Children are not strangers to anxiety and depression. The difficulty with our kids is that they are oftentimes not equipped to fully express what they’re feeling. As a result, these emotions can manifest themselves in many different ways. My child has been dealing with her anxiety and depression for a while.
Naming It and not Shaming It
I happen to be a lucky mom. My daughter came to me and told me that she was feeling anxious and a bit depressed about three years ago. Some of the things she was starting to say were very troubling, especially since she was only seven at the time. I worried, but didn’t have any sense of urgency.
We arranged for her to meet with her school counselor a few times to see if things were okay. They met and it went well. She was given some tools to use in order to cope with how she was feeling and we moved on. About a year ago, she started saying things that made me realize that she needed help. She loved being able to talk to someone other than a family member about what she was feeling, so I knew that I had some work to do.
Feeling Things Out
The first thing I did was take her to speak with her primary care doctor. It turns out that mental health issues don’t need referrals. Her doctor thought that she may need to see a child psychiatrist too so that was our first step.
Many of the concerning things she had said to me weren’t mentioned in that initial meeting which worried me a bit. The conclusion from that appointment was that she did suffer from anxiety and depression and may need to try some medication. She would also need to see a psychologist for talk therapy and coping strategies. Trying to find a therapist for a child during Covid-19 was not an easy task. She needed to speak with a human face to face. She began seeing someone about a month after I started searching.
Is Any of this Working?
She still says and feels things that are deeply concerning to me even though she is on medication and speaking with a therapist. I’m now at the point where I don’t believe the medication to be working. I’m stuck asking myself if any medication would work at all? Has she been misdiagnosed? Should we try another psychiatrist? Is this as serious as it sounds?
I don’t ever want to question her feelings. I’m not sure if the medication does make a difference because she’s not really mature enough to assess that fully. It’s supposed to help, but not be the be-all, end-all. I’m also not in those sessions with her, leaving me wondering if she’s talking about the things that I feel may be important. I am not the one in control, nor should I be.
Paying Attention All of the Time
The main lesson I’ve learned is that I need to pay attention. We know our children. She has never been a happy-go-lucky kid, so that’s not my expectation. Anxiety and depression can permeate every facet of life. I’ve learned from her that she has a fear that my husband and I will get in a car accident when we go out on a date night and she won’t know. She also gets really sad when she remembers our dog that died two years ago and she goes to a dark place and then starts spinning out of control.
I also know that she doesn’t like it when she doesn’t get her way. Paying attention means that I can decipher between those different things. It’s okay for her to not get her way. It’s not okay for her to claim anxiety and depression in order to manipulate us. There are continuing conversations about the difference.
A Lifelong Struggle with Anxiety and Depression
Chances are that anxiety and depression will be with her for her entire life. There’s no question that having people listen to you and believe you is the first step towards getting help. I’m not sure that we’re doing the right thing quite yet. I still have some work to do as her mom. I feel privileged to live in a place where I can get my child help and have options. It doesn’t mean that I don’t worry because I do, all of the time. Our family knows that talking about how we are feeling is always okay. She is aware that we love her no matter what and always will. Her journey will continue and I will forever be on it with her.