When life hits hard! Rising above the pain!
I have faced some hard times in the last 18 years. From the time my son was born, I knew he was different. He was brilliant and funny and always on the go from the time he was a baby! His language skills were behind where they should be so we found First Steps and started him with a speech therapist. Those years went by quickly and then we went on to find a developmental preschool for him. They were always praising him and how smart he was. Talked me into starting him into Kindergarten early. Every year we faced new challenges. We found new doctors and therapists. He got anxious about changes. Even at a young age he fought depression. His imagination caused him horrible anxiety, the what ifs and could happens. The years went by and we invested so much time, money and energy into finding him help. Trying to give him all the chances possible at a “normal” life. It’s truly a miracle that my husband and I are still together after all these years. Sacrificing date nights, vacations and even evenings together. Many years one of us was the stay at home parent because childcare was nearly impossible to find with our son’s challenges. Some years we worked separate shifts because we got tired of being broke. Medications, doctors, therapists, hospitals, lost wages and time have all taken their toll on us over the years. However, we are not giving up hope! We are determined to rise above and beyond depression and anxiety! We are hopeful that we will beat this!
There is a stigma to mental illnesses and explaining to people why they can’t come over and disrupt our lives can be very difficult. We are a very close family, not just because we have to be, but we have chosen to be. Some days, I will admit, we bury our heads in the sand and we pretend for a few moments that we’re normal. That there aren’t holes in the walls from meltdowns or that our house isn’t in disrepair because last year was a rough one and we spent a lot more on doctor bills and medications then maybe the year before. Our son tries, he puts one foot in front of the other most days and does whatever he is capable of that day. Sometimes that’s just taking a shower and a few chores, sometimes it’s going to town with us and being out in the world. Some days he barely crawls out of bed because the feelings and racing thoughts are just too much. We celebrate small victories and we cry when he makes huge leaps in the right direction! Over the last 18 years I honestly thought I was learning to accept my life and really was finding my happy place again! Then life said…NOPE! Man plans….God Laughs!!!
Our wonderful, smart, funny and big hearted son hit rock bottom over the last several months. Fighting a horrible episode of depression and anxiety. Every day we have stuck by him. Then, the other day, the irrational thoughts were too much for him. He didn’t want to fight it anymore. He couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. He didn’t want us to have to deal with him and all his challenges and he tried to take his own life. He tried to escape from the chains of depression and anxiety the only way he saw out. It was a blow that I wasn’t prepared for. I have always been able to find the bright side of life. I watched my mother battle cancer and was with her when she passed away. I took care of my grandmother with Alzheimer’s Disease and watched as she lost the wonderful memories that were her life. But nothing, nothing in my past or present prepared me for the debilitating feelings of seeing my son wanting to escape his illness. Knowing I can’t fight this fight for him and I can’t fix this. That only he can choose to keep fighting and keep putting one foot in front of the other. He is still with us today and I’m am holding on to the thought that I am very thankful for this one failure! I am so glad that he failed at this one thing! But every day since it happened I have had a range of emotions. Emotions that I have never faced before and some that are so common in my life but seem magnified right now. Embarrassed. Sad. Angry. Numb. Resentment. Ashamed. And so many more I can’t always name.
On any other day, even when he’s having a bad day, I can put my smile on and I can find a few things to be thankful for. I can go out and take on the world. But this week and for I don’t know how long into the future, I am mourning. This event has changed me, it has made me a little more sad and a little angry at a world I can’t fix. I’m not giving up hope and I am fighting to find my happy again. I am looking yet again for someone or something that will help him see what a wonderful person he is and that the world would not be the same without him. The people that battle their own minds on a daily basis deserve our help, our respect and our love! I’m not telling my story for your sympathy but I’m telling my story, the real story because I want other caregivers out there to know, you’re not alone! WE ARE NOT ALONE! People can post all day long about cancer and nobody bats an eye, they all donate to the family to help with expenses, but families and people that battle mental illness their whole lives live in the dark. We hide from the world because we don’t want anyone to feel sorry for us. We want acceptance even though we live our lives different then you. We want you to teach your children to reach out to the quiet kids at school because they need to feel accepted and a part of something. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about! Be kind to each other! That is how we can win the fight against mental illness! Share your smile with everyone you meet, it might just be what keeps them moving forward!
We can’t cure mental illness but we can help! We can accept people and their differences!