I have been trying to help my son these last few months to help him get through some tough times in his life. He has been struggling since a car wreck that happened in January that left his friend injured. Since the wreck his mental health has been declining.
My son has been around a lot of loss in his lifetime and has felt the pains of his own losses so I can see that he has a lot of “issues” to work through. Just this last week he sent some snap chats to a few kids saying his “good-byes”, which one of them informed the school officials who then in turn notified me. As a mother who has battled ideation, this is my worst fear.
I have seen first had what suicide does to families – when my first husband killed himself, I saw his entire family grieve. When my husbands little sister killed herself, I witnessed the devastation it put her parents through. I am not sure if I would live long after if my child took his life. Here’s why…
When I was 19 I tried to kill myself by taking a bunch of Tylenol and codeine. I had an entire bottle that was given to me after giving birth to my son. As I laid in my bed in my hot bedroom in Texas I could hear the television in the living room but nothing else. As I started to see the wall move and then start to spin I was ready to let go and die.
All of a sudden my son started to cry. He was crying loudly and my mother instincts kicked in but I couldn’t move. I felt paralyzed. Then I thought, “God, help me, my son needs me.” I found the strength to fall off the bed and crawl by dragging myself in army crawl to the bathroom. It felt like it took several minutes to get to the bathroom that was right next to my bedroom but I made it to the toilet and shoved my fingers down my throat and puked.
I don’t remember anything after that but I do feel that my son saved my life. If I were to lose my child, could I be as strong as my two in-laws? Could I be as strong as my niece whose baby died after she was left in a car by my nieces (ex)boyfriend? Could I be as strong as the grandparents who’ve lost their grandchildren? Could I be that strong when I feel that he saved me? He gave me that strength, right?
I feel that that a loss of a child is not only life changing but life destroying. I step into their shoes and I fall apart. Watching my in-laws and niece go through their loss makes me realize that a parents love for their children is a special kind of love. The love you feel in your bones and when a loss happens you feel brittle and unstable.
I love my children deeply. I look forward to seeing them everyday. I love spending time with them even though we are all doing separate things, just having their presence makes me happy. So, when it comes to their mental health I am a strong advocate for family support and encouragement. I ask daily how they are feeling giving them time to express themselves without my judgement.
After working in the mental health field, I have been able to learn techniques to keep children safe. My son has a safety plan that I wrote up and he signed. He is to call 911, me, his dad, uncle, aunt, or cousin if he is going to harm or kill himself. This is what counselors and crisis counselors do for people who are having thoughts of suicide. I am not letting him stay alone or unsupervised and he will be watched until school is over and the stress is lowered. He has to also sleep with his door open so there isn’t any funny business. One thing I also did is I told everyone in my family. Literally, everyone.
Mental health should not be kept a secret like its the plague. We need to band together to let our children know that we love them and support them even in the worst of times. We need to be able to have as many people checking in our kiddos as they navigate the world that is not always easy (nor is should it be always easy). Our tribe, our village, needs to be brought in to help because we can’t do it alone. That is too much pressure to do it alone.
I also have set up an appointment with a specialized clinician and we’ll try to get some testing done. All in all, I feel we are on the right path and I know I’m doing everything in my power to help him through this. He is an amazing person, like all of our kids, and want to see him live fully.
To you parents, grandparents, who have lost your child(ren), I love you. You are strong although you may not feel strong. You are holding yourself together while you battle the worst grief I feel one could go through. Parents, you showing up in the world is courageous when you lost a part of your soul.