The person who struggles with depression does not think like regular people. The depressed person has a slower thought process. It’s like running waist high in water rather than on land. You can process things, but at a much, much slower pace. Sometimes the pace is so slow that you wondering if you can think at all!
I know from my experience that it even comes down to the little things. Where my wife would ask me what I wanted for dinner and I’d respond with, “anything you want to make”. It wasn’t that I didn’t care what I ate…I just didn’t have the brain space to make a decision on such a small thing. Or my wife would ask which movie I’d like to watch. I’d say pretty much the same thing, “anything you want to watch” as I couldn’t process these minor details.
If it were bigger decisions, I would have to summon all my mental strength to be able to pay attention to what people were saying to be able to provide some type of reasonable response. Did I want to add more medication to my med regime? I knew what it felt like when I was on too many meds and was just numb to everything. Everything became a “whatever” type of scenario. Nothing seemed to matter then. So the second time around (six years after I lost my first job and going into a deeper depression this time) I wanted to be sure my doctor and psychiatrist knew that I wanted to be able to feel and not just numb out.
This is where I really came to my wife, doctor, psychiatrist and therapist for guidance. Sometimes even these larger decisions I was fuzzy on and needed external input so I could make an informed decision. I had to really trust these people, that they had my best interests in mind.
A depressed person can also get stuck in their thinking. This is a little bit different than being able to make decisions. Sometimes the person with depression will feel so slow in their thinking, they feel stuck. Instead of running in water…they are now running in mud that is waist high! I had many days where I just felt stuck. I couldn’t think beyond my circumstances and what I was feeling in my depressive state. During this time there was a lot of ruminating of what I have done wrong or how I felt like a bad person. And it is very, very, very difficult to pull out of this stage without additional help. Hopefully your child has some friends, social media, a forum or therapist they can talk to and be able to work through the feelings of being stuck.
I was fortunate as I made a couple of friends through church who didn’t judge or criticize. They accepted me for where I was and loved me through it. I would go out for breakfast with them at least once a month…so couple of weeks I was able to chat about my feelings with someone other than a paid professional. I was not looking for advice or a solution as I was already on medication, seeing a doctor, psychiatrist and a therapist. I was just looking for someone I could talk to and be heard.
As a parent, if you have given your child the space they need, letting them be, letting them watch TV or play video games, they may come to you to talk. I don’t know hard it is just to listen and not say anything, but I do appreciate it.
I share with my wife what I’m going through as well. I have a harder time sharing with her…as your child might have a harder time sharing with you…because I don’t want to weigh her down with my problems. I know she is busy building her business, as she is in her third year and she is just starting to see momentum. I don’t want to burden her…so I will talk about the high level points…things that are not too deep, but allow her a window into my life.
What Can You Do?
And your child may take this approach as well. If they are, take it in. Don’t try to fix things. Let them speak. Let them have their say so that their minds may rest in peace, even if it is just for a moment. They may only speak about things that are not too deep, but at least they are sharing. They are opening up and letting someone in that deeply cares about them. But again, they may only share the high level things, as it may be just too difficult to share the depths or details and not want to be a burden to you as a parent.
If they are opening up, this is an opportunity for you to listen, listen, listen. They will want to get things off their chest…off their hearts…off their minds. They are opening up so you can share in their internal struggle and journey. And after they have shared a number of times, say at least five or six times like this with you just listening, you may be able to suggest ever so gently they may want to speak about this with someone else who will better understand what they are going through. Like a therapist. Or someone who also has depression.
Why do I say, someone else who has depression? Because there is an immediate connection when you can share with someone who understands what you are going through. This is why I’m writing this article. So you can understand what is going on in your child’s mind….so they can be understood. And being understood means to feel like you are not alone.
So gently move forward with this suggestion of being able to speak with someone at a deeper level, because you may not be that person to them for various reasons. I know from my experience that going deeper with someone who has an open mind and heart and just listens is priceless!