Last night, a friend told me that his 11 year old son had said he wanted to end his life. This was in response to hearing that his parents are separating. For me, hearing these words again, brought back some very painful memories.
I understand the deep pain underneath these words. I know what it feels like to want to end your life, because I’ve been there. I have uttered those words myself and I have heard my kids say them.
Some people say, “They’re just looking for attention.” In fact, I have heard this many times. Nothing could be further from the truth. I realize that there are always exceptions to the rules, but most of the time, someone says they want to end their life because they are in so much pain emotionally that they just don’t know what else to do to stop the pain. They don’t feel like they can handle it for one more minute.
We have to remember that children, teens and young adults, do not have the life experience that adults do. They are still, very much learning how to deal with stress. They might be upset about something, that as an adult, with much more life experience, feels is really not a big deal. Yet, to a young person, things like low marks at school, breaking up with a girl/boyfriend, or disappointing a parent, can feel devastating. If we take the time to think back to when we were young, we may be able to remember a time when we felt very alone and in need of some emotional support.
As a teenager, I felt very alone. I didn’t feel like I fit in and because I was so shy, I didn’t feel I had anyone to talk to. I felt I needed to be perfect in order to be loved. This false belief set me up for a lot of emotional heartache. I wanted the pain I felt in my heart to stop. One night, I tried taking a bunch of pills. Luckily, I just woke up the next morning very groggy. Until recently, I never told anyone what I had done. I WASN’T looking for attention. I just wanted the pain to stop.
As an adult, being in an abusive marriage, losing a child, followed by two miscarriages and then divorce, brought more pain than I thought I could handle. I went for counseling, and I took antidepressants, but there were still many days that I didn’t know how I could handle the pain. A couple times, I had things planned out to end my life. What kept me here, was not wanting to leave my son behind.
Today, I look back and I am grateful for this experience. It taught me how strong I really am. It gave me more compassion for others who are going through painful experiences. It helped me learn different skills to deal with painful experiences. Let’s face it. Everyone goes through difficult times. When we have the tools to help get us through these difficult times, we don’t need to think about ending our lives.
I didn’t know how important learning these coping skills was going to be until my son uttered the words, “I want to end my life.” When I asked him if he had a plan, he answered, “yes”. I’m sure my heart skipped a beat. I was scared to death. I knew that he wasn’t just trying to get my attention. It meant he was in pain. I had to help him ease his pain.I knew that I had to teach him the skills to cope with his stress and his pain. I was still learning these myself. I had to put my oxygen mask on and then help him. I taught him the things that helped me to move through the pain. I also spent time with him. I listened to him. I encouraged him to listen to his own inner guidance. I taught him how to meditate and to use positive affirmations. I did Reiki on him. Gradually, he started to feel better. He went from spending most of his time holed up in his room, to playing his guitar and then finally seeing friends again. Every day I am grateful that my son is here.
Today, we are both happier than we’ve ever been. I have been off antidepressants for 8 years, which for me feels like a miracle. Because I had suffered from depression for so long, my doctor had told me I would need them for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong. Antidepressants can be very helpful. I might not be here if I hadn’t taken them. Yet, now, with the skills I’ve learned, I no longer need medication to help me through the rough times.
I know that depression is a sign. It is a sign that something is not right in your child’s world. Something is missing. Something is so painful that killing his/herself seems like the only answer. I’m here to tell anyone who will listen, that it’s NOT the only way. There are many things you can do to help your child through this pain. There is ALWAYS HOPE.
I am here to be that HOPE for you and your child. Because of my experience with depression and suicidal thoughts, I know what it feels like. This allows me to help others. When my daughter died, one of the things that really helped, was talking to other moms who had lost a child. These moms “got me”. They knew how I felt. Through my experience with loss and depression, I get it! I am passionate about helping kids move through their painful experiences. I want to hold the hope for them and for you. I am here to help YOU and YOUR CHILD. You are NOT alone.
If you are worried about your child because they seem withdrawn, are very critical of themselves, complain of lots of headaches or stomaches, their grades have dropped or you notice any other changes in their behavior, please call or email me so together we can create a plan to help your child.