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Our Mental Illness Saga

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I remember this saying and it is oh so true. Counseling Today states that a child is twice as likely to develop a severe mental illness if their parent has a severe mental illness. My threefold and I did not win the genetic lottery by any means. We have all the illnesses and sometimes the list gets excessive and explaining them to others is exhausting!

Personally I struggle with major depressive disorder, general anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, and complex post traumatic stress disorder. If that isn’t enough for one person, then imagine a 17 year old (1) with the same disorders. Better yet imagine a 13 year old (2) that has all of these plus disruptive mood disregulation disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, social anxiety, and manic episodes. Although we are pretty sure the mania, major depression and ADHD will eventually morph into one diagnosis of bipolar II sooner or later. At least that’s what the doctors tell me. We have a combined total of 5 psychiatric hospitalizations to date. 4 of which were for my middle daughter (2) and 1 for myself. I am by no means a qualified mental health professional, but from personal experience and experience with my threefold I have highly educated myself on mental illness and all of our very complex diagnoses.

With me personally I know I have to be careful with my stress level, my medication, communication, conflict, sleep and a billion other things. As an adult I am very aware of my triggers. Though my C-PTSD can be uncovered as I am working through my trauma. Sometimes though I’m just in the wrong state of mind that I will intentionally put myself into a triggering situation. I guess my thought is to face the fear or I am looking for a reason to fight. I need it. That’s such a crappy thing to admit, but it’s true. Sometimes I need to scream at someone so I will do whatever it takes to make it happen. I get all “bish, I wish you would, I’ll burn your mother loving clothes!” Real talk. Maybe I’m alone in that sometimes I just need to let it all out, no filter, but with all the apologies afterwards. I need to have someone reel me back in and make me see that my disorders are on the fritz. Other times I’m honestly triggered and it comes at the worst times. I get highly emotional when I’m frustrated and can’t see my way to a solution. I close off. I shut down and sometimes it takes a shit ton of love to knock these walls down that I build. I shake and want to run in confrontation and my voice cracks. My easy confidence I am usually carrying bolts and sometimes I bolt with it. That’s all the C-PTSD and anxiety. I ignore problems and hope for the best. That works, at times, other times it’s stored in my bomb kit waiting for me to push the “blow up shit” button.

My depression is managed with medication mostly. I am thankful for that. It’s been a while since I’ve had a major depressive episode and wow those are not pretty. They look like calling in days upon days or finding an “excuse” to go home. They consist of days without showering and numbing out the pain with sleep; an excessive amount more than what is required. Closed doors, dark rooms, what I eat is in bed and there isn’t much that will move me out of it. Those episodes make me look like a bad parent, because in those moments I don’t care. God, I hate to admit that, but the only thing I want is peace and I can’t find it. I can be totally honest that I have been known to try to find it in the bottom of a bottle. That’s not recommended because it will give you an escape but it leads right back to where you started. It’s not there, I’ve looked in several at different times in my life. I’ve questioned my purpose, my place and tested my will to live on more than one occasion. That’s not normal. If you know how you would…if you did…and seriously contemplate doing it. GET. HELP. Suicide is no joke and it is not a temporary fix for your current pain. No matter how bad it gets! I mean that with all of my soul. The only thing that has kept me alive in those darkest of times was the thought of my children wondering what they did wrong or my family questioning how they could’ve prevented it. Nothing is permanent. Not your feelings. Not your situation. Not your circumstances. I say that from a place of love, because I know all too well the depths depression drags you to when you’re in the dark place. Its hard. I promise it will get better. You hold the cards, play the hand you’ve got and then get a new deal, that’s all we can do. It’s a carousel and it never stops spinning. We can’t be ashamed to speak up and tell the people around us what it looks like when we are in the dark place. That’s how we get help. That’s when we need help.

Having mental illness is one thing parenting mental illness while coping with your own mental illness is another. I can’t say what it is like for those that don’t have mental illness, I’m not sure, but I imagine it is still difficult to parent. My threefold has their own unique triggers and mental illness presents differently in everyone. Just because my kid that has 8 diagnoses, or the one who has 4 diagnoses acts a certain way does not mean their symptoms, triggers, or treatments will be similar to mine or anyone else’s. Sure, we’ll have some similarities, but there is no cookie cutter medicine or therapy that works for everyone. It’s honestly all trial and error. I never thought that any of us had mood disorders. Turns out we all do! What I believed to be “mild” depression was actually major depressive disorder or MDD. MDD is in fact a mood disorder. I never knew that until I researched it and began digging into the disease after I was told that by my psychiatrist, then 1 and 2’s psychiatrist also said it. I thought depression was depression and I had that “run of the mill” typical blah, yuck depression and have had it since I was 14. Who thinks that’s normal? Me. I thought it was a phase or situational for 1, and she “managed” on her own fairly well. I thought 2 would grow out of it, or that she just had severe ADHD and depression- not “mood swings” or hypomanic and depressive episodes. What’s that? I thought 2 was the only person suffering with attention issues, nope turns out that MANY people get attention issues accompanied by major anxiety as added perks of C-PTSD. We are ALL very different but we ended up very much the same.

Mental health has so much to do with how much you truly want to get better. It has more to do with perspective and willingness to commit to your betterment. Medication IS a commitment. Therapy IS a commitment. Working on yourself IS a commitment. It’s costly of time, sweat, money, tears, and sometimes you take two steps forward to go ten steps back. It’s perseverance as much as anything else. My therapist poses a pertinent question. “How is _______ serving me?” How does my anxiety serve me? How does depression serve me? What benefits do I get? It’s really a deep question. How does it serve me? I benefit by feeling I can use it as a reason to not want to do something or to get out of commitments occasionally. An excuse for bad behavior or acting irrationally. To guilt someone to do something I don’t want to do or feel I can’t do. To receive sympathy or attention when I don’t feel like I’m getting what I need. It can become very toxic and definitely come off as disregarding of others and that it’s always about me. However, I am aware that other people have feelings and cannot constantly allow myself to be controlled by my mental disorders. It’s a different power to take ownership of your own behaviors and not constantly say “I’m sorry I flipped out on you I have _______ and it triggered a bad reaction.” No. This is more accurate: “I said it, I didn’t mean it, I’m aware that I probably hurt your feelings please forgive me. I will work on it.” I have to take ownership for what I am doing and quit allowing myself to give the power over to mental illness.

