(Image is of 15 year old me. I am wearing a navy hat, a navy Limited Too T-shirt, and navy track pants. My glasses reflect the campfire in my eyes)
So your child was just diagnosed with depression. I was that child once. It was official when I was 14, like in the photo above. As I got older, my mental health list began to resemble alphabet soup with all the mental health disorders.
There’s some things you need to know. There are tips you need and ways you can love us, perhaps in ways you never thought of.
I was fairly young when my depression started. It became officially diagnosed in November of 2002 when I was suicidal. Since then, it’s been a roulette of therapists, doctors, and medications. I also have OCD and GAD, as well as PTSD. As I said, alphabet soup.
Please know that you did nothing wrong (I mean, unless you’re an abusive asshat. But this is assuming you are not). Know that we still need and crave your love and sometimes, we don’t even know why we’re depressed.
Just because we’re depressed, it doesn’t mean that we’re sad. We’re empty. We’re scared. We’re lonely. We don’t know what we’re feeling. We’re hopeless. We’re feeling so many things.
Know that depression is not merely a phase. For many, it’s a lifelong struggle.
(Image is me at age 17. I am wearing a brown camp T-shirt over a green long sleeved t-shirt. I am wear light wash jeans. My legs are draped over my chair)
Despite nice weather, I would wear long sleeves to hide the fresh cuts. Please know that I’m not doing it to hurt you. I’m not cutting myself because I want to die. Rather, I’m doing it because I want to live. While self injury seems scary to parents and people who don’t understand it, to us, it is our lifeline.
Please know we aren’t doing it to blackmail you. We aren’t doing it for attention. We’re just trying to survive this fucked up world in the only way we know how. It scares us as much as it scares you, sometimes.
Please listen to us. Don’t freak out if we talk about what to do it. Stay rational. Learn our ways of distraction – play a board game with us. Watch a movie with us. If we’re reaching out to you, it means we trust you and that’s a HUGE thing.
(Image is of me wearing an orange top and grey sweatpants, hugging a random statue)
My depression worsened in college. I was at a school that was a poor fit for me. My physical health was failing.
Please know if we have to withdraw from things – college, jobs, social events, it doesn’t mean we’re lazy. It means we’re simply overwhelmed. It means that life is too much for us. Trust me, generally we’re as heartbroken as you are that things have turned out like this.
Please know that if we’re struggling to function as adults, it doesn’t mean you haven’t raised us right. It just means are brains are being jerks. Just because we need downtime after socialization (in cases of anxiety at times), doesn’t mean we don’t love you. It just means we need time on our own
(Image is of me just a few months ago. I am sitting on a huge rocking horse. I am wearing a purple floral jacket and grey yoga pants).
But now I’m 28 years old. I haven’t cut in nearly six years. We have finally played Russian roulette with medications enough that we have a combo that keeps me stable. I’m in therapy, and will be the the foreseeable future.
But I’m gradually overcoming my depression. I’ve learned to accept that it’s a part of me, it’s somewhat what makes me ME. And I know I’ve come a long way from where I was.
Living with lifelong depression is hard. Please don’t make it harder on your children.