Never, EVER, give up. EVER.


I spent most of this week in utter despair. I felt lost and confused and as close as I’ve ever been to hopeless in my life. The parenting gauntlet was brutal and I was not sure I was really capable of standing up to the oncoming onslaught that was coming in wave after wave.

My assumption in having a child was that, no matter WHAT issues, challenges, or problems that arose, I would somehow be the perfect match for them. I assumed that kids were matched up to parents somewhere in the sky so that the parents were equipped to handle and help each child perfectly.  Yeah, I know, wake up kid, that isn’t how it works.

Successful parents have one very distinct difference from ones who aren’t… they simply refuse to give up on their kid. Period. They learn what they have to know, go where they must go, do what needs done, but they NEVER, EVER, GIVE UP.

LindsMy daughter, now 16, battles a daily war against her genes and physical chemical make up. She has been blessed/cursed with genes from both sides of the family which give her the level of Bipolar Disorder she deals with. She has OCD issues and struggles with Avoidant Personality Disorder. She has a host of anxiety disorders and she finds it a struggle to just leave home. While all of this is hard, the thing I’ve found the hardest is her way of venting it, releasing the pressure valve, her way of punishing herself for being who she is… self harm.

Of all the things that I do, correctly responding to self harm is the hardest. I must say I didn’t do a great job one recent past weekend. I am ashamed to say I kinda lost it. Maybe it’s what needed to happen, I don’t know, but regardless, it’s harder than hell to do it without guilt in the end. It’s an obvious cry for help, but I find it makes me intensely angry. I want to just say, “TELL me whats going on.  ASK for help.  DONT mutilate your beautiful self!  PLEASE!!”

I found the word “HORRIBLE” carved into the flesh on her arm. She’s carved HELP before. The words are even more upsetting than the act. You are NOT horrible, my beautiful child. I am RIGHT HERE; just come to me for the help you are asking for by carving into your flesh. I am not a parent who is distant, who is absent, who is unreachable. I am here at every single turn.

The Avoidant Personality Disorder is the only clue I have as to why she continues to avoid the one person who is most plugged into her every mood and cares most deeply about them. Per PsychologyToday.com, “In avoidant personality disorder, the person is persistently tense because he or she believes that he or she is socially inept, unappealing, or inferior, and as a result fears being embarrassed, criticised, or rejected. He or she avoids meeting people unless he or she is certain of being liked, is restrained even in his or her intimate relationships, and avoids taking risks. Avoidant personality disorder is strongly associated with anxiety disorders, and may also be associated with actual or perceived rejection by parents or peers during childhood.”  

Reality isn’t the focus here. Her version of it is. All I can do is love her and show her that I’m here and loving her, and consistently do this till she believes it, I guess.

This last weekend, over Father’s Day, we went to a RibFest downtown because the thing my husband loves most is Ribs. Then we went to a movie at a theater the kids had yet to enjoy, one with recliners for every seat. She wanted to do this. She wanted the family outing. She is very much trying to be a part of the family and wants to be with us.

The stress of the bajillion people who attended RibFest heaped a layer of anxiety upon her that she wore like a 120 lb rucksack on a trek through the desert, uphill. By the time we were seated in the theater, 30 minutes into our movie, her body gave into the stress fully. It didn’t matter the stress of the RibFest was over and we were in a dark theater, essentially alone. Stress works itself out whenever it chooses, and it doesn’t choose perfect timing as a rule.

“Mom, Sis is crying and she’s having trouble breathing.” My middle daughter had come over to my seat and interrupted my movie viewing. We were seeing the new Jurassic Movie. It was LOUD, and therefore I heard none of my daughter’s distress three large, reclined seats over. I traded seats with my son.

“Breathe baby, breathe…be calm. It’s gonna be okay. Tell me what’s going on. No, breathe in slowly, tiny breaths. Now relax your muscles.” I put my hands on her stiff limbs and tried to make them still. Her arms were stretched out hard as boards and her legs were moving on their own in spasms. It wasn’t a seizure. It was a mass panic attack. Her body was attacking her and it was without a trigger this time around. Well, the trigger was not present anyway; it was long gone.

She was flushed hot inside but clammy to the touch, she had a headache, felt like her body was shivering/shaking, and as if millions of ants were crawling through her veins. She was more scared by her body’s reaction by the minute. She was breathing in bursts and not being able to breathe made her able to breathe even less. The panic rolled like a snowball downhill, gaining size and speed. Calming her was critical or we’d escalate and need emergency care right here and now.

Slowly I was able to calm her and as I rubbed her arm we sat together and let the movie end and the guests leave. We dropped the kids off at home, a friend, who may as well be family, came and stayed with them while my husband and I took her to the ER for rounds of tests to rule out anything physical. In my heart I knew it was the last draw.