I think I am able to better parent and be more understanding about mental illness because at 14/15/16 I was a “cutter”. I have MDD so I know what to look for and although I blinded myself for years to the reality of it I now can see clearly. I can pinpoint the onset of a depressive episode for any of us now. My threefold talks to me and is open with me about their struggles, their triggers and their warning signs which is helpful. I still get irritated when we can’t participate in certain things, but I know and have an understanding that C-PTSD and their own severe anxiety are better left at bay when they’re not pushed too far past their comfort zone. I know now that mania is not a “good” day. It’s being egotistical, self centered, hyper focused for small bits of time, starting but never finishing, having grandiose sense of self and abilities, and acting incredibly impulsively. There are so many more signs of these disorders, but the list would just go on and on. You’re strong. Remember tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it yet! ☮️❤️🙂

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July Journey: Recap & Reflect

June 30th I set out to do a journey to positivity for the month of July. I didn’t know starting out that this month was going to to be the emotional roller coaster it has been for my family and I. All in all, in the midst of some really tumultuous times in my personal life I feel I was successful. Was everyday a ride on the “F-yeah Freight Train”, absolutely not. I didn’t manage to be rainbows, unicorns, sunshine and sparkling smiles everyday. I was never expecting a perfect journey, I just wanted to prove that I could have more good days than bad days. Some days were both. I would do really well all day, and then by that evening the exhaustion, frustration, tension and anxiety would set in and leave me irritated and impatient. I realized I am not very good at time management. Anyone who knows me is probably going “well I could’ve told you that.” I am chronically late for work. Even if I get up at 6:00am I somehow can’t seem to hit the mark when it comes to hitting that 8:00-9:00am start time. Granted, this month has been more challenging with having to keep up with calls from nurses, therapists, insurance, case managers and doctors. If I am honest I know that I am late most days regardless of the circumstances because my morning motivation doesn’t match my well-meaning intentions. I love my job, so it’s definitely a character flaw and not a situational issue. I am late to just about everything. Surprisingly I have only had to get a call one time for picking up a kid late this past school year. Then again I had one in school for 4 months in person. Anyways, my point is that I throw myself into something and if I’m interested I become hyper-focused and completely lose track of time. I forget anything else that is of importance. It’s amazing in some situations and quite hindering in others. I’ve allowed my journey to be more positive get in the way of being present with the people I love.

I am proud that most days this month I not only found more to be thankful for, but made a conscious effort to not allow things that would typically set me off on a spin of anxiety and negativity, to not affect my day, my attitude, or my thoughts. With this I was able to better give almost every situation a positive twist. I actually found myself a few times not even trying to readjust my viewpoint, I was already there without effort. I’m only human, so there were some days or moments where I let circumstances get the better of me. I did have a quicker rebound to positivity in most cases. There were times that I let the negativity take over and bleed into everything and everyone in close proximity. I can’t pretend that my anxiety disorder, add, C-PTSD, and depression don’t play a role just because I decided to be more in mindful of my attitude. Mental illness isn’t a choice as much as I wish it was. Trauma has lasting effects and I am still uncovering my damage. As I peel back the layers of that onion I am bound to find triggers and essentially reopening old wounds. Sometimes healing isn’t as pretty as it sounds.

There are goals I met with little effort. Others I struggled with but I reached them. While others I failed at miserably. I continued therapy and even switched to a new therapist who is better suited to help me with C-PTSD and healing my trauma. She is also more my style and speed. So far things look good. In addition to that goal I began attending a processing group for trauma and anxiety. It was really helpful. I made time most everyday to meditate, write, and do positive affirmations almost everyday. If I didn’t do one I did the other two everyday.

I found myself meditating at least twice a day just to release the tension that builds up through out the day and soothe some of my anxiety. I found an amazing app that I love for meditation called “Primed Mind”. I’ve tried “Calm” and “Headspace”, but they never really stuck. I couldn’t ever seem to quiet my thoughts in those. Primed zones me out and offers SEVERAL focus areas for the meditation. I only found it because I stumbled across it on YouTube looking for new approaches to calm anxiety. I remember I did it in my car the first time in my driveway. My neck and shoulder felt like they were seized up with all the tension and a vise grip was locking it in place. I couldn’t get it to release. I did the “Relaxation Hypnosis” and after 15 minutes I was stunned that my shoulder had nearly completely relaxed. I was hooked right then. Once I learned they had an app I downloaded it immediately. I have an 11 day streak and nearly 400 minutes of meditation time on my tracker. I’m pretty proud of that!

I threw myself into this and kind of just went for it. I didn’t have any clear direction or discipline. It’s been a hard month for us. Overall, even with the circumstances that have surrounded 2’s hospitalizations , I think I was meant to focus on my mindset. That focus on staying positive has helped me get through a month where previously I would’ve been more likely to allow my own mental illness take the wheel. It hasn’t been easy and it has taken a conscious effort to take each day, and sometimes each moment as it comes. I fully plan to keep some of the habits I have established. Meditation for my sanity with “Primed Mind” and to keep the anxiety along with my stress at bay as much as possible. Manifesting and journaling will continue to be in my routine. Positive affirmations also have helped me to counteract my negative self talk.

So where did I fail? I get bored so if I’m not interested, I’m not listening to it or reading it. My time management lacked luster to say the least. I was late consistently. I spent more time than necessary trying to fix my mood myself instead of spending time with people. I didn’t stick to a bedtime routine, I was up super late per usual most nights. I didn’t make the budget. I never finished my vision board. I didn’t do something nice for myself or have a girl’s day. I also had several days, probably seven or eight where I just decided to to let the negativity win and I didn’t feel I had the strength to fight it. Especially right after 2 went to treatment.

Now I look to August. I have big goals for August. Lots of goals. They won’t be centered on myself though. I am ready for new challenges and really excited for the month ahead. I know good things are coming our way. I know that I am changing, healing and growing and I am proud of that. I am ready for this journey to be more fun and less stress! After all, we only have one life to live, it’s time to make it count! ☮️❤️🙂

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100% That Mom

100% that mom of course came from Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”. It is just has my mom spin on it, because that’s what I do. I’m corny and cheesy. I’m 100% that mom. It has a million other hidden meanings and stories behind the phrase also. The main one being I want be 100% that mom by giving my threefold 100% of myself. It’s more like a goal than actually anything attainable. I think I am far too critical of myself to ever actually give myself 100% on anything I do in my life. Unless sarcastic snarky comments, collecting stars for rewards at Starbucks, or how to master the art of overthinking everything are graded assignments in our lives. I’m afraid that I wouldn’t give myself a very high grade in parenting, but I think I would get more than just the participation award!

