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How to Prevent Depression and Understand Your Risk Factors

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Winter is coming; let’s talk about how to prevent depression.
While 2020 has put anxiety center stage, there are risk factors that can bring about depression, too. What are they? And if you have them, what can you do? We’ll answer that question in this week’s episode of Flusterclux with Lynn Lyons, the show for real talk about worry and other big feelings in parenting.

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Show Notes

15:16 

Lynn references Michael Yapko, one of her professional mentors.

29:17 

Robin reads a listener question about a 13-year-old who sought treatment for social anxiety in the past. Since COVID, she’s become more withdrawn, eating less and just not interested in going anywhere. How does one know if she really is fine or if it’s more serious like depression.

38:46 

So, join the Flusterclux Facebook group so that you have an opportunity to ask Lynn, your question for an upcoming episode. And that’s Flusterclux with an X.

Suggested Reading List

Breaking the Patterns of Depression by Michael Yapko

Advice I Ignored: Stories and Wisdom from a Formerly Depressed Teenager by Ruby Walker

Feeling Great: The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety by David Burns

Episode Transcript

Lynn Lyons  0:16 

Hi, I’m Lynn Lyons. I’m an anxiety expert, speaker, Mom and author. I’ve been a therapist for 30 years.

Robin Hutson  0:22 

You’re here because your family has some anxiety issues, or you want to prevent them. I’m your co-host and Lynn’s sister-in-law Robin, and I’m here to ask your questions.

Lynn Lyons  0:31 

Parenting can be a Flusterclux, and I’ll help you find your way.

Hi, Robin.

Robin Hutson  0:38 

Hi, Lynn.

Lynn Lyons  0:40 

How are you?

Robin Hutson  0:41 

I’m good. I’m eager for us to talk about today’s topic. I think it’s really important.

Lynn Lyons  0:45 

We certainly have been talking a lot about anxiety in 2020. Because boy 2020 has provided us a lot to be anxious about. But I think it’s really important that we talk about all of the risk factors in the ways that 2020 is really exacerbating some depression, too.

Robin Hutson  1:03 

Or probably giving depression to people who might not have had it before.

Lynn Lyons  1:06 

Absolutely. All of these factors that are coming into play that are certainly making us anxious, and worried and uncertainty and all that kind of stuff. But remember, there’s also a whole lot of disconnection and isolation and self-criticism. And as we’ve talked about many times, anxiety and depression are pretty closely related. Anxiety tends to be a path into depression. And so, I think it’s time for us to really look and see how we’re doing on that front as well.

Risk Factors & Causes Of Depression

Robin Hutson  1:32 

What do you think are the biggest risk factors for depression? And how do they differ slightly or a lot from anxiety?

Lynn Lyons  1:39 

We want to look at it from a pretty broad point of view, because there are many, many things that put somebody at risk for developing depression. And also, we should just say at the outset, that it is really common.

And there is probably not a person listening that hasn’t had some experience with it, either their own experience, dealing with a family member, a partner, a child, a friend. It’s just so common that we really have to recognize, and you and I are no strangers to this, as well. Neither you nor I are exceptions to that. And I don’t think anybody really is, to be honest.

So, we have to look at it from all of these perspectives: the biological perspective, definitely, there are things that put us at risk, that psychological perspective. So that means sort of how you think and how you interact with your own thoughts and how you manage your own experiences. And then how do you relate to other people? The social perspective. Huge in terms of your relationships, in terms of whether or not you feel connected, whether or not you feel like you belong. All of those things really work toward either helping or not helping when it comes to depression.

Robin Hutson  2:56 

So, you say that there are biological risks or predispositions? What do those look like?

Lynn Lyons  3:02 

Well, they don’t really know. There’s no depression gene. So, they’re just like, there’s no anxiety gene. But it seems as if, just like with anxiety, there are certain temperaments that put you at risk for anxiety disorders, there are probably an interplay of a lot of different genetic things that put you at risk for developing depression. So, it’s really just a combination of things.

People like to say it’s genetic, well, people don’t really know when they say that it makes it sound like you know, I passed on my depression gene to my kids. It doesn’t work that way. It’s probably just a huge combination.

