Blue Sky Care leaver Anne discusses the feelings of young people in care with depression. Reaching out to those on a similar journey, she also advises Foster Carers on ways they can help their young people with the thoughts and behaviours that depression brings.
"There’s no magic potion that takes anxiety and depression away, but you can learn to help yourself and learn to avoid triggers. It’s not an easy thing to speak about or deal with, and it’s not glamorous or beautiful, it makes you feel like the world is nothing and neither are you. It stops you from caring about important things such as your work, family, friends, hygiene and your health. It’s something you can’t control, so don’t listen to people who tell you that you’re weak for feeling the way you do, because the monster that is depression, is uncontrollable.
Depression leads you into a dark tunnel, all you try to do is keep walking toward the light at the end of the tunnel, but the further you go, the smaller the tunnel gets, and the oxygen gets thinner. The journey is so difficult, but there is a light at the end. You have to steady your steps, and keep going. You will face so many demons on your way there and sometimes, they will draw you in, but you can always get back on your feet and carry on. Slip-ups are normal and they happen. The main thing everyone needs to know, is that you can’t go on this journey alone; it’s an impossible task and people who try to attempt it alone, often don’t make it to the end of the tunnel.
Know that you’re never truly alone in this journey, there are hundreds or even thousands of people of different ages going through the same tunnel, the same journey as you. They also know the feeling of giving up, but they may also know the feeling of the fresh air at the end of the tunnel.
Talking to people you trust about how you feel and getting yourself a support partner can help. A support partner is someone you will call on when you feel the tunnel is getting smaller and you’re struggling. They will be the person you’ll trust with your life and they’ll be the person who’ll get you back on your feet and help carry you until you feel strong enough to walk again. A support person can be a family member, friend or therapist, just anyone you feel that you can trust. It doesn’t have to stay the same person, I’ve had at least 5 in the 6 years that I’ve been suffering with depression.
Support groups are a big help and you get to meet people going down the same road as you, speak to your Support Worker or Social Worker and ask them if there are any in the area around you. A lot of the time they’re run by organisations who also run young people’s groups and groups about depression, and include steps to get help.
This is a little on my story… throughout school from Year 3 to Year 11, I was bullied. Bullied for being different, for being myself and for how I looked. When I say bullied, I’m talking about all levels of bullying, from name calling and rumours, to threats and physical bullying. It only started with a small group of boys, but each year the groups got bigger and bigger until it was more than half my year at school that was bullying me. It made me very self-conscious about who I was and how I looked. Along the way I lost my true self and I’m still trying to find the real me, to this day.
The problem with bullies at school, is that they don’t know your home life. They didn’t know that when I went home from school I had to deal with my father’s drinking problems and his abuse. I guess what I’m trying to say is, think before you speak, because you never truly know what a person is going through behind closed doors.
Because of bullying at school and home, dealing with my mother and father, taking on the role as a parent/protector for my little sister and dealing with my GCSE’s all at once, it sent me into a downward spiral and I never learnt how to get myself out of it. I wrote these poems based on depression and what it feels like to me:
Helping yourself is the most important thing you can do when you have depression. Distracting yourself from the demons really helps, there are many ways you can do this. Writing about it helps me and many others out there, it can help to get it out of your head and onto paper. It won’t do any harm to speak about it to someone or even write it down, it may even make you feel like a little bit of weight is lifted from your chest.
Here are some top tips to distract you when things get difficult:
- Painting or drawing (You don’t have to be good, just get your hands doing something)
- Writing or reading
- Knitting or sewing (Same again you don’t have to be amazing, it’s just something to do)
- Go for walks to clear your head
- Speak to someone (It doesn’t have to be about what’s going on, sometimes company will just help)
- Cooking or baking
- Meditation or yoga
- Tidying or decorating
- Anything that will make you think “I haven’t done that in while”
And never forget there are many different support systems out there in place if you ever need them:
- Childline (for under 19s)
- italk – an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service
- CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
- Your Social Worker
- Your Foster Carers
and many more
To Foster Carers… If you have a child in your care who is suffering with depression, always make sure your door is open, so when they’re ready or they’re in need, they know they can come to you. Make sure you send out the right vibes so they feel that they can come to you. Don’t be too pushy and don’t just ignore it either. I know it’s easier said than done, but sometimes it just takes some TLC (time, love and care).
I do hope this blog has helped you or your understanding of a Foster Child's mind with depression. Wishing you all the best in the future, lots of love to all and everyone."