Six Months and a Ton of Bricks

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It is day 2 of my two-week Staycation.  So far today I have:

  • Slept until 5…then 8… then 11.
  • Eaten Cheerios.  Straight out of the box, like chips or crackers.  Why are you looking at me like that?
  • Attempted to write two blog posts and given up.  Sorry, you get stuck with attempt three today.
  • Made arrangements to meet a friend in a few hours.

Exciting stuff, no?  It is an improvement over yesterday,  when I napped and harassed friends on IM all day out of my boredom (“Are you working? How is work?  What time do you get home from work?  I miss work!”).    Fun Fact:  I found out that if you see your kid on Facebook chat during their break and say “hi”, they will sign off faster than a roach running from the sun’s first light.

Having this much downtime, while appreciated, is definitely one I am not used to taking.  I was thinking about this a lot yesterday; I was taking plenty of time off here and there, a day or hours at a time, just not big blocks of it.

Then it hit me, that ton of bricks that shocked me and stopped my heart for a minute.  Because that answer isn’t entirely true.  I have had to take a block of time, though unplanned and not for myself.

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Sing along…du du du du duduh…du du du du duduh…

Yesterday, day 1 of vacation, was the six-month anniversary of my son’s suicide attempt.

Starting February 26th of this year, for ten school days, two whole weeks I was with him literally for 24 hours a day.   I slept in his room with him for the first week and would get nervous if he took a long time in the shower, even after the bathroom had been “cleaned” of any potential items to aid in self harm (or worse).

I didn’t plan it this way, and it isn’t like I have this circled on the calendar, like having to give  a dog heartworm pills or paying the cable bill.   Literally in a side conversation about work and such, I realized what day it was.

Things have changed a lot in those six months.  He is on medication, has a great psychiatrist, sees a therapist often and is more alive and engaged than I have seen since he first became a teenager.  Even with the setbacks of his summer plans getting cancelled, he has maintained his ongoing treatment and taken care of himself.

Some days it feels like it just happened, other days it feels like it has been over a year.  Somewhere around month number two I stopped blaming myself for not realizing he was feeling this way; month three is when I stopped holding my breath when I walked in the door after work, afraid he would not be there after all.    I stopped crying during the day after the first month, mainly due to pharmaceutical magic, but I still sometimes cry at night.

Before his attempt, I was struggling with my own issues and while not actively suicidal, I wouldn’t have minded if a bus ran me over or if lightning struck me.  Horrible but true.  While from the outside it seems that the kid is doing better on his plan to recovery from the crisis, mine looks a little more shaky.  I am OK today, I will be OK and I know what do if I am not feeling OK anymore.  I also have a great psychiatrist and therapist as well as some very patient friends.  Depression sucks, bulimia sucks harder.

School starts a week from today, which brings its own nerves and challenges.  I know the kid is looking forward to seeing his friends and getting back into this routine.  Going back to work once the kid was allowed to return to school was a great help to me, it kept me distracted at least.   I think I am just now realizing that a stressful job shouldn’t have been the weapon of choice when trying to get through situations like this, or at least not entirely.

Now I am home, full-time for the first time since March without any work obligations.  I have a list of things I need to do, try or finish for the household and for me.  I cannot allow myself to wallow in the “what if”s anymore–what if I had done something to myself first, what if he had succeeded, what if there is a backslide?

I am not going to keep thinking about that.  The ton of bricks have fallen and I have to keep on busting through to keep going.  I resolve that for the rest of the time I have off of work, I am going to try to do what I need to for me going forward.  This includes items identified by my therapist to help toward my recovery, cleaning out my closet, journaling and maybe even a day trip to the beach. Taking time off or doing anything for “me” normally feels selfish, but I realize now it is what I have to do. My kid still needs me here for him, mentally and physically, to get through his fight. So I will be, doing what ever it takes to be and stay here, because I definitely need him too.

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My favorite of the non-Kart Mario franchises!

NOTE:  Most of the posts related to the kid’s suicide attempt and ongoing recovery are (or should be) locked through the prior blog.  I am debating bringing them over here, even if they are just pages vs posts.  If you have any thoughts on that (good, bad, what the hell?), share in the comments.  

NEW NOTE:  I have decided to let the other posts just sit out there for awhile, still locked.  I may bring some over as certain topics come up, or just excerpts, but as part of this blog is about me working through things, I want to keep that in the “blog past” for now.  I am happy to answer general questions regarding his situation.

