Each and Every Day or Teens and Depression

By Terri Takata-Smith

Eight Seconds…Who’s listening?

Hello?  Anyone there?  Apparently, I only have eight seconds to get your attention and hold it.  If this were 20 years ago, I would have an additional four seconds!  Yep, we as humans have found a way of lowering our average attention span from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the course of two decades.  So, that being said – I’ve lost most of you.  Hang on…I want to talk about something important…let me try yelling:  I WANT TO TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND SUICIDE.  Can you hear me now?

I’m writing this blog in sync with a new MTV documentary, Each and Every Day that premiered on February 16th – and with any luck, it will air over and over again {I mean, come on…it is MTV}.  Shot during the pandemic, the documentary highlights nine young adults struggling, or who have struggled in the past, with isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

One of the participants is Mabri Bliss from Colorado.  That hits close to home – geographically.  In a recent local interview, Mabri talks about struggling with contemplating suicide since the age of 13 {that hits too close to home – literally.}  Re-read that sentence.  If you are a parent of teens, that is terrifying.  As a mom of teen boys – ages 14 and 15, I am terrified.  I’m scared.  I’m sad that so many people are struggling and feel alone.

Here are two sobering facts:

1. In Colorado, suicide is the NUMBER ONE cause of death for adolescents ages 10 – 14.

2. Colorado ranks eighth for the highest suicide rate.  This is not a top 10 list that any state wants to be on. Ever.  This is not a statistic that a parent wants their child to be a number in…EVER.

Teens and Depression Each and Every Day

With regards to the documentary itself, it’s not “entertainment”.  It’s a little hard to watch.  It’s a little uncomfortable.  BUT – It’s real.  It’s raw.  It’s authentic. The participants provide hope and are wise beyond their years.  I started watching with an open mind.  I want to listen.  I want to understand with out passing judgement and sympathize unconditionally.  I want the stigma of talking about mental health to go away.

I want everyone to have access to therapy and medications to help them feel better and heal.  I want my boys, my family, my friends…and anyone I meet to know that you’re not alone.  Please don’t isolate yourself entirely.  Let someone in.  Just one person to start.  No matter how lonely in your head you might be….there are always people who want to help and/or who understand.  Re-read: Other people understand.  Re-read again: OTHER PEOPLE UNDERSTAND.

ASKING for help… I can’t think of anything more brave and scary at the same time.  In this instance, bravery has to win – it’s the only option.  Let’s empower one another to be brave.  We all need someone to talk to in whatever a safe environment looks like for us {in person, on the phone, via text, via Zoom} – it could be a parent, sibling, spouse, friend, co-worker, doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, or a person on the other end of a help line.

We all need coping mechanisms.  We need to learn how to love ourselves better.  We need to learn now to slow down and how to breathe and meditate to help slow down and even change/balance the thoughts in our mind.  We need to learn how to better express our emotions.  We need to learn how to be more supportive and caring for others.

When you look around at the people in your “village” pay attention.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that people struggling with mental health look or act a certain way.  Depression, anxiety, anxiousness happens to children, teens, adults and seniors; to men and women; to wealthy and poor; to every race known to mankind.  Masking depression is something humans have done for centuries.

Don’t underestimate the power of words and actions.  Pay better attention to everyone around you.  Check in…regularly… with those you love.  Ask them how they are doing – not just to be polite.  How many of your daily conversations go like this:

“Hi. How are you?”

“I’m well. How are you?”

“I’m well.”

That doesn’t count.  We have to dig deeper.  We have to be more thoughtful.  We have to give everyone more than just eight seconds – we need to do this each and every day.

Are you still listening?  Good…because we need to be there for one another –  more thoughtfully and more completely than we have been in the past.  As we enter the one year mark into a pandemic that has isolated each and every one of us in one way or another…we need to give our attention to mental health. Not just mention it in a passing on social media post….not just read a headline and move on…we need to STOP everything else we are doing and take care of one another.

Below are additional articles and resources for anyone who is interested {it’s been longer than eight seconds if you’ve read this far so you might as well keep going!}

This post is written in memory of two of my high school friends {Jason and Kane}, as well as my husband’s sweet cousin {Traci} and his best friend {Scott}. 

You are each so missed by many and never forgotten.  It’s also dedicated to people that you meet in life under circumstances that you don’t control who make an unexpected impression and show insurmountable amounts of courage and strength and shine bright with hope {Tiffany and her sweet daughter}. 

In addition, it serves as a “thank you” to those who we let into our lives and couldn’t imagine ourselves without {DH, JC, LA, JN, YO, the SFA OGs – just to name a few.} This is meant as a reminder to my boys and husband that I love you and will always be there for you. To all those who have experienced/are experiencing depression and anxiety…thank God you are here and reading these words. 

Please don’t ever give up.  You are braver and stronger than you think.  You matter.  You are loved.  Please let people in.  Please let people help. 

Resources and articles: 
US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255) / text TALK to 741741

Speaking of Suicide Resource Website

As suicides rise, young survivors make case for hope in MTV film 

Pandemic has kids more stressed, less engaged with school, study shows

How Headspace Hopes to Manifest a Calmer 2021 

Mom shares story of teen daughter’s suicide — and why it’s important to speak up

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