Life for any suburban teen today is like riding a roller coaster for the very first time. The ups and downs come fast and unexpected, while drama quietly lurks at every sharp turn. Just ask any parent.
But when your teen is battling an emotional issue like depression or bipolar disorder, the ride becomes even more dangerous. Parent Gail Cutler knows this too well: she lost her daughter, Rebecca, to depression and bipolar disease in 2005 at age 30. While many knew Rebecca experienced depression and “mood swings” as a teen, few knew of its seriousness or dire consequences.
“It’s difficult enough to deal with teenagers,” Cutler relates as a parent. “They’re walking nerve ends, walking hormones,” she says. “Normal teens are moody enough. But when you have a teen with an emotional disorder, you’re suddenly dealing with many more issues.”
Adds Cutler: “Parents, family, teachers and friends don’t always understand, either.”
That’s why she and husband, Norm, founded “Rebecca’s Dream,” a non-profit foundation that raises awareness and compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disorder as real dieases.
Their stance is reinforced by a 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens, and depression is the most cited cause. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide than boys, and that increases until they reach age 19.
By serving as a resource for parents, families and friends, Rebecca’s Dream provides insight, compassion and helpful information on the signs of emotional issues, and where to go for proper treatment and support.
"If our organization can save just one life," Cutler says, "it will have entirely served its purpose."
The public is invited to attend a benefit for Rebecca’s Dream from 7-10 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11, at The Shed, a private musician’s club located just west of the Edens Expressway, at 1480 Old Deerfield Road, Suite 11, Highland Park. The outdoor event will feature live music, appetizers, two speakers, non-alcoholic drinks and silent auction prizes.
The event cost is $25 per person, and checks can be made payable to Rebecca’s Dream, a 501(c)3 designated organization. Attendees are asked to dress in casual white, “to celebrate life.”
Evanston-based therapist Victoria Baum will be the featured speaker. As a licensed, clinical professional, Baum brings tremendous insight to emotional issues facing teens, and particularly those on Chicago’s North Shore. In addition, Winnetka-based Erica’s Lighthouse, a local non-profit that specializes in adolescent depression, will provide a teen speaker to address the topic from a younger perspective.