What can I do that might help with feeling depressed?

It has been a little over six months since my mom suddenly passed away after 7 years of being sick with an illness she was supposed to be able to live with. It seems like things should be getting better by now but they are not getting any better. It has been really hard to focus in school and I am always tired. It just feels so pointless sometimes. I feel sad and depressed often, and usually without a known reason.

Sometimes it gets bad enough that I can’t handle it so I harm myself. I know that this is bad, so I am trying to stop, but I get urges and it does help. What can I do that might help with feeling depressed? And is there anything that can help me focus and have the motivation to do school work?

I am sorry for your loss. You have spent many years worrying about your mother and yet you were not prepared for her death to happen so suddenly. It sounds like her death was traumatic for you. Sometimes in addition to time, it takes help to get through a trauma. Traumas can immobilize a person so that they are not able to move forward. All kinds of feelings get stirred up. Some common feelings are sadness, anger and guilt that we are relieved or guilt that we should of done more. Sometimes these feelings are not acceptable. This can cause fatigue and distraction as we try to block out those feelings or forget them. At other times you can become preoccupied with the trauma, reliving it over and over. But having many different feelings is part of the mourning process. I recommend talking to a mental health professional who understands loss and illness as soon as you can. There may be a grief center in your area. This person can help you recognize the many feelings you are experiencing and help you go through the mourning process. They will determine how to best understand and help you with your depression and your desire to harm yourself.

When you feel like hurting yourself, seek help immediately either by calling a professional or going to an emergency room. You may also find it helpful to join a peer group for teens your age who have lost a parent. Knowing that others have gone through a loss can be very supportive.

–Judy Schiffman

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