Friday, October 11, 2013

Mental Health Awareness Week ~ All I can do is wait, by Anonymous

There are signs of her everywhere. All over the house. In her room. A favorite song we used to sing together on the radio. It feels so empty to not have her here with us. It feels empty inside my soul. Where and who is she you ask? She is my 13 year old daughter and she is sitting in a psychiatric hospital as I type this. This is her third admission in the past six months.

My first hint that something was not completely right about her was when she was about six. She would ride in her car seat while I was driving and think nothing of hitting me in the head with the nearest toy if she was upset. Or the times in the drug store when she would punch me in the back of the head for saying no to buying a new toy. I never got her evaluated back then because at the time I was making a lot of bad choices. I was a single mother who was trying my best to make it, yet I carried so much guilt with me about her not having a father. I thought for sure that her behaviors against me were direct results from me being a bad mom. Why was I a bad mom?

In all actuality looking back, I was actually a pretty darn GOOD mother. I always put my children first and made sure their needs were met before mine. ALWAYS. But, you see, I also suffered from pretty bad depression, and the guilty thoughts that I put in my own head just made me feel worse. Instead of getting us help, I would over compensate and try to be more of a friend than a mom. I look back at that now and you will never guess how I feel about that time period too.. Guilty! It is a vicious cycle that I am STILL working on breaking free of.

In 2011, I married my youngest son’s father. We all finally had a “real family unit”! She finally had a father figure that she could call “Dad”! My husband absolutely adores her and has basically adopted her as his own. Her real father has not seen her since she was about 9 months old. I think deep down in my heart I believed that this would heal a lot of her wounds about growing up without a father. And I believe that a lot of those wounds WERE beginning to be healed. But, as they were healing I was beginning to realize the problems were much more deep rooted than I ever could have imagined.

In 2012, I noticed her depression for the first time. She had all of the clinical signs that I knew all too well from my own battle; isolating herself, not doing things she used to love to do, barely talking to anyone, angry outbursts, and negative self-talk. So, I called our local mental health agency and got her wrap around therapy right away. 

It did no good. For nine months, this therapist would come over to our home and I would wait… Wait for her to begin to engage with the therapist.. Wait for her to begin to accept the help that I could see she so desperately needed.. Wait for her to wake up and stop being so angry at all of us. That day finally came! Or so I thought.. She was notably happier around the house. She was getting better grades, and she even joined the school softball team! I was getting my radiant girl back!

Then one day my whole world came crashing down.. In one single day, my breath was taken right out of my lungs and my heart was shattered in a million pieces. You see, I found them. I found the cuts. All. Over. Her. Body. How could I have been so stupid? Naive? Guilt came pouring back into my soul like a flood. Why did I not notice she was spending so much time in the bathroom? Why didn’t I think it was odd that she was covered in sweatshirts and yoga pants on days when it was 85 degrees outside? Why did I believe her the one time a few weeks earlier when she told me that the cats had scratched her? My cats are DECLAWED for goodness sake.

I counted 60 large cuts. Yes, I was told to count them to keep track of any new ones. My baby girl was hurting herself. On purpose! To be able to feel her emotions and cope with life. How could this even be possible? She looked me in the eye and told me how sorry she was and that she really was ready for help. I drove her to the hospital and she agreed it was time for inpatient treatment. She worked hard that first admission and participated in all of the therapies. They adjusted her medicine and diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. Ten days later she was discharged, vowing to never do it again. I naively believed her. I had heard that cutting was addicting, but I thought that I had caught it in time. So, we would be good to go from there on out. We had a new therapist coming to the house, one that I had hoped would mesh better with my daughter.

Then it happened again. She was burning herself this time. It was exactly one month from her discharge date and my daughter told me that she wanted to die. She was being bullied at school and wanted to die. So, back we went.. She was admitted for another fourteen days and again was a picture perfect patient. She participated in groups, was honest about the bullying so that the school could take action, and by the time she was discharged school was out for the summer. I assumed that we could have a great summer of doing fun stuff together as a family and she would really be okay this time. She would be okay by the time school started again if I just tried hard enough!