100% That Mom started off as a joke. My threefold and I were singing loudly, off key, and out of rhythm to “Truth Hurts” and it kind of just came to me. I’m pretty fantastic at coming up with mom-related content, I think it’s just because I’m 100% that mom who isn’t scared to be silly or say something off the wall to see where it goes. Improv is a hidden talent of mine. I can play along with just about any scenario you dream of. It’s actually a coping mechanism and it gets me out of my head by making me become whatever my character would be. It’s typically very cliche stereotypes and generalizations of my perspective of how that character would act. One day I may get brave enough to post a video of DEFCON 4, the PPP and I in that element. It’s quite hilarious, if you don’t mind a little inappropriate (ok a lot) humor and aren’t easily offended. DEFCON 4 is really quite into our “southern family” persona. We are all good at doing that one, probably because we live in the south and have been around our fair share of southerners that we can speak the “native” language pretty well now. The PPP (aka my co-house manager, the man that I love) cracks me up when we get going. It’s silly and stupid, definitely immature, but we will laugh for days after about our make believe scenarios. It’s even better when we do them in public and people think we are actually serious. I love the shock and awe factor. I’m all about the looks we get, the whispers and snickers. Whatever makes you happy and appeases the mental health gods.

Background art by #3

I am 100% that mom who will turn the radio full blast when “Roses” by OutKast in the car line while dropping off my threefold at school and watch them walk away mortified. I am also 100% that mom who sees my child having an attitude towards me when they are with friends or their significant other and will loudly yell their name with a very serious “Don’t be mad! I promise I won’t forget to go to the pharmacy to get your prescription for your butt cream. I know you are acting like this because you ran out and it’s bothering you. Don’t worry momma will take care of you! Promise!” If you want to fix an attitude this method probably won’t work, but it sure does make me feel better to know they got the message!

“Not All Heroes Wear Capes” An assignment of their personal hero in English. My sweet 1 wrote about me.

I’m 100% that mom that cusses and talks about all the inappropriate things with my threefold. I refuse to apologize or be ashamed about that. I don’t shy away from the controversial and taboo topics they bring up. If we need to discuss them, it’s fine, and by God I want them to have the truth. It’s better coming from me than that person down the block who thinks that all gay people are going to hell and that they are predators trying to persuade today’s youth to become like them so they can enslave the straight people to accomplish world domination. If they don’t get it from the wackos, it’s the kids who know nothing or the internet and I honestly would rather have informed kids than try to fix all the misinformation coming at them around the world.

Im 100% that mom who skips through the parking lot holding hands with any of the DEFCON 4 crew regardless if they are 9 or 13 or 15 or 17. I am 100% that mom who will lay on the bed in the store knowing full well I am not buying it. I am 100% that mom who will spray the all of the perfume samples and turn on the noise making toys, set the alarms in electronics, and dance to the music overhead. Im 100% that mom who plays music roulette for the song of the day. The mom who sings to the strangers in the next car over. The mom who wants to be not so serious and stuffy and in my head all the time. I’m not doing it for everyone else I honestly don’t care if you like it or not. I only do it to see them smile, to hear their laugh, because I’ve spent way too much time and way too long caring about the opinions of people who don’t make bit of difference in my life. I do it because it’s fun to have fun!

A note from my sweet 1 this always reminds me I must be doing something right.

I’m also 100% that mom who will tell my threefold I love them and be affectionate no matter where we are or who we are around. I’m 100% that mom who will fight you when you talk bad about or try to come at my threefold. Sometimes it bothers me more than them, but believe me I will say something. It’s one of the few times I can be confident in confrontation now. It’s probably because I let them endure so much and didn’t stand up for them when I should’ve in the past. I’m 100% that mom who says I love you every time we hang up the phone and before bed each night. I’m 100% that mom who is too laidback sometimes and doesn’t like punishment, instead I am the mom who prefers positive reinforcement. I am 100% the mom who overthinks everything I need to do better or should’ve done. I’m the mom who works hard but wants to play harder. I’m 100% that mom who needs to decompress after a long day to mentally prepare and change my focus. I’m 100% the mom who struggles in the morning and is almost never on time. I’m 100% that mom who has awful days where nothing is going according to plan so I completely freak out over everything. I’m 100% that mom who my threefold feel safe to talk to and enjoy being around. I’m 100% that mom who is trying to give everything in me that is good to my threefold. I’m 100% that mom in all these things an a million more probably. It’s not all sunshine, rainbows, smiles and laughter. It’s all about them, and it’s all about what they need from me. I am 100% that mom who is trying to give my threefold the mom I needed when I was growing up.

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A Staple in My Life.

I’m going to take you back to the beginning of threefold when there was only 1 and 1 is the original member of my threefold. It’s a good thing that 1 came first. 1 made this parenting gig look easy. I was young when I had 1, a baby really at only 19. I didn’t have a clue about raising kids or being a mom. I was just getting through my big party it up phase and I was invincible to any real consequences as far as I thought. I was still living with my parents and in college. I wasn’t super focused on anything big for my life. I was just doing what 19 year olds do. I was so naive about real life things and so very entitled to everything in the world. I was basically a brat of mass proportions. Let me give you an example I had the nerve to get upset that my daddy bought me a brand new mustang when I graduated high school that was red instead of getting me the blue avalanche that I had asked for. Spoiled damn rotten. I look back at how much I took for granted in my life as a child of a well off family. Catholic school, cars, money, vacations, the complete and utter lack of worry about anything. I wish my kids had all of that from me. Unfortunately, we weren’t dealt the comfortable life that I had growing up.

1 made their entrance into this world early on a Saturday morning. I will forever remember how scared I was. 5 hours and an emergency c-section under general anesthesia I became a mom. 1 was born. And so it all began. I’m not going to give you a play by play of every step along the way for the past 17 years. That would be exhausting. 1 was my first. 1 is a major piece to my story and in my life. 1 forced me to grow up and be accountable to someone other than myself for the first time in my life. 1 saved me over and over again from myself and made me think of them before making any decisions. I became an adult after 1 was born.