And I think the mistake that people make, or the misunderstanding that people make when we talk about biology is, they think it’s just based on chemicals or it’s just based on genes.

And that’s not really an accurate way to look at it. Our biology has something to do with this, just like it has something to do with anxiety. It has something to do with addiction. It’s just not one thing. Your diet, for example, whether or not you’re getting enough sleep. People who have sleep deprivation are more likely to be depressed, all those kinds of physical things that sort of come together.

Robin Hutson  4:25 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the biological disposition of anxiety after we did those episodes at the beginning of season two. I know it’s so easy to want to talk about certain things being genetic, but that argument would be a lot more compelling, if in fact, you weren’t raised around those people that you biologically inherited that genetic trait from, right?

Because it’s really so much about modeling, too. You can’t separate the two. It could just be that you’re inheriting a pattern observed for your parents, and their grandparents, and their parents. And this is how they manage their emotions.

Lynn Lyons  4:59 

I mean, it’s always so interesting to me that we accept how much is transmitted from generation to generation in so many other ways. There’s that great story about the woman who comes into the family, she’s watching them make a ham, and her mother in law cuts off the two ends of the ham. So, she goes in, finds grandma and says, “Grandma, why do you cut off the ends of the ham?”

And grandma says, “Well, I don’t know. Go ask great-grandma.” Go ask her. She’s 110.” So, you go in and you say, “Great-Grandma, why do you cut off the ends of the ham?” And great-grandma says, “Oh, well, when I was first married, I didn’t have a baking pan that was big enough to fit the ham in it. So, I had to cut off the two ends, so it would fit in the pan.”

And so, there’s all of these traditions that get passed down in families. And the way we think, the way we respond, the way we interact with the world, those things get passed down, too. Whether we’re talking about anxiety, or depression, if we throw in addiction in there, too.

There’s enormous power in the way that we transmit things to family members. And it’s just not always genetic. And you know, that comment that I always make when I’m talking in front of families in terms of anxiety, and I say, so here’s the deal with you and your kids.

If it’s nature, it’s you, if it’s nurture, it’s you.

Right, and everyone laughs nervously. Yeah, but it’s true. We can’t separate those things out. And that’s okay, we just have to acknowledge that.

Robin Hutson  6:27 

The thing about depression, from what I’ve followed from you, you know, anxiety, and I see how they’re similar anxiety can really come about because they’re ultimately, they’re patterns of behavior and thoughts, and patterns of response with depression, there is something similar to that.

But I think especially in light of 2020 life can happen. A woman has a new baby. She doesn’t have any family, she doesn’t know any friends, so she’s like raising a newborn by herself. There are situations that come upon us that make fertile ground for depression, too.

Why Do People Get Depressed?

Lynn Lyons  7:18 

Absolutely. And I think that’s a good way to think about it is that it’s fertile ground, right. So, when we’re talking about risk factors, we’re talking about the things that sometimes were in place before. And sometimes those risk factors come from the way that you were raised, they are long term risk factors. And then something happens in your life that sort of exacerbates those things.

Let’s take the example of a teenager who really depends and really gets a lot of other say it’s a girl, right gets a lot of her self worth and a lot of her enjoyment, and a lot of her pleasure in life from the interactions that she has with friends. And then this happens, and that is taken away. And she doesn’t know how to deal with that. She doesn’t know how to talk herself through that. And she doesn’t know how to be hopeful that it’ll come back. It just feels devastating to her that this part of her life that was so important is gone.

So there you see where is the little crack that now has become a chasm, when we’re looking at risk factors before 2020 that maybe didn’t really cause that much of a problem patterns that were in place that really, that didn’t have all that much impact, because the world was sort of going along and we sort of had figured it out.

And when something changes dramatically, that oftentimes those patterns get exacerbated. So, people who are really pessimistic, people who view the world through a negative lens, that’s a risk factor for becoming depressed. You know, some people like oh, I always give them the benefit of the doubt. And there are other people who are always sort of like, Oh, he’s up to something, but you were sort of going along and you held you held this way of thinking inside of you and you managed. And now this happens. For whatever reason, now it gets amplified.

