I’m 43, have 4 kids and at one point, my whole family was taking anti-depressants. My kids have all had anxiety since they were small. We quickly found what a huge difference medication meant to their lives, from paralyzing anxiety to a more normal existence. But when they hit puberty, each of them hit a horrible depression. When I had to take my second son to the hospital (9th grade) for not being able to break out of an obsession with suicidal thoughts, I learned that my oldest had attempted suicide when she was his age, and had kept it secret. My son was hospitalized for a week, and that and my daughters confession was a trauma for our family, and definitely for me, but a healing/turning point for my son.
When my oldest went to college, my third child hit a depression and started thinking about suicide. He was able to go to a day treatment program instead of needing hospitalization, but it brought up lots of bad memories from what happened with his older brother. I was very new with learning to paint, and I used it as a type of therapy for myself. I poured all of the bad feelings out onto the canvas in an ugly painting, and kept painting until I was able to tame the ugly chaos into something happier and pretty. Painting went from therapy to something more for me. It’s a lifeline, and a love, and something I can lose myself in.
My second child was so open about his experiences with depression and treatment, and I saw the contrast from my secretive older daughter, and also saw how his experiences helped his peers grapple with their problems, that I am a big proponent of openness and talking about mental health to take away the stigma of counseling, medication and treatment.