For those concerned about what he thinks…he is OK with me blogging about this situation (and has known since there was a situation to blog about) and sharing the story from my point of view.  He just doesn’t care to read any of it because, well, mom having a blog is so NOT COOL.

90 thoughts on “Six Months and a Ton of Bricks

  1. Le Clown says:

    Punk,
    If you don’t want to bring them over, you could create a page on your blog with links towards these posts, with an intro paragraph explaining what they are… It would be less work, and there would be less duplicata involved…
    Le Clown

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  2. That’s the only way I eat cereal- straight out of the box without milk (I hate milk).

    Wow. You dealt with a lot regarding your son.
    Thank you for sharing; it gives me some perspective on what my mother went though (goes through) with my depression and suicide attempts. She is a real life guardian angel- as are you. You are the True Mothers, the momma bears that will fight and love with all the ferocity a child needs.
    I don’t know how much your son remarks to you upon this darker period and your involvement right now (I know I barely talked about it to my mom during the “black times”) but I know I am so very thankful now that my mother got so involved and helped me so much.

    As for sharing the posts surrounding this situation, I think it’s a careful balance. That privacy is important with such a situation, especially since it’s you blogging about it. It would make me extremely uncomfortable if my mother were to start blogging about my dark periods. It’s something very personal to me. But then again, I know it affected her so she should have a right to work through those reactions. I think it depends on what the posts focus on.

    Hopefully that made some sense. I’m on some weird meds today so please excuse any confusing or repetitive comments.
    <3 <3

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    • It does make sense. I don’t know think I have said before, but he does know that I wrote about everything and shared it. He doesn’t read any of this but it is more his story than mine so I he has known from the beginning.

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  3. Glad you’re getting (and realize you need) time for you!
    And now you know that to keep your son from spending too much time on facebook, all you have to do is ping him!

    Since it sounds like a big part of it is his story, how does your son feel about that story being out there? (Keeping in mind that stuff very rarely disappears from the internet.)

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

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    • But then he knows that I am wasting time on Facebook!

      He is ok with the posts and knows that I have written about everything from my point of view. He doesn’t want to read them though. Maybe part of this next six month stretch will include putting those to rest, IDK.

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  4. Oh Punk, I hate to hear about such sad things about your boy, but I’m glad to hear you guys are in a better place with it right now. I wish you/him continued success and happiness. It’s a bitch being a teenager, that’s for sure. He’s lucky to have you there for him.

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  5. Taking time for yourself is not self indulgent or selfish; it is essential. These are the times you build up your strength, recharge your batteries so you have enough strength to care for your son.

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  6. I noticed several times you mentioning that it’s his story more than yours and I disagree, sort of. His attempt was his attempt, yes, and that is his story, but it isn’t ONLY his story. Your fear for/about him are your story. He’s a character in it just as you’re a character in his story. It’s good to have permission as you do, but it is your story, not more or less yours.

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  7. Wow. My boy went through some tough times when he hit the teenage years too, and much money was spent on a therapist, but scary as it was, he never actually attempted suicide. My heart’s in my throat just thinking what you went through. So glad it’s in the past.
    Kat

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    • Thank you, Kat. We are past the crisis, and I can’t dwell on it, but we have to take the measures necessary to make sure he never feels that helpless or hopeless again. I am very lucky that we were able to find someone for him to talk to and trust so quickly.

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  8. You’ve been through the un-imaginable ; and yet survived! You and your son..As a parent of now grown sons; I honestly can’t begin to imagine….I’m pleased though to see you’re writing your way through IT..That is how I work my way through alot of feelings/emotions or times of going through ..ish. Sending you /your son great big virtual hugs! And including you both in my prayers…This too shall pass. Might seem like an old cliche or adage; but its far more than that. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo!

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  9. im glad i read your blog (via the first pressed link).

    no, id suggest you leave the old blog where it is, and start fresh. just like what i did. i just did my first wordpress blog yesterday with much of the same thoughts about bringing in content from my old blog. leave the past behind and start fresh! I congratulate you and your newfound strength!

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  10. Punk – Firstly congrats on being FP’d, great post. Second, what an awesome Mom you are to him. He is really lucky to have you as you can tell how much you care about him. I have suffered through my own depression and dramas and it really does make a huge difference the people you have in your life. Although they can’t always ‘save’ you, they are important. x

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    • Thank you for coming by, Daile! Mental health is definitely not a taboo subject in this house, like it was when I needed help as a teen. Obviously, I wish this never happened, but the upside is that it showed that what he thought was working just wasn’t and we both have a better understanding of what he needs or how to ask for it.

