Rachel, Daughter: My story started in sixth grade, where I was constantly bullied for my height, the way I talked and sometimes for how I looked. In seventh grade, I started self-harming through cutting. In eighth grade, I continued. I thought I made a mistake in telling my friend that I had self-harmed, she then told our home room teacher, who then called my parents about it. I didn’t want to go into therapy at this point because I thought I could get over it on my own. Another thought I had was that I was going to be made fun of for going to therapy. I was tired of the teasing and didn’t want it to increase.
Ginger, Mother: Our family’s journey with teen depression and anxiety started when Rachel was in middle school, although we did not realize it at the time. When Rachel was in seventh grade, she experienced bullying, she later started to self harm. We thought as a family we were supporting her and helping her to handle the negative emotions without self harming. We have always had a close relationship with all of our children and thought we would know if any of our children would be depressed and contemplate suicide.
Rachel, Daughter: Finally, it was High School, where I thought I could hide my past and start new. Boy was I wrong, my freshmen year, towards spring finals, I had told one of my friends that I wanted to kill myself. She called the cops, and within the hour, one showed up on our front doorway. I went to the hospital that night, which I didn’t get home until 4 in the morning the next day. I had missed that day of finals, but my mental health was more important than school. The next day, I came into the school, not knowing if anyone knew I was gone. But the friend who had told the cops, knew and was relieved to see me. Sophomore year, I went to therapy and got some coping skills, still had self-harm and depression issues, which are never going to leave me, but now they don’t control my life. In the meantime, I tried to keep myself occupied with my art.
Ginger, Mother: In May, 2017; the night right before spring finals, a policeman knocked on our door doing a welfare check on our freshman daughter. My husband and I did not know that our vibrant daughter was struggling with depression/anxiety to a point she was contemplating suicide. Rachel shared with a close friend and that friend was brave enough to call the police. That night started us on a journey we were not prepared for. It has been a journey of learning about teen depression and anxiety, of safety plans, 504 plans at school, coping skills, CBT and DBT therapy, psychiatrists and even a period of time of my sleeping on her floor to ensure her safety. The feelings of helplessness, anger, sadness, and of feeling alone have been weekly experiences, if not nightly, for my husband and I. We watched as our outgoing, vibrant daughter who was on the honor roll and a cheerleader, barely make it through the day. We have spent one or two evenings on the phone with her therapist as the therapist decided whether we were able to keep Rachel safe or need to hospitalize her. Praise be to God that we were always able to put in safety plan that Rachel would follow so that she would not be hospitalized.
Rachel, Daughter: Junior year as many say, it is the hardest year, but going through it with anxiety and depression, no one should have to do that, especially feeling alone. I struggled with my school work and ended up leaving the cheerleading squad. I struggled in developing friendships. The summer before my senior year was a rough one as I continued to struggle with depression and anxiety, which made entering into senior year even harder.
Ginger, Mother: I have spent many evenings during the journey, having no idea how else to help, closing my bedroom door, spending time crying and praying. After I had my emotions under control, getting up, going out and letting our daughter know, that no matter what, Dad and I were here and would not be pushed away.
Rachel, Daughter: Going to therapy has truly helped me, along with my walk with God. I felt like I was alone until August of this past year. I found hope and healing in a couple of songs, the first one was Come as You are by Crowder, the second one was Sinking Deep by Hillsong and Free and the last one that had the most impact on me and still does, is Remind me who I am by Jason Gray. So, now entering the last stretch of my senior year, I’m giving it fully to God, knowing well, He can and will help me. He can also help anyone who is willing to give it all to Him.
Ginger, Mother: Through it all, we continually turned to Jesus in prayer and reading the bible. Jesus provided a therapist that has been our life saver. We have spent the last two and a half years driving an hour each way because the therapist is the one Rachel “clicked with” and agreed to see. We decided early on that if we spent years driving to youth sporting events all over Colorado, driving this distance was so much more important to save our daughter’s life.
Our family will always be on this journey as Rachel has depression and anxiety, but today we no longer feel as if we are living in a fog. We now have the strength to turn to friends for support. Rachel has grown so much since that day. Rachel is looking to the future now, seeking what God has in store for her. She is even going on the youth mission trip to Northern Ireland. We want to share our story because through the grace of Jesus, he hasn’t made the struggle disappear, but he has made our lives better as we go through this journey.
To learn more about how to continue the conversation within your own families: