I was recently invited to try yoga. Prior to the class, I was filled with dread. I was convinced that everyone else would be beautiful, and fit, and have perfect balance.
However, the desire to experience camaraderie with the other moms outweighed my fear and intimidation. I wanted to feel inspired. I wanted a moment of peace.
So, I bought myself a yoga outfit that I felt confident in, and gave it my best shot.
But I found that it felt unnatural to focus. To empty my mind.
The instructor lead us through a meditative exercise where we were to visualize rocking our baby, imagining their future. My children range from age seven to 20. I had a brief moment where I pictured my full-grown son attempting to sit on my lap and I stifled a giggle.
Then I snuck a peek at the mom next to me, who does have an infant at home, and I tried to put myself in her shoes. Noticing that she smiled softly, I presumed she was envisioning all of the important milestones yet to come.
Some Things You Can’t Predict
I knew none of the women in the room could anticipate that the future of their children might include include anxiety, depression, or attempts of suicide.
My daughter’s presence takes up all the space in the room. It commands attention and admiration. She’s magnetic and charismatic — a natural leader, hard-working, willing to try. She’s a comedian, with the kind of wit only intelligent people possess, she’s insanely talented, and she’s leagues cooler than I ever was at 16.
Life oozes from her petite frame, uncontainable.
But sometimes she’s overcome with sadness.
Sometimes she’s sick with anxiety.
The thing is, all that intelligence, all that talent… it comes with a price of perfectionism.
All that comedy, all that coolness… it comes with a price of people pleasing.
And, we can all relate to those figuring-out-who-you-are years. They’re so hard.
I knew she had been struggling, but I was unaware of the extent.
As her mother, I felt I should have known.
I never expected that my child, who fills a room with life, would want to take her own.
My Daughter Considered Suicide
She spent two weeks in a partial inpatient program at our local hospital where she was kept safe and obtained skills in how to manage her emotions, but navigating depression is tricky. There’s no guarantee that mental demons will not creep back in.
As her mother, I want there to be a guarantee! I want to know that everything will be okay. That she’ll be okay. I’ve found that I’ve become fearful. I worry… Am I doing enough? Aware enough?
Recently, I asked my daughter what she wished parents understood about mental health.
It’s not personal. Your child loves you. They’re struggling.
Please don’t be judgmental.
We want help. It’s okay if we see a therapist, get a diagnosis, or take pills if needed.
Support your child, in general. Accept who are they. Show up. It means the world.
Remind them that you care and be willing to learn and help.
And, hug them.
Please be brave enough to help end the stigma around mental health. If your child is struggling, assure them that they are not alone. Seek out a professional who can offer guidance.
She’s not alone. Each day in our nation, there is an average of over 3,700 suicide attempts by adolescents. The number of suicides for this age group has more than doubled since 2006, making it the second leading cause of death for that age group, the first being accidents.
Warning Signs of Suicide
- Talking about wanting to die.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
- Talking about feeling trapped or unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of drugs or alcohol.
- Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
What to Do If Your Child Has Suicidal Thoughts
Do not leave the person alone.
Remove any guns, sharp objects, alcohol or drugs that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Seek medical care.