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Read Alice's Story 
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Support and information for parents of children with depression
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You are visitor #
2476
since Aug. 1, 1998
Alice's Story


Alice is my daughter who was diagnosed with depression in January of 1998 at the age of 12 years. She is neither schizophrenic, bi-polar nor manic depressive, nor does she have ADD, ADHD or OCD.

Alice was always a bright and cheerful child, very outgoing and popular with everyone -- friends, teachers and adults alike. She is very artistic having won awards for both her creative writing and artwork. She is also musically talented, having studied dance and both vocal and instrumental music. She has performed vocal solos at church in addition to having lead parts in the local children's theatre. And she has always made the A-B honor roll in school.

She has always had a very vivid imagination. Like many children, she had an imaginary friend and would get upset if I put groceries in the cart where her imaginary friend was sitting. She often saw her Guardian Angel in times of trouble and seemed to be comforted by her. We went through a stage where she was troubled by "monsters" in her room and we would get out the "monster spray" and banish them. Everything I read indicated that these were all normal stages of childhood development.

When Alice was 10, my husband decided to go back to college to complete a degree in nursing. At that time, we relocated. Alice was very unhappy with the move. She had to leave behind her friends and her beloved pet and start a new life in a new area. Being a student family, we were living below the poverty level and, as an only child, Alice had never been deprived of anything before--now she was having to learn to wait to get even the necessities. She became convinced that no one in her new town liked her and she had no friends. In addition, kids at school convinced her that the house in which she was living was "haunted" and she began seeing monsters. Now, the "monster spray" no longer worked so, being a Christian family, we used Biblical scriptures to banish the monsters.

After about a year, we moved to a different house in the same town. Everything was fine until December of 1997, when her dad came home with the news that he had failed one of his courses and had been kicked out of the nursing program. Alice blamed herself for this and there was no consoling her. She stated that he would not have failed if she had been better, if she had been quieter, if she had been less demanding, if she had.... Following an appeal, Dad got back into the nursing program and resumed his studies in January of 1998.

One day in January of 1998, Alice woke up crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she couldn't tell me. She said that her head was hurting and she couldn't read. I asked her if the words were blurry and she said they were clear but they didn't make any sense and she had tingling and loss of strength in her right arm. I immediately called her pediatrician for an appointment. After several tests Alice was referred to a neurologist who ran more tests and finally diagnosed migraines.

In the meantime, Alice began asking a lot of questions about death and dying, and about heaven and hell. She also began having auditory hallucinations. Her "inner voice" began telling her that she was worthless and that the world would be a better place if she were not in it. She also became convinced that God no longer loved her. I took her to our minister for counseling and also to the pediatrician who placed her on a round-the-clock suicide watch and referred her to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed depression and placed her on medication.

> Alice is doing a lot better now, but as I read her story I have a LOT of questions. Why didn't someone recognize the symptoms earlier? Her minister, her teachers, her pediatrician, her parents? The answer is that depression is not commonly recognized in children -- many professionals feel that it does not even exist! So many of her symptoms are considered part of normal development and, with the onset of puberty, to hormonal changes.

With the help of medication and the support of her family, Alice is now beginnng to enjoy life again. She is once again asking to invite friends over and to sleep over at their house. She is starting junior high school in the fall and wants to participate in track and basketball as well as band and choir and is considering trying out for cheerleader!


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