Sometimes we find ourselves struggling through this journey as parents in ways that are beyond the normal struggle. But often, we’re afraid to admit that we may need medication too. How do we reach out? Our hope is that this post encourages you to bravely step into the light. You are not alone!
My children were preschool and elementary age and had struggles. The kind that keeps you up at night. That drains you. That most people don’t get. The behavior kind. The invisible special needs-kind which gives way to more judgement from others, even if just perceived. It had been years and was taking a toll on me.
This was supposed to be a post from Kristin about taking better care of yourself while caring for children from hard places. But then I read the story of the recent suicide of California Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, after battling with depression. So I decided to talk openly and honestly about the struggle of being a pastor.
I’ve been there.
This thought bounced around in my mind in the early morning hours, like words echoing off of canyon walls, as I read the heart-crushing story of how Pastor Andrew Stoecklein’s life ended this past weekend. In the darkness of my bedroom, I wiped tears from my eyes as I thought about his wife and young sons now trying to figure out how to live life without their husband and daddy. I read how he struggled with depression, and anxiety and I identified perfectly.
“Your past may explain you, but it doesn’t define you.” This last installment of our summer series, “The Stuff I Learned,” is an honest story of one family’s struggle through the dark, hard places of trauma and despair, to the places (and person) of Hope.
Don’t miss out on this amazing interview with adoptee, Sandeep Thomas, and his two special guests (you’ll have to listen to find out who!), as they share how they have found, and continue to find, hope, joy, and gratitude on the sometimes difficult journey of adoption.
Gossip hurts. Gossip is no fun and it tears someone down quicker than the blink of an eye. My family has been through the ringer with this one. That’s why I’m asking politely…please mind your own business!
I see my children tense before I even know why. We’ve been snuggled up on the couch for the last hour enjoying a family movie night. My youngest has built a nest of blankets so cozy and warm I feel like I could stay snuggled up there forever. Without warning, his body becomes ridged. I notice that my older son has his fists clenched firmly. My daughter has pulled her blanket tighter around her. My hearing seems to be fading in this fourth decade of my life so it takes me a moment to hear the approaching sirens, I too feel my heart skip a beat.
It’s one of the worst decisions you may have to make for your child on the journey of foster care and adoption. Placing your child in a residential treatment facility is never easy. But how do you know when the time is right to do so?
We’ve been down this road 3 separate times in the past. We know exactly how it goes: Your family is on pins and needles. You cautiously move through your house on a daily basis as if you’re walking across a frozen lake that may collapse at any moment. Looking at your child the wrong way could send them into a tirade. Your spouse, and other children, have experienced so much secondary trauma you hardly know how you’ll recover as a family.
As parents, we want the best for our children. Our hearts break when their’s break, our joy soars when theirs soar. When things fall apart, we do our best to fix it. But maybe we’re not supposed to be in control of every emotion they experience.
“What your mom needs to remember is that she isn’t in control of your emotions.” The counselor was looking right at my daughter but I knew she was talking to me. We had just had a very emotional counseling session. My daughter was asked to list her stressors. I had known for a long time that I was the cause of some of her stress and truthfully I was relieved to see my name at the very bottom of a long and honest list. Watching my daughter make the list was a mixture of sadness, pride and sheer relief.
It’s the worst fear of any parent- losing a child. For our guest, Denise, her worst fear became a reality 2 years ago when her son Ian took his own life. In the wake of this tragedy she is learning how to move forward, and live life, in-spite of deep loss.
Christmas is supposed to be the happiest season of the year. Filled with family gatherings, good food, friends, gifts, shiny decorations and hallmark memories to last a lifetime. No one expects the season to turn tragic. That’s exactly what happened to Jim and Denise Rose and their two daughter’s on December 24th, 2013.
Confession: my daughter wants to die!
My daughter is sensitive, quiet, caring and loving. She takes everything to heart. She is wildly creative and a little eccentric. She also struggles with depression. We have always suspected this about her.
She rarely talks about how she’s feeling but occasionally alludes to feeling stupid, dumb, worthless and unwanted. When she was in first grade she said she wished she had never been born.
Over the years she has allowed us small glimpses into her soul. She has shared tidbits of her true feelings but she has always been guarded. I have prayed desperately for her to find her own voice. I was shocked when, last Christmas as we wrapped presents, she did.
We were sprawled out on the family room floor, sharing wrapping paper, tape and the only pair of scissors we could find in the entire house. She carefully placed the last piece of tape on her perfectly wrapped gift and whispered, “Mommy, can I tell you something?”As tears filled her eyes she spoke truthfully about the pain that plagues her, the memories that haunt her and her plan to die.
For years my baby has been hiding each perceived failure in her heart. She has tucked guilt away into the back of her mind. She has let fear fill her soul. She hopes for peace but can feel nothing but dread. She lays awake at night and thinks, maybe death would bring relief. She lays in the dark wrestling through the reality of following through with her plan.
She asks herself, “Will death bring peace?” She stares at the darkness of her ceiling as depression closes in, swallowing her last glimmer of hope.
I lay awake at night too.
I strain my ears to hear movement. I mentally check through the safety plan. I drift off only to be jolted awake by a silent nothing. I creep to her room and slip under her covers just as I did when she was a baby. I lace my fingers with hers and she presses her forehead to mine. I promise I won’t let her face these demons alone any more.
While we wait together in the dark for the first light and the hope of a new day, we now pray for the true peace that only comes from the Lord…
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” -Romans 8:26
We are not out of the woods yet. Sadness creeps in. Insecurity quietly tries to steal her joy. Shame knocks at the door of her heart. Fear whispers in the darkness.
With each word of truth spoken, the lies are losing their grip on my daughter’s soul. With each shared burden, my daughter’s shoulders seem lighter. The guilt is losing it’s weightiness and the power of the fear is dwindling. Yesterday, I heard her laugh. Really laugh. Through all this darkness, it was a sound of hope and freedom.