My 9 year old son is giving up with life….
I have a 9 year old boy who is depressed and I’m devastated and heartbroken for him. He’s our third child and well loved by his family, including my parents that live on the same block. He’s a little overweight and we’ve just discovered that he’s been bullied at school. This year has been particularly difficult for us, he was the first in the family to get Covid and literally thought he was going to die from it, then our community was flooded and we were without power for days. Pretty traumatic for a little kid! He’s always played sports and loves rugby but was badly injured and is now too afraid to continue. All year we’ve had problems getting him to school, probably having a day off each week and we didn’t really understand why, but just last week he completely broke down. He started by saying that he didn’t want to be alive anymore, he just wants to go to heaven. Then he told me he hates going to school because everyone is mean to him. He said that he’s tired of trying to swallow the lump in his throat every day- trying not to cry in front of the other kids. We tried to get him help with the school counsellor after the floods when he was having nightmares but they’ve never had a session. We’ve found another school for him to start at next term, which he’s happy/relieved about but says he doesn’t want to see a counsellor- he just wants to talk to me. His dad is loving and supportive but I know he feels way out of his depth. I work in mental health, and have dealt with my own depression as well as our older son who has ADHD. But this feels so awful 😞 I’m struggling with feeling helpless but needing to be strong and patient and loving. I’m so sad for him and after he’s cried to me and I’ve consoled him I just break down myself. I just never dreamt that my 9 yr old could feel so desperately sad 😢 I’m trying my hardest to help but I’m not sure what or how I can do better and I just want to take his pain away!
We are grateful you found the strength to post about your distress over your son's struggles. We are a very helpful and supportive community.
It is clear to us that you love your son very much. He is quite lucky to have such a supportive and loving family to help him through this difficult time in his life.
We know that one of the hardest things about being a parent is watching our children suffer, when the thing we desperately want most is to remove their pain. The best thing we can do to help our children is teach them how to develop their own resililience, in a loving and supportive way, so that they can function in an effective and healthy way whenever life becomes complicated. You might consider taking your entire family to see a family counsellor. This could remove some of the pressure your son may be feeling about going to see the school counsellor because he is not being singled out.
It is excellent that you are talking to him about things which are difficult, but it is important that you take care of your own mental health as well so you can continue replentishing that lovely internal strength and fortitude. You might consider talking with your GP about a mental health plan so you can see a mental health specialist to help support you through this trying time.
Finally, the BeyondBlue Support Service is available 24 hours per day, every day of the year, whenever you need to have a quick, confidential chat with a mental health specialist. The number is: 1300 22 4636.
Thanks again for joining our supportive community.
Hello Sad mum, Bincle, it is always so sad to know when young kids are feeling like this and even though you work in mental health it takes on another dimension when it concerns your own kid.
I understand his fear of playing rugby after being injured, as I too played this sport, but found this for you to look at 'scared of playing rugby after being injured', and this also related to me after an incident many years ago.
Starting a new school hopefully will help him overcome the bullying, and he can speak to someone at Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 by phone, web chat or online and these people are trained to cope with the age of the person they're talking to, it's not so much like a person sitting behind a desk, they relate to his concerns at his age level.
Can I continue after I hope you can reply back.
From one mum to another, I wish I was there beside you so I could give you the biggest hug while telling you in so many ways what an incredibly beautiful mum you are, helping your son so much and loving him so deeply, to the point of tears.
You and he sound like 2 peas in a pod, both deeply feeling. My almost 17yo son and myself are the same. My 19yo daughter is also a major 'feeler'. With me having faced depression in the past, one of my priorities in life is based on my kids being able to navigate what's depressing. I can understand where you're coming from when it comes to how you can relate to your son's suffering through the suffering in your own depression and how desperate you are for him not to feel what you feel at times.
Not sure if the following will make some difference to you and your son. I hope so...
