The other day, I was talking to my cousin, who has just entered adolescence, about how teenage and all the things that come with it are treating him. He looked at me for a second with eyes full of awkwardness, hesitation and something that seemed like shock.
I just smiled at him and that did it. He started talking about it, his experience, his fears, his teenage crush, the songs he likes now, how he thinks porn is addictive and portrays sex in a bad light, him having no one to talk to about all this and how he is glad he now has me.
Couple of days went by and one evening, we were watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Moments later, I noticed my cousin wipe off his eyes. I stared at him at first thinking he was crying maybe but I brushed that thought aside. I noticed him do that again minutes later. Then I was sure. I inquired about it and he said everything was all right. That gave away. I paused the movie, hugged him tight and caressed his hair. He let himself loose and cried for some time in my arms. It was about the pressure, the pressure to excel, of the society, of maintaining standards of behavior, of portraying himself in a certain way that he is expected to.
He is fourteen, for crying out loud, all that he should be worrying about is cricket or friends or something else.
We might not consider his problem a problem, but it is for him. And it is important to be addressed. He thinks he is depressed, I think so too.
But how can we be sure?
Therapy and seeking help in such matters is frowned upon.
People will tell you all sorts of things like, “It will pass”, “It’s just nothing, you’re overthinking”, “You’re behaving like this now, what will you do when you face bigger hurdles?”
Is this how we’re supposed to be dealing with mental health of a fourteen year old, a person who has already learned to lie and hide about his feelings?
Aren’t we supposed to do something else rather than discourage him and make him feel belittled because of something he has no control over? We say we can control our minds, mould them and get out of every situation on our own. We sure can, maybe. But he’s fourteen.
Shouldn’t we show him the path rather than letting him face this alone?
Shouldn’t we hug him once in a while and just ask him how he’s doing honestly?
Is that too much he’s asking for?
It’s time we tell our kids, the younger generation that mental health is more important that anything they ever do, achieve or excel at.
Mental health is the key to our all-round health and happiness. Talk to them, listen to them, comfort them without belittling how they feel.
Let them feel what they have to in front of you. Hold them close and tell them they’ll rise above all these, eventually.
Because we really do not want to nurture another generation who is thrown into a pile of glass and taught to rise out of it unscathed without any external help.
What we should raise is a generation full of vigor, courage and enthusiasm who have been helped and know how to help.
I have always sought magic in my life, not a wondrous fairytale, but magic that would drift me away from the harsh reality that my profession demands me to face.