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Parenting a Young Teen With Depression

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Editor's Note

This story has been published with permission from the author’s child.

There has been nothing harder in my life than watching you suffer. You are 13 and shouldn’t know how this feels. I don’t know what’s wrong or how to fix it. I don’t know how to help you. My hugs don’t seem to be the answer anymore when that was all you used to need.

You’re in such a deep and desperate place inside your own head that I don’t know how to save you from yourself. The answer to everything is “I don’t know” or “I’m fine,” which we both know is a lie.

There is a dullness to your eyes that were once so bright. There is a sadness to every word that comes out of your mouth. There is a sense of despair, and hearing the words “I don’t want to feel like this anymore” is gut wrenching. I was always the one; the one who could make you feel better with a hug and a kiss, the one who could make your worst days brighter with a dumb joke, the one who knew how to make anything better, the one you believed when I said it would be OK. And now I don’t even know if that’s true.

I worry if this is going to be a longterm thing. I wonder if this is something you will struggle through your whole life. I wonder if this is something you will be able to pull yourself out of. I wonder if you will ever see the bright side again.

Every time you say how sorry you are to me I get more concerned about the weight of the burden you carry. I keep asking to take some of that load, but you don’t know how to give any away. You worry about things that are not yours to worry about. You are an old soul, and I worry that is why you are so tired.

Your periods of being “up” are confusing to me. You seem fine and have fleeting moments of energy that then come crashing down, back into the black hole. I feel guilty for wondering if there is manipulation tied to some of this; something is very wrong, but I don’t know exactly how much or what.

I am used to being the one who fixes everything. I feel impotent not being able to fix this. I am lost, this is outside of what I know how to do. What I do know is that I’m reaching out to anyone and everyone to help figure this out and get you back. I am exhausting all resources and making all contacts because that is what I know how to do to help. No matter how uncomfortable this process may be for you or for me, we will ensure that you feel the sun on your face again. You are worth it.

Getty image by Anna Semenchenko

Originally published: January 28, 2021
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