Robin Hutson  9:18 

You know, what it makes me think of is, you know, our listeners and friends and family on the West Coast, when you have a global pandemic, and when there is a shutdown, and then there is a wildfire. And then you have a home or apartment that doesn’t have air conditioning, because it’s not typically what you need. And there is a heat wave. Then it looks like Mars outside your window. Think of what that emotional experience was like to manage where you didn’t get global and cynical and think what else is going to happen?

Lynn Lyons  9:50 

And I think probably the difference of whether or not somebody becomes depressed about it or doesn’t it’s not, oh, well, you were weaker, so you got depressed. It’s just in that moment, how did that— for whatever reason— how did that depression sort of grab on to your vulnerability and really hang on tight?

What causes anxiety and depression?

What you want to think about is what are the risk factors that you have that make you more susceptible to becoming depressed? Like if we think about, well, in anxiety, what are the risk factors that you have that make you more susceptible to being anxious and one of the things I always say is, you have a really good imagination that goes to that catastrophic place.

Or you’ve got somebody you were raised by somebody who always pointed out how badly things can go or made you believe that the world is a dangerous place. Those are risk factors. And so, in this time, if you’re a person who tends to get more hopeless about things, and then throw in there, all these things to feel hopeless about? Well, then, of course, it makes sense that that’s going to sort of grab onto you, or if you’re somebody who has a really global view of things so that, you know, you say, Well, everything always goes this way. Or we shouldn’t even bother to try and make a difference in our environment. Because then things catch on fire.

Robin Hutson  11:06 

Yeah, let’s talk about global thinking for the people who don’t know the term, but it’s, it’s always using that big language like “I always” or “you never.”

Lynn Lyons  11:22 

And so, think when things are going badly in your environment, and you’re not feeling supported, or you’re not feeling connected, it really is easy to have that global view of things and really sort of pull you down. It’s hard to feel hopeful in the middle of all this when we don’t really see an end in sight.

And so, a global person would say, you know what, this is just par for the course? Or isn’t this just typical, that as soon as things start going well for me, then the bottom falls out, right? They start using that global language, which just predicts for them that things are going to get bad and stay bad. And we’ve all hung around with people like that. “You can be all Pollyanna and think that, but I’m a realist.”  People lose hope, when they give up on the belief that things can get better. That’s depression.

Robin Hutson  12:17 

Spoiler alert, the key to being mentally healthy is separating from your own thought process, getting space and being aware. I’m having this reaction. So, what I hope people can take away is that say you are kind of a pessimist, and you know it. But if you know you’re a pessimist, and some news comes and you’re like “I expected this.” If you’re aware that you’re having your pessimist reaction, you can say “Okay, pessimism. Here it is. Now I’m going to consciously choose a different response.”

Lynn Lyons  12:47 

Right.

Robin Hutson  12:47 

With anxiety we’ve talked about flexibility and problem solving. So, with depression, what are the ways that we want to respond to that to move us through, we know that

Lynn Lyons  12:56 

People who struggle with depression are usually not so great at problem solving. So, they feel stuck, right? So, remember, depression is a is a place of feeling hopeless, and feeling helpless and feeling stuck. And so, if you don’t have good problem solving skills, then you stay there. 

Just like with anxiety, lousy problem solving skills are really unfortunately predictive of people getting and staying depressed. Another thing is really feeling that, you know, I talk a lot about that permanent view of oneself, that things are not going to change, and that you can’t change. This is why I go on such a rant about talking to teenagers and saying, “Oh, you have this disease called depression.”

Being able to recognize how changeable and malleable not only can your situation be, but also the way that you talk about your situation, think about your situation, interact with other people about your situation. That’s also the opposite of depression.

And this idea that things that have happened in the past, don’t define who you are now, nor do they necessarily define who you are going to be. When you hear me talk about like developing problem solving skills and being able to recognize that you are malleable and being able to recognize that your past doesn’t dictate what you can do in the future, that you are changeable. All of that language is language, the same language that I use with anxiety is that things are changeable.

And that if you get caught in this place of sort of, “Oh, well, nothing matters,” right? There’s that global nothing matters. Or if you get caught in this place of sort of being a victim of your circumstances. And it doesn’t mean that some people don’t have horrible circumstances that they need to overcome. But if we’re talking about being able to move yourself out of depression, those are the things that we’re going to pay attention to. And those are the things that we’re going to target.

how to prevent depression, causes of depression
Robin Hutson  15:12 

So that sense of being a victim, I think, is probably a big piece of it, right?

