Special Report: Into the Light
Published Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:21PM EST
MONTREAL - Growing up, Savannah Fiset was seen by friends and family as a happy and joyful girl.
"She's smart, she's bright, she's funny, "said her mother, Julianna Fiset.
So imagine the shock two years ago when all that came crashing down, and that bright light suddenly switched off.
Her experience offers important insight into how to look out for those you love, and the power of speaking out about depression.
It wasn't just teenage angst, but a much deeper sadness. The innocence of childhood, in some ways, was gone for good.
"I would just think about my whole life and how I wasn't going to get anywhere because I thought I was worthless," said Savannah, now 17.
"I thought I wasn't good enough for anyone or anything. It's like a boiling point and you feel so sad and you don't know what to do about it. It's so unbearable."
Hopelessness, worthlessness, despair. Savannah felt them all, and then, didn't want to feel anything.
"I didn't want to wake up in the morning and pretend i was happy and pretend that everything is fine, when everything wasn't," she said.
Her family grew increasingly concerned.
"We were so scared," her mother said. "We used to go to her room every night just to check on her...it was hard. It was very hard."
Diagnosed with depression was difficult for Savannah, because she couldn't explain it. It was hard for her parents, because they couldn't fix it. Savannah began cutting, and she was worried about telling her family.
"It was usually when i got home or sometimes in school," she said. "I used scissors to cut my thighs.. I didn't want my mom to know or my dad to know, because I felt i was putting a burden on them. I felt like it would be such a big problem that they'd have to deal with ."
Child psychologists like Sid Apel see more and more teens struggling with depression. A major cause, experts say, is growing pressures in life and at school and a fear of failure that can be overwhelming.
"I think anyone who's tasted any depression understands that it's a very scary thing," said Apel. "It feels like a place that you'll never leave from at moments."
It took a year for Savannah to reach out. She first opened up to the guidance counselor at her high school.
But her mother says she is proud that her daughter had found the courage to break her silence, and talk about how deeply she was hurting.
"She didn't want me to be disappointed in her, but I could never be disappointed in Savannah," her mother said. "I am so proud of her, I'm so proud of her."
And now after therapy, and hospital visits, there is no more shame and no more secrets.
"I think talking is always the key," said Apel. "Keeping feelings bottled up is what leads to cutting and self-harm, it leads to us feeling completely isolated and cut off. Talking makes us feel connected, it brings us back into the world. It gives us hope"
Following her own experience, Savannah urged other teens faced with depression to get help.
"Never cut or never burn yourself because it just gets worse from there and that the first cut is always the deepest and it doesn't get better," she said.
"So you should really pick up the phone and call somebody."
Into the Light will air on the CTV Montreal newscasts at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, 2012.
Click here for general information on signs and symptoms.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, phone your local CLSC for help. You can also contact:
- Suicide Action Montreal by visiting their website or calling (514) 723-4000
- Kids Help Line by visiting their website or calling 1-800-668-6868