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"When your child says "I want to die", it's awful. It's the worst thing in the world," says Maryanne Smith. That day in grade three wasn't the first time Maryanne noticed something was going terribly wrong with her son. At 18 months of age, Tanner was exceedingly difficult to settle and get to sleep. He would be awake until midnight, one, two or three in the morning and then be up at six. In Junior Kindergarten, he threatened to blow up his school. In grade three he told the Learning Resource Teacher at school he wanted to die. A year later he began to hear voices and developed what Maryanne describes as weird fears, becoming terrified of birds and batteries. At home the family had a really hard time. Tanner was violent: kicking, punching and having graphic dreams with bloody images that Smith says, came from within because he had never seen that kind of thing on television or in movies. It took going all the way down to the bottom to finally get a proper diagnosis of Bi-polar/Manic Depressive Disorder. Tanner also has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), high-anxiety, social phobia, specific phobias, non-verbal learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive traits, and disgraphia. Despite this daunting list of challenges, Maryanne insists that with medication and the professional support of places like Vanier, Tanner and those like him have a world full of opportunities, just like anyone else.
Depression, like so many other things, can run in families, and so it does in mine. My kids have a double whammy, genetically speaking, because it
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