Saturday, March 24, 2018

Teens and Depression-All Facts,No Fiction-Last Part

You can read the first part of this case history over here.

My counselling sessions with Manish continued for slightly more than a year but the status quo did not change much.He was even scared of giving the class 10th,11th and 12th exams but he joined three coaching institutes,one after the other,hoping that one of them would prime him to sail through the JEE and finally,B.Tech from an I.I.T.The strain of this staggering load and the fear that he lacked the ability to attain his aim increased his anxiety manifold.

After having refused many a times to give the 10th board exam,Manish finally did give it and passed with 80% marks.He was now studying for only 2-3 hrs per day but this provoked adverse comments from his grandfather. Manish began to have angry outbursts and one day broke his mobile.

I asked him if his current routine,though minimal,was causing him such a lot of stress,what would happen when the pressure increased?The poor boy asked his lecturer if he thought he could pass the JEE and the teacher replied in the affirmative.

So he carried on valiantly,but he was uptight all through the 11th class.He would miss an appointment or walk in on the wrong day.Even the decrease in his study hours had failed to soothe his nerves.He gave the final exam for class 11th in this frame of mind and got a supplementary.

Till now I had only subtly hinted that his over ambition was the cause of this snafu because we counselors are not supposed to give direct advice or be judgemental as far as possible.But I had to change my strategy when one day he laid open his heart.He was afraid of ghosts and had been researching paranormal events.He talked about existential issues and claimed that he had done astral projection too.He had also gone to the Brahma Kumaris in search of peace.

All this revealed that he was exploring various avenues to gain a grip on his mind and get rid of anxiety.His behavior was quite ominous and I thought the time had come to call a spade a spade.I reminded him that all his problems had started after he decided to wear himself out for the JEE exams.His body and mind tolerated the strain for 4 months but cracked down after that.

He was motivated to evaluate the consequences of the decision which had ruined his peace of mind and also instilled many fears in him.I did not want to scare him about the onset of a mental disorder but I merely said that the unrest in his mind ought to be his first concern-it would not allow him to succeed in anything.It was for him to gauge what was causing that stress.And remove that cause.If he was mentally fit,he would succeed in any career and it was better to be a happy teacher,clerk or whatever,than a depressed engineer.

It was obvious that he was being goaded by his family to achieve a target way above his level.Maybe he had even internalized their ambition.After all who does not want to climb up the hierarchy?But all the rungs cannot be climbed in one leap.And if you put a gigantic load on your mind it is bound to give way.Both these misadventures had turned his world upside down.

Twice he was put on psychiatric medicines but the root cause of his stress remained unattended. Finally one day,he and his family could both read the writing on the wall:he dropped the idea of giving the JEE exams.

If only he had been allowed to plan his career using his own judgement or allowed to back off when he found the strain too much,he would not have had to endure so much stress and  confidence deficit.He was on the brink of succumbing to depression but I am glad he retraced his steps in time.Better late than never.


  1. I see this every dy, one of my neighbours in Dewas used to say that her son will go to IIT only, whereas her son was academically a very week student, ho couldnt get even maths in 12th..Such type of expectations re creating heavoc everywhere,and thats the reason no of students giving JEE is so high..wasting so many resources.

    1. When we pressurize a child to fulfill our own ambitions we dont realize how much it damages his psyche.

  2. Very nice post really ! I apperciate your blog Thanks for sharing,keep sharing more blogs.


    1. Thanks a lot,it is my pleasure to have a reader like you.

  3. As parents to a preschooler, we have refrained from guiding him towards alphabets, numbers, rhymes. Friends and families consider him a Lord Greystoke in the making. He is making learning progress on his own that baffles us every day. All of it is in areas of his interest, but it is scary. No exposure to alphabets but able to pick up phone contacts by recognizing text pattern of names, able to choose floors in elevators, able to discern elevator going up or down and choose accordingly or wait. Forcing a child or a teen to perform at retaining and reproducing what we think (or peer pressure) is relevant is equal to abuse. But which loving parent will admit that? Read through the two posts. Couldn't agree with you more.

    1. Now to decide whether to school or not.

    2. It is a pleasure to see you on my blog Suborup,thanks for giving your views.
      Your kid must be a genius to manage all that without any tutoring.He will be tops in 'out-of-box-thinking'


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