You see your child withdrawing into herself or himself, feeling worthless, anxious and hopeless. Suddenly, she or he has difficulty remembering details. You start seeing him or her binging or starving themselves and sleeping excessively or not at all. You can’t even recognize your child anymore, and it hurts. What do you make of it? Are they just being difficult? Are these symptoms just part of puberty? Has black magic afflicted them?
It could be that your child has a mental illness. As a parent, this possibility is very painful. It’s natural to feel guilty, but I want you to know that it is not your fault. It is not your child’s fault, either. Mental illnesses happen simply because there is a disorder in brain function. They can’t just snap out of it. You and your family are not alone – in Singapore, one in 17 people have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), while Alcohol Abuse and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affect one in 32 and one in 33 people.
Your child needs you. Show as much love and encouragement as you can. It’s a difficult time for your teenager, so be gentle. Try to make him or her understand that you are there every step of the way. Help them find a professional therapist and accompany them during visits. Assure them that there is no shame in asking for help. Intervening can be an excruciating and heartbreaking process. When you feel like giving up, ask yourself – would you rather face the challenges now or hug your child’s lifeless body later?
Get professional help today.
Institute of Mental Health’s helpline number, open 24 hours – 6389-2222
Club Heal – http://www.clubheal.org.sg/
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