*I’m choosing to share my story with you, either because you have a female adolescent in your life you care about… or because I know you care about mine. Please know that I am only speaking MY truth. There have been many different documented, individual experiences. My sincere hope is that you use discretion in sharing this story, only in a way that would be beneficial to someone else. I never, ever want anyone to make the same foolish mistake I did.
*Shared with Delaney’s permission.
My 17-year-old daughter, Delaney, had her first Depo Provera injection in September 2017. It was the first and only time any amount of synthetic hormone has been introduced to her body. I agreed it was a good choice for her because she is admittedly forgetful sometimes (it only needs to be administered every 3 months)... and I am certainly not ready to be a grandma!
This is the scary part. Since the injection, she has grown increasingly depressed and anxious (often accompanied by panic attacks), and suffers from paranoia and insomnia. She was involuntarily hospitalized at an adolescent mental health facility for 4 days right before Christmas 2017 due to suicidal ideation. She came home with a treatment plan and prescription for an SSRI, that may or may not help 6 weeks or so after her first dose. After New Year’s 2018, she ran away from home, feeling her inability to cope was making her a burden to everyone. Then, two weeks ago, she attempted suicide by overdose and was rushed to the ER for another evaluation. Her treatment plan has included going bi-weekly to a psychiatrist and therapist, quitting her beloved job, and being monitored 24/7. She is unable to attend regular school, so is finishing her final 3 classes online.
If you know Delaney, I have no doubt you are as shocked as we are. That girl had everything going for her. Until recently, she was a bright light in this world… sweet, bubbly, social, beautiful, compassionate, brilliant, gifted, straight-A student… Senior Ambassador, President of the Thespian Troupe, member of the Student Counsel, Young Democrats, Blue Crew and Beta Club. Before September, we were visiting and applying for colleges, she was dreaming of med school, and being offered full-ride scholarships because of her academic success and ACT score of 33. Now, she doesn’t get out of bed and cares nothing of her future, having no desire to even pursue higher education. She is an total stranger her friends and family hardly recognize
Unfortunately, the stigma of mental illness causes fear and discrimination. She has “friends” that no longer reach out to her and some who have spread terrible rumors, only isolating her more. Also, she is not allowed to attend Prom, Graduation, Senior Trip, or any school functions at all, including the play she had a big part in… in a school system she has more than excelled in since Kindergarten, only ostracizing her more. They will, however, allow her to have a diploma and the increase in their graduation, GPA, and ACT stats. 😕
Now here comes the annoyingly educational lecture-portion of the story for the adults in the room. People need to realize that there is an acute health crisis happening among members of the youngest generation. The CDC reports that 1 in 5 American children ages 3 — 17 (about 15 million) have a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Recent research indicates that serious depression is worsening in teens, especially girls, and the suicide rate among girls reached a 40-year high (according to a CDC report released in August 2017). So thinking this could never happen in your family (like I did) is just simply being ignorant. We can never know all the triggers for adolescents. I am certain that the influx of hormones played a large part in Laney’s downward spiral. Nothing else in her life had changed. In addition, The issues we handled when we were younger are NOTHING like the issues these kids deal with today. And, most importantly, adults (and young people alike) need to realize that it is NOT the child’s fault or choice. Depression is a bio-psycho-social disorder. There is a strong biological (chemical) component to it. These children should be more supported and encouraged and less isolated and stigmatized.
So, my hope in sharing this painful time in our lives is to prevent it from happening to another innocent, unsuspecting girl and her family. PLEASE use caution and fully educate yourself before introducing ANY hormones into the body of a young girl. Read ALL the medical facts, reviews, Facebook pages, and websites written by actual people living with or past the side effects. There are thousands upon thousands of horrifying accounts of Depo Provera side effects and after effects. One of my biggest regrets is that I failed to do research. I relied on literature provided by the pharmaceutical company/doctor’s office. The pamphlets provided only minimize the side effects and we were blind-sided by thinking, like anything else detrimental, those things will never happen.
It is absolutely excruciating not being able to take away her pain. The past several months of watching my child change, suffer, and not want to live have been the most difficult of my life. A mother should be able to make everything better and I just can’t. We are completely dependent on psychiatry, psychology, and Ayurvedic/holistic detoxing to pull her from the darkness and not much has worked yet. Every day is a struggle. Our lives have completely changed. We are trying to be patient, hopeful as we wait for the hormones to be completely flushed from her body. I have the upmost gratitude to family and her real friends that have stuck by her unconditionally. We are seeing glimpses of our sweet girl from time to time now. Her light is flickering and we fully believe she will shine like the sun once again. We sure do miss our Laneybug. If only love were the cure…