1 was the most beautiful red headed blue eyed baby and child in the world. Yes I’m bias, but it’s also true. They are so smart. They were talking long before they were supposed to. I can clearly remember 1 sitting in their Elmo chair in front of the tv watching “Elmo’s World” and holding their cat, that was lovingly named “Meow”. They are so playful and funny. I was astounded through out their childhood at their ability to never study for tests but always pass them and that they were always so dedicated to being the best. Unfortunately, I began at an early age to put unrealistic performance standards on them. I bought into everyone telling me how brilliant they were and began to make them feel like they were not good enough and not doing their best if they didn’t perform higher than everyone else around them. I think most parents are harder on their first, stricter, and have high expectations for them. We don’t realize all of those things don’t really matter. All they do is add stress to everyone and are taking away their childhood. If I could go back I would change so many things and make things better for 1. For all of my threefold.

1 has always been an amazing kid. They have always been responsible, more mature, made good decisions, and trustworthy. 1 is compassionate, loving, affectionate, kind to everyone and is the type of person who will do anything to make someone else feel better. 1 has been another mom to the other two in my threefold. They are best friends with 2 and make sure they are ok. They love 3 and make sure to be affectionate and give them attention and show interest when 3 speaks. 1 is an amazing big sister. 1 rarely fights or argues, they don’t like being in the middle of any conflict. They are the peacemaker. 1 has taught me more than anyone else in my life what unconditional love truly is. They are so forgiving and have an amazing outlook on life. They probably disagree with that, but 1 has overcome so much in their life and still loves just as big and hard even though the world has given them every reason to stop believing in it.

1 has anxiety, depression, ADD, and C-PTSD. 1 has been through so much but always comes out a better person instead of letting their obstacles get in their way. 1 is my biological child but the “milk man” as we do lovingly have named him stopped contact with us when 1 was three. He just wasn’t ready to be a parent. His unwillingness to be a dad and take responsibility was one reason I made sure 1 had a half way decent mom even to be so young I was willing to do whatever I could to take care of my child. 1 was adopted at age 4 by their dad. Unfortunately the happily ever after we were searching for wasn’t in the cards with my ex husband. They will always refer to him as their dad, because he has been the one that they grew up with. Regardless of how they feel about his lack luster parenting, in their opinion at least he stuck around. 1 was forced to grow up in a house that was filled with lots of confrontation, accusations, drug and alcohol abuse, psychological and physical abuse, and to top it off they were sexually abused twice by two separate people at two different times in their life. They still tried to be everything they felt they had to be. However, I didn’t know that behind the smile, the beautiful face and the desire to please everyone they were in so much pain. Just like I had been. Just like we all were. I didn’t realize I was teaching them how men were allowed to treat us, how we weren’t allowed to show emotions, how we were supposed to shove it down and hide it all with a smile.

1 grew up fast. Faster than a lot of kids, but they have always looked like a child and still do. At 4’10” and not much more than 100lbs they have always been the smallest one. That small frame hides a lot of fight though. They are tough. They are sensitive and emotional, but they are strong. It’s taken 1 a while but I truly believe they are growing into a person who sees good in people. I am not sure how after everything they have been through they are still so sweet and willing to put it all on the line for others. It’s truly an amazing power and an inspiration to witness.

I’ve always had a really close relationship with 1. Probably because I was forced to grow up and learn some hard lessons with them instead of teaching those lessons to them. We’ve been through everything together from the beginning. They have been my best friend. I know moms are often ridiculed for saying that because we aren’t supposed to be our kids’ best friend we are supposed to be the parent. Well I think both things are possible. Seems to me like it’s worked out pretty damn good for 1 and I.

I don’t know many 17 year old females that tell their mom everything. I know what they are doing, where they are and who they are with at all times. Not because I track their phone but because they tell me. I don’t have a reason not to trust 1. They aren’t the lying type. Maybe baby white lies, but they don’t lie big. We had a rocky period, where I felt like they were heading down the wrong path. Drinking, smoking pot, sneaking out, boys and all of the typical teenage things that you know they probably will do. When confronted 1 owned up to all of it, took their punishment and learned the lesson. What’s the lesson? Mom always finds out the truth, maybe not the first time, but eventually mom will find out. Truer words have never been spoken. I know. I was a kid and I did all of those things plus more. I bought the t-shirt, hell I made the t-shirt. After that it was like a switch went off in 1. They began sharing more than ever. They began over sharing! I don’t need to know everything, but it sure is great having the relationship with my daughter that I didn’t feel like I could have with my mom at that age.

I get told all of the stuff and all of the things. Now I know how their cycle is going. I know if she has a fight with a friend. When we have a crilbus scare (whole other post for a whole other time.) I get told it’s time to see the gynecologist because they think their ready to trade their v-card for a chance at the big o. I get told about the heartache and the d-bag guys that “hit” them up on social media. She tells me when she is struggling and seeks comfort and reassurance. She comes to me in the good times so I can celebrate her victories and the bad times so we can work through her hurdles. It’s a beautiful thing the communication we share.

1 is an amazingly wonderful person to have as a daughter. I’m so grateful for this child. My 1. My beautiful loving kid. My meanager. I know so much more about them because they are honest. I love that we have all night talks and that they come to me when they are sad, scared, frustrated, anxious, hurt, happy, excited, playful, or just to shoot the shit and hang out. I love that they are affectionate and always wants a hug and an “I love you.” I love that I know they are obsessed with animal crossing and are still child like with their stuffed animal collection. I know they fear disappointing the ones they love. I know that they love art, but often get creative blocks. I know they are an empath who reads energy and absorbs it. I know they think they have a mysterious ailment anytime they don’t feel well or see any skin rash. I know they like to be with people who allow them to express themselves. I know they don’t like drama. I know they get anxious in crowds and when there are loud noises. I know they hate confrontation and they are scared to hurt people. I know they will stand up for others and have strong values. I know they are funny and do amazing impressions. I know they are big hearted, loving and compassionate. I know they are teeny tiny but have big dreams. I know they have more strength than they give themselves credit for. I know that my life would be incomplete without them. I know they are a beautiful person inside and out. I know my threefold would never be if I didn’t start with 1.

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My Child is NOT Attention Seeking. My Child is Seeking Help.

