Courtney Andreessen, a sophomore at Omaha North, lived a happy life before she was diagnosed with depression in 2012 and anxiety in 2014.
Courtney has been struggling for years, but what most people don’t realize is that this affects her family, too. Just like it affects many others who have people in their family with anxiety and depression.
“My mood affects the whole family’s mood so if I’m not in a good mood then my mom isn’t or my dad isn’t,” Courtney said.
Courtney’s diagnosis was a hard time for everyone in the family. The day her sister, Kaitlyn, found out was when it really affected her.
“I got home and I didn’t know where she was, but my mom was like ‘Kaitlyn I need to talk to you.’ So she sat me down and told me what had happened and about how they found out,” Kaitlyn said. “It was a really big surprise and shock. It was just really upsetting to see my little sister feeling like that and doing those things.”
At the beginning, Courtney’s depression was so bad that she was considered to be in “crisis mode” where she was like a bomb that could go off at any moment.
Courtney’s mom, Carla, said the hardest time for her was when she had to go through the house and get rid of or hide any sharp objects.
“When I was trying to house proof,” Carla said. ” I remember a time, it was at Christmas time and she was at my nieces and an ornament fell off the Christmas tree and she kept it because she could use that because I wasn’t giving her access to other stuff. So it was always in the back of my mind and I was forever checking her.”
Some of the signs for Courtney were that she would snap really easily and she was more irritated along with feeling sad and crying a lot.
“I really blame myself mostly for not seeing the signs,” Carla said. “I know what the signs are and I think I just maybe ignored them.”
It is also very challenging for Courtney to go to social events because her anxiety makes it difficult to meet new people. When she goes to new places, her family encourages her to talk to new people and they are very proud of her when she does.
Courtney’s parents help a lot when it comes to things she needs to get better. The main ways they helped were listening to her and spend one-on-one time with her.
“My dad also has it [depression] so he is always there to talk if needed and he understands it and my mom, she’s always been able to take me to the appointments and get my prescriptions,” Courtney said.
Once Courtney was diagnosed, she started going to a counselor who came to her school and started seeing a psychiatrist once every 3 months. Her and her family also started going to family therapy once a week.
The family therapy really helped Carla come to terms with everything and brought their family closer together. At therapy they talk about how they are feeling and ways that they can fix their family issues.
“I feel like we pulled together as a family and we communicated better,” Carla said.
Courtney’s family had to learn to become more understanding and listen more because that was what she needed on rough days. Carla said she started communicating better and even though she thought she was a good parent she learned how to “parent Courtney differently”.
“Sometimes she just wants to talk about it. Sometimes I’ll just be in her room maybe not even saying anything just being in there to comfort her. Then we go out and talk and do things together to get her mind off of things,” said Kaitlyn.
Carla has learned that the problem can’t always be fixed and sometimes Courtney just needs to talk it out. She tries not to just jump in and fix the problem but to listen to Courtney before she does anything.
Most people don’t realize that depression and anxiety are real problems that need to be taken seriously. Courtney’s family believe that having a good support system and a lot of love will help.