First things first. I am NOT a psychologist, psychiatrist or any other clinical “ist.” I do NOT have a medical degree or list of impressive accolades behind my name nor have I ever been published in a medical or scientific journal. But what I do have are eyes that can see into the soul–the place that houses the mind, will and emotions. I have ears that hear the warning signs and cries that often go unnoticed until it’s kicking you in the face. And lastly, I have experience in recognizing the tell tale signs of a wounded and broken spirit because for many years that’s who I was. Now that I’ve settled the issue of my qualifications, let us continue.
Depression is a subtle thing, especially in children. Depending on age, children are often at a disadvantage in that they lack the capacity to fully “express” how they’re feeling. More often than not, they manifest their emotions through their behaviors. From loss of appetite to drastic changes in mood to sudden speech impediments, depression’s calling card is very distinctive. Now let’s be clear: we’re not talking about being sad because sadness is much more short lived than depression which tends to be more prolonged or lengthy. Depression is not a passing mood, nor is it a condition that will go away without proper treatment or intervention. This mean as parents, we’ve got to be on the look out for these signs and actually DO something about it. And by DO something, I don’t mean sweep it under the rug or refuse to acknowledge it because of the stigma or false precepts that others have about it. A child’s–your child’s–life may depend on your action. Not sure how to proceed? Here’s what I did when it came knocking.
- Acknowledge it ~ Recently, a very young and close friend of the family broke down crying, saying they were going to end their life. Hearing the story, as it was recounted, sent daggers through my heart. Not only for the young soul contemplating suicide but the other young soul who was left secretly wondering if he or she were to blame for their friend’s hopelessness and despair. Even though in the end both children were safe, the reality was that neither child would be okay–on their own. As much as I wanted to just pray it away, wisdom’s voice of reason reminded me that “faith without works is dead.” I had to do something about what I knew and I did.
- No Condemnation ~ as adults we have keen perception. We can look at a situation, see the problem and take the steps to fix it–boom, bam, finished! Next?! With children there are layers and with those layers we may see somethings we’re not too pleased about–lying, disrespectful attitudes or the silent treatment. Whatever the “it” is, we cannot judge or condemn the child for expressing themselves in the only way they know how.
- Create an Open Atmosphere ~ children naturally clam up when they feel lost or unstable. Some are trying to figure it out and others, just don’t know what to do so they do nothing. Having an open, inviting culture or atmosphere in your home or relationship will help children open up about the heavy things on their hearts. In this situation, I noticed one of the children had clammed up and stopped talking, know what I decided? No more trying. We went out, grabbed a bite to eat, talked about random things for about 1-2 hours, saw a movie and then out of the blue, the child started to open up about their friend’s desire to die, how they felt about it and what they thought about it now. I listened, listened and listened some more. At the end of the day, the child was back to normal–still a bit hurt but back nonetheless. Children need time to talk and work things through, give it to them.
- Get Professionals Involved ~ Super Mom or Super Daddy to the rescue!!! NOT!!! We’re parents and our natural instinct is to protect, protect and PROTECT our children. This is who we are. At the same time, we must realize that sometimes we’re just too close to the situation and getting outside help, counsel or professionals involved is a good idea. I alerted school officials, family members and close friends. I had people praying for all parties involved and had others who would regularly check in with both families to make sure all was as it should be. As parents, we have to understand we cannot be every where and do everything. Please do not carry that weight alone.
If you think you’re child is depressed consult your doctor or health professional immediately.
Parents, depression is real. But knowledge, action, love and truth are POWERFUL. Use these weapons to help your treasures and yourself stay anchored in the midst of the storm.
Thanks for visiting,