Lynn Lyons  15:16 

Michael Yapko who is, you know, as I say his name all the time, because he’s been so helpful to me. But he said that nobody overcomes depression by declaring themselves a victim. It doesn’t work. Because when you say, Oh, well, this happened to me, and there’s nothing I can do about it. The other thing, too, to remember is that when we’re helping people with depression, having them be actively involved, having them do stuff, having them take steps and having them engage, that’s the opposite of depression. That’s what we want to really emphasize.

I mean, you know, if we, if we think of the most heartbreaking extreme of when people choose to take their own lives, because they’re so depressed, they come to the conclusion that nothing can change. And you know, as we often say, to young people, you choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem, not being able to see your way out of something, that’s when depression is so dangerous. And when we really need to step in, and really go after these patterns in these beliefs that are so debilitating.

Robin Hutson  16:30 

When I think of the people in my life that have suffered from depression, the idea of agency and victimization that really resonates with me, I can think of a couple of examples where when you feel like there is no hope, I get it, I did have friends who committed suicide, so I understand that. But there are people who live with depression a huge chunk of their lives,

A huge chunk.

How does one say “Okay, I get it, I feel like I’ve been a victim.” And is there a way to stop it?

Lynn Lyons  17:18 

This is something as we said, that is modeled. If you’re raised by people who consistently blame other people, for their own circumstances, if you are raised by people who are afraid to hope or take chances who want to play it safe. And they’ll say, you know, well, there’s, I’m not going to, I’m not going to try because it just, it’s just going to be more disappointing if it doesn’t happen.

If you are raised in that environment, you take that mindset with you into your adult problems, the first thing is to be able to sort of look and see, okay, so are these patterns familiar to me? And where did they come from. You don’t have to spend an enormous amount of time talking about that. But it is helpful to sort of unlock that a little bit. And who showed me that this is the way that you should live in the world. Then what is enormously helpful is that you begin to take the risk of letting go of that pattern and experimenting with thinking about it in a different way.

And so alright, well, what would it be like? If you took a little bit of a chance? What would it be like, if you put yourself out there? What would it be like if you apply for a job? But you didn’t get it? Could you handle that? So, people become very risk averse, when they’re depressed, because they say, Oh, I just can’t handle one more disappointment. And so, they just stay in the same place.

So, a lot of it has to do with having somebody and it could be a family member, it could be a therapist, but somebody who will help you take those concrete steps toward action, and really pushing back against those patterns that you begin to recognize. How does that thinking pattern show up in so many areas of your life and shut you down? It’s okay to ask for help.

This sort of brings up that social component to it is that a lot of times when people are depressed, they’re not asking for help, or they’re not letting people know what’s going on inside of them because they feel embarrassed or they feel alone or they feel like nobody would understand, right? That’s a global statement. They don’t benefit from somebody saying, Let me show you the steps that you can take that actually might make the hours of 3pm to 5pm easier for you when you have a 2-year-old because I’ve done it a few times. Let me show you and being able to feel connected and supported. by people who will show you things to do is really, really helpful. But when you’re depressed, you don’t reach out. Yeah,

Robin Hutson  20:07 

Everyone has a couple friends who they never hear from when they’re in, you know, because they disappear. You know, they’re not doing well.

Lynn Lyons  20:15 

I have one of those friends.

Robin Hutson  20:17 

I do, too. It’s such a human nature to want to hide, when they don’t feel well, instead of reach out.

Lynn Lyons  20:25 

So, you can see how so many of these things feed on each other, right, and it just becomes this big snowball going down a hill. Because you’re feeling really miserable. So, you start beating yourself up, you start feeling a lot of shame. So, you don’t share it with people.

One of my good friends who’s a therapist talks openly about a very difficult depression that she had, you know, later in life. And she talks about what she did, and the help she got, and how hard it was to admit it as this pretty famous therapist, but how important other people were to her, to be able to coach her to be able to encourage her to be able to empathize with her when you are depressed. isolation is doing the disorder, right, cutting off your supports, is doing the disorder. But it’s just so tempting to do that.

