Depression: A Parent’s Heartbreak

“I’ve always heard that a mother is only as happy as her least happy child.”

A friend posted this on her Facebook page and this spoke volumes to me. I have worked with countless teens and young adults and often I see the pain in their parent’s eyes.

When I have to send someone to the hospital for care, I reach out to the family as well as they are going through something too. Mother’s tear up and wonder, what they could have done differently. Fathers too look wounded. Hearts are heavy.

The teen or young adult feels the depression so strongly yet also sees the pain in their parent’s eyes and is torn between allowing themselves to get the help they need or pushing it down to not disappoint their parents.

As parents, when our children hurt, we hurt and often wish we could take their place. I have watched my daughter break her arm and struggle with that pain and wish to take it from her. I have watched my son with a broken leg and struggled to watch him in pain.

When your child is struggling through depression and/or anxiety it’s no different. The pain is very real and as a parent, it’s painful to watch. Unlike a broken arm or leg however, mental health issues are abstract and the healing seems much more difficult. With a broken bone, the doctor can give you a clear picture of what is wrong and how to fix it. With depression/anxiety, it’s a guessing game filled with vagueness. The severity of the issue can even be called into question. How do you know how serious the issue is? When is the right time to get help?

The fear of finding your child after having taken their life is such a real fear and looms over like a black cloud. You do what you can and wonder what else you can do. The challenges of their toddler years seem miles away and you long for them. At least then you were in charge of keeping them safe. How do you now protect them from themselves?

Sleep can be difficult to find much less a peaceful thought. No matter what you are doing, the fear for your child looms. The phone rings and you say a silent prayer that it’s not a person calling you to tell you that your child is no longer alive.

We carry the pain of our children in our hearts. Most parents silently carry this weight because it’s not something you post on Facebook or advertise to your friends. You quietly go about your day and attempt to protect your child’s privacy.

If you know of someone who has a teen or young adult that is struggling, reach out to them and provide some support or make sure they can find support through counseling. Even just a caring listening ear can lift a heart or help provide perspective.

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