Today the world is observing World Mental Health Day. The goal of World Mental Health Day is to increase awareness about mental health and the importance of mental health in overall health of a person. On this day, the idea is to empower people suffering from mental health problems and encourage them to open up about it. This year, the theme of World Mental Health Day is “Young people and mental health in a changing world.” World Mental Health Day 2018 theme focuses on the adolescents and the mental health problems that they deal with. According to the World Health Organization, there is now a growing recognition of importance of helping young people build mental resilience at an early age.
Mental health is a mystery to most, every day I learn something new or I am challenged to unlearn something I thought was right about depression!
Every third person I speak to knows someone or a family that has lost a teenager through suicide or struggling with mental health. Mental illness in the form of depression has imposed itself into my life through one of my twin boys. So, my conversations, current reads, interests are all around depression, for me to understand this silent killer to support my son through this phase of his life. This is how I have realised the prevalence of depression and only because I talk about it people are comfortable to talk as well. Imagine those I have not talked to about this, how many of them know of someone or are struggling with depression themselves? Maybe this is the time you look at yourself and ask how much do you know about depression?
January this year brought about excitement in my household, both my boys had been appointed as Prefects and this was a huge achievement because this selection was not based on academic performance or a popularity contest but Boys High selects prefects through a rigorous character testing process – well that’s what I was told as a parent!
When the schools reopened we were energized and looking forward to the matric year, I must confess I was concerned with the added responsibility of being prefects – I wondered how the boys were going manage their work load. Be that as it may, I did what I always do, supported, encouraged and cheered for them to do their best.
Two weeks into the new school year Kuhle was sent home because he had an incident which the school felt required him to just rest and he should be fine after the rest. This was the beginning of a journey that we are still on even today. After months my son was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and admitted to a psychiatric clinic. He was de-registered from school so cannot sit for his matric exams this year.
So much has happened since the beginning of the year and both myself and Kuhle have decided to share our experience with you about our journey. His life was turned upside-down instantly, his brothers’ life was turned upside-down and mine too! I looked and asked around for parents who have walked this journey with their children and I couldn’t find any one. How is this possible? I asked myself constantly. I had so many questions and no one to answer them. This frustrated me so much, clearly someone, anyone, has gone through this and all I needed was someone’s experience that I would use as a soundboard or sense check.
However, as a child of God, I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I reasoned that this was happening so that I can go through this experience, learn and then share my experiences with you! Not only that but to also glorify him when we are through this valley!
That is how the idea of the blog started. I am just a parent willing to share her experience and not at all a mental health specialist! I will not be sharing statistics whatsoever,
God has been a constant in our lives and he is the only person who does not ask strange questions about depression. I’ve learned that these strange questions are because of a lack of understanding, so I hope to post as often as I possibly can and to empower someone in one way or the other!
Thank you for reading and I look forward to rich exchanges