we tried everything. Can you help Debbie? ”
“We are desperate,” Mr. Batten intervenes. “Are we bad parents?” We really tried very hard. Maybe this is hereditary? Or is it related to physical health? Maybe you need to check the blood for sugar or make an electroencephalogram? Maybe vitamins or minerals help? We love Debbie, Dr. Campbell. What can be done to help her? Is everything hopeless? ”
I met with Debbie after her parents left. She turned out to be a pretty, nice girl. Debbie was, no doubt, smart, but she spoke little and slurred and answered all questions with a kind of lowing or “attack”. She did not have the immediacy and enthusiasm that we would like to see in a fifteen-year-old girl. It was obvious that she was unhappy, it was hard to talk with her.
But, however, when Debbie felt more relaxed, she began to speak more freely and stopped avoiding my gaze. With all her behavior and words, she showed that she had lost interest in everything that once worried her. At the end, she said: “Everything is meaningless in life. Nobody cares about me, and I don’t care about anything. Nobody cares”.
As the conversation progressed, it became clear that Debbie was suffering from depression – a serious and fairly widespread problem of adolescents. It was noticeable that a girl is rarely satisfied with herself and her life. For many years, Debbie dreamed of a close, warm relationship with her parents, but over the past few months she has gradually lost hope. Increasingly, she turned to her peers, who, as she thought, accepted her with more love. But despite this, she felt more and more miserable.
It is sad to state this, but Debbie was in a position that many teenage girls experienced. Throughout the previous years, Debbie only seemed happy and content. She was considered a prosperous child who did not demand much from her parents, teachers, or from anyone else. And no one therefore suspected that she did not feel truly, that is, sincerely and unconditionally loved by her parents. Although Debbie’s parents truly loved her sincerely and cared for her, she did not feel this love. Yes, Debbie understood everything with her mind and would never tell anyone that they did not love her. But the most important thing – a lively feeling and a cordial attitude to herself – was lacking.
This situation is not easy to understand, because Debbie’s parents loved their daughter and tried, as soon as they could, to provide her with everything necessary.