The Scary Truth About Childhood Depression
Depression in girls is alarming for many reasons. When your daughter is young and misdiagnosed it’s even more frightening. Knowledge is power when parenting your spirited child and it’s important to be aware of signs and subtle changes.
Hidden Depression In Girls
It was something about the tone of her voice that got to me.
“Why do I feel so lost? I don’t even fit in my family?”
Gut wrenching, I could barely hold back the tears.
“I don’t even fit in my family”… Where did she get that idea?
She was buckled up in the backseat of my Toyota, still too little to sit up front with me.
Crying. Whimpering. And breaking my heart 💔
Another failed birthday party. Another story of “they hate me” another failed attempt at finding friends that would be kinda, sorta, nice to her.
What in the world is going on with my once happy go, lucky little girl?
Everything seemed to change as soon as she walked into the school building – as soon as she left the safe boundaries of our home.
Every little thing was exhausting and more confused for all of us, but –
I now know my daughter has depression and anxiety disorder. Officially re-diagnosed recently, now that she’s a young adult.
I can’t begin to put myself in her shoes walking down the path of her short life.
Does Having A Diagnosis Help or Hurt?
To finally have a diagnosis can be reassuring- but does she have any answers after all these years?
Years of suffering, embarrassment, bullying, disappointment, and guilt have reduced me to a ball of sadness, and Jess even worse.
Jess always displayed a temper, sometimes over the top explosive rage. But, worse than her passion was distinct difficulties both socially and emotionally with her peers.
Jess never seemed to fit into her age group, she preferred younger kids and appeared to be a bit more comfortable in this setting. Even so, she was reluctant to play with others, and more often than not, it always ended in heartbreak.
I noticed over the years that Jess and her “friends” were very immature, and her “friends” usually also had some significant difficulties in their lives.
Jess became a great support to them, the caretaker, the empath, but they were rarely there for her. Her friendships were not reciprocal, which confused her and enraged me.
School Is Difficult For Girls With Anxiety
At school, Jess was the girl who rarely wanted attention. She faded into the background and teachers often accused her of daydreaming.
As she continued her woolgathering, she missed assignments, became disorganized and forgetful.
Jess became invisible. She drew comfort with this ability to camouflage herself from the surroundings. Now, identified as a student with a learning disability, a student suffering from depression and treated for both.
Luckily my parenting style is pretty laid back, and with Jess, I knew early on that she was sensitive to criticism and correction. My approach was one of compassion and thoughtfulness to try to meet her needs and guide her to discover strengths and talents.
Yes, she bailed out too quickly with soccer and dance. Truth, she didn’t even give herself time to know if she enjoyed either. She was done and had numerous reasons why she couldn’t continue.
Encouragement and support, praise for her effort, patience that could rival St. Theresa, and eventually she found horseback riding. Horseback riding was her port in a storm. At least for a couple of years.
Time And Growth Helps
As I reflect back on this time of our life, I’m proud of my daughter and her strength and dignity. She understood her stressors and the importance of an emotional timeout needed to nourish her soul.
The family might have taken the brunt of an outburst, but she came out the other side of it relieved and hopeful.
Today, Jess is taking supplements, some medication, a healthy diet and active lifestyle that is making a difference in her life. She claims for the first time her mind isn’t racing, and she feels “stability” in her thinking.
Everyone in the family noticed an incredible improvement in word recall and vocabulary skills and a byproduct of this is a confidence level we have never seen before in Jess.
As Jess’ confidence grows, so does Jess!
I’ll never begin to understand what having depression, and anxiety is like for Jess nor can I begin to comprehend the secret pieces of her life tucked away somewhere safe that no one is privy too.
Jess is, unfortunately, a member of the lost generation of girls who have had to manage this condition on their own. Because of this, she has experienced depression, anxiety and has chosen unhealthy relationships in which she accepts criticism and abuse as if it’s normal.
I can only hope, with her newfound strength and optimism, she will feel empowered to create the life she desperately deserves.
Jess and I both hope and pray that by telling her story, it may help one more family on their journey.