Depression: A Mum's story
It was just a few months after my eldest daughter had turned thirteen when I noticed the sudden change, not only in her moods but her whole behaviour. She changed overnight, the kind hearted, bubbly and confident young girl I knew had been transformed into someone I no longer recognised.
She no longer socialised with friends, choosing to lock herself away in her bedroom for days on end. The tears would fall when she had to get ready from school, she sobbed and I didn’t have the heart to force her to go, some days were so difficult that I felt safer knowing she was at home with me. I knew something was drastically wrong, it was only when the school contacted me to discuss her many absences that alarm bells rang.
My daughter was depressed. How had I missed the signs? I felt I had let her down.
Nakita took comfort in food and I would find her raiding the biscuit jar or would find empty packets of crisps under her bed. I didn’t know if she was hiding the evidence of her binge eating and I tried desperately to talk to her but she would become aggressive and insist that I was calling her “fat”.
Each day I tried, told her I was there waiting for when she was ready to talk to me. Showing her that I loved her no matter how low she was feeling. I understood how she was feeling and it was difficult not to be able to help her. Supporting a young child in the depths of depression is difficult. I needed professional help. I had asked but had been turned away.
The pattern of behaviour progressed into a living nightmare; I would dread her returning home from school. She shouted, punched walls and was so angry. Her behaviour frightened me, I was trying desperately to hold the family together but the guilt I felt was consuming me.
I have suffered with mental health problems most of my life and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2010. Was this my fault? Did she inherit my mental illness? After wallowing in my own self-pity for a few days, it was time to take action.
I took Nakita to visit our local GP. She was not sleeping yet was too young to be prescribed medication and they dismissed depression because of her age and told me she was a normal hormonal teenager, trying to break the boundaries at home. They finally listened after my daughter expressed desires to take her own life to a teacher while at school. I was summoned to the school and the crisis team were called.
I fought hard and it seemed an endless battle but eventually I had Nakita referred into CAMHS. After an assessment it was a relief to hear she was suffering from depression, at least now the health professionals would help me.
I visited her school and asked for her to be placed upon a Caff placement, knowing that this would be a benefit to her as it would mean a care plan would have to be put into place.
I advise any parent who believes their young child may be suffering from depression to speak and not to take no for an answer.
Our relationship has become more open and I have gained her trust when it comes to her being able to share her own feelings with me. A few weeks ago Nakita revealed that she was gay. I do wonder how much of her depression stemmed from her confusion about her sexuality. I am thankful that depression has brought us closer. I believe being about to talk honestly with your teenager is the way forward. They need to know that you will not be disappointed in them.
If you are worried that your child has depression, you can find more information and help here.