Jacqueline Thetsombandith asks what people would say if they opened up to their parents about their mental health …
I’ve always been wary of sharing my feelings of anxiety and depression with my parents because I simply don’t know how.
Many of us go through our entire lives staying silent about our illnesses because of numerous implications.
Anxiety and depression is looked down upon in some cultures which invite feelings of shame and guilt not only for those suffering from it but for entire families.
Consequently, mental health tends to be a hushed topic in many households despite initiatives to get the conversation started - although I’ll say it has gotten better.
Further, many parents aren’t sure how to deal with these illnesses or may have difficulty identifying these issues which may cause some misunderstandings.
I knew I wasn’t alone in this. Luckily, I was able to talk to numerous friends who graciously told me their story and shared what they would like their parents to know.
“Depression doesn’t always look the same.” - Anonymous, 26
Sometimes those who smile “all the time” are the ones who need help the most.
“I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and something I want my parents to know is how much every day is a struggle for me.” - Amber, 23
Amber explains that her GAD can sometimes get in the way of her happiness by making her worry constantly about the future. However, she is working hard every day to control her emotions and to not take it out on her loved ones.
"As a practicing Muslim, I used to pray five times a day… but due to my depression, feelings of hopelessness and nothingness, I stopped. My belief was the one thing that kept me strong but I fell so hard that I let go of everything... I told my mom I'll pray when I'm ready and she was okay with it. She trusted me and didn't force me which was huge” - Anonymous, 24
Sometimes we lose motivation to do the things that once made us happy. Understand that your child may not feel the same connection they once did and allow them to slowly (at their own pace) bring certain practices back into their life if they choose to.
“My alone time means more than you think it does.” - Alex, 19
Anxiety and depression can be draining. There are constant thoughts running through our heads all the time and sometimes we just need time to recharge our batteries and just breathe.
“I don’t want my anxiety/panic disorder to be a reason not to tell me when big, scary things might be happening.” - Julia, 23
Living with anxiety shouldn’t be a reason to not disclose certain realities.
“It’s not your fault.” - Scott, 33
“I’d thank them for understanding what I was going through, even if I didn’t understand.” - Tyler, 28
Sometimes, just being there is good enough.