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Don’t Shame Me for Seeking Help

🚩⚠️ Trigger Warning⚠️🚩

This is my Threefold. This is my threefold. That’s the resounding thought in my head as I sit scared out of my mind because # 3 of my threefold {my youngest daughter age 10} is currently alone in a strange bed. She was admitted early yesterday morning to the psychiatric children’s wing. I am beside myself with anxiety. She is only 10. I can’t be with my baby. This is too surreal. This can’t be happening…again. I’m not ready and she is too little. She’s just a child. She is my baby.

If you have been following for a while you’ll recall my post regarding #2 🚩⚠️ My Child is NOT Attention Seeking. My Child is Seeking Help 🚩⚠️ trigger warning ⚠️🚩 {please do not click this link if you are triggered by self harm or content pertaining to suicide.} this post described my experience with admitting #2 of my threefold {my middle daughter, 13} to a crisis intervention center. Here I am again speaking about the same content and a different kid. I am dealing with the same situation. I guess this is just another day in the life of the trauma drama bipolar momma bear. I am Mommin’ mental illness. I’m here to tell you, this job is hard. I’m not prepared or I’m overly prepared. Either way, this is the really hard part about being a mom. Getting help when you start realizing that you are not able to give your own child the help they need. The worst part is watching them suffer through the pain of their mental illness. They are too young to understand what is happening.

#3 has had a really rough time trying to adapt to my divorce. She is the youngest of my girls and was only 8 when I left her dad. She had begun acting out more prior to the separation. She was running away, displaying anger and struggling dealing with the pandemic. Virtual schooling, lack of interaction with peers and isolation only compounded the underlying issues that were left untreated. I’m sure this is true for a lot of children. I attributed many of her symptoms to the ‘Covid Crazy’ diagnosis. {My personal term for what we were all experiencing during the shutdown}

I was wrong. Her grades fell dramatically with virtual school. I left my husband. I couldn’t continue watching my threefold and I suffer from the actions and inactions of my ex. I needed to get out of that toxic cycle and show my threefold another way. Pro tip: don’t marry a narcissist and if you’re already in that relationship…LEAVE.

#3 had no help with school and with untreated ADHD it was nearly impossible to keep her in her room or in the living room with a laptop listening to some teacher talk about things that were of no interest to her. It was torture for all of my threefold, but she was in 2nd grade and lacked any self-discipline. It was obvious she was missing fundamental learning. It wasn’t until later I would realize that her education had been hijacked and her foundation building years of reading, comprehension, writing and math were stolen from her when her education went virtual during 2nd and 3rd grade.

When I left my ex, I sought therapy for my children and I. I was aware that my divorce would have a massive impact on their mental health {no diagnoses for my threefold yet other than #2, who was diagnosed with ODD and ADHD at the time which was untreated} I knew I would also need a sounding board myself to vent my frustrations and work through my personal feelings on leaving that relationship and the implications that decision would have on my threefold. We have maintained that therapy throughout these past couple of years. This led to psychiatric evaluations and medication therapies to help my threefold and I balance out our brain chemistry.

My threefold did deteriorate more post separation, but for reasons that I didn’t expect. I was right. They had needed treatment and therapy earlier, but due to my own untreated mental illness and the psychological abuse we endured, we swept our issues under the rug. They had needed help for years, but we all were too scared to ask for it. We knew how that conversation would end. A dad-diagnosis and more hell to deal with. It wasn’t until I got them help and they were safe to express how they always had felt that the trauma begun to unravel and the symptoms became more prevalent. They had been forcing themselves to cover the mental illness as a way to keep the peace in our unstable lives. I will forever have guilt over not seeking help and leaving sooner.

