Category Archives: depression

Hindsight is 20-20: Poem Describing Teen Depression/Anxiety: “The Things I Did Instead”

I’ve had a lot of comments on blog posts from parents with teens suffering depression/anxiety. You parents who realize what is happening are the lucky ones, relatively speaking. So many teens suffer without anyone, including themselves, really knowing it. I was one of those teens.
I still got good grades.
I still held down a good part time job.

The signs can be subtle, and often are dismissed as typical “teen” behaviour. Under/over sleeping, being irritable, under/over eating.

One sign to watch out for is isolation.
Do friends ever call?
Does your teen ever go out with friends, talk about friends?

I was a pretty isolated teen much of the time. I knew something was wrong. I knew I was very sad and felt scared and alone. I didn’t know it was depression/anxiety, but when I look back on poems I wrote, I described it pretty darn well. Here is one example. I hope it gives you a little insight about what teens with depression/anxiety are feeling.

The Things I Did Instead:

I saw a beautiful butterfly
It fluttered all around me
Touched my hand and my heart
Then it circled away into the deep blue sky
Left my eyes, and made them cry
I think it is hard to catch a butterfly
But what do I know?
I didn’t even try

These are the things I did instead
I cried night after night until I could take it no more
Then I fell
I fell very far, and I fell very deep
I fell very fast into a death like sleep
I became numb
Free from the pain
And free from the truth
I was so free that I was trapped
Left all alone, again and again
I lived day after after day feeling nothing
Nobody could see
That my soul had left me
There was nowhere I could go
Nothing I could be
I had let that butterfly go
Stupidly, I had ignored the sound of my own screaming
NO

Whatever became of the butterfly?
It kept on going
Circling farther and farther away
Until it got too high
And slowly started dying
Its wings turned black
It started to fade
It got so sick and so weak
Still it soared through the smokey air
Forgot what it was
Forgot that it cared
It became a part of the night
All of its beauty
All of its magic
All of its innocence
Gone

We’re a pathetic pair
That butterfly and me
One chance not taken
A tiny, terrible mistake
And we will never be
But one thing always remains
One thing time can never take
The love of that moment
So painfully long ago
Endures with strength
It will never shatter
It will never break
That day, that sunny smiling day
Shines again every once in a while
It lives in his eyes
It lives in my smile
When I’m walking through the woods and the butterfly pasee by
I tell him to remember
He tells me not to cry

I see a beautiful butterfly
It flutters far away
Once it touched my hand and my heart
I can see it circling in the deep blue sky
It leaves my eyes and makes them cry
I think it is hard to catch a butterfly
But next time it comes near
I promise I will try

Thanks for reading.
Be Brave, and Talk

Please Stop Saying Sorry

Facebook Status: Today was a terrible day. -feeling lonely. 😞

You leave it up for 10 minutes, check it, see no feedback, then hit delete. People don’t want to be brought down by your negative status.

Facebook status: Whoa! I got 98% on my term paper! Yahoo! – feeling proud. 😃

You leave it up for 3 minutes, then hit delete. You don’t want anyone to be annoyed and think you’re bragging.

Facebook status: My heart literally hurts. Why did she have to do this to me? -feeling heartbroken. 😢

You leave it up for about 30 seconds, then hit delete. You picture that meme with Leonardo Dicaprio wearing sunglasses and laughing at people who post “problems” on Facebook and shudder. People hate drama. What are you thinking? You take a cute picture of your puppy and post that instead.

So much insecurity.
So much guilt.
Why do we feel so uncomfortable being real?

******************************

You stare blankly out the bedroom window and wish it wasn’t sunny. Maybe then you wouldn’t feel like such a loser, lying in bed in the middle of the day while your husband takes care of the children. You hear them laughing as they get shoes on for outside, and your heart sinks. You try willing yourself out of bed to join them, but your aching body doesn’t want to cooperate. You place cool hands on your forehead, try to relieve the throbbing pain. Precious moments pass by wasted, as your family plays in the back yard without you. You bury your head in the pillow, squeeze your eyes shut. There’s no way you’re going to be able to fall asleep. You haven’t slept properly in months. You are sleep deprived beyond belief, but your racing mind keeps you awake any chance you get to catch up. Cursing yourself, you jump out of bed, angrily swallow down some Tylenol, and rush outside.

Your daughters race to greet you, giggling, fistfuls of dandelions in their hands. You put on your best smile, kneel down and let them crash into your arms. You squeeze them tight until they fight to get free and run off again.

“Did you get any sleep?” Your husband’s brow furrows with concern.

