Is This Depressing?
Recently, I’ve realized my daughter isn’t quite the same. Her enthusiasm for things just isn’t there. For a while, I blamed teenage angst. Right? I mean all teens go through that. In fact, that tends to lead into their twenties, really.
But… something continued to nag at me. Something really wasn’t… “right.”
The other day, I needed to pick up some of that laundry pre-treatment spray, so I headed to the grocery store. As I reached for the Spray-n-Wash, I noticed the Shout right next to it. Immediately, I start laughing out loud. See, years ago, I grabbed a bottle in the laundry room an started spraying it on my sweater. As I did, I yelled “Ahhhh!!!… Ahhh!!!… Ahhh!!!!” My daughter came into the laundry room and asked, “What’s up?”
I responded, “I’m shouting the stain out,” with my proudest Dad-joke smirk.
She replied, “That’s Fabreeze, Dad.”
So, here I am in the grocery laughing out loud at that memory. Clearly looking like a lunatic.
I thought to myself, “I miss those interactions. We used to have a really good time together.”
Sadly, it’s not the together that I miss, really. It’s the good time.
Things Are Different
My daughter has been home and we’ve done the stuff we always do, but it’s not as fun. It’s probably me. It’s probably angst. It’s probably some combination of her boredom and my… boredom.
That’s just the way teenagers are, right?
But, is that it? Is that where it stops?
If you search for symptoms of depression, you get a laundry list of things that could very easily be noted of all teenagers.
I’m at a bit of a loss. Is ignoring our instinct really best for our children?
I think the truth to that answer lies with the parent. We all search the internet to find answers and trust that it must be “the” way. Actually, there’s a psychological affect where we will find the answers that we want to find. In other words, our projected fears can actually help us find the answer we’re afraid of.
For our kids, though, we should be able to notice a drastic change in behavior. It’s really that drastic change that we should be paying attention to, not necessarily overarching statistics on the web. Our kids are not exact stereotypes. They are a product of their surroundings and likely exhibit a few traditional symptoms of being a teenager – simply by being a teenager. But, very likely, they don’t exhibit them all.
So, we need to watch for the change.
Drastic changes in weight, wanting to change their “life plan” out of the blue, disinterest in friends, etc.
These are all triggers – or warning signs – that something else might be wrong.
…unless they’re actually normal for our children.
Does your daughter go through phases of a good diet, daily exercise, and a good night’s sleep? Maybe a drastic change in weight is OK for her. Has your son never really known what he wanted to do? Maybe changing his “life plan” is pretty normal for him. Have your kids never really had tight friendships? Maybe a disinterest in friends isn’t a change at all.
But, let’s say your daughter has always been kind of healthy, your son laser focused, and your kids are notorious crazy socialites, then for them, these are drastic changes and would be a signal that something is up. See how someone looking in could easily gloss over that? But, being theirparents, we can see that’s a sign of a bigger issue.
And we really need to trust that gut instinct.
Making It Right
So, how do find out what’s really going on? Start a conversation.
It’s doesn’t – and really shouldn’t – have to be “a talk.” You already know our kids hate that.
It’s just the beginning of a conversation. Chances are if there is something bigger going on, then you’re not going to change it overnight – and certainly not with a speech.
A bad way to bring up the issue of depression with our teenagers is to point out what they’re doing “wrong” or “bad.” I’m sure you know this already, but “Hey, you’re really gaining weight!” or “Wow! You slept the whole day away,” aren’t great ways to have your teenager feel comfortable.
The thing about being a teenager is that they’re still trying to figure out who they are. It doesn’t matter how on top of their game they are. Tack on top of that some other stressful circumstance, maybe beyond their control, and that suck.
…and it’s hard. Really hard.
The sad fact is, it’s just hard to be a teenager… emotionally.
So, we have to start by being kind. Kind and gentle. We have to find a kind way to open the conversation.
“Hey, I noticed some things that aren’t normally you. I’m concerned there’s something bigger going on.”
Maybe even following that up with “I know you’ve got a lot going on, but you’re strong and I believe in you.”
Maybe even giving your kid a little extra slack. But, you make that call. You know your kid. Listen to your gut.
I’m going to make a bet, your gut knows more than the Interwebs.
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