Many years ago we lost a very special family member to suicide. It was something that was very difficult to come to terms with, but now nearly 30 years later I understand who he was. Today suicide is a topic that is more talked about and less taboo. As a teacher we look for signs in our students.
Through my own journey with our daughter, who is diagnosed with mental health issues, I have learned the most. To say the journey has been easy would be an immense understatement. It has been the most difficult of journeys that I have faced. It is through her ability to publicly acknowledge this illness that I myself have the confidence to write this post.
I could spend a long time writing the whole journey about incidents and events that happened, but instead I am going to write from a parent’s points of view. The biggest thing for me is guilt. Guilt that I have done something wrong, I pushed too hard or I didn’t understand where she was coming from. I still struggle – not with her, but with my inability to fix her. It is only now I see that, in fact, she does not need fixing.
Her mental health issues make her who she is, the beautiful human that I have come to love and respect. We have always raised our children to be passionate about things, to follow their dreams and to be vocal. It is hard not to think that I have made mistakes, that I could have done better. Maybe I should have been more main stream.
I have no real advice on how to deal with someone you love being mentally ill. I can say that when you are feeling like you have done nothing right, when you are worried for their well-being and you think the worst, you catch a glimpse of a sparkle of hope and you hold onto that as hard as you can.
I do not believe that I will ever be done with parenting. My mum once said to me “As a mum you always worry.” And she was right. So, to my own daughter all I can say is “I Love you. I love every part of you and although I find this challenging, I will always be there with you in the middle of the dark times to just walk beside you.”