Love is Louder Spreads Awareness for Struggling Teens

February 5, 2012
By Marissahope SILVER, Glen Rock, New Jersey
Marissahope SILVER, Glen Rock, New Jersey
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In September 2010, Brittany Snow founded the organization Love is Louder to spread awareness for depression, after she experienced it first-hand. Soon after, Demi Lovato sought help for similar issues. Demi was released from a treatment center in January of this year, after a three month stay for what her publicist called “emotional and physical issues.” The Disney star had reportedly been struggling with depression since she was a mere child, practicing self-mutilation, and suffering from both anorexia and bulimia. As her pressure under the spotlight increased, Demi became more and more prone to these self-destructive acts. In her words, she “…basically had a nervous breakdown. I was really bad off. My parents and manager pulled me aside and said, ‘You need to get some help.’ It was an intervention. I wanted freedom from the inner demons. I wanted to start my life over.”
A fact that has been previously overlooked is that depression is common among people off all ages, especially teenagers and adolescents. After her release from treatment, Demi Lovato sought to make this idea more clear. She recently joined the Love is Louder organization and became a contributing editor for Seventeen magazine, in order to spread awareness of the hardships many young men and women suffer from today. Depression is more common than one would think, especially among teenagers. According to a poll done by Seventeen, a magazine primarily read by teenagers and young adults, 74% of readers have felt the same way Demi has. They are all heavily influenced by the societal pressure to be perfect. Seventeen also found that 81% of teen girls feel overwhelmed by life, 35% of teen girls have been so depressed that they don’t want to hang out with friends, and 15% of young women have physically hurt themselves on purpose.
Thousands of teenagers hide their depression on a day to day basis. With the help of the Love is Louder organization, a few were able to open up to Seventeen about their struggles. Rachael, age 17, told the magazine “I always feel that because I am not the thinnest or prettiest person that I have to really excel academically. I’m a senior in high school and every day I am sleep deprived and it’s hard to pay attention, especially in the fall when I’m playing varsity tennis on top of everything else. Life for teenagers is more demanding than many people think.” Other teenagers across the globe agree with her; 16 year old Rylinn said that she feels the pressure to be perfect and often builds a mental checklist of ideas she feels that she has to live up to. Others still, such as 16 year old Meaghan, expressed their concern with society’s pressure to be thin, “I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. People say I’m skinny, but I know I’m not. I know they are just trying to be good friends. It always is hard to look at other girls and think: ‘I wish I could fit into those pants or that shirt.’”
In a self-conducted survey of 15 teenaged boys and girls from New York and New Jersey, I found that all 15 struggled with or knew someone that struggled with depression. When I asked them how old the depressed person was, the age range I received was wide, but primarily from 13-17 years old. A 17 year old girl from Bergen County, New Jersey said “I’ve been struggling with depression since I was 14 years old, and still do today.” Because she had the courage to tell an adult, she is now seeing a therapist and is making progress each and every day.

17 year old Ally* said that she’s been struggling with self-mutilation since she was 13 years old, and has often felt pressure from society to be perfect. When she was asked to define perfection, she said “Thin, beautiful, smart, athletic, popular- everything.” Yet another 17 year old from Somerset County, New Jersey said that her 14 year old sister attempted suicide just a few rooms away from her. “I had no idea it was happening” she said. Thankfully, her sister lives today, but this is just one example of a teen who hid their inner demons and struggles. There have been others that have not been as fortunate, such as Zach T., a boy from Glen Rock, New Jersey that was lost to suicide in 2007. He was just 17 years old, and parents, friends, and teachers frequently said they never saw it coming. In his last note, he expressed his struggles with the belief that he had to achieve perfection.

A 16 year old, also from Bergen County, New Jersey, told me of her struggles with depression and anorexia. She said she often feels pressure from school, her parents, and society to achieve perfection. A teenaged boy from Queens, New York said that he knew a girl who switched schools because of the unbelievable pressure she felt there.

Demi Lovato, Brittany Snow, and the Love is Louder organization are working to spread awareness for these struggling teenagers, and many others like them. To speak out for this movement, write the words “Love is louder than the pressure to be perfect” on your hands and tweet a picture to Seventeen magazine with the hash tag #loveislouder. You can also like the Love is Louder page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. To help a friend personally, Seventeen recommends that you encourage them to see someone, and remember to appear concerned, not judgmental. Remind them that “Love is louder that the pressure to be perfect.”
*name has been changed

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece at a summer program. One of my goals in life is to spread awareness of teenage depression. I hope this can impact someone, even in the smallest way.

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