“No. No, I didnt.” You snap.

“Why not? Why don’t you go back and lie down?”

“Because! I can’t sleep! My head hurts too much! I’m not well, don’t you understand? Something is very wrong with me! I’ve felt absolutely awful for MONTHS!”

You turn your back so your daughters wont see, and sob into your hands. Your husband gives you a tight hug, you cry into his shirt. You indulge in the comfort for a minute, dry your face with the back of your hand.

“I’m sorry, Love. I’m okay, don’t worry. I’m just really tired, that’s all…..Did my mascara smear?”

******************************

Oh, how I wish I had the power to travel back in time, to you as you stood in the dandelions and apologized to your husband for crying on that sunny day. As you looked him in the eye through your tears and lied, pretending you weren’t breaking inside. If I had the power, I’d hold you tight, I’d whisper in your ear that your pain is not weakness, your anger is not a sin, your tears are not a burden. I’d tell you I admire your determination, caring day after day for your family, when you desperately need care yourself.

I’d tell you to let it out, scream if you have to.
You hurt.
You are afraid.
You are strong beyond words, but you are tired of being strong.
You just want to be truthful.
Please stop saying sorry.
Be truthful. Be real. Be brave, and hold your head high.
This world needs more truth.
And the truth, in time, will set you free.

Thank you for reading!
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Be Brave, and Talk

7 Ways To Show Love To Someone With Anxiety/Depression

The hardest people to love are the ones who need it most.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas for showing love to friends and family members with anxiety/ depression:

1.) Give Compliments:

Chances are, someone who suffers from anxiety/depression also struggles with self esteem. Help her challenge her feelings of self loathing by giving her sincere, specific compliments. Being specific is really important, because it will make her more likely to remember what you said later. It will also make her more likely to believe you. For example, instead of saying, “You’re a good mom,” you could say something more meaningful: “You are so patient with your children. I love how you encourage them to keep trying. They are so lucky to have you.”
One thoughtful, genuine compliment has more power than 10 careless comments that feel like flattery. Put your heart into what you say.

2.) Offer Your Company:

Appointments, trips to the grocery store or mall can be very trying for someone with anxiety. If your friend has someone he trusts to come along with him, it can be quite helpful. It offers distraction, support, and ensures he won’t have to face unforeseen events, such as a panic attack, all alone.

3.) Send Texts or Email To Ask How They Are Doing….Really:

Text and email might be better for this than a phone call. It can be very hard for someone to open up if they are going through a tough time. Text or email gives her all the time she needs to respond honestly, and might help her be more comfortable. It also takes the pressure off to say she’s “good” or “okay” when that’s not actually the case. In the depths of depression, it is easy to feel like nobody cares. Ask how she is doing, and really listen. Make it all about her. Let her know you believe everything she is saying, and you are there for her whenever she needs. She is not alone.

4.) Take Care Of Him:

Depression can make even the most mundane tasks absolutely exhausting. Self care is often neglected, because the person just doesn’t have the energy, the ability to focus, or the desire to do things for himself. You could cook him a nutritious meal, pay for and send him for a massage or haircut, take care of his kids while he takes a bath. Remind him that he deserves TLC just as much as anyone. This just might help motivate him to start loving and caring for himself.

5.) Invite Her For A Walk Outside….And Keep On Inviting Her:

Being in nature is soothing to the soul, good medicine for anyone. Exercise increases the body’s production of serotonin, which helps reduce anxiety and depression. Exercising outside just makes sense for someone with mental illness, but the hard part is getting her out there. Invite her often, and if she declines, be sure to not make her feel guilty….she probably has plenty of guilt in her life already. Just shrug it off, and invite her again in a few days. Your persistence will let her know you care, and hopefully she will one day accept.

6.) Hug Him….The Longer The Hug, The Better:

We are all familiar with the healing power of a hug. What you may not know, is loving gestures like hugs cause the body to release oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin causes relaxation, and aids sleep, perfect for someone with anxiety/depression. So hold him tight, for as long as you can, and you will be helping him feel better on an emotional and physiological level.

7.) Let Her Be

The hardest, most isolating part of mental illness is trying to live up to real, or imagined pressure from family and friends to be happy.

Accept that she is not happy today.
Offer no advice on how to change her mood.
Be with her when she is irritable, and don’t make her feel guilty for it.
Let her know that although you don’t fully understand what she is going through, you believe every complaint she has, and you respect her strength in living through it.

Let her be.
Don’t force her to pretend.
Love is unconditional, after all.

Thanks for reading!
Be Brave, and Talk
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