May has been established as mental health awareness month and millions of Americans live with some form of mental illness disorder. The list of mental disorders run the gamut from Bipolar Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, Adolescent Antisocial Behavior, Autism, ADD, ADHD and Depressive Order to name a few. I sat down with a mother whose name I will not release to respect her privacy, to discuss the hardships of living with a child with a Depressive Disorder.
Nykita: Thank you for sitting down with me. What’s it like dealing with a younger child diagnosed with a Depressive Disorder and what exactly is a Depressive Disorder?
Mother: A Depressive Order is well to put it plainly having low self-esteem coupled with a lost of interests in day to day things. It’s hard. The highs, the lows it ebbs and flows but mostly lows. Seems like it takes a concentrated effort for him to participate or be involved with people, his peers .
Nykita: How does the Depressive Disorder affect his school? Does it impact his ability to learn?
Mother: Not academically but socially it absolutely does. He can’t stay focused for long because something in him tells him this [school] is not where he wants to be. He doesn’t have any peers in school that he wants to relate to outside of school. He is constantly seeking attention which leads him to act out. His behavior and attitude is so negative sometimes. It’s like a minor situation can happen but he automatically thinks of all the negative outcomes and thinks to respond negatively.
Nykita: Is he currently in therapy or some kind of rehabilitate program?
Mother: Yes, but honestly it doesn’t seem to be working, it’s a formality he has to stay in therapy. Child Protective Services has become involved and under their direction he must continue to keep the services. It’s like you have a child an only child and they have this disorder, you can’t do anything about it, you can’t help them. The medications seem to do more harm than good.
Nykita: That was my next question. So he is currently on medication?
Mother: After a year of battling not to put him on medications, I finally broke down. As a mother you want to do everything in your power to make sure that you child(ren) have the best of everything, that you equip them with all the tools they need to succeed. But sometimes it is just not enough. One minute he’s happy and without any occurrence he is sad, sitting in his closet. Sulking and sad for no reason, and he can’t articulate it because it is a chemical imbalance of sorts.
Nykita: Who helps you with all of this?
Mother: It’s just me, I have my friends and family but unless you are in the situation it is a hard situation to look on the outside in. He doesn’t want to always be involved in activities. If it wasn’t for school he would probably never leave the house except on occasion.
Nykita: I imagine this all plays a toll on your mental health as well.
Mother: You have no idea, the sleepless nights, the constant crying, it breaks you down. Nobody wants to view their child as less than perfect. But the mood swings are a constant reminder that my baby isn’t physically perfect.
Nykita: Well I hope that you seek some kind of place of solace and that he may outgrow this phase. May it be something you look back on later in life and smile because you beat the storm.
Mother: Thank you.
After, talking to this mother I could relate to her pain. I could relate to her passion as a parent. What do you do when you can’t do anything? It is a nightmare for a parent to be helpless to help her children. When there is no clear cut reason as to why your child acts out, when your child says you do not give them enough attention. What do you do when you ‘ve tried everything? Nobody wants to medicate a child until they cannot function. But the reality is that sometimes a parent gets weak, they need to be able to function as well and when the stress of your situation leaves you no alternative the very thing that you are running from stops you in your tracks. Did this mother want to turn to medications, absolutely not but what other choices between expulsion and deeper depression as a mother we make the hard choices. You choose an alternative that you feel is best suited to your situation and hope that it was the best decision to be made.
Be well and mothers take care of yourself sometimes we are all our children have and if we do not take care of our mental state everyone loses. It is equally important to have a strong support system for yourself as it is for you to be that for your children.
Mental Health America has a website with some resources and support www.mentalhealthamerica.net