“No, Not again. I can’t go through this again.” Those were the words I said while I cried to my husband as we realized our second child (a teenager) is now suffering with anxiety and extreme panic attacks. Our first child (who was around twenty years old at the time) had gone through this as well. The first child’s attacks were so severe that it was causing self-harm, suicidal thoughts, attempts, hallucinations, two stints in the hospital, numerous medications, insomnia, alcohol abuse and other behaviors I am probably not even aware of.
We have had sleepless nights and stress-filled days. Trying to go work and do what needs to be done while wondering what each hour is going to bring. Wondering if our child is going to be okay. At times it is an hour by hour, minute by minute thing.
The anguish of the person going through mental health struggles is horrendous. As is the pain of a parent seeing their child suffer and are not sure they want to live. The agony it has caused me has been indescribable. When the first child was going through the most intense period of mental health issues, they didn’t live at home. The attacks were severe so every day and night when the phone would ring or I would get a text message, I never knew what to expect. My heart would skip a beat. Sometimes it was nothing, just an everyday conversation or question. Sometimes it would be a frantic, text or call in the middle of the night. I’d be running over to their apartment, spending the night so they would be safe. Some days when number one was at our house, I could tell when they weren’t feeling their best and an attack was looming. Most of the time they were unstoppable, indescribable terror.
Seeing and experiencing your child go through mental torture, is simply unbearable. Now child number two is going through this as well. It first started with anxiety, then the anxiety attacks came and morphed into panic attacks. The only good thing is that we were aware of what was going on and able to seek help sooner rather than later. We are in the midst of this struggle right now. With the conditions that each of them has had or are experiencing, it isn’t a 24/7 thing where they feel anxiety/panic or terror. And it seems once the panic attack is over, they feel better and can continue on with life. But in the midst of it or leading up to it, it is sheer agony. And you never quite know when the next one will occur. Could be weeks, days or hours.
Child one doesn’t live near us at this time but is doing their best to live a full life. Everything isn’t great with child one, but it’s definitely better than what it was, while numerous medications were tried they didn’t give the desired result and some had very negative side effects. ONE hasn’t been on prescription meds for a while. TWO is resistant to
My Own Issues
I have also had my own struggles with mental health, starting around 8 years ago. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but ultimately realized it was anxiety and anxiety attacks. While my situation was bad for me, it had not been nearly as bad as either of my children. But it did give me some insight and a little more understanding as to what they were/are going through. Their mental health issues didn’t become apparent until a few years after my diagnosis.
Seeing my kids go through this simply breaks my heart. For both of them and for me and my husband. Trying to manage our own mental health, while being there for the kids is a balancing act as well. I don’t know why all of this is happening. To look at us and our family, you likely wouldn’t suspect anything was wrong.
Maybe that is/was part of the problem. Perhaps we each hid our feelings too much and never dealt with things the way we should have when things happened. I don’t know. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe it’s environmental, societal. I just don’t know.
What I do know is that this sucks. It really, really sucks. I am so proud of my kids for being strong and trying their best to fight this demon of mental health issues and to be willing to talk about it. I am so grateful that we live in an era where talking about and getting help for mental health issues doesn’t have the same stigma it did years ago. While there is still some shame that goes along with this, it is much less than in previous generations.
How I Get Through
So you may wonder, how in the world do you get through this? Honestly, I have only one answer. Besides my amazing husband, it is my faith in God. I don’t know why all of this is happening to our family, but I do know that it is God who is helping me day by day to get through it. If I didn’t have my faith in Him, I am sure I would have lost it by now.
He has provided me with comfort in my darkest hours. Has wrapped His arms around me when all I could do was cry. I have spent days and nights just crying, not being able to even pray. I just had no words. But as scripture says the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. I thank God for that.
I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I have faith God will help us get through it. I also believe He can heal all things. I don’t know if He will, but I believe He can. I am going to hold on to that hope as well. I have begun praying and reading Psalm 91. Psalm of protection. I am claiming that for me and my family.