Robin Hutson  21:39 

Yeah, you say doing the disorder. But say what that means.

Lynn Lyons  21:42 

That means that you’re actually making things worse, by doing what you think you should do, or doing what might feel intuitive to you at the time, but actually, is doing the very things that make the depression worse, or doing the very things that make the anxiety worse.

So, when we talk about doing the disorder, helping kids avoid things that they’re anxious about actually makes the anxiety stronger. isolating, because you feel ashamed that you’re depressed actually makes you more depressed. Because the more isolated and alone you are with your thoughts, the more hopeless and sad and disconnected that you become.

Robin Hutson  22:18 

When I think of the toughest chapter in my life. It’s that my mom died while I was pregnant with my second child. So, I gave birth, and I was a new mom, and I was still grieving. And I think that that was definitely my experience with depression or postpartum depression. But the word that I would say, looking back on that chapter was just like an endless sense of overwhelm.

Lynn Lyons  22:40 

Yep.

Robin Hutson  22:40 

You haven’t brought up overwhelm yet.

Lynn Lyons  22:41 

And global language is the language of being overwhelmed. When you use those big words. So if you if you look at your messy house and say, I’ll never get this done, or if you’re feeling alone, and you say no one will ever want me or no one will ever want to be my friend, or nobody understands me, or everybody’s doing things better than I am. Those global words. That’s the language of being overwhelmed.

And so, we always look at sort of what’s the opposite of that. And the opposite of global language is breaking things down into parts. So, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, a few things happen. One is that when you look around, you’re just taking it all in at once. I think also, particularly for women, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, what follows quickly on the heels of being overwhelmed is just the incredible self-criticism that you should be able to handle this.

And you start doing that social comparison that everybody else is doing better than you are. And again, when we start talking about this and genuinely and authentically sharing the struggles we’re having, we realize that we’re not alone in this. But overwhelmed is “I don’t know where to start. Nothing that I do will make a difference. I can’t get myself out of this. These feelings will never go away.”

Those are all global words, right? I’ll never feel better. When your mom died, you probably had a feeling of like I will, I will never be able to get out from under the pain that I’m feeling. That’s all of that global language.

So, you need somebody to be the voice of hope. If you can’t be the voice of hope for yourself in that moment. You need somebody to say to you, “You will feel better. We will get this done. You will be able to manage this.” You did that for me the other day. You sent me a text that said in all caps, YOU CAN DO IT. And so being able to recognize that when you’re overwhelmed, you often need somebody to just say, let’s take it a step at a time. Let’s just figure this out, or somebody who’s been through it, to say, this is really hard. But these are the things that if you do these things, you will, you will slowly but surely, find your way out of what feels so overwhelming right now.

How to prevent depression and overwhelm

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to, you know, I talked to moms who feel overwhelmed all the time, particularly now. And I say to them on purpose, I say to them, of course, you’re feeling overwhelmed, because you’ve got 17 things that you have to handle right now. What is something that you can do that will that you can check off your list.

And also, can we put the self-criticism aside for a little bit, because as you’re trying to manage these 17 things, you don’t need a drill sergeant yelling in your ear telling you that you’re incompetent. So, let’s recognize that pattern too.

There are so many things that we can do to just sort of step back and recognize the patterns that we fall into that sometimes we don’t even recognize.

Robin Hutson  26:32 

So as we think about 2020, and we think about either the parents or the teenagers starting to slip into these patterns, I do think that it’s really smart to figure out how to proactively create connection and opportunities, I had a month where the pandemic just felt harder on me than other months. And I could tell like, this is going to be something I have to figure out.

So earlier in the summer, for me, that’s when it sort of all hit proactively reached out to as many friends of mine as I could, and people that I hadn’t spoken to in years, I picked up the phone. And because you’ve always described depression and anxiety as being internal disorders. If I’m starting to feel kind of blue, about the pandemic in the world, I just reach out to friends. And I’ve avoided, you know, going down any kind of bad depressive cycle. A

Lynn Lyons  27:31 

If you can identify what your risk factors are, if you can identify that you tend to be self-critical, or that you tend to be pessimistic, or that you are a blamer. That’s another one because that’s a real victim role, right? It’s not my fault, it’s your fault. It also doesn’t do good things for your relationships.

