"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning."
- Albert Einstein
It was almost like he'd become possessed. Like some malignant force had invaded his spirit. And there was nothing his mother could do, it seemed at the time, to stem the flame of unhappiness that was so quickly consuming her teenage son. No matter who she consulted — teachers, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists — none could offer her a working solution. Or even a process to follow. Indeed, many dismissed her fears outright. One therapist even suggested that her son was gay and was simply wrestling with his newly discovered sexuality.
But Ginny Dennehy knew that wasn't the problem. Her son's downward spiralling state of mind was too sudden and too severe for that. It was the strange things he said and did now. His increasing withdrawal from everyday life. Both she and husband Kerry were seriously concerned about their son's mental health. And they had every right to be.
The sporty, confident, outgoing young boy they'd loved and nurtured for seventeen years was slipping deeper and deeper into the bottomless maw of teenage depression. And let's be clear here — this wasn't an: "I'm having a bad hair day, feeling down" kind of thing. This was a deadly affair.
It's a parent's worst nightmare, I think, to be forced to stand by helplessly while their child suffers. In her recently-released book, Choosing Hope, Ginny offers us a glimpse into the personal Hell she herself experienced during those dark times. What do you do when your teenage son stumbles into your room in the middle of the night, tears streaming down his face? "Mom," he cries, "I don't want to have these terrible thoughts. Please, please help me not to have these terrible thoughts..." What do you do when the medical profession still regularly misdiagnoses this harrowing mental disease? When resources are few and far between? When depression's social stigma is still all too evident in people's every-day responses to it?
Kelty Dennehy ended his life in late winter of 2001. He was only seventeen years old. This is the note he left behind: "Don't worry; I will be watching you from the heavens above. Heaven is a better place than earth... No research will understand the depression. The depression is in my mind. Peace and I love you all. Kelty."
They say that life's cruxes are the ultimate test of one's inner fortitude. That moments of great angst test us in ways both unique and powerful. Family tragedies can break us. Beat us down into sad empty husks. But they can also inspire us to perform feats of absolute genius. To extend far beyond our reach. To be the bearer — in the most profound and practical ways — of hope and courage to those who so desperately need it.