My oldest daughter struggled with mental health as a young teen. For parents who want to help, but don’t know how – please learn from my mistakes and learned lessons. Kids don’t know they have depression … it’s a slow gradual feeling, like a blanket wrapping around them, peacefully and slowly, until it’s a tight constriction that there’s no choice but to just submit to the security of complete isolation and retreat.
The flags – It’s the children that aren’t talking, the ones who are always “fine”. The ones isolating themselves in their bedrooms and seem to have lost the little sparkle in their eyes. Get them to the Dr. immediately. Avoidance and denial won’t make it go away. It’s not about you – it’s about them.
If a child advises feelings of worthlessness and general defeat in life, my advice would be not to advise them, they’re not broken and don’t want to be fixed: they want to be seen and heard. They went someone to just be there, support and empathize. They need someone to get through it with them, without judgement, advice, most importantly – not directed to “cheer up” snap out of it, walk it off.
Those we hear of that take their own life, they’re not cowards, they feel hitting the off switch is the only possible relief to make the physical and emotional heavy weight that they don’t get a moments rest from carrying. They’re tired.
Allow them whatever they need, to rest, and never stop reminding them how much you love them – even if it feels like they aren’t listening, I promise they’re hearing every word.
Bullying has been saturating the news as of late, its weighing on me heavily. We know the problem – the solution seems simple right? Understandably, when emotions are high, its easy to hate on the bullies, “lock them up and throw away the key” has pretty much been the consensus across the board. The bigger picture is so blindingly obvious and isn’t being discussed… because for generations, it truly has been the most fiercely protected secret – Bullies aren’t born, they’re created… I know, I know.. just hear/read me out, before disagreeing….
Bullying is simply a name used to excuse the mean kid, the volatile boss… this isn’t just jealousy or having a “fight” with their best friend. True bullying behaviour is when someone purposes torments, taunts, verbally attacks and in some cases, a physical assault is made. These kids feed off of another’s pain, it empowers them, sometimes laughing or smiling as they’re doing it. In many cases, “cyber bullying” is becoming a resort, advising someone to kill themselves, they’re ugly, everyone hates them, they’d be better off dead. The victims are afraid, often in tears, crying, feel isolated and extremely alone, the bad is always easier to believe than the good and the “bully” feeds off of this vulnerability, they feel more powerful. Here’s what they don’t feel; empathy, compassion or slight possibly complete void of remorse or regret, which, by definition; Narcissistic Sociopath / Psychopath personality disorders. These personalities create victims. The sugar coating of this can’t be tolerated any longer, which is exactly whats been done to date. These are extremely abusive personality traits and if appearing at young ages – are not only silent cries for help -they should be regarded as immediate flags for a child who either hasn’t received emotional nurturing by their parents or has suffered a significant emotional trauma which studies prove, at a young age can most definitely effect the frontal lobe of the brain during development (up until the age of 21). This is where emotional response is created. During a significant trauma(s) – this can shut down certain neuro-transmitters i.e.: narcissistic sociopath, or heighten them – empath. Some have an ability to disconnect from the trauma and process it without repercussions also.
“What happens in our house, stays in our house”… a term used by generations since the beginning of time. The ones saying this – are those afraid of the truths being exposed. Domestic Violence / Psychological, Verbal Abuse has been hands down, the most guarded secret throughout generations, kept by all who live within the 4 walls. This is exactly why the solution to the “problem” has been such a struggle for schools across the “board”. Social class doesn’t discriminate when it comes to Domestic Violence. Every single true “bully” or the ones labelled as the “freaks” with no friends, gamers, blending in only to stand out… were once innocent little happy babies. Parents may think they’re being the best at secrets and cover ups… kids see and hear all, if they haven’t personally experienced abuse themselves, it imprints on them – plain and simple. The children don’t dare disobey or expose their parent(s) or close family member because these are the same people that nurture them, that love them. The partners of the abuser wouldn’t dare expose the truth as plain and simply – it woudn’t be safe and no laws protect them. They’ve spent most of the relationship with the partner they once loved so deeply – now bonded by trauma and its own addiction manifests, a breakdown of reality and mental health occurs, defending and or excusing the behaviour of their partners, they feel isolated and alone, the partner’s family in almost all cases, protect their “secrets” and have likely dismissed any and all possible attempts to inquire. These victims have children together and so.. the “secret” remains. *** REMEMBER – whats posted on social media, its the hi-lite reel, what we want others to see, the bad the ugly, the truths, aren’t posted… EVER *** . If the school intervenes – in many cases, I’m advised, they fear for the child’s safety (HELLO – doesn’t that speak volumes), after brief encounters meeting the parents or the parents simply don’t care, will dismiss to “kids being kids” … regardless, what doesn’t happen, is the child receiving therapy and or counselling because the parents are the ones who have groomed this child to become exactly who they became. The child grows up, marries and continues the cycle. “Bullies” grow up – into adults who abuse.
