My Family and Our Struggles with Mental Health

b&w photo of woman tear stained cheek

Not again!

“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 Pain

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 taking any meds at this time but is going to therapy. We are still trying to figure all of this out.

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.

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7 thoughts on “My Family and Our Struggles with Mental Health”

  1. My heart aches for all that you’ve been through; for all that you go through. For a mother to see her children experiencing such torture must be indescribably painful. This piece moved me greatly, and I’m so glad that you find grounding and strength in your faith. I’d like to say thank you for being a good, good parent in the midst of everything, and also want to thank my own mother for being there, day and night, when I was in pain too. Take care.

  2. Thank for this post. It was extremely touching. The heart break of a parent watching a child suffer is beyond what I can imagine. My heart goes out to you and your family. I am glad to hear that the situation with number one has improved and that you have found solace in your faith. I also recently wrote about my struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, with my parents rushing me to the emergency room. Fortunately, I eventually, after about 10 to 15 yrs, found a way to make friends with anxiety. But there was a lot of stumbling around in the dark desperately searching for answers. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment and supportive words. I love what you said about making friends with anxiety. In most cases it indeed can be managed. We need to find what works best for us individually. In some cases I believe people can truly heal or be healed from it as well.
      It’s a journey than none of us want to go on, but many are.

  3. First off, it sounds like you are one amazing and involved Momma. They are so lucky. I can relate to all of this, I have experienced extreme anxiety and panic attacks and I have experienced my siblings having them. Now, having three children, it scares the crap out of me to think that this could one day be them. We already have same uphill mental health battles we are currently fighting. However, I know that we will get through all of this together and no matter what I will always be by their side fighting with them.
    It’s hard but no matter what God will see us through. Hugs to you and yours.

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