What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen What Made Maddy Run question

Lets exchange thoughts and advice
Trish Julis Trish May 04, 2018 03:49PM
So I just finished Kate Fagan's book yesterday and saw her speak at our school district last night. The book was powerful. Maddy grew up here in Bergen County, NJ , where I live, so it hit close to home. There's a lot of discussion about mental health and depression with our kids today. Social media is a big culprit. The goal of the book was to create awareness. To let our kids know that there is help out there. Some kids are reluctant to get help, or say they are depressed. What advice do you have in that situation?

Paula (last edited Mar 08, 2019 04:46PM ) Mar 08, 2019 04:18PM   -1 votes
Adolescents and young adults are impulsive by nature. Even the ones who don't appear impulsive have impulsive moments- that's why there is so much evidence about SSRIs increasing suicidality; you start to feel like you have enough energy and gumption to finally do, or research or plan something - but you're still depressed and depression had you thinking about an easy way out.. when you start to care about something, you end up feeling well enough to exert the effort kill yourself.

I want to say that Maddy's family was as close to ideal as any mental health practitioner could ask for and this is only being addressed becasue of the minuscule but devastating risk Maddy brought to the forefront of our collective conscious. NO ONE could have predicted what Maddy chose- NO ONE

The period from adolescence to independent secure adulthood is a time of unprecedented upheaval typically marked by impulsive actions and huge perceived moments of impact on the personal myth.
When children are born everything is about them' when the baby cries, when they're hungry or wet etc. In childhood they begin to be more engaged with their enviroment as they start to learn how to exert control. If I push the swing goes, If I kick the ball rolls, If I study I get an A.. in adolescence these two ideas come together and a personal myth is created- where the world still revolves around them, but they can control it. The minute that idea happens the world is already dismantling it piece by piece. That initial feeling of control is soon dismantled because gravity brought the swing back, and cupcakes don't spontaneously self-organize like the stars on a summer solstice.
Parents can prep by facilitating reflection- discussing out load situations, even those your child intuitively handled well, what went wrong, what went right, what could be done better next time. Practicing how to cope with negative situations will help hone strategies, my friend who threw a fit could have asked me to share, they could have played a different game. Even if the neighbor girl comes over hoards the barbies and throws a tantrum- don't just reward your child for being empathetic and generous- talk about it. Reflect; teach your child how to express themselves in words that describe emotions.

People talk abut mindfulness- and I think that's a bunch of hoo-ha if the world really is breathing down your neck..
But the more you can reflect in an active way- look back at events as a (cliche) learning experience, slow down time, picture an ideal long term outcome... the more coping strategies you will have identified.

Honestly I've gone over and over and over this tragedy. I can't possibly imagine how this could have been stopped deliberately. More breathtakingly I think an accidental distraction would have been at least temporarily successful.

Finally I want to bring the conversation back to Maddy- to her suicide note. She specifically says she was not depressed as she planned her goodbye - she uses those words. "I am not depressed."
Teach your children from an early age to describe emotions. I think the literature says there are only 7 or 8; but narrowing emotion to scientific check boxes facilitate research, not living. There is a reason the dictionary contains hundreds upon hundreds of words. Use them. Use them every day from an early age to help your child figure out what they are feeling, what other people feel and how they can be understood and shared. We use phrases like "hurt feelings." We avoid words with unsavory connotations like jelous, greedy, suck, inadequate, looser,- and while they should never be applied to someone else, because we can't know what someone else was feeling and we should never start by attributing the worst; these are legit feelings. They exist despite the need to meet social mandates and it is okay.

The only straw I can grab at is that Maddy might have been able to express dissatisfaction or confusion or stress at the level she was feeling if she had had more experience using emotional language.
However, I have to reiterate the power of mental illness. Depression- which, like the flu, dosn't require any wrongdoing, it just happens. Bipolar disorder could have also had an impact. Remember the force of an impulsive 19 year old frontal lobe.

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