Mothers and Fathers, Watch Over Your Daughters.

In an article I read recently it said that the onset of depression in girls triples during the ages of 12 and 15. This is a startling discovery because I think in a lot of cases that is the time when parent become most distant from their children, and struggle in understanding what their lives are like. the reality is that this is the second most vulnerable time in a girl’s life. The first is of course, when she is a child and relies on her mother and father to fulfill her basic needs of being safe, having shelter, and nourishment. The consequences that follow according with these early life needs not being met are detrimental to the development of self esteem as the child grows up.

The article reveals that doctors aren’t paying close attention to symptoms of depression in teens until they reach 15 or 16. But by that time, the depressive symptoms may in fact be far more sever than they would be had the help come sooner to these teens. In my own life, I know that if I had allowed myself to recognize the depressive symptoms for what they were throughout my life, and been honest about how I felt, I would have been able to get help much earlier, and might be in a better place of recovery right now. Nonetheless, it’s  NEVER TOO LATE to seek help for the pain you are feeling.

The affect this article had on me was that it made me realize the responsibility of parents to notice these symptoms in their children and teens. As a parent, b e aware of the growing number of kids and young adults that suffer with anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. The years 10 through 20 and even beyond, are some of the most difficult and confusing years in a girls life. I want to ask parents to be an active part of their daughter’s lives. Talk with her and help her with the challenges and stresses she is facing with growing up.

However, in many cases parents are not able, or interested in being a support to their child and in that case I want to say to anyone, no matter what age they may be, ONLY YOU can choose to get help. Getting involved with a counsiler at school or seeking counselling elsewhere is a great place to start. It gives you someone to talk to. I know first hand that can be scary as hell. I wasn’t someone who wanted to admit I had a problem. But I have to tell you, when I did finally come to see it and admit that, it was the first step towards beating my depression and anxiety.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Be brave! Talk to friends or family or teachers or councilors, or doctors. They are their to help you.

Last year I felt weird having to go get help from the counselling center at the university I attended. It didn’t seem like any of the other kids were feeling like I was. I was weird and strange and had to hide from everyone. Hide who I was. But then, the first thing the counsiler said to me was that their was a reason for the large size of the counselling centers at every university.  Depression and other mental illness‘ are common! There were so many other students that were suffering with the same things I was. Despite how I had always felt, I WASN’T ALONE!

That’s the first step. Realizing you have these feelings. But the next step is changing the way you look at mental illness. YOU’RE NOT ALONE! So many people suffer with it just like you. It’s an illness, and there’s no shame in it. I used to be so ashamed of it, and hate myself for the feelings I had, and the fears that came to my mind to debilitate me, until one day my psychiatrist said to me, “if you had a broken leg, would you hide it?”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/depression-girls_n_1701953.html

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28 thoughts on “Mothers and Fathers, Watch Over Your Daughters.

  1. Wow, excellent thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I think you’ve hit on a big stumbling block many parents run across – so many parents throw up their hands when their kids reach the teen years, and put all behavior down to “teen angst.” But that’s when it’s even more important we listen, watch, and TALK with our kids – especially if we’re aware of a history of any type of mental disorder in the family. We need to be aware of symptoms of teen depression, and be willing to step in when we have an inkling that something isn’t quite right.

  2. Exactly! Thank you for commenting. You are very right. I know from personal experience it isn’t fun to feel alone in your family and like no one has time or wants to hear you, and that if you speak they will judge you. It is up to parents to create a safe sharing environment for kids throughout their lives. I am thankful that now I am able to speak with my mom more than I was able to when I was younger. I am getting a voice. It’s my hope that everyone suffering with depression or mental illness will have a voice too. Speak out! be brave. And don’t be ashamed of who you are!

  3. Thanks for the article. I am a parent and am now a grandparent. I so identify with what you wrote. We have three daughters and their teenage years were hard for everybody. As a dad I struggled to understand how bright, bubbly, keen, conversant children could suddenly withdraw, lose interest, become disagreeable and secret. It was tough. Now they are all well into their 20’s and 30’s and life is different. But it was really hard a few years back.

    • thank you for sharing that =) I think that’s the case for a lot of parents. it is a confusing time for them too. I imagine it would be hard for parents. I know that my parents struggled with understanding what my older sister was going through when she was diagnosed with OCD and depression. They didn’t understand it fully, and she was very secretive, and so that’s why I always thought I had to keep my feelings a secret too. But I know now that it is so much better on everyone if they talk and try to understand each other. Thank you so much for reading! I am so happy your relationship with your kids has gotten better!

  4. Thank you for coming to my blog. I am not certain what drew you there but I am so glad you came.. Then I came here and found this article. My 15 year old daughter is going through this just now. Luckily we have a great doctor who is treating her gently. It looks like I am doing everything right by being here for her, Thanks you.

    • I think your daughter is lucky to have a mom like you! I am glad she has a nice doctor to help her through as well! That is really one of the most important things. To have a stable and comforting support system. I wish the best for you and your daughter! I know it can be hard, but I know how much I appreciate my mom being there for me. so i am sure your daughter feels very grateful to have you, or she will one day =)

  5. I had clinical depression but was in denial about it for a while. Many of my family members don’t know because my mom didn’t want anyone to know. One of the toughest things was definitely how alone you feel and how I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone except a psychologist which was difficult because it took me a while to trust him. Sigh.
    Great post though, people should be more aware of this.

