What are dozens of teenagers full of life doing, singing in unison a song that says “Oh, it is you with whom I sleep / While the atomic bomb is being armed. / Yes, it is you with whom I welcome death / While the world, while the world collapses. ” It happened on TikTok, a while ago, from their respective windows the kids sang in complex and dissimilar harmonies “As The World Caves In“, a song by the English singer Matt Maltese, very sad, apocalyptic, in which it is also said that it is his last night alive, she puts on a new suit, he paints his nails, as if preparing for a dance, the dance of the final judgment, to leave in style. ”The viral effect was assured, a contagious melancholy that crossed the social network from end to end that time.
I can’t stop thinking about that image now that daily surveys and articles appear on how psychiatric emergencies have multiplied in adolescents; from four suicide attempts per week by youth to over twenty. Or knowing the enormous number of girls and boys who go to therapy today or who are all medicated with antidepressants and anxiolytics, going in and out of the institute to enter and leave the mental health centers. According to a report in this newspaper, the Anar Foundation received an unusual record of 160,000 requests for help from children and adolescents during 2020, related to suicidal ideas and high and serious risk eating disorders. The pandemic, in conclusion, has destroyed the mental health of our childhoods and adolescents, taking them away from their safe spaces, terrorizing them with the possibility that their simple and necessary socialization could lead to illness and death.
But I also think that the pandemic did not confine the adolescents of the 90 that we were, the widows of Kurt Cobain – unhappiness and self-confinement there has always been and more in the age of the turkey -, it confined the tiktokers of the crystal generation. Not only are they probably the ones who have injured the most with the sharp point of their pencils in the bathrooms of the institution, those who have suffered the most justified anxiety attacks in their rooms, adjacent to those of their parents, with their interconnected machines from which they find out every day about the shitty world we have; I think, luckily, that they are also the first to learn to ask for help. Never before have beardless people been so aware of their wounds – an “advantage”, of course, double-edged – but never before have some kids done so much to talk about them, make them visible, to seek empathy. They are children who download applications with anti-stress music and anger management. They are young people who chat about their problems in entire communities of like-minded people. Adolescents who live the loneliness of their age but who find emotional support while they grow up, which is something that always hurts.
As one of Eugenides’ suicidal virgins said to the psychiatrist her parents take her to, “Obviously, doctor, you have never been a 13-year-old girl.” What are they crying, why are they singing like that, what is he trying to tell us? Many times, the vision of the cuts on their skin, the radical aggressiveness, the irreversible sadness and the social isolation of their children, are inexplicable things for families that fill them with helplessness because they have nothing to do with what they tried to instill in them and promote at home, for example joy or vitality, and suddenly their lives become an HBO series. But it would be insane not to take their suffering seriously, criminalize them for it, poke fun at the grieving and offended Crystal Boys like some fools on Twitter do. We cannot ignore that they are a group that is generally forgotten by the institutions, little heard, misunderstood and to which everything is assumed, without making the minimum effort to put them in the center to truly know them. They are very important years of life. Nothing ago what the doctors of the mind recommended was not to talk about it so as not to create the contagion effect, thank goodness that has changed and now we talk, work, accompany, heal.
I write this to the background noise of my son at home laughing with his friends before heading out for a picnic and it is music to my ears. His youth in an hour of innocent happiness, while the world collapses, gives me infinite well-being. Much more if you are not in front of a screen. I know that it will not always be like that, but in the meantime I enjoy it, I believe myself to be a good mother for a while even though I know that the guilt, the confusion, the longing will bite me again. My partner, Jaime Rodríguez Z. wrote this poem to the adolescent of the house and I don’t have much more to add:
Coco plays me that song again
Coco makes silent screams every time the online class hangs
Coco climbs the subway with her black mask without filters
When the snow fell he went for a walk at dawn and
said it was beautiful
Coco has red ears from the cold
And the skin wounded by the frost
that has been on it for a few years
There is something
a sadness in its people
I don’t know if I want to understand
it doesn’t look like mine
Coco says “you love me very much” if I bring her food
if i hug her if i hear her
we see something together
while we chew
And this is something new:
when it is not there is the name of the place
in which everything will happen to me from now on
There is a sadness in its people
that can be seen from anywhere in the world
like an asteroid approaching
As long as the time of understanding
we run out.