By N. J. Lindquist:
Depression in children is not expected, but is not uncommon.
Now, you’re likely thinking I had a terrible life, filled with abuse, abandonment, or illness. But it wasn’t like that at all.
I was the only child of two respectable people who adopted me as a baby because they couldn’t have children of their own. I lived in a nice house in a small prairie town where my dad owned a business. I had no health issues or other complaints. Yet I was in pain—emotional pain.
I’m sure there are people wondering why a child, with all the basic needs of life and even some of the frills, could really feel that way. All I know is that, over 50 years later, I still vividly remember the day I stood on the railway track that ran through our small town and asked myself whether, if a train came down the track at that moment, I should run to safety or stay where I was.
That day, it seemed to me that ceasing to exist would be easier than living in a world where I felt that no one liked or understood me.
I’d been at a birthday party for one of my classmates. Along with a half dozen other girls, I’d played games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, watched presents being opened, and eaten birthday cake. Then, as soon as I felt I could, I’d thanked them and said I had to leave a bit early. Tears flowing, I ran for several blocks before stopping in the middle of the tracks.
On the other side of the tracks were several blocks of stores that made up our business section. And just past those stores was our house.
I didn’t want anyone to see me crying. I really didn’t want my mother to see my crying. Or to ask me what was wrong.
How does a seven-year-old explain that she feels utterly alone? That no one, including her parents, really knows who she is deep inside? That she isn’t like anyone she knows? That she’s thought about suicide?
After a short while, I took a deep breath, dried my tears, and continued my journey home as if everything was okay.
What kept me going? When I was four years old, my mother told me I was adopted, and she said, “God gave you to us to be our daughter.”
I don’t know why, but I believed her. I believed there was a plan for my life that was bigger than me, and from that day on, I clung to that thought. It got me off those train tracks, and, occasionally, it still gets me through the day.
If you know the pain of feeling all alone, please believe me: you aren’t. God has a plan for your life—a wonderful plan! Just as He did for mine.
To help the pain go away, listen to a song I love: “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
The idea for the song comes from verses from the Bible: Matthew 10:29-31.
For information about depression in children, visit the Depression Resource Center at aacap.org, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. They offer a PDF, The Depressed Child, which can be downloaded here. Also, see this article: Signs of Depression in Christian Children, by Sylvia Cochran. The author of this post, N.J. Lindquist, grew up to become an award-winning author and teacher.