I want to take a few mins to be a little serious. As a mom who has suffered with depression, I never thought it would be something my kids would face or have to struggle with. I mean seriously, we just don’t want to think about those things. We want our kids to experience the good things, and not have to worry about the negative things. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Take for example, it has been a long road with her. There for the longest it seemed we were moving one step forward just to go 3 steps back. Then her Dr referred her to another Dr in the office that specialized in kids with behavioral problems. He was a life saver. Then a few months or more ago. He left. Now my daughter is seeing another Dr and he is trying to get her off one of her meds, so he lowered the dose. Ever since then, I feel like I have been going crazy, and she has slowly slipped into what appears to be a depressive state. Ever her grades have been dropping these past few months. But the only way the teacher seems to show concern is when I ask her straight out because I have concerns with her behavior and wonder if she is showing the same behavior in school.
This problem also applies for my youngest son as well. Recently I had a meeting with his teacher, school counselor, school psychologist and one of his other teachers( I think). Anyway, they brought it to my attention that they were worried that he was depressed because all he does when he is at school is put his head down, and over the past few months, he has become more withdrawn than he was before. Ok, I have no problem hearing this. But here is my problem with the whole situation. Over those past few months I have had to go to the school on more than occasion to sign paper work, IEP meetings etc.. Not once was it ever brought to my attention that there was any concern about him being depressed. The most I got was he didn’t want to do his work at school, and when he got home, he didn’t want to do his homework either. But then I talked to my youngest son and we tried to work out something that would encourage him to do better at school. I sent many notes to school asking if things were improving as far as him doing his work, and the reply was he was improving. So basically, they lied to me and had to wait until I was in a room full of other people who are more than eager to tell me what they think I should do. For example sign him up for counseling.
Ok now this is another problem for me. As someone who has suffered from depression and knows the symptoms and the all to familiar warning signs, had I noticed any symptoms in my son that would cause me to worry, I might of considered this. But when he at home, he is a totally different person. He was very out going and will talk to anyone, and where ever you hear any commotion, you can about guess he is right in the middle of it. And lets face it, he has a ton of friends. He just hates school and always says “mommy I want to stay with you”.
My problem with counseling is this. When my daughter was younger as I mentioned above she has some behavior issues as stated above. When she was in first grade, they put her in a program called the Bridges program. It is a program where there are maybe 8-12 kids total in the classroom, and plenty of teachers as well as therapist that work through Haywood Psychological that work with the kids to find ways to control their bad days, and work with the families when they fill overwhelmed. As part of the program, parents are required to go once a month for meetings with the therapist. This is where my problem comes into play. Every meeting I went to, it was always what my daughter did wrong, and as a parent they had me to the point I was in tears by the time I left. They made me feel like the worst mom in the world.
So when this was put down as something I should consider for Phoenix, I had to automatically say no. It’s not that I don’t want my son getting help. But if he were truly depressed, he would be withdrawn and all that good stuff at home as well. But he isn’t. So when they ask me what I have against counseling, I tell them about the experience before. I know they are trying to be helpful, but I am not going to sit their and let someone else make me feel like crap. I can do that myself. Then they want to know if anyone has ever experienced mood disorders of any kind in the past. So now I have to tell them about my past my depression. Before I know it, they have a counselor recommendation that they think would benefit me.
As of right now, I am not on anything and I feel great. I would see a Dr if I didn’t. But all this talk about depression is most likely going to depress the crap out of me. Then they ask me if I have any kind of support group. I have my family and if I feel like they aren’t the people I can talk to, I have at least 3 friends I can depend on. My family and friends are my life preserver when I feel things are sliding.
The point of this article is this. If you have a child who is experiencing mood problems regardless of what they are, or are having trouble in school, make sure you keep in good communication with the teacher. But also make sure that if you have any concerns, address them. Do not wait until your in a room full of teachers to do so. If your child has a teacher like the one’s I seem to come across, the second you notice their may be a problem, bring it up and make the teacher aware. Maybe they will return the favor. But if your child is anything like my youngest, this is easier said than done. As I stated above, at home he was a totally different person. So if your a teacher and reading this, please if there is a problem just tell the parents. Don’t wait for them to come to you and don’t wait until you the parent in a room full of people to say “oh I think we have a problem” When you do this, it makes the parent fill like they are being ganged up on. So for both parent and teacher, keep the lines of communication open and honest. For the parents, do not let anyone whether it be the school or your child’s Dr talk you into anything your not comfortable with. Your the parent, you know your limits, and you know your schedule. The last thing you need is someone forcing something on you or your child you do not want. Also parents, keep the lines of communication open with your child’s Dr. If they can’t help you, or feel it is over their head say something, make them refer you to someone better. And parents don’t be afraid to speak up when you feel like everyone is ganging up on you. Never let anyone make you feel that way. Trust me, been there, done that. But the most important is communication between parent, teacher and your child’s Dr. Without that clear communication, everything is a mess.