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Parenting is challenging

Parenting is challenging. When a baby is born, so is a mother and a father, yet we rarely talk about how hard that transition can be.

We know parents do the best they can, when they can. Good parenting takes love, support and knowledge. Your gift helps Hand in Hand get the word out and the support happen.

Parenting a child with severe anxiety and depression is even more challenging. It takes amazing patience, understanding and courage to advocate for your child dealing with anxiety and depression. In Quebec, we are slowly getting closer to the 20% of young people who have anxiety or mental health problems.

It’s also worth pointing out that parents who deal with anxiety themselves can have a double struggle. This will escalate a parents anxiety, and even the tools that a parent tries to use to model coping may not work for their teen.

“Being a parent is like jumping out of a plane with a bunch of people who don’t know how to open their own chutes. So you fly around doing it for them… and then you hit the ground. But you don’t die, you get your ass up and cook dinner…” – UnPerfect Parenting

This is our story:

In high school, things spiralled down a steep hill. My child started to feel sick, and even throw up before leaving for school. She often had stomach aches and headaches. As the illness progressed, she started finding it harder and harder to do normal, everyday things. Going to class became a major hurdle. She was drowning, and we couldn’t reach her. We went to therapy, but it didn’t seem to be helping.

One morning, she climbed in our bed and told me: “Mom, my head is telling me to kill myself, but I don’t want to do it. I need help.” Let me tell you, that’s the worst wake up call ever.

I called her family doctor and was told that they don’t handle mental health. They told me I had to bring her to the hospital. I called my husband who had already left for work and asked him to come back and take us to the hospital. We passed at the triage and the staff was amazing. They freed an additional observation room, making sure that she would have to wait for a doctor.

At the mental hospital they gave “nkumi” (ice cube in Mi’kmaq pronounce em-goo-me) to the kids. It was supposed to replace the need to cut oneself. My child could pass a huge amount of ice cubes before the need passed. It wasn’t really a sustainable solution. Especially once she returned home.

There is no more helpless feeling as a parent than watching your child suffer. One of your jobs as a parent is to protect your children, but how are you supposed to tackle an invisible monster that lives inside them?

I cried in my car, in the shower, and in bed with my husband. One thing that’s important to remember during these difficult time. You can be an absolute hot mess, who feels like you never quite able to keep up with it all and still be a bad-ass parent.

“I think it’s brave that you get up in the morning even if your soul is weary and your bones ache for a rest. I think it’s brave that you keep on living even if you don’t know how to anymore. I think it’s brave that you push away the waves rolling in every day and you decide to fight yet again. I know there are day when you feel like giving up, but I think it’s brave that you never do.” – Lana Rafaela

Self-care and hygiene won’t bring about the real changes in health and education that are needed to support young people with mental health disabilities. We need substantive change in our world that will provide better security, community and care for all.

“In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something. Something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us.” – Lara Croft, Tomb Raider

Demonstrating interest and sharing hope with someone who is potentially vulnerable to suicide is an important step in making a difference in their life. For my daughter, I became the reason for her to stay alive. I slept by her side every night at her request as she feared herself the most during the quiet hours.

I fought for her to see a psychiatrist. This is important because when you have problems of a psychological nature, you need to be qualified, not only to hear what you have to say, but to know how to interpret and help you too.

What to do with students who cannot attend school because of their mental health disabilities. The loss of education, future potential and sometimes, life, should be of concern to all. Unfortunately, the way the system is set up. If your child misses too much school for any reason, you will have to deal with Child Protection Services, because the system is set up to blame parents for everything.

Transitions don’t happen overnight; they happen over days, months, even years.

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