Most of us dream of the perfect life with the white picket fence, perfect spouse and perfect kids. Today however, I will be sharing a story about a not so perfect family doing their very best to beat childhood depression.
Firstly, let me start out by saying that I love being a mom. My children are my life, my everything and I have put absolutely every ounce of myself into the past 15 years. But every now and then motherhood seriously sucks!!
As 2018 ended, our world was rocked when Ashton my 15-year-old’s doctors confirmed that his hormones were wreaking havoc and as a result his condition had taken a turn for the worst. Ash was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and mild depression at the age of 9. Five years on and we are dealing with clinical teenage depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Teen depression is real and it’s a serious mental health problem.
The persistent, often unexplained feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities affects how teens think, feel and behave. In addition to that it can cause emotional, functional and physical problems. Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms may be different between teens and adults. Peer pressure, expectations to perform at school and their ever-changing bodies can bring a lot of ups and downs for teens.
In Ashton’s case (and many other teens), the lows are more than just temporary feelings as they are in fact symptoms of depression. Depression symptoms ease with treatment such as medication and psychological counselling. Our efforts which include healthy eating, adequate rest, medication and counselling have however proved futile. That was until we introduced exercise into his routine. Exercise is the key to restoring balance on a daily basis. Daily exercise has been life changing for us as a family and its how we are winning the battle against depression.
When Hormones Come Into Play
Adolescence is a confusing and in fact a horrible time for teenagers. It’s a time of change, transformation, and adaptation. It’s also a time of the unknown for teens. The hormonal events that occur during this period have significant effects on brain development, neuro-cerebral chemistry, adolescent behaviour and increases risks of depression.
Symptoms to look out for
Behavioural: antisocial behaviour, compulsive behaviour, hostility, impulsivity, irritability, risk-taking behaviours, self-destructive behaviour, self-harm, social isolation, or lack of restraint.
Mood: anger, anxiety, general discontent, guilt, loneliness, mood swings, or sadness
Psychological: depression, distorted self-image, grandiosity, or narcissism
Also common: thoughts of suicide
Am I Failing as a Mother?
Moms have a tendency of beating themselves up and honestly, I’m no exception. On several occasions I’ve found myself questioning my role as a mom, but the fact is that I’m a good mom. Actually, I’m a damn great mom. I’m hands on and involved. I spend copious amounts of quality time with my kids. In fact, I’m often criticised for spending too much time with them. I’m also a fun mom who goes river rafting and plays laser tag, but why do I feel like I’m failing at being a Mom. Ash gets the best in exercise, health care and nutrition but nothing I do seems to help my child. Judging if his behaviour is because of his condition or just normal teen behaviour is incredibly hard. My heart breaks because he’s an incredibly brilliant and intelligent young man who isn’t achieving his full potential. I live in fear, constantly walking on eggshells. I don’t have a support system when it comes to this. This is a road I have tackled on my own for the past 5 years. Unless you are living this, you have absolutely no idea how raising a child with mental health issues debilitates a family. I’m at a complete loss and while I face tough choices, I’m torn between my heart and my mind.
Breaking the stigma of depression
The ignorance about mental health issues that continues to exist is perplexing. Depression continues to be one of the most stigmatised mental health issues out there. Maybe, just maybe if we talked about it more, then people wouldn’t feel like they are alone. Maybe we can help and support each other. There are so many families facing the same or a similar situation but haven’t found the courage to get the help that’s required because of the fear of being ostracized and judged by so-called perfect families. We see it daily on social media, the perfect families with the perfect wives, perfect husbands and perfect kids. You don’t need to succumb to that kind of pressure. Firstly, perfection doesn’t exist and secondly if this story resonates with you, both you and your child deserve all the help there is available. There really isn’t any time for the bullshit social pressures that exist. Break the stigma and take back your lives.
Fit Like Mummy aka Natasha Kisten-Skuce is an unadulterated, no holds barred personal blog. I am a 41-year-old proudly curvy, potty-mouthed and tattooed mom to two gorgeous boys and a fur baby who are very much part of my journey. Ashton (15) and Skylar (11) are my biggest fans and supporters. The blog is my honest take on my personal failures and successes, proactive parenting, realistic approach to fitness and health, radical self-love and a platform where I share my uber delish recipes. We are an adventuring family constantly finding new and exciting exploits to keep active. We are also foodies at heart and therefore spend majority of our time cooking up a storm. I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Meal Prep and can be found sharing my weekly meal preps on social media on a Sunday afternoon. Fit Like Mummy encapsulates a life well lived by a bodacious, bad-ass mom who tackles life one day at a time.