“Hey, Mom!” Series Part 4
Edited by Marissa Glover
Editor’s Note: Melissa Fenton (creator of 4 Boys Mother) has written countless articles for a very diverse audience of moms. Some of those articles have been published on the website Grown and Flown, where topics cater to parents whose children have grown up and left home. Melissa knows what this feels like, and many of her readers do too. But what are the grown-and-flown children feeling? What’s leaving home been like for them?
Each day this week, we will post an article written by a current college student. These students were recently asked, “If you could tell your mom anything at all, what would you want her to know about you or your life?” These articles are their answers and offer moms a different perspective–a chance to see the world through your college-aged child’s eyes.
Mom, It’s Not Your Fault I’m Depressed
by Joshua Leles, 22, Junior
I’m sure you remember when I went to the psych ward, and that it took me five days to call you and let you know where I was. I didn’t know how to tell you that I had tried to kill myself, that I wasn’t okay even though I kept saying I was. I could not figure out how to deal with the constant voice in my head saying I had somehow disappointed you. With my younger brother being difficult to care for, and my Dad being long gone, I had always tried to be the easy kid. Yet in trying to hold it all together, I failed to realize how far apart we had drifted.
The things is, in therapy, I sit around and talk about my childhood and how various unhealthy situations in my past led to my depression. I know you (and other mothers) blame yourselves when your kid is depressed. You think, What could I have done differently? There was nothing you could have done differently. You did the best you could. You raised me well.
Who was it that taught me right from wrong? You did. And not the way my father did—by hitting me with a belt. You chose to let cooler heads prevail and showed me what was wrong with a simple “no” and a disapproving frown. That was all it took for me to never misbehave in front of you.
Who was it that taught me how to be happy? You did. Though my condition made it difficult to smile and sometimes caused me to sit alone in my room for days, you always pulled me from my isolation and made me feel like I mattered. Whether we watched a movie, played video games with my brother, or made fresh cookies together, you never failed to make me smile.
The hardest lesson I have had to learn, and the reason I have had such trouble dealing with my depression while in college, is how to be away from you. Because although I did my best to require nothing from you, you gave me so much that I never realized nor appreciated till this moment. My depression is in no way your fault, for you were always a perfect mother. It is a medical issue within me, and thanks to all you have taught me, I know I can face it straight on.
I want every mother dealing with a child who suffers from a mental disorder to know that it’s not your fault. This world we live in hurts children, scars them, and sometimes they won’t tell you what’s wrong. It’s hard for us to talk about, and we feel like we are disappointing you somehow. How would you tell your own mother that you wanted to kill yourself? She is the one who gave you life—how can you tell her that you want to throw it away?
Even though it is so hard for them to find the words, you’ll always know when they aren’t okay—just like my mom always knew—and you’ll get them through this. Because there is no force on earth, not even depression, greater than a mother’s love.