In 2018 we walked this path with Isaac (See link to story below.) It was one of the hardest things we had done up to that point. We believed his safety was at risk and we had to do something. The drive to get him, the drive to the hospital…the questions from the staff and the look in his eyes when we had to say we believed he was a danger to himself….all awful.
It was the most heartbreaking thing to do. Very few people knew what we had walked through, our close family and a few close friends, but to protect his privacy and honestly because of shame, we stayed silent. If you haven’t ever had to make these choices maybe it is difficult to understand that, but shame cut me to the core.
What would people think about us as parents, what would they think about our son? Maybe if we had tried harder, been better, hugged more, done more, maybe we wouldn’t be sitting in a hospital checking in our adult son for mental health issues. These were the lies that I believed.
I didn’t understand it then, not like I do today. I think then even a part of me thought if he would just focus on the positive, be more grateful, give it over to God…that all his struggles would just go away. But even when he did try that the disease of depression hung on. It was relentless and he didn’t tell us how bad it was and we just didn’t know.
My heart is broken even more today for the parents that are having to make these hard choices. That feel stifled by shame and all alone. When we collectively as a whole can begin to drop our need for perfection and “having it all together” (I am speaking to myself first here) and can start being real with those in our communities, our places of influence….I believe we will start seeing a real change in the narrative about mental health issues as a whole.
Our kids need to know that talking about how they really are is encouraged and will be accepted. They need to hear that it is ok to ask for help, there is no shame in that. Parents need to hear that if their child is struggling with mental illness that is isn’t a reflection of their love for their child, or bad parenting…
It is a lonely, isolating road. But one that I think, based on the comments and cards we have received, that more people are on than I even realized. Which just proves my point that there are countless people suffering in silence. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Be that safe space, that encouraging friend, the one that shows up without judgement, help change the narrative, help make a difference….