Childhood Depression

This is a post that has been jumping around in my head for quite some time. I keep going back and forth on if I should really publish it because it’s so personal, but I keep coming to the conclusion that it’s something that we don’t talk about enough and that makes it worse. 

I mentioned yesterday that London is kind of quirky. But it’s more than that. For a long time, I have noticed things in her that make parenting her a real struggle. She gets upset quite easily. She cries a lot. She can be really mean and disrespectful. But after all of the tears and the screaming, she quickly changes into a sweet little girl who wholeheartedly apologizes and genuinely feels remorse. She blames herself for things that no one is to be blamed for. She calls herself stupid when she doesn’t understand something immediately. She throws fits when her piano music is too hard, or especially when she has to do math homework. 

About a year ago, we just couldn’t take it much longer. Things seemed to be getting worse. There were a lot of changes in our family that caused a lot of stress to everybody. London is very in tune with how others are feeling. She internalizes other’s hurt and stress. When people around her are struggling, she is struggling. And her struggles are manifest in fits and rage. Things were getting out of control at school. Finally, we took her to counseling. We went monthly for about six months. We didn’t notice any progress. Nobody knew what to do. Her counselor even seemed baffled. A few months ago, we met with a psychiatrist. She was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. As a last resort, she started on medication. She’s on quite a low dose, but with that little amount, I’ve noticed change. We still deal with fits and disrespect and general mean-ness, but it’s not as long lasting and I finally feel like maybe we are moving in the right direction. And she’s much more talkative. She was talkative before. Now she doesn’t stop!

This is not something just we struggle with. I think it’s more common than we realize, but for some reason, so many of us are too embarrassed to talk about it; like it’s something to be ashamed of. Just like any other medical condition, we can’t always control it without help. And it is literally killing people. It’s hard to be the one on the outside, trying to help a loved one navigate through the darkness that they feel. But it’s harder to be the one on the inside who struggles, sometimes not even knowing why or what it is that’s wrong. I’ve seen both sides. Shortly after giving birth to Ashton, I felt hopeless. I felt like I could never get anything done. I had no motivation to do anything. After a bit of encouragement from Taylor (as he recognized the problem), I visited with a doctor and was medicated for depression. For me, it’s something that went away, but for many, it never goes away. It is an illness that can be treated. The treatment might not help at first. But something else might. I have seen too many people I love try to deal with this on their own. I’ve also seen many loved ones get the help they need and it changes their life. We can’t do it on our own. I’m so thankful that we have been able to get the help we need for London. I hope that the progress continues. And I hope we continue to talk about it.

Here are a couple of links to a talk and an article that I thought were especially helpful in learning about depression:

https://www.lds.org/ensign/2004/08/when-your-child-is-depressed?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng&query=depression