I’ve struggled with how to write this. I’ve struggled with if I should write about it all. I’ve got about four drafts of this same blog saved. Some with more facts, some with more humor, some with more personal antidotes, some with more anger, some with more guilt. Either way I go would be honest to the struggle that my family is currently finding itself in. One of my threefold struggles with a lot of mental illness. She has been diagnosed to date with Bipolar I, General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, ADHD-combined type, Complex PTSD, and exhibits self-harm behaviors as a coping mechanism for physical, psychological and sexual trauma and has suicidal ideation with a plan, and attempts. Another of my threefold suffers from Bipolar II, General Anxiety Disorder, ADHD-attentive type, and also has Complex PTSD from physical, psychological, and sexual trauma. The youngest has diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Combined Type Severe. Personally, I also suffer from Bipolar II {yep the genetic link is me!} General Anxiety Disorder, ADHD-attentive type, and Complex PTSD from abuse. We are complicated and have lots of feelings and lots of triggers and loads of trauma. We are tough girls. We are strong and we are beautifully broken. This is just the story of our current struggle with mental illnesses.

Photo Credit-#2 of my threefold

I write this to educate you, so in turn you can educate your own children about the signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis. I relate this to your basic “Call 911 in an emergency” That can save someone’s life. Being aware and knowing to speak up when you are worried someone is in crisis can also save a life. To assume someone is “attention seeking” is a grave assumption that could result in life threatening consequences. Whether it’s for attention or a cry for help is NOT a determination you or our children are qualified to make. If you see a post on social media or get a text message or get spoken to directly about self harm or suicide don’t scroll past, don’t encourage their behavior, don’t try to be the hero, SEEK HELP! I ask this for my threefold, for myself and for all people that struggle with mental illness. We aren’t “fine”, we don’t “figure it out ”, regardless of how many times we say “I’m handling it, it was a bad day” or “forget it, I will be ok” or “please don’t say anything to anyone” or “it’s not as bad as it looks” or “I swear I won’t do it again” or “I can’t ask for help because I don’t want to hurt my family.” There are a million different ways we will manipulate, trick, and convince you that it’s manageable and that we don’t need anything else. The truth is we do. When we can’t admit we desperately need help that’s usually when we are at our worst. If there is a doubt, call them out! Why do I say this? This year has been a intense time for the world in general. As a mom who struggles with her own mental illnesses as an adult and seeing my threefold struggle it has been extremely difficult to handle the climate of change in any situation. Add in isolation, virtual school, pandemic mania, divorce, trauma and our combined mental illnesses and you have what is a recipe for possible catastrophe. Yes. I am about to momsplain mental illness. Buckle up, this a long one.

Background photo credit- #2

I am asking that you educate yourself. I am in no way certified, licensed or otherwise qualified to give advice on seeking treatment for mental health or for diagnosing a crisis situation. I am however uniquely informed with personal experience of what mental health crisis looks like in myself and my threefold. I have participated in and sought treatment for myself and my threefold on numerous occasions for minor symptoms to the most severe of clinical presentation. However, I do believe people present differently and encourage you to be in tune with your own personal behaviors in crisis and the actions, expressions, habits and words of those closest to you. I pray that this helps someone out there to recognize the signs and seek whatever level of care is appropriate to get the optimal level of care for yourself, a loved one, or a child.

As I write this very long post about mental health, diagnosis, warning signs, treatment and my personal experiences I am waiting for a phone call. I am waiting for a phone call from the crisis intervention center that is treating my 13 year old daughter for her fore mentioned extremely complicated diagnoses. She is in crisis. I am awaiting to hear from her treatment team about the length of stay initially recommended. I am waiting to hear what their plan is. I am awaiting to hear what I can do other than worry myself into my own crisis and how I can be the best support person on the planet for my kid while simultaneously taking care of my other two girls, working, and managing everything in my life that is spinning faster than the running to do list in my head. I am awaiting to hear where I have went wrong. I am waiting for knowledge that my daughter is ok, she is safe, that she knows that she is loved, and for them to tell me that she is going to get the help she desperately needs. It’s the most helpless and powerless feeling to know that you have signed over your child to be cared for by strangers at the recommendation of a doctor who has only known your child for 6 weeks. My daughter, one of three daughters is in an inpatient residential hospitalization program for at least the next 30 days, but it could be a much longer road. I am putting all of my faith in people that I pray are not just there to check off the I went to work today box and that want to see my child succeed and be healthy. It’s a faith and hopelessness that I wish on no parent. It’s no contact for days, it’s answering the same questions repeatedly, it’s phone calls, missed work, increased anxiety, loss of income, lost sleep and trying to be strong for everyone else around you especially your children. Its stealing away sleep as you cry and try not to let the people you love see you fall apart. It holding everything together with dollar store scotch tape. It’s living on a prayer and that you don’t find your child on a bathroom floor covered in blood ever again. It’s a hard road to recovery but I have to say that if the stigma was less negative and awareness was increased it could be a little less of scary and lonely road. I don’t have people that understand or even those that would attempt to walk this road with me. I have no one to discuss this with that actually gets it. I’m required to face this battle alone, without friends or family nearby to lift me up. I’ve got myself. I’ve got my threefold. I’ve got a good man that watches me struggle and picks up the pieces of my broken heart day in and day out. Who unfortunately regardless of not being their father shows up for them out of love and genuine interest in seeing them succeed and be happy. He allows me to take out my pain on him, he lets me fall apart, he pulls me back from the edge when I feel I might fall into the dark places where my mental illness waits for me. There are no meal trains for mental illness. There are no viral “go fund me” pages for psychiatric care. There are no flowers or “get well soon” cards for those facing mental illness. No one knows what to say to me. It’s not an easy thing to talk about it. I don’t want to expose my daughter’s deepest darkest secrets and struggles. I don’t need or want your pity or your attention. Believe me when I say it’s hard enough to explain it to the people who know her personally, a treatment team, and I don’t have the energy to run through the history for 15th time today and how we got here. It’s rarely met with offers of love and support. It’s judgment and a lot of insensitivity to mental health. If we educate ourselves and our children we could be helping our family and friends recognize the signs of crisis and get help for the people who are struggling before the meal trains and funeral flowers are delivered. That’s a hard truth, but a truth that literally scares me every second of everyday. That my kid could lose this battle against herself. I am determined to keep her alive and safe. I can’t do it on my own so judge me if you must but I am willing to admit I can’t wish upon shooting stars and hope for miracles or pray this away. I have to move the mountains. It’s just me. It’s my job to protect her and regardless of your opinions, that is exactly what I am doing.

