Teen Depression Is NOT Normal

Today I am excited to bring you a reprinted post from Mary Herrington of Destigmatize.Me

Mary has just published a book From Stressed to Best that talks about our worst fears as parents – failing our children and how to avoid it.  Today Mary brings us a short article on how Teen Depression is not normal and how to avoid it.

As a society, we tend to think that anxiety and depression are a part of the tween/teen experience. Five years ago, I had a friend tell me: “All teens attempt suicide. It’s just part of being a teen. You just need to accept that.”

Yet, I couldn’t. At the time, her oldest child was only five years old. My oldest was 15 and was in a mental health facility for attempted suicide. I would NOT accept that teen suicide is normal. Her daughter is now 10 and our friendship has moved away from one another. Sometimes, my mind wanders back to her and that comment and I wonder if she will feel the same if, and when, her daughter attempts suicide.

Being the mother of a mentally ill child is difficult. The stigma around mental illness often prevents me from telling people, and when I do tell people, I often never hear from them again. They are afraid of my daughter. At 19, she has accomplished so much more than anyone had previously thought possible. All professionals had told me to expect her to be dead by age 18. Not by the horrible hand of cancer, but at her own hand. I had been told that her severe anxiety, depression and PTSD would cause her to give up and have no life to live. I was advised to make my peace with that and to make sure I had arrangements with a funeral parlor ahead of time because when it happened, I would be too distraught to handle it.

I hope you’re shaking your head in disbelief because as I type these words, that is what I am doing. Three little letters come to mind while I type and read that. They begin with a W and end with an F.

My oldest has not only graduated high school with a 3.89 GPA, she has started her own business, volunteers to help others with anxiety and depression, volunteers at church on their production team and has had a long term relationship with the same young man for almost 3 years now.

Yes, she has mental illness.

NO she is NOT her illness.

The stigma around mental illness is reprehensible! We hear about shootings at schools and the media immediately looks to see if the person suffers from bipolar, as if blaming the actions of a madman on a biological disorder of dopamine in the brain is an excuse for their behavior and choices. It is NOT!

Mental illness does NOT make someone violent in and of itself. Most people with mental illness, especially if untreated, are more dangerous to themselves than to others. Most parents, and tweens/teens, won’t even seek treatment for anxiety or depression until they are so entrenched in the illness that it takes much more medication and lifestyle changes to regain a sense of normalcy. When they do regain that normalcy, they live in shame and fear that someone will discover they use medications or a special diet or were “weak” and needed help.

We need to stop the stigma behind mental illness. It is not to be ashamed of, but instead further researched and explained.

In my new book, From Stressed to Best, features how self-directed learning is a proven method of not only education but also a way for tweens/teens to have a way to B.R.E.A.T.H.E. freely again. With self-directed learning, they will be:

  • B-etter Prepared for College and Careers
  • R-elaxed
  • E-nd Arguments (around homework & school)
  • A-ctively Learning
  • T-hinking for themselves
  • H-ealing Inner Pain
  • E-ducating Themselves for Life

Mary Herrington is an internationally published author, speaker, and Mom who has lived in the trenches with children who suffer from learning disabilities, anxiety and depression. She has used Self-Directed Learning since 2009 to empower her children. Max graduated with a 3.89 GPA and Sara is 2 grades ahead.  You can find out more and read an excerpt of her book here.