If you can identify those patterns. If you’re somebody who shuts down, if you’re somebody who isolates when you’re feeling blue about something, if you have a hard time letting people know how you feel, then you begin to consciously work on those things and do the opposite, you are being preventative.

And here’s the great thing about this too, you are showing your kids how to do it. If you can have your kids hear you say you know what, I’m feeling overwhelmed right now. But I’m just going to take it a step at a time. Or Oh, my gosh, I am in such a bad mood. Because this has just been so hard. But I’m going to figure out what I need to do to lift my spirits a little bit if you can talk out loud and show your kids that their moods aren’t permanent. That you know, as Michael says, everybody is susceptible to depression because everybody has moods.

And if you can show your kids how it is that we can shift out of these patterns. That’s how, generationally, we stop passing it on to kids. It’s just so important. It’s not that hard. You don’t have to do it every day. You don’t have to be Mary Poppins. And you don’t have to be the perfect mom, the perfect dad. You just have to show them that there are different ways to view circumstances, and it makes a big difference.

Listener Question: Is My Teen Depressed?

Robin Hutson  29:17 

So, Lynn, I have a listener question for you now. Okay, here’s a mother with a 13-year-old and she’s concerned about depression. How do you know when your 13-year-old daughter is not just a moody teenager, but there’s something bigger going on? She sought treatment for social anxiety in the past but had made progress. But since COVID, she’s become more withdrawn, eating less and just not interested in going anywhere. School is the exception, and she enjoys going and learning and doing the work. She’s also at a new school this year. And she started her period. She says she’s fine, but how does one know if she really is or if it’s just hormones, and is just becoming more independent? Or if it’s more serious like depression

Lynn Lyons  29:59 

People say to me all the time, you know, is this just normal teenage stuff? Based on what this mom is saying some of this really is normal teenage stuff, particularly the fact that she is doing well in school and she enjoys going to school.

So, one of the things we pay attention to is are kids avoiding or not participating in things that developmentally or normally they should be participating in? Or that they used to participate in and used to enjoy? And now they’re sort of knocking things off the list. So, the fact that she is going to school that she enjoys going, she’s learning, she’s doing her work, this means that we don’t have to be real concerned about depression, because that really does impact one’s engagement in things.

And not always, but if she is enjoying it, if she’s enthusiastic about it, if you feel like her brain is working, and she’s learning things, that’s all really a good sign. when she turns 13, right, so she got her period, she’s really starting to move into that place where she wants to have more independence from you, the thing I’d pay attention to, Mom, is that you say she’s become more withdrawn and not interested in going anywhere, I think that you want to pay attention to that, because she has a history of social anxiety.

And you may want to just sort of revisit that a little bit with her or even in your own thinking, remember what she learned in therapy, remember the things that were important that you do, and that she does, so that you’re making sure that she is having practice, and hopefully enjoying social contact.

Social isolation, loneliness, and isolation are big red flags that we want to pay attention to. You want to make sure that she’s still engaging in activities that she finds fun with other people if she isn’t engaging in activities with you. So, when she’s home, if she’s sort of in her room, and she doesn’t really want to participate in family things as much, but she’s still doing other things with school and with friends, then that’s really normal.

And also remember, too, that it is a time when you’re looking for her to develop her autonomy. So being able to have space from you being able to manage things on her own, handling her schoolwork independently, all of those are great things. Just make sure that you’re  paying attention to that social connection part.

If my little feelers were going up, that’s what I would be paying attention to. If that’s a concern for you, I would just talk to her about it. I would say, you know, this has been a tricky time. And I know that social stuff makes you anxious. And I know you’ve done really well with that in the past, how can we make sure that we’re not letting that sort of go by the wayside? How can we make sure just like, if you were getting back to playing the piano, how can we make sure that your fingers are nimble, and that you’re playing your scales? How can we make sure that we keep you connected to things that you enjoy, and people you enjoy being around?

