Fear of Puberty
There are a lot of clichés about how young people feel as they approach puberty. The physical and mental changes it involves can be stressful for anyone, but for some people there is a much deeper underlying fear. Adults can forget what this is like and are not always very helpful when presented with concerns. Fortunately there are other ways to get help, and understanding your feelings better can make them a lot easier to deal with.
Natural Anxiety and Problem FearIf being nervous about puberty is a natural thing, how can you tell if you have a more serious problem? One way is to consider how often you worry about it. Use your phone or a notebook to make a note on each separate occasion that worried feelings come up (you can do this in code if you're concerned that other people might see it). If it regularly happens more than twice a day, it's probably time that you started taking the problem seriously.
Other factors to look out for are feelings of panic, dizziness or shortness of breath when thinking about puberty. You may have frequent stressful dreams or feel depressed when you notice changes in your body. These feelings shouldn't be a cause of worry in themselves - by identifying them, you can start to do something bout them.
Reasons for Fearing PubertyAlthough fear of puberty is a very individual thing, there are several common reasons why it may arise:-
- Grief at the passing of childhood - If you have had a happy childhood it's natural to feel sad at the realisation that it's coming to an end. Many aspects of adult life can be daunting, but remember that you don't have to face them all at once.
- Stress about putting on weight - Many people find themselves getting fatter during puberty and others' reactions to this can be cruel. The good news is that this fat is usually temporary. Exercise and healthy eating will help you shed it sooner.
- Discomfort with how people treat you - It can be disturbing to suddenly be seen in a sexual way if you don't feel ready for it. Remember that you have a right to set boundaries and be treated with respect.
- Feeling your body doesn't fit you - Sometimes bodies develop in a way that just doesn't reflect the people inside them, and this can be very stressful. Getting help early can help reduce the problem or make you more able to cope.
- Hormonal triggers - Your feelings about puberty may in fact be a symptom of hormonal surges upsetting your emotional balance. This is usually temporary but help is available if you need it.
Other People's AttitudesUnfortunately, the first people you turn to for help are not always very understanding when it comes to fears. You are the best judge of who to trust in this situation, and if you don't feel that parents or friends are any help, remember there are also neutral people you can turn to who have an obligation to assist you. Don't let anybody tell you that your problem is trivial. Only you can know how it affects you, and addressing it now is the best way to stave off problems in later life.
Everyone knows bullying is a risk at school, but it can be even harder when parents bully or push you and don't seem to take your problem seriously. This often happens because they're trying to toughen you up, or because what you are facing frightens them too. If talking is difficult, try writing down how you feel and asking them to read and think about it when you're not there.
Sources of HelpBesides parents, teachers and school medical staff, there are a number of other places where you can seek help. Childline and the Samaritans are just a phone call away at any time of the day or night. Your doctor can provide support on body or hormonal issues and you can insist on seeing the doctor alone if that makes it easier. In some instances your doctor may recommend a counsellor.
If you are having issues related to your sexuality or your gender - how you feel or how other people treat you - you can make an appointment with your local sexual health clinic. This isn't just a place for adults in sexual relationships, it's a place where trained counsellors can help direct you to services suited to your needs. They will be familiar with the sort of feelings you are having and treat you respectfully.
You are not alone in your feelings and there are ways to tackle many of the specific problems puberty can cause. The sooner you seek help, the sooner it will get better.