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Teenage Depression

August seems so long ago when I last posted and there's been a million and one things been going on since. Over the past few months I have reached the low of all lows life could've thrown my way, but more so, life has thrown my son the hardest, darkest lessons ever imaginable.

It's alarming yes, even more so when confronted with the fact your own flesh and blood is suffering a disorder you have very little control over; in fact you don't have any control over. It comes as a shock, the most terrifying reality any parent could be confronted with, yet the reality is there are hundreds of thousands of families facing this ordeal every day, every night of their lives, and it's one of the most scariest notions to ever have to contemplate.

Our story started as you might remember back in August with what was an eating disorder. This eating disorder is not uncommon among our young adults, in fact 1 in 16 young adults, approximately 180,000 young people suffer from some type of disorder between the ages of 16-24.

The problem is complex with no one particular reason why it affects so many. Perhaps self-image is the major player in this, our kids are so caught up with how they should look, comparing themselves too much with role-models, with favorite actors or actresses; hero's.

Surely this couldn't account for a whopping one-quarter of all young Aussies?

Sadly, it does.

Our kids are mostly concerned with school and study, with being able to cope with stress and their body image.

When we first sought professional help for my son, one of the first questions asked of him was,
'Are you happy with your current weight?'
His answer was simple, 'no.'

In fact he said he hated his body, he hated that his body showed signs of maturity beyond his years. Hair growth, acne, deep voice. He was uncomfortable being a boy suddenly plummeting into a man's world without any introduction; preparation.

Sitting alongside a child who is in the prime of his youth, who should be glistening with health, whose developing body should be displaying some kind of maturity, it instead projected a pasty, unhealthy reflection of someone you would've thought had been convalescing from illness. And perhaps he was.

My son's life and purpose deteriorated rapidly, who knows why?? Even he found it hard to pin-point any one factor, and looking back there was no 'one' factor, it was a number of things, things that had compounded so profoundly that it became too much for such a young man to deal with.

He found himself trapped in his own world of sorrow, his own world of despair; He could see no alternative, no end to this debilitating feeling that was consuming him and like so many other young people, he too could only find refuge in the ideal of taking his own life.

Alarmingly, suicide is the biggest killer and accounts for more deaths of our young people than that of car accidents.

You must think I'm crazy when I say this, but we're lucky; lucky my son had great friends and access to networks that I strongly believe helped save his life. And I think that's the answer, if people are vigilant enough to see signs that ring alarm bells, that cause uneasiness, that are out-of-character, abnormal and to not only identify these changes but be quick to act on them, seek help, advice, to let peers know something is not quiet right.

We will be eternally grateful to my son's friend who was strong enough to step-up and let us know he was scared for his mate and scared for himself. He didn't know what to do, who to talk to. He must have fought with the idea of betrayal, going behind his friend's back by telling his mate's parent's of every move, every discussion that took place inside and outside school. He was our watch dog, our surveillance and without him I strongly believe the outcome would've have been very different. Social media can be a hindrance, but it can also be a savior, for us I think it was a mix of both.

As a parent my darkest day was sitting alongside my son as his mental health was reviewed with him openly admitting to his plot to kill himself. It was the most confronting thing I've ever had to encounter to say the very least and just writing about it brings tears welling back to my eyes causing my heart to grow heavy once again.

I'm not naive, I know now we will live with a constant fear of 'What if this feeling ever returns?' I will always be sleeping with one eye open, and my ears pricked to the most minute sound that beckons investigation.

I'll always, forever be mindful of triggers, yet know life still has to move on at the same pace, maybe now just with a little bit more caution for everyone's peace of mind.

The truth is we will have to be forever vigilant for our son, always on the look out for changes in his mood, his desires, his over-all well-being. But that's a small price to pay to keep him here.

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