Is your teen struggling with depression or anxiety?

Are you both feeling helpless and not sure what to do? 

Six Tips to Help You Navigate Uncharted Waters

Hello, my name is Camille Adames and I am the President of Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT).  My path to presidency was not an easy one. From eighth to tenth grade, I struggled with severe depression and anxiety to the point where I was almost suicidal. I still live with anxiety, but it isn’t as severe, and I have learned to live with it thanks to the support of my parents. I am here to testify that you, as a parent, can be there for your child. And want to encourage you that it is an obstacle that can be overcome. By following RISSSP, you have the capabilities as a parent to support your child and help them obtain a brighter future.

1. Research

It isn’t easy trying to solve an issue if you don’t understand it . In order to tackle depression and anxiety, you need to first understand what exactly it is. Search online for scientific journals, testimonies, psychiatric publications, and parenting tips related to depression and anxiety. There is no such thing as too much research or irrelevant information; the more you know the more equipped you will be. Instead of watching TV, my parents would be on the Internet doing research and printing out all the information they could find. It helped to bring peace of mind, and more importantly, they were better prepared to help me.

2. It’s Okay to Cry!!!!!

This is a very difficult moment in your life. You will feel hopeless and lonely, and these are powerful emotions. It’s okay to have emotions, and it is critical that you express them freely. The last thing you want to do is bottle up these emotions and release your anger, frustration, and sadness on your teen. Your teen is very vulnerable and will blame himself or herself for the pain they are causing you, which can push them further away. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s the healthiest way to release your emotions. Let all the negative energy out, so that you have the energy to tackle your teens depression and anxiety.

3. Support for You

Don’t underestimate the situation or the amount of energy it will require. Right now, your teen is in a very dark hole, and you are trying to pull them out. No one has the endurance or strength to do it alone, so it it critical that you have a support team to rally around you. Your pastor, spouse, friends, and family are all great support systems, and it is fundamental that you talk to them about what is happening to your teen. You might be surprised to hear that they have gone through a similar experience. Their ability to empathize will help you emotionally, and their experience can also help you to better handle the situation with your teen.

4. Support for Them

After you have prepared yourself, it’s time to support your teen as they struggle with depression and anxiety.  As a parent, you need to be there for your teen 24/7. They are drowning, and they need to know that you are close enough to pull them out. Listen to them and encourage them to express themselves safely and freely. You don’t have to be the only support for them; get the school involved. My parents were my greatest support, but when I was at school I felt safe knowing that there were teachers and counselors that I could trust if I needed to get away. The school can help alleviate a lot of the stress, and they can create a nurturing environment for your teen and help them navigate school as they deal with their depression. Additionally, psychologists and therapists are important. Find a psychologist that you and your teen trust. Make sure that they explore all the options with you. There isn’t just one way to deal with depression and anxiety, so it is important to have a well-rounded psychologist.

5. Simplify Life

Slow down. Just like the flu, depression is exhausting and it is something that takes a lot of time and energy to manage. Lighten your teen’s schedule and slow down the pace a little. Your teen can begin to feel agitated and more depressed when they realize that they aren’t able to keep up with their normal routine. Help them to understand that it’s okay, that now is a time to heal. You don’t want to completely remove your teen from life, instead create a routine that is flexible and allows them space to work out what they are going through. Do things with your teen. Take them to the beach, and create positive moments instead. If they aren’t responding, that’s okay. You want to expose them to the good moments in life.

6. Patience and Hope

The key to all of this is patience. This isn’t a sprint and to a destination; it’s a slow journey. If you feel like you were finally making improvements, don’t be surprised when it seems that you have returned to square one. It may take years or months, depending on your teen, but that shouldn’t matter. Just know that it will take time, as well as trial and error, but as time passes things will only get better as you learn what works for your teen. I am a testimony to my parents determination, patience, and hope. In the beginning, my dad would get impatient, but that only pushed me further down. He soon learned that being compassionate and giving me time was the best thing he could do, and sure enough it worked. Their hope and patience was the light I needed to see in order to climb out of the hole I had fallen in. There is a hope knowing that this situation isn’t permanent and that you and your teen will only come out stronger and more equipped to take on the world.

WATCH: Tomorrow’s Leader Today, TLT Camile Adame’s VLOG about Broken