How do I know this is factual? Because I was able to escape Domestic Abuse, after recognizing that 5 attempts later, I had no elastic left to spring back, he turned his rage on his child (that I love like my own), I stepped in and faced the wrath for the very last time. I had no idea what a Narcissistic Sociopath even was.. I felt shame, guilt, fear, I knew he was a literal Jekyll and Hyde Monster.. but I’d never heard of any story, experience, hell – even a suspense thriller – as horrifying as my truth…. until I found a support group which literally saved my sanity. It wasn’t one person that understood and could validate every single aspect… it was 10’s of thousands. All on different paths however, we all, male and female, experienced this type of unimaginable abuse. The reality is.. had my abuser, been my children’s father (he wasn’t) … I likely would go to my grave keeping his dark secret… He’d be part of my life forever. I don’t know of a single victim speaking out, when they’re immersed between the “4 walls”. It would be a fate worse than death to be truthful, and as recent Headlines have proven, is sometimes the result.
Think about the hundreds if not thousands in your own personal circle… how many are currently living in a domestic violence environment….? Likely none right, because you’d be getting them out? So if current statistics prove at LEAST 1 in 10 are living with abuse (these are just the ones reported), how realistic is it that nobody we know…. is being abused? I’ll tell you from personal experience… victims become masters at covering up. If you look into their eyes, they are pleading with others, even strangers to recognize they’re in danger.
I’ve been outspoken on multiple discussion forums as of late… for every problem, there is a solution. If the schools are held accountable to their own “Zero Tolerance” Policy Statement, this will immediately hold the abusive child & their parent(s) accountable, it is ABUSE, a report has to be made to the Police, which in turn will activate CAS (Children’s Aid Society) if the child is a minor. This WILL WITHOUT QUESTION… shine much needed light on the secrets between the 4 walls and exposing countless for being the abusers that they are. The victims NEED TO BE RESCUED… current laws don’t recognize Narcissistic Sociopathic Abuse as abuse… “Call us back if he hits you”.. leaving the Victims to Face CAS and the after wrath from their Abuser making it so much worse than before. ABUSE IS ABUSE… there is no mild form.
This “SECRET” kept for generations needs to be EXPOSED for the very real crisis that it is and hopefully with more and more victims speaking out, finding their voice again, recognizing that their silence is creating a future generation of abusive partners…. our generation can be – the desperately needed change. This cycle needs to end. Its starts INSIDE the 4 walls. ALL bullies/abusers are broken, weak, insecure individuals who have been hurt… to one, they may seem powerful, to a group, they don’t stand a god damn chance. Our children deserve better, future generations.. deserve better. WE, as a society NEED TO DO BETTER.
It was evident from very early on, that you were extremely intelligent. All of the milestones I was following in the “What to Expect” books, you achieved well ahead of the “norm”. Walking by 10 months old and talking in full sentences by 16 months. Once you started to speak, you never stopped. “precocious” was a word often used by others to describe you, but to me, you were just my precious baby who was adored and so loved.