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  11. I know the courage it took for you to write this post, but I cannot fathom the strength you had to muster during the attempt.

    I’m very thankful you’ve shared your story. Your son will find courage knowing you spoke up and did not bow your head in shame. The stigma of suicide kills the spirit of the soul in need of healing. It equals success if one can move forward in positive action and event. Only the walking thru the fire can a fallen one find hope, help and most important, acceptance.

    He may find that he will loose friends he thought he had, but you must remind him, until the day he can remind himself, a true friend never leaves, never abandons and stands up when his broken friend is unable to.

    I’m a survivor. Fortunate to have had people who cared enough to not give up and walk out when the going got tough.

    I am proud of you. Your son is as special as you are. I thank you for giving us a part of yourselves. May no one ever walk alone.

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    • Wow, Coffee, thank you so much for this comment this morning. I was worried after I woke up about being out there (blog in general) vs having it out there and promoted. Then I realized, my kid has always been an advocate, and in a way he has used his situation to talk to his friends. It isn’t the constant topic of conversation, but the true friends ask how he is and don’t mind if he says he is in a crabby mood or complains about having to cut friend-time short to go to therapy. I think teens are interesting creatures in that they seem to have more empathy/sympathy than most people give them credit for.

      He did lose a few friends, and even some adults pulled the “didn’t try hard enough” reasoning but the support of the true friends and those who haven’t judged the reasons why or how outshine them everyday and always.

      I am glad you had a support system and people to help you during your time of need. I think I am just doing what I need to as a loving mom, even if I don’t always know the answers, but I know too well that isn’t always a given.

      “May no one ever walk alone”–Amen to that. Thank you again for your words and insight.

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  12. One of my friends lost her daughter over a year ago by taking her own life (she had found her) and the one thing she decided on was that lots of ppl attempt and only few succeed. It wasn’t supposed to be your son’s time. After my husband got back from one of his deployments he locked himself in our bedroom, then locked the bathroom and sat there with a gun to his head. I couldn’t get in and honestly I was kind of afraid to go in three. The only thing I could do was pray and pray and pray some more. I fully believe that God intervened and saved my husband’s life. Just food for thought when you feel like you are drowning. All you have to do is reach out and He’ll pull you back out. I’m glad to hear that you both are doing better. :)

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    • Wow Nichole, how very scary for both of you. I am glad he was able to reach out when he was drowning and find the help he needed from you and your faith. Staying strong is sometimes easier said than you feel like can be done (as you certainly know), but reaching out one way or another is a way to start gaining that strength. Thank you for the perspective and thoughts.

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  13. TaraBara says:

    I found this via FP, but it got me thinking of my shy, introverted, sweet and overly sensitive youngest son. He’s 12 and in 7th grade. Did your son show any warning signs that he was considering suicide? It’s one of my big fears with my little one, knowing how important social status is in middle school and seeing him at the bottom of that ladder. What advice can you give other moms on what to look out for?

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    • As a psychology major in college, we were taught that there really are no warning signs, unfortunately.
      As someone who was shy, introverted and bullied all through school, I can tell you that it helped that parents were very involved in my life. I never told them the full extent to which I was bullied, but knowing that they’d be there at the end of the day, and they’d ask me about my day, and they’d help me with whatever struggles, burdens, I did open up to them about allowed me to get through some pretty tough times. It also helped that I had many activities outside of school where I wasn’t at the bottom of the ladder, or there wasn’t a ladder at all… I was on sports teams, and I learned two different musical instruments, and I was involved in scouting, and church, and… There were always things that I was looking forward to outside of school and that too helped me get through the hours of the day I was stuck there.

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      • TaraBara says:

        Thanks Punk Rocker & DJ. We do try to make sure that while school may not be the greatest, home will always be a safe haven. And he just started basketball and has a few really good friends :)

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    • Hi TaraBara,

      I was waiting to respond because I was trying to think of a good answer. Luckily for me, djmatticus responded first and his answer is perfect. My son had a few specific situations leading up to his attempt, related to divorce and some other family situations that pushed him over to that edge. School was never an issue; he is the kid that everyone knows and talks to, bullying was not a problem.

