Helping our children through the struggles of depression has been the hardest task that we as parents have ever encountered. Not only have we broached the most difficult of times, we have faced thee unthinkable. I never knew the true meaning of the word “helpless” until this journey began.
Some things that we have been using to help counteract this illness have been counseling, with cognitive therapy, and yes, even medicine. (Medicine was not our first choice, but was necessary in the end, to battle the chemical imbalances.) We have also been using exercise, healthy eating, vitamins, probiotics and even yoga. Studies prove the body and digestive system are closely tied to the brain and chemicals there.
It is also very important to have a “game plan” when the down times occur. Even I have talked about what I do here. It is really no different for my kids. We must have things in place that they can do to bring enjoyment into their days, if only for a moment. My oldest likes building electromagnets, weight lifting, crocheting and video games. My youngest prefers crafting, art and drawing, along with the outdoors and biking. This does not mean the struggles don’t still reek havoc, but these counter measures can and do help. Teaching coping skills is vital to surviving this disease!
The biggest commodity to me in this illness, however, has been my own personal experiences. I have said before, empathy is so much different from sympathy. Being able to connect with my two teens by understanding and relating, is priceless. We communicate frequently and they are usually quite open with me. Does it make things easier? Not always! But, it does help them to know they are not alone is this battle. And being able to knowledgeably advocate for them is a blessing.
May is Mental Illness Month. If you or someone you know battles mental illness, there are many great resources here. Also read my piece Speaking The Language which talks more about this journey with my family.