Taken from my daughter’s social media. A post I was excluded from along with other family members and any friends that may have been able to help.

I was shocked at the social media posts I found that were targeted to exclude the people that would be able to get help for my daughter, myself included. I was even more shocked to see that these posts were responded to by “friends” of my daughter. These so called “friends” in her social media circle were some I knew, some I didn’t know. They were quick to validate her, tell her “whatever you need, we all deal with pain differently”. They were encouraging her self harm behaviors in some of the responses. I was gutted. These “friends” told her what she could use once the safety plan was enforced that would be normal household items that you and I don’t see as threats. One kid said “if you need an outlet break a pencil sharpener and get the blade. Screws, nails, if you’ve got a garage I bet there are tools in there. I’ve used spiral notebooks and jewelry.” Another told her “are you ever going to actually go through with it? You aren’t getting better, why wait?” And yet another, a friend I knew said “treatment never works, they’ll try to change you and they’ll fail youll end up more f’ed up with more reasons than you had before so why even try” Who are these kids? They’re supposed to be “friends”! Why is it that these kids are ok with my daughter hurting herself or worse. Why is it that not one single child that claims to love and support my daughter once told me or her older sister? Why did they not know that this is serious? How could they not see that having 500 cuts on her leg wasn’t for “attention” but that she didn’t know how to ask for help. She felt safe in the knowledge that these kids wouldn’t “snitch” that she was having thoughts of self harm and suicidal ideation. I get that you have to trust your circle, but to me this circle doesn’t value your life or your well-being. If they are encouraging your unhealthy behavior and feeding into your negative self-talk. You have a toxic circle. Then I thought, they don’t know. This is equally as disturbing if true. They think it’s “a game” “a show” “untrue”. They don’t know she is doing these things. She isn’t posting pictures of her bloodied body after she decides enough is enough and that she “can’t deal” anymore. She bears the scars and wears them. Wearing shorts is fine around the house, but in public she has just became comfortable with her healing enough to wear dresses again. They don’t clean the cuts, see the blood in the sheets, see the towels soaked in blood, the scars her body is forced to bear from this pain, and they don’t know that cutting isn’t a scratch for her to “see what it’s like”, it’s more than 500 deep cuts that cause her to lose blood so she gets an intense head rush sensation that forces her body into “fight or flight”. It’s a rush of adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. It’s an addiction. It’s a disease. What they see is the mania her mind is in after the cuts. She is happy. On top of the world. She is confident. She is fun and loud. She is inappropriate and funny. She is boisterous. She sees her beauty and feels good again. It’s the closest thing she has to what happiness feels like. She is feeling herself. Then within days, is the crash. The darkness swoops back in and takes hold of my sweet baby girl. She becomes lethargic, isolated, emotional, angry, and unable to handle the pain and guilt of her actions. She is in true, deep physical and emotional pain. I had to sit with my thoughts for some time after becoming so angry at her social media, at her posts, at her words, her feelings, and her behavior. I had to remind myself of many, many things. For a very brief moment I thought about all the people who had said “she only does this for attention.” I thought what if they are right? I was floored. What if? Then I thought about her trauma, her descriptions of how she feels. I thought about what a fine line we have between needing validation, support, a semblance of not being alone in this, and what inadvertently asking for help looks like at 13. Maybe she did on some subconscious level seek out the approval of someone. Maybe she purposefully excluded the people she knew would tell someone because she desperately needed someone to tell her it was ok to do this. She needed someone to tell her that her trauma was her problem. She needed someone to feed her with approval so she wouldn’t feel so much like a failure to herself. I remembered her diagnoses and her mood disorder is known for self harm, extreme highs and lows. I kind of wish it was for the attention. That would be maybe easier to treat than the mood disorder. People that are “attention seeking” don’t go to the extremes she does. They don’t actually want to die. They dabble in self harm {no amount is ok} they don’t use it to cope with depression, anxiety, emotional overwhelm or a total lack of emotions. She hates being in treatment. No phone. No electronics. No family. No good food. No caffeine. No friends. No partner. No connection. All she can do there is work on trauma. If it was attention seeking, she wouldn’t be in her 4th program and cry and beg to not go, reasoning with me, bribing me, promising better outcomes when she needs to be admitted. She wouldn’t eventually accept it and choose to work through her issues and try to get better. If it was all for the attention she wouldn’t have major issues that required this level of care. You don’t see the pain. You don’t see the guilt, the shame, or her overwhelming sense of failure when she relapses. You don’t see the extent of the damage. This is the reality of self-harm. This is what it looks like, at least for us. ***TRIGGER WARNING***Skip the following picture if you don’t want to see what self harm entails. If you are in active treatment or in recovery the following image could be disturbing. Please understand it’s not the intention to trigger, it’s only to give a reality check to those who may have a underestimated view of what self harm looks like, especially for us.

****TRIGGER WARNING****

Yes. This is my child. This after clean up, after 24 hours. She is still bleeding from disinfecting wounds in the shower as it reopens the cuts. One of my threefold. It’s edited for privacy and anonymity.
This was never taken with the intention to share, but because it’s a reference picture when doing skin checks. When you have this many cuts it’s hard to identify if there are new ones without an original to look back on where you began and understand the stages of healing.
I only share so others can realize the gravity and reality of the situation. Not intended to shame or trigger, just so we can see how much this problem exists and the extensive damage inflicted.