      Now we realize he may have been having issues with depression that were not tied to just situations (which made those situations worse) and have a different plan in place to treat this and a crisis plan as well.

      Thank you, DJ, for providing your input on this!

      Like this

  14. Congrats on the FP. :-D

    I hope you ended up enjoying your time at home. The only time I miss work is when I’m on vacation and it’s gone on for too long and I long for the routine that work provides, I don’t ever actually miss the work. As others have said, if you ever need some one else to chat with you can always shoot me an email. If I’m not lost in the woods somewhere I’ve got my phone glued to my hip and am usually fast at responding to emails and the like.

    And mom having a blog is so definitely VERY COOL for those of us who get to read it. ;-)

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  15. I TOO feel this Post was well Deserving a FP……As a woman who had 2 failed attempts at Suicide myself, due to undiagnosed Bipolar and Panic disorder and AADD, the only thing I can say about it is the lord had other important plans for me, and I don’t like talking much about those days, it still hurts to feel a failure, but I also have insight as how I GOT so low into total Void & Blackness as to not want to be here breathing on this earth any longer.

    If I my compulsive gambling addiction had never happened, which is what brought out all the Symptoms of my Mental & Emotional illness and disorders, I most likely would not be here today. Kids have it much tougher today then when we were kids & teens, with Bullies, peer pressure, and more, it is a important issue to Speak up and Speak out about! So Thank you for doing so. It’s the only way we can Shatter the Stigma for all who suffer!
    God Bless, Author, Catherine Lyon :-) :-)

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    • Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your story. I am glad you were able to come through your crisis and get the help you needed.

      Speak Up and Speak Out…that is exactly what needs to happen. With my post, your comment, everyone else’s blogs, stories, poems, etc. we can work together to shed light into this darkness.

      Take care and thank you again :-)

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  16. derb523622013 says:

    Congrats on being freshly pressed. Great post and such heart. Mental health issues need to be brought out into the open, as most every family has them. Process addictions and substance addictions are a part of the self-medicating and hiding in the shadows that all of us with depression and other mental heath issues take part in until we finally get real with ourselves and the world that we have an illness that needs to be brought out into the open and treated before we just sink into our black holes and die. It’s so important for people to know, also, that if you suffer with depression, it is highly likely that your children will have a problem with it as well. Keep on blogging on bringing these problems into the open. It’s the only way we will lessen the stigma and make treatment for this illness just as normal as treatment for any physical condition.

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    • Thank you for the comment, and very well said. Sharing is difficult for some (including me), but those who are able to shed just a little more light into the darkness so others can start to understand.

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  17. I sleep exaclty the same way… Waking up at 6… Then at 9.. Getting up at 9:30.

    This was a very touching post. I admire the fact you’re able to be so honest. It’s a good thing people have the guts to talk about this though.
    It’s always important not to forget yourself – it won’t help anyone else if you feel bad because you never take the chance to look at yourself and what you really want. I hope the sun will shine bright when you go to the beach.
    And I hope both your son and you will become happy and will be able to see all this, and all problems as something from the past that doesn’t necessarily have an influence on your daily life.
    Wish him all the best from me, and enjoy your vacation!

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  18. My blog started as an online journal for myself. All of my posts are public (because if private I wouldn’t feel if anyone is listening to me, hearing me, which was my problem in the first place). My point of that is we all have our own reasons for blogging, and I think you need to go with your gut on making those other posts available. Does it help you? Will it help you move forward? Will it fulfill your goals? Whether what your blog started as to maybe what your blog goals have morphed into? Will it give you unnecessary anxiety? I believe honestly answering those questions will help you decide.

    Peace, love & hugs to you and your son. He is lucky to have a wonderful mother like you.

    And that bus – I feel the same way.

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    • First, I just read parts of your story. I am very sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your story with so many others.

      You bring up some good questions regarding the posts. The whole point of blogging, originally, was to help me work through my depression/bulimia and distract me when I felt overwhelmed and on the verge of harm from either condition. Writing those posts out helped a lot. Then, four months in, everything happened with my son.

      My first thought in bringing them over was in context, or to tell the entire story of those days when I was writing everyday. There was a week where I didn’t post exactly what happened because I knew it would be on Black Box Warnings (thanks to Eric for letting me use that forum when I needed it) and I didn’t want to write it out twice. The post is still out there under my old blogger name. I started my blog over for a lot of reasons, but I think just being able to move to this next phase was part of it too.