Currently, #3 is diagnosed as having depression, ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I am familiar with the nuances of these diagnoses. I’m sure ODD will change into disruptive mood dysregulation disorder {DMDD} but what I don’t know for sure is if she will be saddled with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder that her sisters and I have been told we suffer from. At her age, that is unlikely even if she is presenting at this age just as #2 did. Same diagnoses and same behaviors. I should’ve known this would happen. I was in denial that all of my threefold would be cursed with my genetics. what I hadn’t prepared for was how difficult it would be to see my threefold spiral into periods of depression that make them feel like they need to hurt or even delete themselves to fix their problems. Life isn’t supposed to be this hard at ten, thirteen or seventeen.

#3 is a spunky girl who loves riding her bike, playing outside, jumping rope, TikTok, martial arts, doing crafts and stitch {from the Disney movie.} She has a hard time with making friends, because she is extremely bossy and territorial. She isn’t scared of a fight. She is pretty aggressive when she is upset and angry. Punching, hitting, kicking, throwing and screaming are her go to behavior when she gets upset. She is destructive when she is angry. These reactions and outbursts are mostly disproportionate to the situation. A simple request for her to go to bed, take medication, clean a mess or her room, and going to school can spiral into a knock down drag out fight from #3. Then after the aggression is the comedown. Tears, guilt, shame and regret mark the feelings from the fallout. It’s hard to parent, but I can only imagine it’s harder for her to understand what is happening inside her brain. She ends up feeling like she is just a bad kid, that this is just how she will always feel, she can’t be helped, and that she would be better off if she was no longer here.

These past couple of years have been quite the ride on the bipolar express. From #2’s struggles for nearly a year to help her get back on recovery road. A lot of issues with #1. More therapy hours than I can count and a million other issues that have come up 2021 was a hell of a ride. I was looking forward to a bit of peace and to be swimming in calmer waters. Instead I’m back to drowning.

I guess because I knew what to expect after the inpatient treatments that #2 underwent that I would be better equipped to handle #3’s admission. It’s strange, but this time it’s worse than before. Before I didn’t know how difficult that road to recovery would be. I didn’t know what I was up against. I was forced to take the uncertainty and roll with it. Sometimes it rolled over me, but I made it. More importantly #2 made it. This time is different.

I am more anxious now knowing what happens when your child goes to inpatient care. I know now that it’s a long and hard process. I know now that quick fixes don’t exist. I know this next week or two will not be the only time we need a higher level of care. I am uniquely familiar with the amount of time and energy that will be needed to make sure we are getting help. More than anything else, I know the toll it will take on my threefold and I as we walk this path again. I know that we could have the domino effect that results in relapse. This all makes me even more scared.

Before you go to judging my child and I let me tell you some facts. ADHD and ODD are marked by impulsive behavior and an inability to regulate emotions properly. My daughter doesn’t need to have ‘her ass beat’ or ‘taught a lesson’. She doesn’t need to be told, nor I that she is ‘a brat’, ‘a terrorist’, ‘spoiled’, or that she is ‘attention seeking’. She is not going to get better by being told how bad she is. I’m not going to parent better because I’m told that I’m screwing it up or how this is my fault. I am perfectly capable of beating myself up, I definitely don’t need the outside help with that.

I am sure there are a million things that I could do differently, but the fact that my child will suffer from mental illness won’t change. Fun fact. My parenting didn’t cause my child to have a mental illness, my genetics did. I’m positive that my actions and reactions can exacerbate her symptoms if I don’t handle it properly. I will be the first to admit that I have mishandled and missed the mark on occasion while mommin’ mental illness. After all, my handbook on the rules of parenting was just as nonexistent as yours.

I have sat patiently and responded with calmness while being screamed at by my own child about how much she hates me and wished I was dead. I’ve been cursed at, kicked, hit at, and had things thrown at me. I’ve questioned my own parenting skills and abilities to manage my threefold’s mental illness. I’ve held my child after her outburst and told her it would be ok as she cried and apologized. I’ve taken tv’s, tablets, social outings, and the millions of other things she enjoys. She doesn’t care. She will tell you herself that those consequences don’t phase her or make her want to try to better. I get notes home from school about behavior and lack of effort. She doesn’t care. She has been in therapy for 18 months but I can’t make her participate or use the skills. It doesn’t work for her. Not when she is emotional and can’t regulate those emotions. She just does, without thoughts of how it will work out later. If you remind her of the consequences she will scream that she doesn’t care. So you can tell me I’m not hard enough on her. What do you do when hard doesn’t work, soft doesn’t work, and suddenly it’s like a ticking time bomb you know could go off at any time and you can’t change it?

