#BreakingSilence: Helping kids and teens identify mental illness

Posted at 4:43 PM, Feb 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 21:46:34-05

There are times in life when you just don't understand, you don't get what's happening, and you don't know why.

"I don't think I've ever been so scared in my entire life. I'm terrified,” Caitlin Wren said.

Wren shares deep moments of fear with us, words she wrote in her journal.

"It just takes it out of my head and I don't have to do it all and deal with it all."

Because it all was too much for her.

"I didn't have the vocabulary to express what was going on inside of me and that's one reason why he suggested I started journaling,” Wren said.

He was her therapist. Caitlin was just 15 when she was diagnosed with a mental illness.

RELATED: Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Children and Teens

Ellen Eggert works with Kern County Mental Health. She explained many kids and teens won't know they have a mental illness.

"Sometimes depression can be anger, irritability, different things that they would never think of so they don't even know that's what's going on with them,” Eggert said.

Ellen said if they don't know, and no one else spots it, it could be 10 years before a child or teen gets help for a mental illness. She advises parents talk with their kids.

"If you don't talk about it, if you don't talk about mental illness and suicide, then they think it's shameful and they'll never come to you to talk about it,” she said.

Caitlin didn't initially talk to her parents, but she wrote them a note saying she was feeling really sad, she didn't want to do anything she loved doing before, and she'd lay in bed at night crying.

RELATED: How to talk to adolescents about mental illness and suicide

Her parents immediately took her to a therapist.

"If my parents hadn't been so great in getting me help and treatment right away, I probably, I definitely, would not be here today,” Wren said.

Today, she's 19 and living well with a mental illness.

"I'm in college. I'm able to go to school. I'm able to go out and live a life and that is something that I never ever imagined that I would be able to do, two years ago,” she said.