This weekend we searched for a missing teenager, a teenager that disappeared a month ago. They don't know if she was abducted, murdered, or even if she wandered off to commit suicide. There is absolutely no trace of her. I was searching side by side with this poor girl's grandfather, for who the process of searching was his only hope of recovering his granddaughter. Of course, while searching for someone else's lost child, I could not help but think of my own.
So this afternoon, I sat my son down for a serious conversation. My family has a history of depression, on my mother's side, so I thought it would a good time to talk to J about it. When I was younger, my sister was suicidal and spent time in a psychiatric hospital. She had a chemical imbalance, and she needed counseling and medication to help her get better. I also remember something my brother once said to me as an adult, that he wished someone had noticed how depressed he was as a kid. It was hard, to bring about such a "taboo" topic, but I don't want him to ever get to the point where he believes life is worthless, that no one wants him, that he should just "disappear". So I told him that it would crush me if he ever disappeared like this poor teenager, that it would also shatter his grandparents who love him more than you would think possible. I mentioned that it is o.k. to be sad, but that sometimes, that sadness just does not go away, and that sometimes we all need more help, such as talking to someone ( not necessarily me) or even medication. I wanted him to know that he is worth something, that his life has purpose, something that he would not necessarily believe if he was depressed.
As a parent, this is not a topic that I was ever warned about that I would need to discuss, but with cyberbullying so prevalent these days, and it's evil effects, I had to broach this topic. He is a very "sensitive" kid, and more isolated than some. J's reaction was interesting, he told me it made him feel like he needed to draw or to write, I'm guessing to express his feelings. When I checked him after bedtime, his light was still on, and he was writing. Instead of my normal reaction of turning the light off immediately, I simply closed the door to let him finish.