Robin Hutson  32:56 

I’m a mom of a teenage daughter, and one of the things around 13 and 12, they do change. And you at first, there’s no way that a mom won’t take it personally, as, as a daughter sort of transitions with different emotional responses and unwillingness to communicate in the same way, you know, they’re not a kid anymore, right. But the trick that I learned that this is going to vary by each child is it’s where can you show up where they’re more willing to show up.

So, for example, I don’t know if this is a universal thing. But you know, my kids never want to go to bed at bedtime, right? Nobody ever wants to go to bed at bedtime. Yeah, just when it was time to go to bed and lights out. A daughter who would never talk to me during the evening about anything going on, all of a sudden has a lot to say to me at that point, because she doesn’t want to go to bed.

So, I would be flexible about bedtime once in a while to just have that opportunity for her to want to stay up late and tell me things. But she never wanted to communicate that on my schedule at five o’clock in the afternoon. That was something that helped me adapt to this new chapter in parenting, finding nice ways to still connect, but it just won’t happen on terms that you can necessarily control.

Lynn Lyons  34:08 

And I think that is such good advice, because you were allowing her to sort of come to you and one of the things that teenagers are really put off by having I have boys, but nonetheless, they went through a period of this too, is sort of us coming to them and wanting to have sort of a really earnest conversation.

Robin Hutson  34:28 

Oh, yeah, that always goes really well.

Lynn Lyons  34:29 

So well, doesn’t it? Like

Robin Hutson  34:31 

They love it!

Lynn Lyons  34:31 

It’s not like sometimes you don’t have to have those conversations. But I think that it’s such a good advice, Robin is to just look for those opportunities to connect and don’t. Don’t think that every moment of connection or every conversation that you have to have with your teenager has to be about something meaningful.

My wonderful friend, Jeff, who did that gather that data about what his teenage clients wanted, and what they came back and said is that even though we pretend we don’t Really want to have any contact with you, we really like that you keep showing up. And we really like that you kind of ask us questions and that you check in with us.

And then the other thing too, just for everybody is when should you be concerned, right? When is it depression? When is it something that you really need to pay attention to?

So rule number one is if your child comes to you and says, I’m really having a hard time, and I think I need some help, or I think I need to talk to somebody, that thing you do not want to do is to say, Oh, you know what, I don’t think it’s that bad. Or I think you’re overreacting or right, have a conversation with them, right? Then be really careful not to try and reassure them in a dismissive way.

Because that’s our instinct, like, oh, you’ll be fine. It’s not that bad. But what you really want to pay attention to is if they start isolating even more, you do want to look for changes in appetite, although changes in appetite in a 13-year-old girl. So, unless it’s pretty severe, I wouldn’t worry about that too much. But you want to look for issues with sleep. So if she’s not sleeping like she used to, if she’s looking like she’s tired, if she’s got dark circles under her eyes, if you notice her being more lethargic and talking about feeling fatigued The other way that depression can come out, which again, is a little confusing, but the other way depression can come out in younger people is a lot of irritability. But of course, irritability and a 13-year-old girl is normal, too. But it has to be pretty significant.

And I pay a lot of attention to school, and I ask how she is around other people. So, say she’s around. And again, with COVID, it’s hard to say there are other relatives that she hangs around with. And they’re like, no, she’s great. When she’s here again, doesn’t it makes you feel like oh, gosh, she saved this for me. But that’s actually a good sign. So, we want to look for significant changes in sleep in appetite, irritability, in being able to concentrate, focus, get work done, his school grades start to drop, if she talks to you about the fact that she doesn’t feel like herself. Those are a lot of the warning signs that you want to pay attention to.

Robin Hutson  38:46 

So, join the Flusterclux Facebook group so that you have an opportunity to ask Lynn, your question for an upcoming episode. And that’s Flusterclux with an X.

Lynn Lyons  38:57 

If you’re listening to this, you know, maybe you’re acknowledging it, and maybe you’ve suffered with this for a long time and you felt sort of like Well, nothing will make it better, or there’s nothing I can do. You are not correct about that. This is absolutely treatable. So, you should reach out, you can get professional help, we’ll put some really good resources for you in the show notes as well.

But do not suffer in silence with this. So, let somebody know that maybe you’ve been feeling this way and talk to somebody about it doesn’t have to even be a professional, it may go there. But talk to somebody about it. Do not be alone in this.

