October is National Depression Awareness Month. I love that the word “awareness” is used because awareness is 90% of the battle. We can only begin to heal, support, and treat if we are aware. This is a deeply personal topic for me and my family. October marks several anniversaries of sorts, so the timing is perfect for me to launch this blog and website.
When our son came out to us in February 2017, he was 16 years old. While my husband and I were blindsided, we quickly snapped out of our shock and jumped into learning as much as we could and supporting him in every way possible. We learned that he had known since he was 13 that he felt “different.” We learned that the anxiety that we thought at the time was sports-related was really him trying to mask his true identity. We learned that our son, the oldest of four, the high-achiever and ever the rule follower and pleaser, was absolutely brilliant at living two lives.
Between February-October 2017, unbeknownst to us at the time, the stakes raised in this duality causing his anxiety to skyrocket and depression to deepen. Following a major jaw surgery and significant weight loss, we realized the therapy he was receiving was barely scratching the surface. While maintaining good grades at school, he began to spiral: self-harming, smoking pot, drinking and vaping to ease the pain and intensity of his inner struggle. He was disappearing before our eyes, tortured and filled with self-loathing. Terrified and wrought with worry, we naively thought we could love and support him enough to rescue him from his desperate hell. We quickly realized, however, that we needed professional guidance.
Surviving a suicide attempt, we took him to an intensive residential therapeutic program in California two days later.
I share this incredibly condensed version of our story with you because I know we are not alone. I know there are so many who feel scared, overwhelmed and isolated. I am hyper-aware of the stigmas attached to depression, anxiety and the LGBTQ community, and it is my goal to demolish them! How? By being authentic and vulnerable; by educating and advocating; by encouraging conversations that allow questioning and verbal processing, not rhetoric or dogma.
I will divulge our story in detail over the coming months with the desire to bring you comfort, information and resources, and…hope.