Found another suicide note in my thirteen year old’s daughter’s bedroom. The note is more specific than the first one we found last summer that upended our lives. This time she has a date and a means (“OD on whatever she can find” or “hang.”) She’s becoming more savvy. Tons of questions plague my mind: What did I do wrong? How can I help her? Why didn’t I pick up on this sooner?
I knew she was struggling with social anxiety, which led to some depression, but we thought the meds and therapy were helping. They aren’t and we’ve been at this a year now. We’ve connected her with weekly therapy, an eating disorder therapist, a child psychiatrist, a dietician, and even equine therapy. At the beginning of the school year, we sat down with her teachers and school administrators and worked out a 504 education plan, scheduled weekly check ins with school counselor, and connected her with a Communities In School program to build her coping skills and provide additional teacher and peer support. We enrolled her in guitar lessons at School of Rock. None of this was enough.
We ended up having to hospitalize her a month ago, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, especially since we’re in the middle of a pandemic and couldn’t even visit her. We had ten minute phone calls three times a day, which consisted of her crying and begging us to get her out. It’s been one step forward and two steps back ever since.
So today I called to get her into a partial program, but they take in-network psychiatrist referrals first and they’re maxed out anyway. Recommendation—keep calling back. No waiting list option. So I add that to my daily list of things to do to keep my daughter alive. While my friends complain of running their kids back and forth to activities and their children not eating their vegetables, I’m just hoping I can get food into my daughter that she’ll actually keep down. In addition to severe anxiety and major depression, we’ve unearthed an eating disorder, which we didn’t even suspect until she dropped 11 pounds in two months. She’s always had texture sensitivity and poor eating habits, but we didn’t know she was restricting calories and purging. I thought she was scared of throwing up. Clearly I was wrong.
Anyway, we’ve been busily doing all we can to support her. We don’t have any family in the area and our parents are elderly and in poor health, which is stressful in its own right, so it’s been the two of us blindly navigating these treacherous waters. Most of the time we’re barely treading water. Or we’re sinking, frantically clutching to anything that will keep our heads above water until the next onslaught. Every time we dodge one wave, we get blind-sided by another. The waters are never calm. Not anymore.
If you are a parent and your child is struggling, please know that you are not alone. We can win this battle, but it’s going to require a lot of armor and weapons and strength and courage and fight.