And the other thing too is if you’re if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking gosh, he’s kind of describing me, I don’t feel like I’m depressed, but I certainly am pessimistic. Just pay attention to those patterns. Pay attention to your malleability versus your rigidity. Pay attention to whether or not you throw out global language a lot and you come to these big conclusions about things. And pay attention to whether or not you do get caught up. In the victim role, right, that there’s nothing you can do. And see if you can just play around with using different language, you know, if you are a blamer, how can you pull that back so that you’re not continuing to perpetuate that pattern in your family?

Robin Hutson  40:17 

Give us a great blamer example.

Lynn Lyons  40:19 

I’ll give you a minor example. So, when a blamer, can’t find something, they immediately accuse, they say, who took my whatever a blamer. Also is that say that somebody shows up late for something, the way one of the tells of a blamer is that they never apologize, a blamer. doesn’t own it. A blamer doesn’t say I’m sorry, a blamer doesn’t say, oh, gosh, I can’t believe I did that. Again. That’s something I do all the time. A blamer says it wasn’t me. I didn’t do it. And a blamer is looking to pin it on somebody else. They’re not fun to be around.

Robin Hutson  41:11 

I’m just laughing because I don’t think of myself as a blamer. And I absolutely apologize for things.  Every mom is like, where, you know, where is my spatula? My spatula was in the dishwasher. And now it’s gone missing? Right?

Lynn Lyons  41:27 

So, a blamer just… that that’s their That’s their knee-jerk response. They don’t even look for it first. They just say, “Who took my…?”

Robin Hutson  41:35 

Am I allowed to blame my husband or kids if after I’ve looked for it and can’t find it?

Lynn Lyons  41:39 

Yes, you are.

Robin Hutson  41:39 

Okay. Okay.

Lynn Lyons  41:40 

You’re totally allowed. My husband is terrible for looking at for looking for things.

Robin Hutson  41:45 

I have the best line for you.

Lynn Lyons  41:47 

Okay, what is it?

Robin Hutson  41:48 

One woman now says when her husband says “Honey, I can’t find the such and such,” She says “Did you look or did you man look?”

Lynn Lyons  41:57 

Well, we call it we call it my husband’s first name is Crawford we call it Crawford looking. And that’s when you just sort of like, one time he opened the refrigerator and said, “Where’s the milk?”

Robin Hutson  42:08 

Oh my god. Yeah.

Lynn Lyons  42:08 

It’s in there. Yeah. Right. So…

Robin Hutson  42:11 

It’s um, yeah. hunting and gathering not so impressive. Right? Like, in order to hunt, you might have to pry apart two jars to see what’s behind them.

Lynn Lyons  42:21 

I know, I know. Well, and so the difference between sort of man looking and blaming is man looking at sort of like, I can’t find it, and they’re sort of that there’s that, you know, like helplessness.

But a blamer is they can’t find it. And it’s because somebody did them wrong. Right, right. “Who took my so?” There’s a difference. You’re like, I can’t find the spatula. And who took my spatula? What would I do? Yeah, it’s under my pillow. I took the spatula. I used it to put my shoes on. So, the blaming, the blaming is more sort of accusatory. And it’s also dodging any responsibility.

Robin Hutson  42:56 

I’ve always wondered if this is an issue with my married lesbian friends.  Does one become the person who finds everything? And the other one, adapt the helplessness?

Lynn Lyons  43:07 

Yeah, I mean, that is an interesting thing is it a dynamic that happens in a couple than what happens when it’s two women. Or what happens when it’s two men? It’s an interesting question.

What if there’s a bunch of people that work in an office? And what if, what if they just happen to be all Y chromosomes? Do they all just sit around and be like, “We can’t find it?” I don’t think so.

Robin Hutson  43:27 

Seriously, if you’re a listener, and you have a male partner living in your house, who’s like “Found it,” I’m impressed.

Lynn Lyons  43:33 

Yeah, me, too.

Robin Hutson  43:34 

Join the Flusterclux Facebook group so that you can ask your question on a future episode.

Bye, Lynn!

Lynn Lyons  43:40 

Bye, Robin!

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