Think the stigma is bad for adults? What about kids? I imagine people whispering behind my son and I at the psychologist office, “WTF did she do to that child? Poor parenting, millennials, it’s no wonder with her out at appointments in those sweatpants.” (I went too hard on myself. I can wear sweatpants anytime; fuck what anyone says.) Honestly though, getting help for my son was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
First, I had to admit that my baby wasn’t perfect. That maybe I didn’t form his brain right and now he hurts because of it. Or, worse, that I allowed him to be exposed to some trauma that rewired his neurocircuits to replay a defensive track.
Then, I had to figure out where to turn. Not everyone has a child therapist’s card on hand. I decided to talk to his school. Holy unhelpful hell. I’ve never been met with so many, he’s-just-like-other-kids, and oh-that’s-normals in my whole life. No, it’s not normal for him to worry about if asking for juice is too much trouble. No, it’s not normal for him to blame himself for things completely out of his control. No, it’s not normal for him to constantly have a feeling that “something is missing” in his heart. That’s depression. That’s heavy stuff for a 7 year old.
Next, I decided to ask our pediatrician for a recommendation. She was equally as helpful and much more judgmental. She thought I was “helicoptering” and that I shouldn’t worry so much, that he would be just fine.
Guys, I’m not making this up that my seven year old sometimes cries more than I do during a depressive episode for no particular reason. I don’t want my kid to be depressed or to have depression. He just does. I know the signs like my parents didn’t. Had they known that I was depressed at 7-10 I probably wouldn’t have destroyed my life in a series of epic manic episodes in my teens. I pray to all the gods that he isn’t bipolar. I know the statistics and the likelihood that I could pass it down. If he is, I’m not going to miss it. I’m not going to turn my head and pretend like everything is ok. I’m going to help him better than my parents could. Can someone please hear me?
Finally I looked up my own child psychologists and found all of 2 in my entire state. We trek the hour and forty-five twice a month so that he can have someone to talk to that has been trained on how much being a kid hurts.
The other thing I did was, you guessed it, bought every book I could find about kids and depression. This topic has some surprisingly bad advice disguised as cutesy children’s characters. The stigma was stronger in some books than in real life. There is a book that features a sad rock and all the other rocks tell him to smile. GTFO of here with that. Where are the books that tell you it’s okay to be sad and fuck your friends if they tell you to smile through it? Well, I found those books. And here they are:
My Many Colored Days by Dr Seuss https://amzn.to/2W4pLnM
Meh by Deborah Malcolm https://amzn.to/2HhU9TD
Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne and Max Lang https://amzn.to/2JEdeB8
Sticks by Diane Alber https://amzn.to/2HgqM3X
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