First I want to make clear that I'm not trying to take advantage of someone else's personal tragedy to promote my point of view. Rather, I saw Matthew Warren's suicide as an opportunity to complete posts that were already half-written and prayed that God could use this event to help others. I'm not alone in this. Adrian Warnock over at Patheos.com has been doing the same. I can't speak for his motivations, but the way I look at it is if the son of one of the most recognized Christian pastors in America suffered from depression then that means the best-selling author struggled as a parent. And if he struggled, then chances are pretty good others are struggling as well. It would be easier for me to say that since I'm struggling then others probably are too, but that is a self-centered assumption. And although I want to relate and be as open and vulnerable as I can on an open forum such as this, I am very self-conscious not to make this about me.
So how did I get here?
My posts on counseling and depression were originally going to be part of a series of posts as I read through Sheila Walsh's book, God Loves Broken People: And Those Who Think They're Not. (Which won't happen unfortunately, but if those posts resonated with you then I strongly recommend that book)
My post on suicide has been in the pressure cooker for some time, most recently following news of the spikes in military suicides.
And my most recent posts on Autism and ADHD obviously come about from personal experience, but also relate back to the post The Impossible Child over at The Psychotherapy Network. (If you didn't get the hint in my last post I'll say it again: if you're a parent at your wits end YOU HAVE TO READ THIS POST!)
And as I've mentioned before, there are still a couple of posts to come.
So that explains the posts, but still doesn't fully answer the question why I personally care. So deep breath, here I go.
Yesterday I taught my son's Sunday-school class. Things were going relatively well when we got to snack time and he started obsessing about a cup of water. I was just about to have him share with the rest of the class from his picture Bible but my wife and I could not bring him down off this obsession. It got so bad we had to remove him from the class. Once class ended and he settled down, it occurred to him that he never did get to share and that spun him up all over again. He calmed down by the time we got home, but the tension and anxiety was still under the surface. So we had another blow up as we were getting him ready for bed. This is just one example from one day.
My son doesn't fit in any particular category, crossing and blending diagnoses, which makes accommodations extremely difficult. It is hard for him to feel loved and accepted. It is hard for us as parents to be patient and work with him. And my ongoing fear that does at times literally keep me up at night is that this pressure and anxiety will someday lead to something catastrophic.
The numbers don't help. One article claims that 3.4 percent of the US population has Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 60 percent of suicide victims suffered from MDD. A study in the Archives for General Psychiatry found that 39 percent of children with ADHD suffered from depression and 18 percent had attempted suicide. Studies suggest that 30 percent of children with autism are also diagnosed with ADHD. Add to that the recent studies that show rates of autism and ADHD are increasing in children.
Link these all together and hopefully you understand how I can jump from depression and suicide in one post to autism and ADHD in the next and why I feel, as a parent, a blogger, and a Christian that I need to share for the sake of others who may feel the same. Yes, a percentage of a percent is a much smaller percent, but I still struggle with that fear. Maybe you do too.
I cannot change my son. I can only trust God and be as open as I can. And if only one person reads these words and finds comfort and hope in them, then this series of posts was worth it.