A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression Paperback – May 15 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Not so, says the author of A Relentless Hope. He's seen a good number of these stereotypical teens in the families that he councils. He's also experienced it first hand with his own son.
To the outside world, the author's son Tom was the kid everyone wanted to have. He was a good student, an athlete, popular, polite, and just an all round nice guy. No one knew that Tom had to fight each morning to just get out of bed. That is, until his grades started slipping and his school absences began to outnumber his attendance days.
The culprit was clinical depression. Unfortunately, it's something that is all too common with teenagers. The really scary part is that what most of us take for granted as "just being a teenager" is actually the manifestation of this disease. So instead of getting the help they need, many teens turn to alcohol and drugs to self medicate.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
Although many books have been written on parenting teens, Gary's book is unique in that he speaks to the issue from the point of view of pastor, therapist, and perhaps most importantly: father of a depressed teen. In this book, originally titled, "Just Keep Loving Them," Gary opens up the doors of his own home and family history, and allows us to see the painful, yet ultimately redemptive, journey that he and his family took with his oldest son, Tom.
Tom became depressed and school phobic in his early adolescence, and he and his family suffered through years of efforts to help him with his depression before he ultimately found his way out of the dark night of the soul that he was experiencing. Gary's approachable style and unflinching honesty allows the reader a look into the world of loving parents, trying desperately to help their beloved son, having to hold onto only faith and that, surely, please God, this ordeal must have some healing at the end of the journey. As his original title shares, Gary and Tom, and the rest of the family, learned that what worked for them was to just keep loving him through all of the pain, the ups and downs, and the discouraging and seemingly endless backslides and impediments to progress.
As a therapist who has worked with countless teens, and a pastor who has worked with youth for much of his life, Gary has a unique perspective on the issue of teen depression, and he works in his book to tell the lay reader not only his son's story, but also crucial information about teen depression and anxiety. As a therapist who specializes in work with teenagers, I deeply wish that every parent who brings their child in to see me would read this book. There is compassion, humor, sensitivity and plain old honesty about the frustrations, failed attempts and desperation that accompany the parents of an adolescent on the journey to get their child healing.
One final caution for the reader: Because I worked closely with Gary during the years that he was, "going through the storm" with Tom, I am personally aware of how very much he advocates individual and family therapy for adolescents suffering from depression and anxiety. In spite of this belief, however, it is possible for the reader to conclude from Gary's book that "it can be done without therapy," since there are few references to therapy in the book. I know for a fact from working with Gary that this is NOT his position at all, and I caution any parent, pastor or teen reading the book to remind themselves as they turn each page: "Do all of this with the help of a pastor, pastoral counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Do not try to do it all on your own." As Gary so poignantly learned, and has so honestly shared in his story, even a trained therapist and longtime pastor, with a wife who is an excellent nurse, can still not independently "cure" their child of depression and its devastating effects.
This book is an absolute must read for parents, teens, teachers, pastors and counselors dealing with teenagers. It opens one's eyes to the "back story" behind many teens' angry and seemingly unfathomable impulsive and illogical behavior. And the drumbeat, and heartbeat, which accompany his story, steadily keep reminding us of the aspect more important than any treatment, than any behavior plan, than any parental choices:
Just keep loving them.
Just keep loving them.
Just keep loving them.
Gary Nelson makes a convincing argument that depression is the leading killer of teens. The challenge with addressing depression is that is shows up differently in each person it attacks. Nelson takes some time just to talk about what depression is, and the various faces that it wears. He makes the very important point that depression is a disease and not a weakness in the individual, and points out that depression often runs in families.
The book is also the story of Nelson's son's journey through depression. The author talks honestly about his fears and feeling of helplessness. As a counselor he learned that his own experience gave him added credibility to people who are sharing his struggles. The book is filled with vignettes from Tom's (Gary's son) and others' lives. The chapters are short enough to be read in a sitting, and are filled with small, concrete things that the reader can try in their own situation.
While the book is explicitly Christian in outlook (Gary Nelson was a pastor before becoming a counselor, it speaks to people of other faiths as well. He talks about how children learn their faith, and the importance of spirituality in the life of a depressed teen. The observations are about how the community can support the teen and their family in their journey. He also directs some specific comments to the Christian community that sadly sees depression as the result of lack of faith in God.
The title of this book says it all. A Relentless Hope brings hope to people who are experiencing the hardest, darkest time of their lives. It gives hope to the parents and the teens that life is possible, even in the worst depression. I will keep this book on my shelf and loan out whenever possible.
Armchair Interviews says: Important look at a challenge too many face.
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