Days Like These

"Deep breaths and prayer ... right now that's about all that's going to get me through today."

That was my facebook status today. I posted that after spending over an hour sitting in silence, then talking a little, then listening, then asking questions, then listening a lot. Then making phone calls for doctor appointments, prayers, and support. This after my child, angry at the world, wanting to escape his own skin, tried to barricade himself in his room.

This. This is the most painful aspect of parenting for me. Seeing my child suffer through the hell of depression, knowing that what I can do to help is severely limited by doctor's opinions, my child's willingness to talk, and my ability to cope with someone else's mental illness while dealing with my own.

As I sat, hopefully with even the slightest appearance of calm, a storm was brewing in my brain and in my heart. Terror at the what-ifs consumed me. What if he wants to hurt himself? What if he wants to kill himself? What if the doctors don't believe him or brush him off? What if he becomes as good as I was at covering up what he's really going through until he reaches the point of no return? What if he's like me??? 

Taking a deep breath, I shifted the weight of my worries out of the way, and sojourned on.

I asked the heartwrenching questions: Do you ever think about hurting yourself? Killing yourself? Do you ever hurt yourself? Are you willing to talk to a doctor? Be brutally honest, even if it hurts? Because I know it hurts.

And I know it's impossible. How do you tell a stranger you spend hours a day thinking of ways to escape from your life? How do you explain that you don't fit in your skin? That this life is wrong? That you have this feeling of otherness that won't go away? That you know the world is against you and everything is wrong, but at the same time know that's an utterly ridiculous way to think and feel? That others enrage you simply by being happy and you feel so far away from happy, so utterly lost in a vortex of despair, that happy is more fantasy than reality and not waking up is preferable to looking at one more smiling face?

So I reached out. Told him it's not ok. It might not be ok for a while. But we'll figure it out. No sugar coating. No trying to cheer him up. Just honesty. And fear. And sadness. And pain. Yet a knowing that we will get through this. God and friends and family and good books and video games and yelling at the top of our lungs and doctors and talking and crying and throwing (soft) things and whatever it takes, he will get to a place where life is good and his burden is less. And love. Lots and lots of love.

And then I left him alone. It was excruciating. The not knowing what he was thinking, how he was feeling, if he was calming down, or if he was getting more upset. And I checked on him, as I told him I would, because I was scared. And I told him that. That it terrifies me that he's going through this because I know to what depths the darkness reaches. That I've been down a similar road and the thought that anything could keep him from feeling the magnitude of my love for him and the vastness of God's love for him fills me with dread. That no matter what, he needs to ask anyone who loves him for help if he should ever consider the merest possibility of harming himself. And he said ok.

Lots of alone time, freshly baked spice cookies, and a couple video games later and he's rejoined the rest of the household feeling a bit better, but still very raw. I can breathe a bit easier. The crisis has passed, but the journey to wellness only begun. He will not make the journey alone. 


  1. What a wonderful parent you are. Having been through some dark times myself, especially as a teenager, I can say that if I had a parent who had understood it would have made a world of difference. I'm glad your son is feeling even a bit better. I'm sure, if he doesn't already, that he will deeply appreciate the love and understanding you have shown him.

  2. It is so hard to see your child hurting and feel helpless to comfort them. From what I've read in your blog you are an outstanding parent, one I wish I could emulate, and I know you and your family will get through this trying time. If I can feel your love through a computer monitor, I am sure your son can feel your love through his door.

    Sending you warm thoughts and peaceful vibes.

    1. Warm thoughts and peaceful vibes are greatly appreciated! Thank you, Christine!


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