Avoiding depression for kids and families
We're struggling a lot with depression and anxiety here; my husband's afflicted, and so is my oldest son. More and more lately, I remember my parents worrying about the depression of one of my sisters, who has thankfully grown into an emotionally-balanced adult. Around this time of the year, it's always compounded, and speaking from experience I know that trying to enjoy the holidays with a loved family member predicting the imminent end of the world as we know it is a challenge, indeed. Sara writes:
I've posted before asking for advice about depression-proofing my daughter. She's now five, an articulate, silly, curious, thoughtful kid with a decidedly negative personality. She seizes on the negative elements of every experience, and creates huge drama-tornadoes of misery and despair. I am very concerned that she is going to grow up into an unhappy adult, the person (we all know this person) who sucks the joy out of everything. We spend a lot of time talking to her about this, trying to guide her toward more positive ways of thinking ("you're talking about the problem; do you need help talking about a solution?"), etc., and it has helped a lot at various times, but... not now. Now it just seems to be making her feel worse, like not only is the (in my opinion) minor inconvenience that she's experiencing Absolutely The End of The World, but she's also A Terrible, Terrible Person because she can't look at it positively. It is clear to all of us that this is her personality, not just a phase (though being five is NOT easy, so there's some phase-y-ness in there, too). She is never going to be a glass-half-full person. I don't want to change who she is, and I don't actually think there's anything wrong with inclining to the negative. I just don't want it to be all she is.
So I need your help, community. How can I help my daughter grow up to be at least a not-miserable person? How can I help her learn more positive approaches without communicating to her that her feelings (and her basic personality) are wrong and bad?
What advice do you have for Sara? If you also have family members struggling with depression and anxiety, how do you find your way to a happy holiday for you and the more cheery members of your family?