Keir Gilchrist

What stress can do to teenagers

Craig, a sixteen-year-old hears the voices of his parents and his sister
say, "Don't do it," and wakes up in a sweat.

His parents love him. They're nice people, so what's the problem?
Stress. He doesn't want to disappoint his family, especially not his

This is his life, and one Sunday morning at 5 a.m., he wakes up from his
recurring nightmare, shaking. He's standing on the metal railing,
getting ready to jump off a bridge, and this time, he doesn't wake up
before the jump, he wakes up as he's falling.

While his family is still asleep, Craig gets dressed and walks to a
hospital. He tells the receptionist, "I want to commit suicide." She
hands him a clipboard and says, "Fill this out," and laughs at something
her friend says on the phone.

Craig is admitted to the adult psychiatric ward, and is placed in a room
with a middle-aged Egyptian man, who does nothing but sleep all day. He
decides he made a mistake and wants to be released. He cannot. He is
forced to stay for a minimum of five days. Everyone is much older,
except for one teenage girl who cuts herself.

His parents show up, and his mother is happy he admitted himself. They
bring some clothes and toiletries and leave him there. What happens
during the five days is amazing. Craig rediscovers his love and talent
for drawing. He also finds out he's a great rock singer when forced to

He bonds with a man in the ward, who has an eight-year-old daughter.
They play basketball, and he gives Craig the positive attention and
advice that he is not receiving from his own father. Through this, Craig
also changes people in the psychiatric ward, and when he leaves after
five days, he's a different person. He's learned to become a kid with a
passion for life.

To some of you, this may sound like a Hollywood movie, and yes, "It's Kind of a Funny

In an article on teenagers
and stress,
I found the following as major causes of stress:

* high expectations placed upon them by
* parents and teachers
* participating in extracurricular activities
* being over-scheduled

Now I know Craig is a bright sixteen-year-old with goals, and there are
also many examples of teenagers without goals, however, have things
changed that much? Are there more young people stressing out today? Is
it harder to be a teenager today than when you grew up?

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