If You Like Stigma Piñatas …
Martha emailed me and said – “Hey, I’m kind of excited because I’m having an AHA! and a NO, DUH moment at the same time…..there are lots of articles about the high risk of depression and teen suicide in kids with learning issues……now, my question is….is it because they have a depressive gene OR is it from years and years of feeling different AND, if the two are combined, is it the perfect storm?”
There sure are a whole lot of “D” Disorders – ADD, ADHD, OCD, SPD, PDD, NLD, APD … the Alphabet Soup list goes on and on.
And we can make jokes about a lot of them …
Q: How many people with ADD does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Wanna go swimming?
But there is one “D” that trumps them all … Depression. And even though Woody Allen has made a career out of making it funny … in real life, it is anything but. ESPECIALLY if we are talking about our kids.
Martha is so on point about the fact that when kids have issues and are exposed to constant complaints and negativity (from the outside as well as self-imposed) about their behavior or achievements …. well, who wouldn’t feel depressed?
And depression is a terrifying and dangerous, dangerous disease.
A friend of mine (also with a now-grown-up “Jimmy”) wrote to me:
“No one wants to play with them and it breaks your heart. They are smart but . . . we are the only ones who know it or at least suspect it. EVERY TIME you go to pick them up at school or some event you hear a complaint …. It’s no wonder these poor kids are depressed (and so are their parents).”
Whether it’s the “having issues” (and the resulting stresses) that makes kids depressed, or whether depression is almost naturally “co-morbid” with some of these issues anyway, we don’t know.
And, sadly, depression can hit anyone, at any time, anyway, whether there are other “issues” or not.
At the end of the day, all anybody wants is to feel loved and accepted for who they are…..and if you’re constantly made to feel that you are unlovable unless you “achieve,” or are “perfect” … and somehow you can never hit that mark……why bother?
The flip side of that is the high achieving kid who feels they are only lovable because of their achievements …
What are we doing to our kids? What’s the answer? Why is there so much pressure to be perfect, and to achieve? And to do it all on a pre-specified timetable?
Martha and I have been talking about how so much of this comes from the stigma that we, as society, have put on anyone or anything that doesn’t fit that “perfect” timetable and that “perfect” box … so much so, that you just can’t admit that things aren’t “perfect.”
And that combination of feeling like a failure, plus being unable to ask for or get help and understanding because of the stigma involved … Yes, that is a “perfect” storm.
But we are not powerless. While we – as individuals and as a society – may not be able to prevent depression in all cases, or make all “issues” magically disappear, we can certainly work together to open minds and hearts, create more kindness and understanding, help our kids deal with their issues (whatever they may be) while keeping their egos and emotional health intact, and smack down that Stigma Monster, which needs to get the F out of the picture, once and for all.
Ready to join us? We can start with a visualization (Martha’s idea):
Picture a big piñata with STIGMA written on it …
Now, picture all of us taking a baseball bat to it and bashing it open!!!!!!!!!
Let the battle begin …..
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