Dear parents of teens who are depressed & or have suicidal ideation,
I have written this letter many many times in my head over the past year.
The reason I never shared it was because of my fear of affecting those I love. Not wanting them to be labeled for life.
But I do believe that we need to be brave in sharing our deepest darkest moments (once we have a better *understanding* of what we are surviving)
Repeated suffering is caused when you keep replaying everything you could have done different -better- or not at all.
This is an unnecessary waste of emotional resources, yet you will still visit these places, sometimes not even realizing it.
I know what it’s like to not tell anyone -to keep it all bottled inside-
The main reasons you choose to go it alone are:
- Speaking about it will mean that it is true.
- You can’t handle the harsh judgement of the world & you want to protect your child/family from any negative stigmas/labels that the world will gladly paint on you.
- You pray this doesn’t become your identity.
I’d love to tell you that the uneasy feeling you will get when texts or calls aren’t answered, goes away.
Or when you go out as a family & he decides he needs to leave & does- or he leaves without telling you-or decides that he doesn’t want to go in the first place-that you will be fine.
I’d love to tell you that that sense of always waiting for the other shoe to drop goes away- but I can’t. Because I don’t know.
What I do know is this:
- Having those messy conversations are now part of daily life. Understanding there is a huge discrepancy between wanting to die and choosing not to live- & knowing the difference is vital. These talks should become daily practices within your home.
2. There are always more tears than words. You will try to be brave and hold yourself together, yet no matter how much you try, you will be a mess.
3. You will search high & low. I’ve never found a book yet that has told me all the answers I’m searching for. Yet, I’m still searching. Please keep looking. Keep learning.
4. You will blame yourself. It’s inevitable.
5. You will blame your spouse. It’s inevitable.
6. It will be difficult to see other people living their highlighted reels in front of you. You will feel like they somehow have life “figured out” and feel they are doing it *better* than you are.
7. You may want to feel happy for them but you will mourn your reality in isolation.
Their posts will burn yet you need to focus on the silver lining- your child lived another day.
8. You may be breathing shallow but you are still breathing- you are still fighting the good fight.
Don’t give up.
I see your pain. I see your confusion.
9. You are doing the very best you can with all you have, but I acknowledge your discomfort & feeling like you are sucking at this parenting gig.
Yet Please,- don’t give up.
10. Some days will feel like the best days & other days will be complete nightmares.
Some days you will experience both extremes sometimes within minutes of each other.
11. You will be angry.
This is why you need to protect yourself via self care. Your energy will wax & wane. It’s ok. Go with it. It is not necessary to resist it- & you certainly don’t have to do it all alone.
12. Understand that the fear you have is normal, but also believe me when I say: Everyone has a chapter that they don’t read out loud.
Keep going. Reach out to qualified professionals who are there to help guide you.
The way to help remove the stigma around mental un-wellness is to start talking about it.
Why is it that we tend to know all about the health of certain celebrities? (i.e. Lance Armstrong: testicular cancer, Christina Applegate: double mastectomy, Selena Gomez: Lupus)
And of course, we all know someone who has been battling some kind of physical disease.
Yet, when it comes to Mental Health – we are left to feel ALONE & in the dark.
Because of FEAR.
Because of STIGMA.
In our darkest days we may feel like we are being buried alive.
But what if we are just being planted?
See I have this strong belief that God (The Universe, etc) doesn’t give us something for us to bare alone. I truly believe that we get what we need to GROW and that once we understand the lessons then it’s our duty to share those lessons- from a place of service.
The *messy* conversations- are the only way to remove the stigma because we get to actually normalize & neutralize LIFE.
Because the truth of the matter is we are all complex spiritual beings living very complex human experiences. But your truth doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone.
If you are struggling, please be brave to connect with someone. Speak your truth. Shame, Guilt, fear of judgement–hold no positive place in your heart. Trust me.
Storms don’t last forever.