      The more I think about it, the more I realize I might not need to bring those over, or maybe not yet. Context may not matter as much; what matters is that my son made an attempt and is in ongoing recovery. Maybe if the subjects of those days come up in another discussion, I can bring parts of them over. They were shared then and really helped me at the time, so I won’t say “never”, so right now they are on hold, not completely deleted.

      Some days the battle against the bus, lightning, whatever, is non-existent, other days it is all I think about. I hope you are able to reach out to friends and other resources when you need them, including me.

      Thank you again for sharing.

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      • Thank you for sharing! Everyone is fighting some sort of battle, and those of us that chose to write about them and read other’s hopefully learn that we are not alone. And that we have support here. I will be thinking about you and wishing you good thoughts.

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  19. kateyk12 says:

    How can you afford therapy for you and him and stay out of work this long? I am not trying to be an ass, I would like to know how others do it. I tried therapy for myself but couldn’t afford it and can’t afford it for my daughter and it is agony to see her suffering.

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    • Hi Katey,

      I am sorry to hear that you are and your daughter are going through rough times.

      I realize I am extremely fortunate to have a lot of vacation time through my job because of the number of years I have worked there. My boss was very flexible, but I still filed paperwork under the Family & Medical Leave Act. It wouldn’t have given me any additional paid time off if I didn’t have time to cover, but it meant they could not discipline me or terminate me for absences related to his initial attempt, follow up appointments, etc.

      The cost is very stressful. His therapist is working with us on the bill, I send what I can when I can. While his therapist will work with us, mine will not be as flexible with me. Fortunately, or not, we hit out of pocket max on this type of care last year, so I had a small time frame before July 1 where I was able to save. Now I am back to planning my visits around when the money is there.

      If you have insurance through an employer, you might want to see if you have an Employee Assistance Program to help. Even if you used them for your initial visits, they can sometimes work on your behalf to find providers with more flexible hours or payment plans. My son’s therapist has late evening, to 9, and Saturday hours so I don’t have to take off for most of his appointments. There are other resources if you don’t have insurance as well.

      I hope you both are able to access the resources to help. If you want to discuss this more off of here, let me know and I can email you.

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  20. I am approaching the one year anniversary of my 14 year old son committing suicide. We had gone through therapy, medication, prayer, court ordered counseling, etc. There was no warning. No signs. I hope that your son continues to improve. We are healing but it has been hard.

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  21. Reblogged this on social news network and commented:
    Exciting stuff, no? It is an improvement over yesterday, when I napped and harassed friends on IM all day out of my boredom (“Are you working? How is work? What time do you get home from work? I miss work!”). Fun Fact: I found out that if you see your kid on Facebook chat during their break and say “hi”, they will sign off faster than a roach running from the sun’s first light.

    Having this much downtime, while appreciated, is definitely one I am not used to taking. I was thinking about this a lot yesterday; I was taking plenty of time off here and there, a day or hours at a time, just not big blocks of it.

    Like this

  22. Hi! Thank you for opening your heart and allowing me to see it. You are not alone. I went can relate; however, my mom was sick and I had to help her. It’s hard but I feel like if I could get through that then I can get through anything now!

    People are beginning to care about mental illness more and it’s because of people like you putting their stories out there. May God continue to bless you and your family.
    TTYL,
    Gingerbread

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    • Thank you for the comment, Gingerbread. The stigma needs to be shattered and hopefully the more people share, wherever or however, the more we can look out for each other and get help when needed and without worry or shame. My goal in writing this was to just get through my feelings of that day, but the more comments I get the more I realize that while I might not think this is much, it is something.

      Take care :-)

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  23. Supera Matris says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am continually reminded of how blessed I am that my own mother has handled my situation so well. I would be your son in this scenario and I am sure someday he will thank you for your love, support and strength. Sincerely <3 Maggie.

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  24. Wow. Thank you for sharing this. You are brave. I hope more people will start to share their thoughts and feelings about suicide and depression. Guilt and shame and worry may be natural responses, but if other moms (family members) know they are not alone, these emotions are easier to tolerate.
    You’re an amazing and insightful mom.

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    • I agree that the more stories that are told, the more we can move away from this stigma.

      I don’t feel brave most days…I am a mom, who loves her kid, who is still working through her own issues. This is just one of those ways that I get through.

      Thank you for the comment :-)

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