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Raising a Teenager with a Mental Illness
Dealing with Love and Depression
Written by Anonymous
A few months back I wrote about my teenager with depression and dating. Having a teenager dating is scary no matter what but having a teenager with mental illness dating is even scarier. You never know how the mental illness will affect your child’s decisions and adding another teen with their own agenda into the mix can complicate that even further. Yet, despite that I feel lucky and blessed because my child made a good choice in who to date. Not only has her boyfriend not pressured her to do anything but he also is trying to understand her and her depression. She’s lucky to have someone who is willing to learn about her and tries to understand her. But that’s a lot to ask of anyone let alone a 17 year old.
She had a huge setback this winter, she had been doing pretty well and then she got ill and behind in school and overwhelmed. She finally admitted that she felt like she was standing on the edge of the cliff and could see herself falling and felt unable to stop it. And sure enough she fell back into a major depression. At which point most teenage boyfriends would have left. But he didn’t. Instead she talked to him and tried to explain what was happening and what she needed, which for her is “bubbling” herself off from other people to focus on herself. So he said okay, just tell me that and I will leave you alone. So throughout the winter that was how it went. He gave her the space and time to focus on her, and let her have the opportunity to cope without the pressure of a relationship when it was too much for her to handle. And now, she seems to be coming out of her depression. And entering what I refer to as the danger zone. So now this teenage boyfriend now has to learn about this and trying to explain this is hard. I refer to the danger zone as the period when you aren’t quite back to “normal” but aren’t deep into the hole of depression. It where you are climbing out but if you grab one wrong rock (or someone says one wrong thing or something stressful happens) you can easily slide back in. It’s easy to have setbacks here. So as a parent you are cautiously optimistic at this time. As a person with depression, you have to be careful during this time because your mood may change moment to moment. And there are still days when she needs to bubble not necessarily to focus on herself but to protect herself from saying something wrong or mean or hurtful to people she cares about. So now it’s a whole new scary situation for everyone again. And in many ways it’s a new chapter in their relationship.
If he can cope through all this, he’s a pretty strong individual because it’s a lot to handle as a parent who has loved her for her whole life. In the meantime I will just continue to do my best to support them both on this journey.