Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Young People and Depression - Our Story

I have a daughter.  A beautiful, intelligent, talented daughter.  A young woman who lights up the room when she walks in.  Someone with empathy, an open heart and a refreshing sense of humour.  Someone who has no idea just how special she is.

But my little girl has recently needed help, more than I could give her myself.  Help for the emotional problems that she has been suffering with.  My amazing child has found herself caught up in the dark depths of depression.  At such a young age she has at times experienced the utter despondency and paralysing lows associated with this illness.  She has felt isolation, helplessness and feelings of low self-worth.  Feelings you never want your precious child to feel.

As her parent I have tried to reach her, but it is not easy for either of us.  Sometimes we are just too close. The feeling of personal failure and frustration experienced as a mother, thinking that you are in some way to blame for your child's sorrow stops you being as level headed as you need to be. It's too easy to make it about you and end up transferring your own feelings of guilt onto your child, compounding their own issues.  Similarly, your child's own guilt or embarrassment means they are unable to open up and let go.  They are worried that they will upset you, hurt you or disappoint you.  Sometimes we need outside help.

When I was a teenager I was diagnosed with depression.  I self-harmed.  I struggled to understand my place in this world.  I had the darkest of thoughts and felt the unbearable pressure of life bearing down on my shoulders.  To think that my own child has followed this path is heartbreaking to me, like I have let her down in some way to allow this to happen.  I want her to be happy, confident and to understand just how special she is. I want her to know she will get through this and be a stronger person for it.  I want her to realise that I would do anything to ease her pain.

Is this some genetic curse I have blighted her with or has my own history somehow influenced her at a crucial time in her childhood? Could I have seen it coming and done something about it earlier?  Is this just a part of her, and in loving her unconditionally do I have to just accept the darkness like I accept my own?  We may never understand the reasons, but I for one, promise to give her all the love, support and understanding that I can provide.  She is stronger and more amazing than she knows.  I am so proud of her.

Getting her the appropriate outside help has started us on the path to recovery.  I hope and pray that seeing a therapist will enable her to talk about all the things she can't tell me.  I hope that in doing so she will get well.  I want her to sleep peacefully.  I want her to eat healthily.  I want to chase away all the darkness that is threatening to extinguish part of her shining light.  I want my little girl to be carefree, happy and full of life again.  I want her to believe in herself.  I want her to know she can and will be healed.

I urge any parents of teenagers or young adults not to ignore signs of depression or dismiss them as teenage angst.   Teenagers and young people need real help, real support and should never have their symptoms overlooked.  They are just too precious and the consequences can be devastating.  If you feel that your child is suffering from depression, seek medical help.

Signs and symptoms of depression in teens

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide


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