Listen to the Mel Robbins Podcast twice per week, every Monday and Thursday, to achieve the life of your dreams.
In this episode, you’re invited to sit in on a really personal and raw conversation with our 17-year-old son, Oakley.
Whether you experience anxiety yourself or you’re just worried about someone you love who does, this episode is a powerful gift from my family to you.
What Oakley shares based on his personal experience is life-changing.
You will hear Oakley describe two periods of anxiety and some pretty scary and overwhelming thoughts that rose up freshman and sophomore years of high school.
The biggest takeaway is that big overwhelming thoughts are normal and keeping them to yourself makes them worse.
I am sharing this with you because Oakley is not alone in what he experienced.
According to the CDC’s most recent data, anxiety in teens and adults continues to rise, with nearly half surveyed reporting persistent feelings of hopelessness.
Whether you’re an adult or a teen, depression and anxiety are two of those mental health conditions that leave you feeling isolated from everyone because it can seem like you’re the only one having these kinds of big, overwhelming thoughts.
Today, in real-time, Oakley shines a light on what he experienced and how he worked through it.
And don’t worry, this isn’t a downer. In typical Oakley fashion, he has me laughing as much as I was sighing.
Two really important things come out of this conversation:
#1: You get an inside view of what general anxiety can look and feel like, and #2, you get to learn about the healing process Oakley engaged in with family, a therapist, his doctor, and medication to work his way through it and back to a clear, confident, and happy state of mind.
I want to be clear. Oakley has chosen to share his own personal experience as a way to help.
He is a 17-year-old who’s been through some tough times emotionally, and while I think his wisdom is pretty profound, nothing in this episode is meant to replace the support of a therapist.
With his therapist’s help, Oak feels more connected and empowered to ride the ups and downs of life and create deeper meaning in his life.
And that’s what I want for you.
So many of you write in to thank us for sharing these conversations with our adult kids because they help you understand your kids and open up conversations with them.
Well, today’s conversation is meant to serve the same purpose. Listen to this with people you love. Listen if you’ve been feeling helpless and hopeless yourself.
And please, share this.
Share it with teachers, coaches, mentors, nieces, nephews, and parents who you know could use these insights.
Too many of us experience anxiety and try to deal with it on our own. Let Oakley inspire the people you love to open up to you.
You are not weird or messed up if you have fleeting dark thoughts, but if those thoughts persist, please reach out to a therapist, family, friends, spiritual leaders, or other trusted people in your life to talk about them.
You matter and you don’t have to go through this time alone.
And if this topic is not for you right now, bookmark this episode and come back to it at another time. But it is a deeply powerful one you won’t want to miss.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- 2:20: Is your teen resistant to therapy? Here’s what my son Oakley has to say about it.
- 3:15: The way Oakley thinks about journaling is pretty profound.
- 4:15: My son schooled me on therapy and why I should have done it for myself sooner.
- 6:30: Oakley explains something he was feeling that I had no idea about.
- 8:40: Oakley describes his panic attack and dark thoughts.
- 14:00: Here’s why Oakley didn’t share his feelings with me and his father.
- 18:30: There is a big difference between these kinds of thoughts.
- 19:30: This is what everyone has to know about big, scary thoughts.
- 23:15: Here’s what Oakley suggests for those struggling on their own.
- 28:00: Oakley’s existential crisis that led to his breakdown.
- 32:30: My panic attacks and anxiety felt like this when I was growing up.
- 33:30: Here’s what we did to support Oakley.
- 34:40: The John Mayer song that had a powerful impact on Oakley.
- 46:45: Here’s where Oakley is now that he’s been working with his therapist.
- 47:50: The question Oakley’s therapist asked him that flipped a switch for him.
- 53:00: Two profound quotes that really resonated with us both.
Resources and go deeper:
- For Closed Captions: Watch on YouTube and turn on “CC.” For instructions to turn on closed captions, click here.
- If you suspect someone you love is suicidal, please talk to them and share the U.S. Suicide Hotline: 988. Help is available; do not go it alone.
- Child Mind Institute: How to help kids worried about “bad” thoughts.
- Anxiety & Depression Association: What are intrusive thoughts?
- Anxiety Canada: Everyone has thoughts that are upsetting and strange.
- Overcoming Unwanted, Intrusive Thoughts: Sally Winston & Martin Seif
- Psychology Today: Existential crisis; grappling with the ‘monster’ within
- Greater Good Magazine: How to help teens find purpose.
- The Hechinger Report: Helping teens find their purpose.
- Check out this classic book: Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
- Child Mind Institute: Tips for communicating with your teen.
- Ted.Com: How to have a real conversation with your teen.
- American Psychological Association: What neuroscience tells us about the teen brain.
- U.S. News: Teens, your brain needs real food.
- Centers for Disease Control: National and state trends in anxiety (2021).
- Centers for Disease Control: Data and Statistics on children’s mental health.
- John Mayer: Stop This Train (song)