“When you’re depressed, knowing that there are outstretched hands, it’s a lot of good” The poignant testimony of a teenager from the Côte d’Azur

They are seated side by side in the family living room, decorated in Halloween colors. Lola, 16 years old, large sweatshirt, long wavy brown hair, angelic face, sweet and piercing look at the same time. Maud, in her forties, frank, affable smile, spring dress for an autumn afternoon, Indian summer version.

“Today, we are on a big slack. Because I am thinking of the start of the school year on Monday. And just imagining myself in front of high school, I cannot”slips Lola, a first-grade student, who celebrated Halloween two evenings ago with her friends and then took advantage of a parenthesis of lightness.

This emotional roller coaster, for two years that the young girl, struck by depression with eating disorder and suicidal behavior, cohabits with. Under the gaze of her mother, she insists on explaining, retracing. Without however exposing themselves too much. For this reason, his first name and that of his mother have been changed.

The trigger

“I have always been anxious. As a child, I had OCD, fear of disasters, fear that someone would die… Depression has been around for about 2 years. It all started when I was diagnosed with a shingles, a very painful chronic disease. The doctor first told me that it would pass in a week. Then the delay got longer”explains the young girl.

Shortly after this diagnosis, Lola begins to note in her phone “little things” that she feels and that seem unusual to her: “exhaustion”, “laziness and procrastination”, “less hungry”, “fear of being alone”, “loss of concentration”, “biting your lips” or “afraid of bothering everyone when I need help”

Until then very active, passionate about the gym, invested in the protection of the environment, interested in personal development, Lola begins to curl up. She explains:

“I realized there was a problem when I started to have no hope that it could get better”

Three months after the diagnosis of her chronic illness, suicidal thoughts come to her mind, without surprising her. Her “first TS” (attempted suicide), the young girl entrusts to make it “only for the pain to end, not in a determined desire to stop living”. Lola will make several, in secret, without telling her family. “for fear of worrying them”. These are friends in whom she confides who will go to see the CPE of the college. Then will come the hospitalizations, more or less long, in pediatric hospitals…

A reality “difficult to understand”

It is during one of these emergency hospitalizations that the words are asked by the caregivers: “depression”, “TCA” (eating disorders). “Hearing it from the mouth of the doctors did something to me”recalls Maud, Lola’s mother, who faces a reality that she is always trying to understand, without ever denying her daughter’s discomfort.

“Depression, no one around me had suffered from it. To see her lose her joy of living, no longer want to read, no longer want anything, I did not understand”, Maud, mother of Lola

“What is difficult is precisely to accept not understanding. The hardest thing is the suicidal thoughts, the fear that she will act out, the fear of losing her”adds the mother, tight throat.

“Depression puts everything aside. The passions of before are not that you no longer love them but they no longer trigger the flame in you. You become neutral, as if indifferent to all that”explains the teenager.

Little by little, Lola and Maud accept a reality: that of the twists and turns of mental illness. “We are talking about brain chemistry here, not about a broken leg to be repaired”, notes the mother, who remains convinced that her daughter will pull through. All these moments spent with her in the hospital, for more or less long stays, also opened Maud to questions about the management of the mental health of young people.

“Create a real parenthesis of tranquility”

“In general, I find that the response given today by institutions to this malaise is essentially medicinal. OK, but it can’t be just that, Maud point. In an ideal world, I think these young people should be cared for in a totally neutral place, which does not look like a hospital room, which is like a real parenthesis and allows them to take a real break. When I see the girlfriends that Lola met at the hospital who lie to their shrink, who are bored all day in bed, I tell myself that these suffering young people need more than anything to be listened to, heard , to empty their bag in a place of peace that protects them”pleads this mother, who specifies “share a feeling of mom” without any desire to fire red bullets at the place where his daughter is being followed.

Of these visits to the hospital, Lola retains above all these encounters “who do good” with children of his age who go through the same reality.

“In the disease, you really feel alone, it’s even one of the main symptoms”Lola, 16 years old

The most important thing in his eyes: to know that he is surrounded: “When you’re depressed, knowing that there are outstretched hands, even if you don’t take them, feels great.”

“Depression puts everything aside”, Lola (the first name has been changed), 16 years old. Aurelie Selvi.

Breaking the Taboo of Youth Mental Health

Beyond her personal case, Lola also notes that anxiety is very present in the lives of her friends and takes a lucid look at her generation.

“What stresses us the most? Classes, always classes. Personally, I put pressure on myself from college, even if I always had good results. We feel that we are entering the big leagues, that you have to ensure. Then in high school, you have to choose your specialties, your orientation with Parcours sup… It’s a lot”she slips.

In his entourage, other comrades are affected by depression. Always on the wire, Lola confides, as for her, not to lose hope.

“At some point, it will get better. You have to be patient, it’s a boat, but that’s really it. Until then, I’m now just trying to apply one thing to myself: never make a decision when it’s going badly but talking about it”, Lola, 16 years old

By testifying today, the young girl and her mother want above all to send a message to the young people affected as well as to the people around them: “depression is not a shame but a real disease, complex and difficult to live with! You have to accept it, talk about it, including when you are the caregiver”, launches the mother.

Lola bounces: “and this disease does not define us! If there is one thing that annoys me, it is that people say that I am depressed. No, I suffer from depression but I am not only that, I am full of ‘other stuff”. Sitting next to her, Maud adds: “You are a sister, a cousin, a friend you can count on, a good student…” “The mother of 6 fish and a hamster”laughs Lola. “A gymnast, a committed person… You are Lola”, concludes his mother.


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