A local mom wrote to us to share how she discovered her teen daughter had been battling depression and what had proved most effective in helping her child.
Read her story below.
Last year hit my (then) Grade 9 daughter very hard. They started their online classes just after the Level 5 lockdown began.
We have the privilege of uncapped wi-fi, and she has a smartphone. She also has ADHD, and without us noticing, she spiralled into a depression during this time.
This lead to her dropping her classes after one week of attending online. We trusted that she did what had to be done behind her closed door but was in for a rude awakening.
Also see: Why teen depression rates are rising faster for girls than boys
'The first time I became aware of the problem'
The first time I became aware of the problem was when one of her teachers contacted me in June and told me that she did not hand in any of her assignments.
I got in touch with other teachers and found to my horror that they had the same complaint. My highly intelligent daughter had, in effect, dropped out of school without us knowing it.
When I talked to her (not confronted), she broke down in tears and told me that she was anxious all the time, that she sometimes did not want to get out of bed and felt tired all the time.
She even had dark thoughts about the point of being alive.
Also read: Warning signs to help prevent teenage tragedy
'We had to get her help'
To make a long story short, we had to get her help. With the help of teachers and the school psychologist, we got her through all the work she had lost, and she passed with more than 60%. I actually cried the day she received her report card.
I truly did not think that she was going to make it.
When they started classes in smaller groups this year, she was happy going back to school, but she took another dip when the school returned to full attendance after a couple of weeks.
'The black dog hounding her'
Her anxiety levels rose, and we had a couple of incidents where she skipped school due to the black dog hounding her too fiercely. She is trying, though.
With the help of a psychologist, she is in a much better spot, but we don't know how she'll react to online classes again.
This time we are better prepared. Instead of a smartphone, she has a laptop. Both her dad and I are working from home, and we are more astute to her behavioural patterns and the signs of darkness.
I have already told her that she will have to do her online classes where I can monitor her, but I am preparing myself for battle as I know there will be days of pushbacks and teenage ugliness.
I am not looking forward to those days, but I'll rather keep her safe at home and take the pain than let her sit in a class with 33 classmates during the height of the third wave.
If you're concerned about your child, the following resources are available to provide support:
South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) Mental Health Line 011 234 4837
Find a therapist near you on TherapyRoute.com
Share your stories and questions with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
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