This is my first Holiday season as the school nurse. I am sort of taken by surprise by a 'trend' I've noticed this week.
High school kids and depression.
All in a Day's work...
E. came in telling me she had a tummy ache. A polite young lady, I offered her some of the usual crackers and some water. Just as I was sending her back to class, Grandma called me. Seems E. had sent Grandma a text that suggested more was going on...texting the grandma that "life is not worth living, I should just give up". Thank you Grandma for calling me (she'd tried the counselors but they were all at their convention, so in a panic, she called me, not knowing that E. was already in my office). "Let's take a walk" and I escorted E. over to the psychologist (who had just returned briefly from the conference). E. was transported to the ER for a more thorough suicide risk assessment.
Then there was C. C. is one of my all time favorite kids. he's had multiple back surgeries and last spring he and I had breakfast every morning while I gave him his IV antibiotics. Started as a shy young man and really opened up to me. C was feeling flu like symptoms yesterday and as we chatted, he started to tear up "I just need to be home today, we're being evicted tonight". OMFSM: seems his family has fallen on hard times, and they fell behind in their payments. He's 17...he's been handed so many stressors and now this.
And I finished up the day with M. I had known that M.. suffers from PTSD and had heard rumors about the triggering events that resulted in this condition. But most of my encounters with M. have been basic...headache, itchy skin...nothing too exciting. Yesterday, he came to me in the midst of a panic attack. When it resolved, he opened up about Christmas...and how he is tired of people asking him what he wants for Christmas...nobody can give him what he wants so instead he just wants a package of gum. He starts to tear up. Seems his father died on his birthday and ever since then, Christmas and birthdays are just pointless. (and the death was apparently a violent death, witnessed by M: that's the part I'd heard about through staff).
I left work yesterday...not just physically exhausted but emotionally drained....and yet also feeling very blessed. I joke that this job just fell from the sky when I needed it most. But, I also see where there are many life lessons for me to learn...this week? To be humble...to know the many gifts I have in my life...a roof over my head, a father for my children and a job that I find rewarding in ways I never imagined!
for those of us raising teens/young adults...keep your eyes and hearts open to the worries that our young adults are facing. We all know that for many adults, this is not necessarily the most wonderful time of the year. And sadly, I fear for some of our youth, as they grow up so much faster than we did, they too approach the holidays with more sadness than joy!