    • I’m sorry that you didn’t feel like you could tell anyone. That’s so hard. I still don’t feel safe enough to tell a lot of my friends about my battles with it. But slowly I am getting better at realizing it isn’t something to hide because if you hide it, your not helping other girls who might feel a lot better if they knew they weren’t alone in the battle.
      A really amazing thing that happened for me, that opened my eyes, was when a friend of mine confided in me that she had been struggling with depression for a long time and felt isolated and sometimes just couldn’t get up in the morning. she said a lot of her life and even the time she spent with me, she was trying her best to act like she was happy, and be who she was when depression wasn’t afflicting her. I realized then, that I had been doing the same thing. We both had been trying to pretend we were always happy and that we weren’t suffering with depression.
      Now we are both open and able to share how we are feeling during good times and bad times. It’s great and really opens up for meaningful relationships. I owe a lot to her! =)
      I felt so isolated when I couldn’t talk to anyone but my psychiatrist. It got so much better for me once I was able to break free of the fear that people would judge me.
      I just had to remind myself that depression doesn’t make me weird, or even very different from anyone else. everyone suffers with something. everyone has their battles. And if I can help people by talking about mine. that’s what I want to do =)
      You are so brave! thank you for reading my blog and sharing!

      • That’s really great that you have a friend like that.It’s true that everyone has their battles and we deal with it in different ways. Luckily I have people in my life,very few that I trust, but it’s still something. I definitely don’t feel as alone as I used to.

        There are days when I don’t feel like getting out of bed, and it makes me scared that I might get sick like that again. It’s always in the back of my mind.

        I’ve always been passionate about helping others who’ve gone through the same. And strangely enough I have friends who’ve gone through very similar things in their past and we’ve been able to help each other, especially when no one else understands etc.

        Maybe we’ve gone through these things because we’re strong enough to help others. Who knows..

        Besides the fear of being judged there’s also the fear that people might only see it as a cry for attention.

        I’m glad you’re part of my blogosphere now 🙂 it always helps to feel less alone :p

  6. My daughter is 14 and reminds me so much of myself at that age. I only wish I had recognized the signs sooner for what they are. My own depression and anxiety fog prevented me from seeing what was going on with her. I’m glad we now have her in counseling and hope that she can finally see the light at the end of her dark tunnel. Thank you for your post. You are amazing and brave. 🙂

    • You seem like a wonderful and caring mother! I am so glad your daughter has someone she can relate to in her suffering. I hope it creates a bond of sharing between the two of you. I know it has created one between me and my mom. But it has taken us a long time to come to sharing with each other. it is really worth it! hank you so much for reading this!

  7. I always try to find the blogs of people who follow mine, and I am so glad I followed up with yours. Writing is equal to healing in my book. As the parent of 11 and 8 year old girls, I always want to really see my children. I think many of us parents want so badly for our kids to be “happy” that if we see any signs of depression, we get reactive and fearful. Our kids deserve better. Thanks for the reminder.

    Write the wrongs.

  8. We talked about this a lot in my psychology of women class. There’s a phenomenon when girls enter puberty, where they suddenly feel the need to silence their voices and to adhere to strict guidelines for what it means to be “feminine” and “sexual.” Another thing which happens almost universally among girls this age is that their scores take a significant drop in science and math.

    As much as we’d all like to say we aren’t influenced by the media and societal expectations, it’s impossible for our culture NOT to influence our unconscious senses of self. As far as the silencing of voices, this is a phenomenon in which adolescent girls learn they can not be entirely truthful in their opinions, because they are treated poorly if they do. A lot of this is because of the way we perceive women who contribute to public conversations. If a man and a woman both speak publicly, and for the exact same amount of time, the entire audience will walk away thinking the woman hogged the floor. What’s even more startling is that, statistically, a woman can hold as little as 40% of the time, and she’ll still be perceived as speaking disproportionately long compared to the man. Another reason for this is that women are often perceived as too abrasive if they have clear opinions which they are willing to voice.

    Of course, the many body image issues we’ve all probably struggled with at one time or another also start at puberty, because no one is quite so concerned about the shape or size of a seven year old. Some of it’s from the media, some of its from peers, and some of it is observational learning from how their mothers view themselves and how their fathers view their mothers, or how any of the women in their family or positions of authority view themselves. Unfortunately, until we stop seeing headlines about women who are extremely successful politicians, businesswomen, or professionals being fat or unattractive, which completely disregard their many accomplishments, I don’t see how this will ever stop being a problem.

    • If you’d like to read a little more about this, there is a book by Carol Gilligan called, “In a Different Voice” (1982) which touches on the subject. There was a more recent article in which she revisits the subject, alas, I couldn’t find it in my notes.

  9. Congratulations on your new blog Emma. It looks beautiful but more importantly you have something powerful and honest to say and you can write! It’s so true what you say about teenage girls and depression – I saw this with my sister and to this day wonder how different her life might have been if she had got the right help at the right time. As a mother of three daughters myself I try to be super vigilant and will bend over backwards to stay close to them when they older.
    You are not alone.
    Clare

    • You sound like a wonderful mom! I am so happy for your daughters that they have such a kind and caring mom like you! that is so important!
      Thank you so much for supporting me! it means so much!

      Love
      Faith!

  10. Home should be a sanctuary, but often is not because of how people are raised. It’s hard to ask for help and guidance if you’re living in a war zone. Hopefully more parents will see your blog and try to be there for their children at the critical puberty time.

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