By the age of 4, you were extremely intuitive, your creativity, imagination and ability to communicate with a high level of articulation, often made me do a double take – surprised that this mind was in such a tiny body. “Old Soul”, “highly sensitive” and a very “deep thinker” were characteristics that were always apparent. You loved preschool, dance, socializing and playdates were requested often. What was also becoming noticeable, was that you were easily excitable, chatted constantly, if you were focussed on a favourite tv show, you were in a trance like state, it became a bit of a challenge to calm you down if you became frustrated or upset but it was just you being you and were honestly the light of my life, I was truly blessed to be your Mom (still am).
By grade 6, a student who always excelled, suddenly grades all together began to plummet. You loved your teacher, being at school and the friendships made. You never got into trouble, the teachers all adored you and commented often on how empathic & nurturing you were with “special needs” children, you were never disruptive – the grades concerned everyone, further testing showed an enriched mind, so a learning “disability” wasn’t in question. It was suggested we see our family Dr and be referred to a Psychologist. This is when it was diagnosed, you had ADHD & Anxiety.
You’re grown now, but I really need you to know; you deserved so much better, so much more than what I provided you. The truth is, I failed you on many levels as your Mom, I wish I had handled things so much differently – I need you to know it was never your fault or anything you did wrong.
I wish I had taken the time to research every single aspect within the scope of ADHD. I didn’t, I continued to raise you as I always had, with love – but not making adjustments necessary not just to effectively communicate with you, but to understand things from your perspective. That was so unfair to you.
I wish the times you “spiralled”, I hadn’t lost my patience so easily, that I didn’t raise my voice to stop or to be quiet and calm down. Instead, I should have held you in my arms and allowed you the time you needed to calm your mind and decompress. I should have sat with you until you were settled, instead of walking out of the room to calm myself down. That must have hurt you so much and made you feel alone.
I wish I had taken more time to just “be” with you, not just at bath and bedtime, but during so many of the times I became frustrated with you, asking you to stop talking, to calm down, to pay attention etc. The truth is, losing my patience with you – frustrated you more, it must have made you feel “bad” or “wrong”, also must have made you feel misunderstood, simply for being you. This was my fault, never yours.
I wish so many times, I had remembered the age you were, as on so many levels, you were “wise beyond your years” and forgot this far too often.
As you grew into a teen, now old enough to be medicated to aid in your mental health, the nights your mind wasn’t able to be shut off and you watched the sun come up, I wish I had been so much more understanding, instead of so easily dismissing it, in a rush, getting angry to hurry and get ready for school. I wish I hadn’t been selfish with my own time at night, to make the time to lay with you until you were able to rest by focussing on something other than the tornado of lights, sounds, colours, conversations and ideas – that were in high definition during these moments. I wish I took the time to listen, all the times you were in full out “chat” mode, instead of dismissing you or being “too busy”. I wish I was so much more understanding of how much of a struggle school was for you, not appreciating that the classes you excelled in, were ones that you had interest in, high grades were effortless, I wish I recognized that it was the other courses that when you managed to simply pass, needed the most praise & celebration.
What I wish the most, is that I was more supportive, understanding during the times you struggled, recognizing that it was that much more difficult for you, that I spent more time validating your efforts, instead of criticizing as when looking back, you were doing your very best. I wish I never made you feel that you had a problem that needed to be fixed – you didn’t sweetheart, you were being you – and thats all you need to ever be.
What I need you to know, from the bottom of my heart, is that it was my job (and privilege) as your Mom, to be there for you, to support you, to empower, guide and encourage you – all you ever had to be, was you. The times I lost my patience, temper and showed frustration – these are times I failed you. It was never for one single second, you failing me. The only responsibility you ever had, was to be you – for the times I must have made you feel like that wasn’t enough, it was MORE than enough, I love you and I’m so sorry. The truth is, you never needed to do “better”, I needed to do more.
You’ve grown now, into the incredibly special, intelligent, independent, beautiful person both inside and out, that was always without question, the result of your hard work and efforts. I’m so proud of you and who you’ve become, who you’ve always been. I never want you for a single moment, ever to doubt or question how loved you are, how magical your mind is and mostly, that you do and always have, made me so incredibly proud. This world is so much brighter, all because of you.