I’ve tried everything from attention to ignoring, rewards and consequences, behavior charts, parenting coaches, family sessions and a million other things. I’m not sitting back just hoping this phase of life is just that, a phase. I need to find a solution but I need help. I can admit that. I can see this is beyond my own abilities. I don’t offer the help she needs. It’s time for drastic measures. Even if that wasn’t what I wanted to admit. Even if I tried amongst the recommended higher level of care. I just didn’t want this for her, not this young.

For those that are thinking I couldn’t handle my child and dropped her off at a facility to allow someone else to fix this problem for me. Think again. I was told she would need to be assessed before she could return to school after she had an outburst in class because she was frustrated with feelings of not doing an assignment correctly. It wasn’t by choice that I was in that same waiting room with #3 as I had been with #2 only 15 months prior shortly after this whole journey began. It was not my intention to to have my daughter admitted for defiant behaviors followed by suicidal ideation. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate based on age, it only presents differently. I knew she needed help, but I didn’t expect that they would be admitting her to the children’s unit of the psychiatric facility that my middle daughter had been a patient of during her first admission.

This battle of bedtime, cleaning up messes and reasons I couldn’t understand that seemed like nothing at all, resulted in these explosive outbursts. The behaviors have been increasing since she was 8. What once happened only a couple times per year has now been a couple of times per week for months. I didn’t throw my hands up and decide I couldn’t deal with her behavior anymore. Though believe me I’m not going to lie and say it hadn’t crossed my mind to do this or something else sooner.

I could write for hours and spit statistics at everyone and bore them with the details of the diagnoses from the clinical perspective. I don’t do that not because those facts don’t matter, but because it’s more personal and real than the statistics will give. Instead I share my personal story, the stories of my threefold. I don’t share for sympathy or for attention. I don’t share because I want people to feel sorry for us. I share our lives and our experiences because we have lived in the shadows for too long. I share because the stigma surrounding mental illnesses is that we are weak, lazy, attention seeking, and use our diagnoses as excuses. I share not to make myself or my threefold vulnerable to that type of scrutiny. I share this for the other parents caring for children suffering from mental illness who feel like they are alone in the fight. I share for the people who suffer. The isolation and the hiding our struggles doesn’t make this journey easier. I don’t want to feel like I’m not allowed to seek help for my threefold when they need it because people around me will judge me. There are too many parents who have the shame of this stigma surrounding their lives that their children are suffering silently. That shame will not make us more likely to seek help. I can only hope that sharing our story and struggles can help stomp out the stigma. We can’t keep silencing those that suffer. The stakes of that silence are too high.

Stay positive. We’ve got this ☮️❤️😊~M

3 responses to “Don’t Shame Me for Seeking Help”

  1. My heart goes out to you. Kids exposed to divorced have a level of PTSD that can be as bad as a battle grizzled soldier faces. Partnering therapy with the right balance of medication (which is trial and error) is the right path. I have several relatives who have benefitted from therapy. One got an article that helps called “Avoiding stinking thinking.” I bring this up when she has unproductive thoughts. Best wishes, Keith

    1. Thank you and yes we all have C-PTSD. So I am familiar with that challenge as well. I can only hope that we will find some peace in the path we are on and a message in our mental illness mess. I appreciate your support! ❤️

  2. […] a road I would wish on anyone. Yet, it’s my reality and the reality of my threefold. I have just admitted my youngest daughter to an inpatient acute psychiatric facility. We walk down this road of life […]

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