My Bright, Creative and Depressed Daughter
Lesson: There is no choice but to keep loving and helping our children
My daughter, Colleen, almost 15, is depressed and, although she has been in treatment with both a psychologist and a psychiatric nurse practitioner for about 2 months, she has not shown much improvement. I am a single mother with three children aged 12, almost 15 and almost 17. Our lives have been turned upside down.
Throughout her childhood, Colleen has been an exceptionally bright and creative child. She always has cared deeply for other people and animals. Although she has been very sensitive, and prone to quick anger, before her depression she was, for the most part, a delight to live with.
Now, Colleen says that she does not care about any of us. She hates to be alive. She is failing in school and two days ago, she stopped taking her medication, despite the fact that she was beginning to show improvement. She said the improvement was in her "ability to fake happy so that other people would leave me alone" and that the medication wasn't actually helping her at all. She says terribly cruel things to her two siblings and to me.
I work 30 hours each week and I am in my final year of a doctoral program in developmental psychology. I teach parenting classes in the community. None of this experience has prepared me for what I am going through now. Since we have had these struggles with Colleen, I have spent so much time worrying, attending school appointments and attending therapy appointments that I am getting very behind in school.
I wake up most days just feeling deeply concerned and unhappy. I stay functional for my kids, but inside I am very sad. I have lost touch with many of my friends who have dismissed my problems with Colleen and who believe that I should just send her to a "boot camp" or that I need to discipline her harshly. Her father, with whom she has very little contact, thinks that she "just needs to be squashed".
I know that she needs love and support and I have given her this. I have set many limits with her but I refuse to be punitive with her. Nothing I do seems to help. I have ongoing support from her psychologist and the psychiatric nurse practitioner, but things just seem to be getting worse.