This has been building for weeks. Over little or nothing my daughter would stress out and panic, be unable to make simple choices, and just getting dressed would take her eons, in a completely different way than the normal teen, “I don’t know what to wear,” way. It was more. A kind of more that I can’t give you words for. You’ll just have to trust me. She has a 15 year old sister and I get the differences, okay?

My daughter’s body had been having medicine issues and reactions, and she’d been mucking around with not taking them because she hated how they made her feel; then not eating and taking meds on an empty stomach if I forced the issue… it all landed us where we were right then.

It was time to deal with it. It was past time. And if we truly loved this kid, we’d do what was right and say enough was enough and we’d not only figure out the ER visit issue, but deal with the meds and deal with the core issues and the reasons behind needing the meds.

So we admitted our daughter to the Behavioral Health Hospital that night, against her will, and walked away. We loved her enough to make her stay. We love her enough to insist on her working through the tough things she needs to address in order to get well. We know she CAN do it if she decides she wants to. The key is to WANT to. Sometimes if you love your kid enough, you will do what is best, not what feels good.

And I’ve never been more broken in my entire life. Day after day I lay fractured, in pieces, trying to put myself back together and be a parent to my other two kids. An amazing set of friends stepped in and took our kids, so we didn’t have to be parents at all. We could just fall apart. And so we did. A lot.

And now? Now we are getting stronger. A little more each day. And with God’s help, the love of our friends and family, and supportive staff and doctors, our kid is gonna come home and we are gonna try this again, and this time we are gonna make it work.

Why am I so sure? Because I refuse to FAIL.

I will never, ever give up.

Ever.

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Love looks like walking away


moms.fortwayne.comIt was 3:30 a.m. and we walked out the front doors of an empty hospital. The halls had echoed with each step we took, leading us farther and farther away from our crying daughter. In the past, the way I showed her I loved her most was to sit by her bedside, stroke her hair, whisper calming meditation techniques to back her down from a cliff she was perched upon, and to simply stay.

Tonight? Tonight I showed my 16-year-old how much I loved her by the way I walked away. Far away. So far away the echoes of my steps could not be heard by her and my ears no longer heard her cries. My heart, however, heard them long into the night, all the way from home, and I slept fitfully.

I want to put words to this hellish heartbreak I have, but I am ruined. I can find nothing to explain what it is like to admit your child to a psychiatric hospital. I can’t believe I have to, that I did, that this is real. There are no words. None work.

I am raw, broken and wounded to the bone.

Flesh has been torn from my frame as my child was ripped from my heart muscles with each step I took, me telling myself it was for her good that I did it. Her spot in my heart is now a hole; one that is a warning to me to get this right so that the hole is not permanent. Get this right or that hole will get larger, be edged with grief, guilt and shame. Get this right or suffer the knowledge that I had the chance to get things right and I chose the easy way out and let her convince me to do what felt better than to do the hard thing of what’s best.

My husband drove us home and he melted beside me as he turned the corner toward our house. It was like watching a steel rod turn to liquid. Slowly he leaked, seeped, bent and slumped. One thought of what he’d driven away from and he became a shimmering pool of hot mess.

I begrudged him nothing. He was strong when he needed to be. We were alone. Melt away, honey.

I, however, couldn’t fully give into the reality of it. I had too much to do. I didn’t have time to feel, dammit. If I began, I’d never stop, and I would fall apart into pieces that could never be put back together again. Instead I chose to go dead inside. I stopped up the tears and built up the dam, plugging the holes. I’d never get through this with all the tears that were threatening to spill over.

I had her things to pack, papers to gather, my kids to explain all this to, and a morning of foggy headed to-do’s of phone calls to clients to explain that I’d need time to reschedule them, I wouldn’t know my schedule for a while.

I sat with my kids in front of me; I continually had to squeeze my arm that was locked around my middle to force my self to be calm and controlled, answering my kid’s questions, trying to seem like I was a mom who had a clue. They needed to believe that what I was doing was for sure the right thing. They also needed to know when we all went into the family therapy session it would be hard for their sister and I explained some things they should understand ahead of time about the situation.

Then I left and went outside for a while. I let myself completely go. I ugly cried till my gut hurt and matched my heart. I let my pain have its way. The acid in my stomach churned until I nearly collapsed under the stress of its boil.

I looked at the clock on my phone. I had no time left for this. My mini moment of honesty had to be over. Time to go back to neutral and find a way to function through the next four hours of visitation, doctor meetings and family therapy.

My stomach sank to my feet. Walking back into that place meant I’d have to leave again. I felt myself begin to retch at the thought. How could I do that again? Didn’t I prove my love by doing it once already? Then it dawned on me, I not only had to, I WOULD do it over and over and over, each time I went, proving to her just how much I am committed to loving her.

Sometimes love looks like saying you’ll stay, other times it looks like walking away.