Back in December one of my favorite D-moms posted an article about diabetes and depression in children. It is an anonymous D-mom’s story about her 11-year-old son suffering from depression and ultimately ending up in a psychiatric hospital for stabilization. The story touched me in many ways, at first because I have a child who is 11. Second, because I’ve personally had the experience of spending some time in a psychiatric hospital for severe depression. The story made me feel very deeply for this family because it was hard to imagine watching my own child go through this same sort of downward spiral and not fully realizing exactly how deep that spiral had gone. And then having the added fear of not only hearing your child say they want to end their own life, but then also trying to make arrangements for them to be safe, when everyone you talk to at the facility they are going to doesn’t understand or know how to manage their diabetes. And because your child is depressed and suicidal they can’t manage their own care because, in case you didn’t realize it, too much insulin can be a deadly. Lack of insulin can be deadly. Having suicidal thoughts and not getting proper treatment can be deadly. I don’t want to even think about how helpless that mom must have felt having to make those arrangements.
A few weeks before this article I had been growing increasingly concerned about Angelina’s mental health. Her therapist had also expressed some concern about her moods and was concerned about depression. She had become more withdrawn in her therapy sessions and about every third session she wouldn’t speak at all, but sit and sulk. At the beginning of January we met with her psychiatrist (who prescribed medications for her ADHD) and I had briefly mentioned we were concerned about depression and requested that she reach out to the therapist. I signed a release form and hoped that the therapist would be able to explain better than I was what was going on. The psychiatrist seemed unaffected and said that mood swings were common at this stage. We discussed how her current ADHD medication didn’t seem to be working well for her anymore and she prescribed a new one to try. She suggested that we keep an eye on things and follow-up next month.
Things continued this way at therapy for the month of January. The first week of February we met with the psychiatrist again and again I expressed concern about depression, as well as the therapist’s concern about depression. She seemed to take things a little more seriously this time, but we still mainly focused on how things were going with the new ADHD medication and general talking points “How’s school?” Fine. “How are your grades?” I don’t know. “Are you hanging out with any friends?” No, I don’t really have any friends. Those were about the only words muttered by Angelina in our 25 minute visit before she sort of curled up on the end of the sofa and started at the floor. Any further attempts to engage her were met with stony silence. At 20 minutes into the appointment, after nearly 3 minutes of no one saying anything the therapist says “We’ll follow-up in a month. If she’s having more bad days than good we can possibly discuss medication.” and we scheduled our next appointment and left.
That brings us to the past month. There are still more good days than bad, but there are more of those days where one minute things are fine and the next minute her entire attitude, mood and disposition change and she is sullen and completely withdrawn and refuses to speak or interact. About 3 weeks ago Angelina’s therapist asked me back to talk alone for a few minutes, and I ended up talking to her the entire session time while Angelina sat in the waiting room. We discussed the possibility of antidepressants and her response was “I’m a therapist. I don’t automatically jump to medication to try to help people. But I’ve been seeing Angelina for a year and a half and in the past few months she talks to me less and less and I’m at the point that I don’t know what to do or how to reach her. I can’t help her if she doesn’t talk to me. It’s obviously your decision, but at this point I think medication might be a good idea.” About a week after our last visit with the psychiatrist I mentioned to my husband that we had discussed medication for depression. I was a bit surprised when his response was “No. She’s already on enough medications. I don’t think that’s necessary. A lot of kids this age deal with depression. She doesn’t need to be medicated.” And for the past few weeks we’ve dug up this discussion a few times, always meeting at a stalemate. We were finally able to reach an agreement yesterday.
Today Angelina saw her psychiatrist and tomorrow she sees her therapist and will start taking an antidepressant.