The summer came and went, nothing too eventful happened. It was nice and relaxing for the most part, aside from a few minor issues.

It was time for school before we knew it. I really believed in my heart that she was going to strut her new and improved self into eighth grade and not look back. But, the signs were coming back again.. At first she would go to the guidance office or the nurse for a few periods a day. Then, it got to the point where she could not even make it through a single period without getting up and leaving. I started the process of getting a psych eval at school so that she could have an IEP to receive emotional support services. I had multiple meetings with school staff to try to understand what exactly was happening at school and how I could help. We all were at a loss. There was no bullying happening, there was no real reason that she could not make it through classes except for her very own mind and social anxiety. It began to eat her alive and I could see it. But, there was nothing I could do to help her because she did not want to accept any help. I could not force her to want to get better.

Last week the violence came back. She was so out of control that we had to call the police. She tried to punch me in the face, but luckily I ducked. She threw a very hardwood chair at me and it left a nasty bruise on my leg where it hit. She also tried to throw herself down the stairs, but I caught her.

So, here I sit. Seeing and feeling her all over this house. Reminders of her are EVERYWHERE. I sit here and worry about her future. I sit here and beat myself up once again with that horrible guilt that loves to rear it’s ugly head. I sit here and replay all of the should haves, could haves, would haves of our life.

All I can do is wait once again. 

Wait for her to come home. Wait for her to allow me to love her. Wait for her to believe in herself and that her life is worth living. Wait for her to be whole again. And lastly, wait for my own self forgiveness.

Thank you for letting me share our story with you.


Normally when I host a guest post, I write an introduction at the beginning, but this piece clearly did not need one. A fan reached out to me today after reading my post on postpartum depression and asked if I would be willing to share her story. 

This is what she sent me.

My heart breaks for her, for her little girl, for them all. 

All she can do is wait. 

Anyone who has been on this side of mental illness learns this truth eventually. We are powerless to help those who refuse it. 

I hope with everything I have that her daughter can get the help she needs. 

Find your way home if you can, sweetheart. Your mama loves you.

Love and light. xoxo


  1. Support for you in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. I struggled to read this. My story is different, but similar which is to be expected given that no two children are alike. We lived through many dark years with my daughter in her teens and early twenties. Baby steps forward. Giant steps backwards. Always fighting the mental health system. Always fighting the guilt and that thought that there was something we could have done or not done to prevent all the pain and suffering that our precious daughter suffered. My daughter is 25 now and her life is still a struggle and probably always will be, but she is okay for now and for that I am grateful every single day.

    My heart goes out to you the writer, your daughter and your family. I wish I could see you in person and hug you and share my story with you. Maybe it would help just a little to ease your pain to know that you are not alone in your situation. Much love to you all.

  3. I know that feeling. That feeling that your stomach has dropped straight out of your body when you see the cuts that your precious baby has made on their body. We've not had to go the inpatient route, hoping we don't. You have my thoughts and best wishes. Hope your baby finds her way home.

  4. I've been your little girl, ( im 32 now) my story is not quite the same but very similar in the way that my father also had me hospitalized twice as a teen because of self harm and suicide attempts. It did eventually help. I still struggle almost daily. I'm on a medication/therapy regiment that is helping immensely. You are an amazing mother for fighting for and with her and not giving up on her. When she is finally feeling well and looking back on this, that will mean more to her than anything. Love and prayers to you and your family. <3

  5. It is brave of you to let her go and get the help she needs. You are a Warrior Mama. Hugs and love to you.

  6. All I can say is that I send you love. Love and HOPE. If I may suggest something? If your entire family isn't in some form of counseling you may want to consider it. There is support for all of you out there as you deal with her illness and your own Depression. HUGS and MORE HUGS from me to you and your sweet girl!


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