It’s 3am and I am having a difficult time sleeping, I can’t stop thinking about the conversations I had with some friends tonight and over the last month. I’ve had four different people reach out to me wanting to know what to do for their child or to let me know that their child is struggling just like son has struggled in the past. I have been open about my struggles with alcohol but I have recently spoken out about living with a child that deals with anger issues along with what I believe is severe anxiety. These boys are angry, they are suicidal, they are violent, they are depressed and anxious, they are cutting themselves. And these boys are not even in high school yet. It’s a scary thing to hear your own child say he wants to kill himself. Or as my son has said in the past “I want to run in the street and not look both ways.”
I remember before my kids were taken away in May of 2015, it had gotten to the point one night I told my then sponsor “If my son is awake then I won’t go to sleep” I was literally afraid of what my son would do to me if I was asleep and he was in one of his angry fits. I had pictures in my mind of him stabbing me in my sleep. He was 7. By May of 2015 my son was not allowed to be at the school past 1030am because his fits at seemed to escalate by mid morning and the school he attended wasn’t equipped to deal with his behavior. I was exhausted trying to hold down a job and be at the school every time they called to tell me to come get my kid. I walked around on eggshells trying not to upset him, anything I could do to prevent a fit. Anything would set him off though, it was like a ticking time bomb. I had to take everything out of his room, not to punish him but so that he couldn’t hurt himself with it, sharp items HAD to be taken out. It was insanity. I was doing it alone and I was about to break.
I was tired. I was exhausted:mentally, physically, and emotionally. I hit a wall and I relapsed. My kids were taken to live with a foster family while I put my life and myself back together. My kids came back home full time in May of 2016 and I thought that things were going to be great this time, that we had worked out our issues and that this time would be different. I had worked hard to build up my self esteem so that if there were any issues I’d be able to handle it. Five months later I was having a breakdown outside a mental hospital on the phone with my caseworker wondering how the hell we got here again. “I am only one person” I remember saying while hysterically crying to her as my son sat in my car refusing to get out, strapping himself to the seat yelling to me how much he hated me and wanted me to die. You can only hear “I hate you” and “I want to kill you” so many times before you breakdown. All my hard work on self esteem destroyed by an 8 year old.
I can’t help but wonder what is going on with our children that causes them to act out in such hurtful ways, is it the schools and the way we expect all kids to fit into a one size fits all box? I believe it has something to do with it. In this article Schools Putting Too Much Pressure On Kids, Kay Mcspadden says “Sadly, the rewrite of NCLB rushing through Congress reaffirms that commitment to testing. Despite the harm to our children, as long as the education reformers – and the testing industry – have a heavy hand in influencing public policy, time for play will be all too rare.”
What I do know is if you live with a child that is struggling I promise you aren’t the only parent going through it. I felt so alone before, I felt like I was the only one that had a child that behaved this way. I am grateful I know different now. A few things you can do if you’re child is displaying some of the behavior I am speaking about:
Ask For Help
This is huge! Asking for help in this situation could mean the difference between sanity and a mental breakdown. Trust me I’ve been there! You don’t have to lose your damn mind before people finally see that you need help and are struggling, you can ask for it before shit hits the fan. If you ask someone for help and the answer is no, it doesn’t mean that the answer is ALWAYS no, keep asking! I tend to forget that everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about so I don’t need take everything so personal. One NO doesn’t mean always a NO. That make sense?
Take Care Of Yourself First
Have you heard the saying, when the plane is going down you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, otherwise there is no way you can help anyone else? Especially if you are in recovery and dealing with child that has special needs, you HAVE to take care of yourself and your sobriety first before you are any good to your child. If I’m not careful I will push everything to the side to focus on my son and his needs, even my other child. I will put everything on hold just to make sure he is fine and his needs are met. Not a good idea!! I have to put myself in check sometimes when I feel the tunnel vision creeping up.
Search For A Meeting
There is a meeting for everything these days, it’s a good way to get out of your head and build your support system. Find support in your area on the National Parent Helpline and Mental Health America. I have attended multiple meetings for parents that have loved ones that suffer mental illness and I’ve made some friends that I can contact when I need help, I know they “get it” when I tell them what’s going on. It helps.
Have A Support System
You need to have at least four people you can call on when trouble hits. These people need to know what’s going on and I recommend they be close by. Obviously the more people in your support group the better but have a few that are close by and can be there quickly if an emergency arises. I have at least three to four people in my neighborhood that could be at my in minutes if I need them. I am blessed to have people that have seen what happens when things get crazy and are willing to be there if and when I need help. Like I said asking for help isn’t easy but worth it. Attending local meetings with people that understand is a great way to build that support system. Situations get real ugly real quick (at least in my house) and having people close by could be a life saver.
Call Local Mental Hospitals
I know the thought of having your child go inpatient is scary but it could be what saves their life. Know where your local hospitals are and have their numbers saved in your phone. When it’s your child’s life that is on the line you can never be too safe. If your child says he wants to kill himself ,BELIEVE THEM! Maybe it’s out of anger and frustration. Maybe they mean it. Do you really want to take that chance? Let the hospital know exactly what’s going on, if they know the whole truth then your child can get the help they need.
Guilt And Shame Won’t Help Your Child
Maybe your child has been through a lot with your addiction, but beating yourself up for the past does no good for you or your child. Forgive yourself and move forward. Easier said than done I totally get it. But in order for the family to heal, guilt and shame can not be control.