Teen opens up about depression - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Teen opens up about depression

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It's a subject often taboo among teens: depression. Local counselors tell us it's an issue that often goes untreated, and unreported.

However, one local teen decided to bravely open up about her struggle, to shed some light on the issue and let others know there is a way out of the darkness.

"Sometimes I just thought I can't do this anymore," said Andrea Anderson, a 17-year-old junior at Cape Central High School. "It started when I was in seventh grade, and then when we moved here from Mississippi it got worse. It wasn't necessarily the move though I was out of my comfort zone. I didn't understand why it was happening."

Anderson is the daughter of a pastor and comes from a close-knit family. She says she didn't understand how someone surrounded by so many positive influences could feel so low. She says at times she felt guilty about her sadness.

"There were times where I would wake up in the middle of the night and open my Bible and cry because I didn't know what else to do," said Anderson. "I noticed something was kind of off," she said.

"It wasn't my surroundings, it was inside me," Anderson said. "It was confusing because there wasn't anything going on in my life that was stressful. You hear about people losing a family member or something and going through sadness, but I didn't have anything going on like that. I wondered if it was all in my head. I was so confused. I didn't know what was happening."

Instead of acting out, Andrea says she put on a happy face. She says she told her parents she didn't quite feel like herself. She says her father, Pastor Mark Anderson, noticed something was wrong. She says they questioned her, but it was hard to convey exactly how she felt.

"I sympathize with people who take their own life," said Andrea. "I never came up with a plan to do that. I'm thankful I could think thought it. I understood the consequences. I never wanted to do that, but I understand how someone would feel that was their only way out."

She says she thought if she kept smiling, no one would ask her what was wrong.

"Which, that's such a lie," said Andrea. "Secretly you want someone to ask if everything is ok."

Andrea says she feared the stigma of the word 'depression'. Even when questioned by her grandfather, a pastor experienced in counseling, Andrea says she found it difficult to open up.

"Whenever he said the word 'depressed' I would say no. I didn't want to use that word," said Andrea.

Finally with the support and encouragement of her family and her faith, Anderson says she faced her feelings.

"I started praying for God to teach me and show me what I needed to learn and that's when I started to grow from it," said Anderson. "I think this is a perfect example of the world can't satisfy you. I focus on the Lord and that helps me realize what is important."

Today Andrea is a much happier girl. She says she realizes now the full extent of what she went through. She says she knows she could have spoken up sooner, but feels it was part of God's plan. Now with her journey behind her, and the knowledge she gained, she says she can fully understand and help others heal.

"Don't be afraid to speak up," said Anderson. "Everybody shows this differently. It's ok to admit what's going on inside you."

Her father, Mark Anderson says he's proud of his daughter and her courage.

"Her faith it real, it is her own," he said. "All families go through these kinds of struggles in some way. You are not alone."

He encourages other parents to keep dialogue open, he says that helped their family.

"It's about making sure they feel they can talk about it," he said of children. "That if they are hurting it's a safe place where we're not going to be mad at them. It's ok they feel the way they feel."

"If you do something and you feel like it's a mistake that's what God's grace is for," said Andrea. "Bad things teach you something and if you keep looking at it that way you can't lose."

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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