I have struggled with depression for as long time. I remember being 8 years old and being totally overwhelmed with life and not having the words or concepts to understand what was happening in my head.
To many people it seems ridiculous that an eight year old child with so much going for her can struggle so much. Children have mental health issues and it is not just the ‘obvious’ candidates. I had attempted suicide twice by the time I was 14 and I was from a a middle class family,my parents were still together and did not have any obvious issues. Luckily I didn’t really know what I was doing although looking back I did come perilously close. My home life was far from idyllic but what I was going through simply did not fit neatly into the accepted categories that resulted in broken children.
When I finally tried to talk about my mental health issues with my parents they were dumbfounded. The only way they knew how to react was with ridicule. I had every advantage in life, what could I possibly have to be depressed about? When I realised they couldn’t help me and I reached out to others they were horrified because I was airing my dirty laundry in public.
We have come a long way in the perceptions of mental illness but the underlying perception that mental illness can be overcome easily and is something that only happens to ‘those’ people is plain to see when we look how we think about mental illness in relation to children.