I don’t want this life for my daughter. I don’t want her to feel so much intense pain and have so much unresolved trauma that she feels this is the only outlet for her very survival and that this is “better than suicide” because at least she is still alive…today. Breathe into it. Look and stare and judge me as a mother and her siblings, our family and her close friends who knew. Blame us, blame her, tell us all the nasty things we tell ourselves each and every day. Don’t blame an illness when this is a behavior issue. Beat it out of her. You should’ve known. You should’ve done more. She needs more help than you can give her. Thank God she is getting some help. My kids would never. You’re supposed to protect her from this. How did you let it get this bad? This is for attention. She is over dramatic. She can’t be in that much pain. You knew she did this? She shouldn’t be allowed to go out in her condition. Go figure it’s always about her. Why do kids feel the need to label themselves? You failed her. She must have issues. My kids can’t have that kind of influence around them. I don’t want my kids to think this is ok or normal. What kind of mother are you? How is this ok? I can’t believe you took those photos. She is definitely a child that needs a good butt whooping and a reality check because it’s never as bad as it seems. Your kids ARE drama. They run that house you don’t. She needs to choose to be happy. Her “breakdowns” are always timed with someone else needing something. She is obviously your problem child. I’m glad my kid doesn’t do THAT. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. She is a liar, she will lie and go to extremes to get you to do what she wants. This isn’t a real problem it’s not a sickness, it’s all about the attention she isn’t getting from it. Youre not the parent you just pay the bills. You made them like this. If it wasn’t for your past they wouldn’t be this way. You put up with her getting abused and didn’t stand up for her. You’ve been emotionally unavailable for her for too long. You’ve been the one making this acceptable by allowing them to get attention because they act out. She doesn’t know REAL abuse. Daddy issues resurfacing again? Give them the space and they will take advantage of it. She is so over dramatic. Social media is the culprit. I will never understand or even try to why she would do this to herself. She is always the victim. She can’t even tell you why. What is the point? You’ve given her the life she said she wanted and bent over backwards and she is doing this. She is disrespectful. She has too much time on her hands. She just wants a label. You’re horrible to expose her like this. You should be ashamed and worried what people will think. Aren’t you worried about people staring? I can’t believe they let you keep your children after that. You are a horrible mother. You’re divorce is the cause. If you are thinking it right now, believe me, I’ve already told myself that a million times. I’ve asked myself the same questions. I’ve told myself the same hurtful things. I’ve been there. I’ve looked at it rationally, irrationally, I’ve made myself the perpetrator in her story, the victim, the one handing her the blade, I’ve honestly questioned if I am the best parent for her. I’m complicit. I’m neglectful. I’m awful. If I haven’t said it to myself then I can almost guarantee that someone has said it to me. I’ve lost friends because I stand up for myself and my threefold. I’ve lost people I never thought would walk away because “they are drama” I’ve been forced to confront parents with their children’s blatant encouraging and caused my daughter’s circle to grow smaller. I’m not blaming anyone. I hold the ultimate amount of mom guilt for how bad this is for my daughter. I will be forever trying to make up for the mistakes and missteps I’ve made in parenting and forever holding myself to higher standards in the future. I won’t stop fighting this fight for my threefold. It’s not ok for them to be blamed when they are sick. It’s not ok and doesn’t serve them or my mental health to take on the amount of blame I do. I will probably never know the exact moment things went wrong. I may never know when I should’ve been more aware, all along I guess. This is why I urge you to talk to your kids. Mental illness isn’t contagious. It’s controversial and complicated. It’s not all in your face all the time, but it’s not hidden as well as we like to think it is. Quit telling my kids and I to just suck it up, push it down, and move on. We’ve been doing that. It makes us worse and doesn’t benefit our mental health. It only benefits your skewed attitude towards what mental illness is. You don’t understand if shoving it down and keeping it in were possible and not detrimental to us then we would’ve continued to do that. Mental illness isn’t a convenient excuse to not fix dinner, go to a social event, or fix our problems. It wasn’t a choice. It’s not a label we gave ourselves. This isn’t Web-MD telling us our various diagnoses. You can’t see the pain and struggle. You don’t wipe their tears. You don’t clean their blood off the floor. You don’t do the skin checks that are humiliating. You haven’t done a safety sweep. You haven’t had to lock everything that could possibly cause harm. You haven’t read the suicide notes. The journal entries of how hard they are trying. You don’t see the intense amount of energy we have to expel to be “okay” or how drained we are by day’s end because we’ve plastered on that mask and it is beginning to slip as the emotional and mental exhaustion sets in. You don’t see the intense need and desire we have to be your version of “normal”. We aim to meet your standards because that’s what is required of us. We rarely have a safe place to let our guard down and we don’t have near enough support. When can we decide it’s ok to not be ok without fear of the judgment that comes with being unable to hold it all together all the time? I’m only one mom. Thery are only three kids. We are a family of millions of others who struggle with mental illness.

You don’t see the intense amount of energy we have to expel to be “okay” or how drained we are by day’s end because we’ve plastered on that mask and it is beginning to slip as the emotional and mental exhaustion sets in. You don’t see the intense need and desire we have to be your version of “normal”.

-mythreefold

If you’re still reading I hope that means you care enough to know what to look for and how to help someone. Please continue reading this next bit of information could possibly get someone the help they need before it’s too late.


What is a MHC? How Can I know? How Can I Help?

The National Alliance of Mental Illness defines a mental health crisis as any situation in which a person’s behavior puts them at risk of hurting themselves or others. A crisis can also mean that an individual is unable to care for themselves or function.

A mental health crisis can take many forms:

  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis (loss of reality)
  • Reckless behavior, such as getting in trouble with the law

Recognizing a and symptoms before the onset of crisis and seeking treatment is sometimes not easy. Every person is different, however with children, we as parents know their “normal” baseline attitude, moods, behaviors, and patterns. Unfortunately, sometimes the change is so gradual you don’t begin putting the pieces together until you are in a situation that makes you see the full picture. Other times you can have a sudden onset and a spiraling that seems to have come out of no where. Even if you are proactive and plan your crisis plan with the knowledge of mental illness and red flags for yourself or your child you may not always want to believe you need help or you want to trust that person when they say “I’m ok. It was just a bad day. I’m working on it. I’ll do better.” Go with your gut instinct. It’s better safe than sorry. We’ve heard that saying and said it a million times I’m sure in our lives, but just because it’s overused doesn’t make it less true. I would rather make an emergency session with our therapist or make a phone call to our psychiatrist and get a phone evaluation, a tele-health session, an in person appointment, something to get someone else IN the medical field’s opinion of the current situation. I would rather sit in an acute psychiatric facility waiting room for six hours waiting on an evaluation than to risk the chance that this time could be the time she goes through with it successfully.

