Another Developmental Stage

One person I saw in my career as a psychologist stands out for me. I was called by a parent who wanted her high school senior daughter to see me. The young woman was very depressed.  Her parents were very worried about her.  The mother said the girl wanted to talk to me alone and she supported that request.  I agreed to do so as the girl was 18 years old.

The day of the appointment, I entered the waiting room and saw a beautiful woman wearing a cheerleading outfit.  She came into my office and told me that she wanted me to listen initially.  While crying, she said she was an honors student, had been accepted to the university of her choice, and her boyfriend was the captain of the football team.  She was a cheerleader for her high school. She had no experiences with trauma or abuse.  She said, “I know I am attractive and that I have everything my peers dream of.  I have loving parents who have provided me the time I have wanted to talk to them about how I am feeling and have said they will do anything to support me.  There is nothing wrong with my life, and that is what scares me.  I do not have an explanation for being so scared and sad.  That is my fear.  What inadequacy do I have that I have not been able to look at?”

We talked about classic feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, depression and lack of control while in high school. I explained the biochemical changes that occur during adolescence.  I talked about being caught between being a child and an adult.

As I spoke, her body relaxed in her chair as she realized she was not atypical.  The feelings she was having fit her age.

She then said, “Why has no one ever taught about this time in my life?”  She said she was aware that the entire feeling state of her body and emotions had changed while I was speaking.  She felt relieved.

That was 20 years ago.  Her story has served many adolescents well.