(how you feel). These changes are completely normal, just like the physical (body) changes.
If you've started puberty, these are some of the things you might be dealing with, brain-wise:
Feeling sensitive. Your body is changing quickly, and you feel weird about it. Maybe you're self-conscious and worried if you're normal. You might feel extra-sensitive to criticism, or teasing, or just about everything. Little things might set you off. You might think that nobody understands you.
Intense emotions. You've felt emotions before, but now you feel really STRONG emotions. Instead of just disliking something, you HATE it. Instead of liking something, you LOVE it. You were a little jealous before, but now you're SUPER jealous. There have been times when you were sad, but now you feel TOTALLY DEPRESSED. In other words, your emotions have gotten more intense.
Mood swings. Your emotions are stronger, and they also switch back and forth more quickly than before. One second you're singing happily, and the next you're crying your eyes out. You might be playing well with your brother, and then you're suddenly screaming at him. These are called mood swings for a reason: just like on a playground swing, one minute you're up, and the next minute you're down.
Unfamiliar emotions. Puberty usually brings a whole new set of emotions you may have never felt before. For instance, when you were little, you probably didn't have romantic feelings…but now you're starting to think differently (and romantically!), a lot more. Hey, it happens. That's part of growing up. For more about this, see our topic on Crushes.
Conflict. As you leave childhood and make your way towards adulthood, you may feel like you need to be independent…to control more of your life and make your own decisions. If you're going through puberty, you may be questioning your family's rules and beliefs, and starting to form opinions that are yours alone. You want to be YOU, and this can lead to conflict with your parents, friends, or just about anyone. Of course, eventually it also leads to you becoming a unique person: your grown-up self.
So, How Do You Cope?
Remember that you're not alone. Things always seem worse if you think you're the only one who feels bad or is dealing with challenges. Well, you're not. Even people who seem like they have it all together are probably struggling with the same feelings you are.
Read about it. One of the best ways to get through tough times is to know exactly what you're going through. Read up on puberty, starting with this It's My Life section. Go to the library for books about puberty, or ask your doctor or school nurse for some pamphlets or booklets. Check out the IML reading list Great Books About Puberty.
Depend on your friends. Talk about what you're feeling with your trusted friends. They may be feeling the same way, or they may know how to help you. At the very least, they might offer support and understanding, or just listen to you…so you can get it all out.
Talk to an adult. It can really help to talk to a parent or guardian who may remember what going through puberty feels like. School counselors, school nurses, and doctors can also listen to what you have to say and give you advice and support.
Express yourself. If you like to write, draw, paint, sing, or play music -- you're lucky that you have these great outlets for letting your feelings out! Even if it's just spilling your guts in a journal or messing around with a guitar, you might be surprised by how good it feels to vent in some creative way.
If you're having trouble with different types of emotions, you can also check out the IML Emotions channel!
From here on, the puberty experience gets a little different for boys and girls, so we've separated out the next sections for About Boys and About Girls.