Signs can include but are not limited to:
  • Increased isolation
  • Decreased interest in activities including hygiene and self care routines
  • Sudden and ongoing changes in mood
  • Increased anger and irritability, lashing out or having disproportionate reactions to situations, feelings, or physical stimulus.
  • Intense shifts in mood with changes from extreme highs to extreme lows
  • Sleep disruption. This can involve not sleeping enough or sleeping too much.
  • Increased stress from friends, family, relationships, school, work, or other stressors.
  • Sudden change in circumstances resulting in major changes to normal routine such as divorce, relocation, death, global pandemic or trauma.
  • Increased anxiety with or without panic attacks.
  • Obsessive behaviors such as picking skin or nails, scratching, pulling hair, pinching, biting, hitting, or doing other harm to themselves in stressful situations.
  • Self harm
  • Suicidal ideation with or without a plan, with or without attempts.
  • Expressing opinions that they are “worthless” “a burden” “too much” or that “it would be easier”
  • Sudden changes in appetite and weight
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Hallucinations visual or auditory

Did you know according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 5 adults struggle with mental illness, 1 in 20 have a major mental illness diagnosis? That rate is 1 in 6 for kids between 6-17 years old who have an treatable mental illness. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death between 11-34 year olds in the United States. Over 90% of those suicides were people who displayed one or more of the symptoms of mental health crisis before committing suicide. Over 45% have an actual mental illness diagnosed that may or may not have been actively being treated for.


How Can You Help?

The first thing you can do is STOP judging mental illness. Stop increasing the negative stigma. Stop believing the untruthful and unsubstantiated snap prejudices about mental illness. Quit judging people for struggling with an invisible illness. Mental illness isn’t a choice. We didn’t label ourselves or decide to be depressed or to have anxiety. We don’t assign symptoms. I promise we aren’t talented enough to fake the symptoms of mood disorders or an anxiety attacks. We didn’t want to be given these struggles. It’s not an excuse. It’s not for attention. It’s not because we don’t want to be happy. It’s not because we are lazy. It’s because we are too scared to accept help or seek treatment because YOU can’t educate yourself. You won’t educate yourself yet you want to dictate how I should handle my diagnoses, my children’s diagnoses? In what way is this ok? Your kid having ADHD and doing a nondairy, gluten free, sugar free, vegan meal plan and supplement ting with vitamins and a low dose non stimulant medication for them to manage their symptoms is ABSOLUTELY your choice. My choice for behavioral therapy combined with medication is my choice. AND THAT’S OK! It doesn’t make you better than me. It doesn’t mean you are more vigilant about treating your child’s diagnosis. It means we parent differently. You are allowed your way and I’m allowed mine. Neither way is harming our kids and neither way affects anyone else’s ability to seek treatment and care for their kid. So it doesn’t matter. Your child might make straight A’s and mine might struggle to pass. That’s ok too. As long as they are doing the their best, then that’s all we can do. No amount of spanking, grounding, restrictions, bribery, or sugar coated fantasies is going to make us better. Please quit acting like it’s a discipline issue. Please stop telling me how to parent a child with mental illness. Please redirect your thoughts and words to a more open minded and accepting view point. It’s getting tiring having to defend my kid to everyone who thinks because their mom’s cousin’s daughter had a psychotic break in 1996 that they can somehow relate their hand me down account of outdated information to what we are currently dealing with. You don’t know unless you know. And even then you aren’t me, your kid is not my kid, your decisions and mine don’t have to match. We have different mental health care teams, resources, and strategies to deal with things. There is no right way. There is only trial and error and more trial until you find the fit for you and your family. It’s ok. We don’t need to argue our perspective we only need to support one another and encourage each other.

Second, you can educate your kids. Please. If a child made another kid promise not to tell anyone that they are cutting themselves to cope with their feelings and explained it in detail about how they had been abused, were scared to cost their family any more money, time or resources getting them help. How they are not going to do it again and just had a rough few days, weeks, months, but they are ok. How they are scared of disappointing their family, scared of having to go to a doctor or hospital, scared of what will happen if their family finds out. If they said “I’m so tired of feeling this way. I don’t know how much longer I can keep living like this. Nothing helps. I’m tired of trying. I’m not sure how much more I can take.” Should the child keep the secret and trust of their friend or tell someone what is happening? Are they more scared their friend will be mad at them or are they more scared that they will lose their friend keeping their secrets? Is your child the friend keeping the secret or is your child the one with the secret? Honestly, chances are that the kid doesn’t know how to react, respond, who to tell, how they can help, or what the consequences will be if they remain quiet. It’s not a fair situation to be put in, but this secret isn’t one to keep quiet about. Please inform your children that it’s extremely important to tell someone. Call their friend’s parent, call their friend’s sibling, tell you so you can take it out of their hands, tell a teacher, coach, counselor, but tell someone. This is one case where it’s perfectly acceptable and necessary for them to be the “snitch”. It sucks having to be that friend and they might get a little bit of push back because their friend is upset, but I promise that hurt would be minuscule in comparison to the hurt and guilt they would feel if their friend hurt themselves or followed through with their suicide plan. It’s not worth risking losing the friend or the trauma endured by the one who kept the secret. Please if you want to help these kids you have to make your kids aware that they should always, always speak up if they know someone who is threatening suicide, self harming or in an abusive or dangerous relationship or situation. It’s not betrayal, it’s because you want your friend to be ok. Please don’t assume your kid is the one who already knows how to handle this situation. Believe me when I say that what we want our kids to be like and how they actually react in these situation are vastly different. Don’t think because your kid knows right from wrong that they can’t be persuaded into keeping secrets for their circle of friends. Don’t think that your kid is going to seek help for someone because it’s the right thing to do. Understand that they are struggling to understand and they are not sure how to handle it. They are scared. Talk to them. It could save a life.

Lastly, I simply think we should all be more aware of the people around us. Especially our kids. As they travel through the many stages of life from infancy to adulthood they change so much. Their style changes, their attitude changes, their interests change, their friends change, and their views change. Notice those things and keep an accounting of what’s pretty much their normal. Any variation from that should be honed in on and if possible have a fact driven explanation as to the change. If there are multiple changes, make sure you are checking in and don’t take “fine” as the cop-out answer that’s acceptable. Be proactive. If you need help, get help. Be the parent that fights for them and advocates for them. Stop holding your kids and mine to a higher standard than you hold yourself to. They are kids. They aren’t perfect. They are as human and flawed as we are. Normalize asking for help. Telling them that you will always be their biggest fan and in their corner regardless of the struggle can give them comfort if they ever do need help. If you’re struggling, please know you’re not alone. If you’re kid is struggling, you’re not alone. I’m struggling, I’m fighting, I’m advocating, and I’m speaking out for all families who struggle with mental illness. Our voices are stronger together and one month of awareness will never be enough time for awareness of the 200 different variations of mental illnesses and disorders that are currently being diagnosed and treated. If you are or someone you love is suffering from mental illness or is in crisis please seek help from a licensed medical professional or facility, call 911, or contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.