What I want you to know about having a child with depression

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Lisa Mullin.


Sitting alone on our front porch, the breeze washes over me. I swear I hear the leaves whisper words of hope and life for the future. That noise they make when they rub against each other and form waves in the wind. The singing of the chime that sways above my head. For one moment-that, along with the sun shining through all the cracks in the forest of our neighborhood- that distracts me from the reality of life.

I close my eyes and hope for another breeze.

Alone in this place, I wonder if any other mom has ever thought my thoughts.

Not possible. No mom could or would.

(This is my way of sharing about life with a depressed child and how it hurts us all)

No good mom.

Am I the only one who feels deep love and distain for my own child? Those strong and real emotions that seem to inhabit the exact same places?

What kind of mother could feel that for a living human being who was carried into the world by her own body? Created by the love of his parents?

This mom.

I lay in bed at night wondering if I will survive this thing that has chosen us.
I lay in bed at night wondering if I should have had children.
I lay in bed at night wondering how I could escape the wrath of my own flesh and blood’s mental illness.
I lay and bed at night feeling the weight of the other two children who live in this house and just want peace.

The night is so dark. The fan whirs on faithfully.

How did this become my life?

I remember the beginning, feeling so hopeful that we would find all the answers. The long treks to the doctors just knowing we were about to find the right combinations of medications to fix his brain. Some expert would have the right prescription cocktail that would ease his sadness and pain. This meeting with the counselor would answer all of our struggles. The key to the lock was somewhere in that professional world. We had health care and support and access to good doctors. If anyone was going to rise above the sea of mental illness, it would be us.

But soon, we stopped sprinting.

I’m not sure what mile we were at when we realized this was more than a race to the finish. This was a journey of marathon after marathon. The reality coming down upon us that brains like his don’t just get fixed. They can’t be understood. They just are.

Doctors and doctors and doctors. Doctors to the point where he simply begged not to see another doctor. The doctors became a point of anxiety. There was no place where the depression and anxiety didn’t exist. Those things that haunted him grew into all his places. They grew into all of our places too.

All of the places and the spaces.

It’s a lifetime of hobbling. It’s complex and it’s exhausting. It makes you think and feel things you never thought you would.

My eyes open and the warm, humid air moves in.

I’ll be here, waiting for that cool breeze to find its way to me again.



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