Your brain develops at a huge rate during your teenage years, especially the decision making and problem-solving part of it (called the amygdala). This means that sometimes you might experience strong emotions or think and behave in ways that might not make a lot of sense.
As you pass through your teenage years into adulthood, you experience a time of rapid change and growth, physically, emotionally and socially. This is a completely normal part of growing up and becoming an adult.
These years bring more responsibilities and exciting new challenges, for example, socialising and making new friends, moving schools, studying for exams, getting a part time job and moving to college. Sometimes these can seem overwhelming, especially alongside the additional responsibility of managing your PKU.
Your mental wellbeing is all about the way you think and feel and your ability to manage and cope with changes as well as new and difficult challenges in life. When you have a positive sense of wellbeing, which is linked to your mental health, you feel good and function well. Looking after your mental wellbeing is as important as looking after your physical wellbeing.
During your teenage years, you will develop ways to manage these responsibilities and challenges, although sometimes additional help and support is needed, which is perfectly normal and part of becoming independent. It is important to talk to people you trust and feel comfortable with. This can include close friends, family and your metabolic team.
Here are some tips and suggestions to help support your mental wellbeing and help to manage your PKU.
It’s important to note that everyone develops at different stages and some of these tips and suggestions may be more relevant at different times as you move through your teenage years.
Always try to remember to have fun, accept who you are and don’t compare yourself to others – we’re all unique, so remember to also accept others for who they are.
If you are worried about difficult feelings and thoughts, talking to someone such as an adult you trust and feel comfortable with, can make a big difference and is helpful in getting things into perspective. Just sharing your concerns with someone you trust, for example, your parents, family members, GP and metabolic team, may help lighten the load.
Not sure who to talk to? If you’d rather not chat “face-to-face", the websites listed below may provide the information you seek, and offer the support you need.
Headspace is an Australian Youth Foundation specialising in information and support regarding mental health and wellbeing.
Kids help line is a free, confidential, 24/7 online and phone counselling service for young people (aged 5-25 years).
MDDA is a national wide group which supports and represents individuals and affected by PKU (and other IEM) whereby treatment involves a medically controlled diet.