The ability to sense/feel everything (from people's nature to life experiences) is an incredible ability not everyone has. There is a down side though - you will easily sense/feel every depressing person and every depressing or potentially depressing experience. If only we could feel the good stuff. It wasn't until the last year or so that I began greater research on what feelings really are, in one sense. This is something I shared with my son, who experienced years of bullying throughout primary and secondary school. He used to really beat himself up mentally when it came to how 'weak' he believed he was. In developing one of his greatest strengths (his ability to feel) I asked him to exercise this strength so as to get a better sense of who is depressing, who is insensitive, who is closed minded, who is in desperate need of social skills and compassion (such as with bullies) etc. He was amazed how easy it was to pick them all, from the most obvious to the least obvious. Then I asked him to develop a sense of who is the most inspiring, including the people who lead him to open his mind, develop his sense of wonder and his imagination. Again, he was surprised by how easy it was to pick these people, from the most obvious to the least. Suddenly he could feel their nature. He's developed his ability to the point where he can now walk into a room and accurately read every single person in it. He can even sense when there's something 'off' about someone.
Wondering how your son would feel if he knew he had a kind of 'super power'. Btw, I found a good book to be 'Sensitive is the new strong' by Anita Moorjani.
You're a beautiful mum 🙂
I appreciate your support and I know I’m not alone, just such a shock when you are confronted with these big emotions from your own kids 😞 I love the idea of sensitivity and deeply feeling can be seen as a superpower, but not sure he’d believe it just yet. Certainly can start the conversation with him about the positives to take away from from all this, and thanks for the book suggestion, I’ll look for it. Cheers ☺️
That would be so hard seeing your son go through those feelings. It’s good he is letting some of those emotions out and expressing them, as hard as it is to witness. It’s better than them staying inside of him and you are such a loving Mum that that would have made it easier for him to say how he feels.
I’m actually reading the exact book right now that therising mentioned above, ‘Sensitive is the New Strong’. I was an ultra sensitive child and vulnerable to bullying by others. Now I know that bullies are weak and insecure inside and I was the strong one all along in that I’ve always treated people with kindness, sensitivity and empathy. But it’s hard when you’re a child and going through those experiences and you can feel weak and vulnerable. Your son has a beautiful sensitivity he can be proud of, just as you can. There is wisdom and strength in being sensitive.
Take care and warm wishes 🙏
I can completely understand why your son only wants to talk to you. Sounds like you're the most feeling person he knows, the most empathetic, the most loving, the most consoling, the most careful, the most encouraging, the most amazing (how you've helped him manage every challenge he's faced) and so on. You are the most and I'm sure he feels that deeply. Can also understand how he may not be able to suddenly see things so optimistically, from a different perspective, until he's ready and able.
Hoping the new school offers a lot more than the last. Definitely not an easy decision, to uproot our child from their school. My sister did this for her daughter, based on seriously depressing and anxiety inducing bullying, and it became a positive mind altering turning point for my niece. The support the school offered, the new friendship groups and the school activities on offer changed her life for the better.
Based on what I've learned for myself over the years, I tell my kids it's so important to develop a circle of people. The circle won't always be comprised of like minded people but it will be comprised of the people we need. In it we may have our counselor who guides us through the toughest of challenges (who could be anyone, from a best friend to a parent to a good psychologist). The circle can also have the person or people we speak pure nonsense with, just for a laugh. It can have the people we wonder with and philosophise with, the people who lead us to open our mind. We can have the most sensitive of people who can feel what we feel. It can have actively challenging people who challenge us to be more active in life and the list goes on. Someone once said to me something along the lines of 'A good circle allows and encourages you to not only remain your natural self but also develop more in the way of who you naturally are'. A good circle of 'go to' people will always bring out the best in you, even in the worst of situations. They also said as we change our circle changes. Key people are typically kept.
With your son's rugby team having been a part of his old circle, wondering what he can bring in, in his new school, to replace it. I imagine he may be feeling the gap.