A Relentless Hope: Surviving the
storm of teen depression
By Gary E. Nelson
A Review by Pat Sullivan, Editor Healing Magazine, [...]
Gary Nelson chronicles his son's fight against depression and how they joined together as a family to bring Tom back. Gary is a minister turned pastoral counselor who provides interfaith counseling youth with problems very much like his son's, which makes he situation even more poignant as one reads about Tom's slide downward into a depression that nearly took the young man's life.
Gary wrote this wonderful little book for teens, parents, teachers, counselors and pastors in hopes of teaching them the signs and how to help them bring other youth from the brink of deep, deep depression.
Tom had been a normal kid who played baseball very well and had many friends. Around the time he entered high school, he started pulling away from the friends and activities he had previously loved and began feeling "sick" and unable to attend school. He spent more and more time in his room and literally days in bed, and he would have fits of rage during which he would throw things into his walls and ceiling, one day almost shattering his bedroom door. He left the baseball team in anger over criticism by the coach and withdrew from all of his friends. Eventually he came to realize that something was wrong, but he had no control over it. He described it to his parents as "feeling like he was being beaten
from the inside." His sleep patterns changed, he was irritable and angry a lot of the time and was unable to focus on schoolwork, sports or relationships with his friends and families. It was perhaps harder for Gary to watch considering that he was a counselor himself yet unable to reach his own son. Gary also became very concerned that Tom may turn to suicide to stop the pain he was experiencing.
He makes the point that parents need to work "with" their depressed children rather than trying to "fight it" with anger and recriminations. Gary strongly suggests asking your children if you can help them develop a plan for getting through it but not trying to pressure them into feeling better because they have no control over it and feel like greater failures if they cannot meet parent expectations. He also suggests trying to get them into counseling but make sure that you find someone to whom your child can relate and talk. In some cases, medication can help, but that is a big decision that must be made on an individual basis.
Gary and his wife were willing to try some creative and even risky ways of
helping Tom fight his depression and accompanying anxiety, allowing him
to start working at a young age and getting his GED rather than finishing a high school he just could not make himself attend. They bought him a car and encouraged his interest in music, even heavy metal if it made him feel that someone understood his pain.
There are so many strong and hopeful messages in this book to help families get through a child's depression in tact, still spending quality time with other children and not allowing this illness ruin a marriage. Tom is married and doing very well as an adult now, and Gary even describes the wedding that was moved at the last minute due to hurricanes. This wonderful little book speaks of faith and love and hope and a family's decisions to fight to help their child no matter what it took.
It is an inspiration and well worth reading if you have any contact youth who are debilitated by depression.
Copyright 2008 KidsPeace. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.