The suicide Game

I’m sitting in the eye doctor office waiting for my oldest daughter to finish her appointment. People walk past me. Patients sit across from me. But they would never know.

I’m tired. No, nix that. I’m depleted. I pulled my hair up in a presentable bun. Threw on some “good enough” clothes of jeans and a short sleeve black sweater. Tossed on my sensible flats even though nothing in my life seems all that sensible.

My husband stayed home. Thank God. I couldn’t have survived this day if he didn’t.

We both tried to resume some sense of normalcy. I ran to the store this morning to get donuts. Maybe copious amounts of sugar will make this day less awkward.

No, not really.

Yesterday my middle child sent me a text at 7pm telling me how she should’ve tried harder. The text was sent 7 minutes before. I instantly knew what that meant but was I too late? Just moments before I heard the water in the shower running. I didn’t know what I’d see on the other side of the door. I wiggled the handle but it was locked. I pushed on it as hard as I could and it popped open. My daughter was in the bathtub full of water, fully clothed with cuts up and down her arm. They were mostly shallow cuts.

My body started shaking. I could only express anger. “What the hell??” I managed to yell at her. She sat there sobbing.

The next hours were spent contemplating hospitalization or something else. We talked to her psychiatrist who said we didn’t need to hospitalize her unless she was unsafe. She wasn’t. We have done this 2 other times, once in a hospital. We knew to hide everything and to watch her like a hawk.

She was angry but wouldn’t say why. I knew that once her anger subsided, we’d be better off but sometimes her anger didn’t go away until the next day. So she treated her dad and I like monsters and then fell asleep. Usually we have approached this with lots of empathy, patience, and coddling but last night, I was done with that. I told her exactly how all of this made her dad and I feel and what would happen to us if she succeeded. She needed to hear it. And I figured all the empathy and egg shell walking hadn’t prevented a thing.

It seemed as if we had jumped back in time to a year ago. Nothing had seemed to improve despite all the damn therapy, drugs, hospitalizations, and doctor visits. We have gone broke trying to make her happy. And I’m sorry if I’m insensitive, but no one gives a fuck about the people who have to deal with this day in and day out. Everyone is concerned for her which they should be! But no one seems to care about the toll it takes on me, on her siblings, or on her dad. No one understands the cloud of shame, the anxiety from being on high alert, the inability to share what really hurts (because who can understand this?), the level of secrecy her siblings must have, and the days where we just don’t function that well. It’s like being in a war zone, all the time. Every counselor we speak to, every social worker, doctor, nurse, or psychiatrist is paid to help her. I’m glad they try. But who is there to help the rest of us?

Our time and energy is spent keeping her alive. We maneuver our lives so she can’t possibly end hers. We deplete ourselves trying to make her happy, but we become miserable. Her pain and agony become ours. There is no individual pain when it comes to mental health. Behind every depressed, suffering person is a family of people who suffer with them. Or die trying.

And yet through all of it, we are told things like we can’t give up hope, we have to fight, we can’t detach, we have to have empathy and show concern, we need to be rocks and never waiver.

Who can do all that, honestly? Who can lose hours of sleep, their own sense of sanity, and not turn bitter, angry, and depressed themselves?

Of course, I keep fighting (for someone who won’t fight for themselves) and trying (even though giving up sounds less painful). But I’m also angry and ridiculously fed up with this game. It’s becoming rather predictable. The ending, I still fear, because that part is always a mystery. I can’t know whether her cries for help are feigned suicide attempts or not. To guess wrong might end up in terrible regret. So I’m a puppet on her string, being pulled this way and that, tossed in a box and pulled back out for the show. This is my reality. It’s how I feel.

And the show must go on. But I don’t know how long I can keep going. It’s nothing but pure emotional torture and I’m exhausted. Sometimes I think a cancer diagnosis would be a relief. Life is hard when you feel like you are not in control of your own life anymore.

My life has become a series of power plays and coercive manipulation. How do I get my life back? How do I do it without causing great harm? That is my cunundrum.

There are no easy answers. I keep looking though.

She is in better spirits today. I sigh. This is the temporary relief in the raging storm of depression. I don’t know if it’s game, but I’m so tired of playing.

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Too Legit to Quit

Life passions are interesting, at least for me. I often feel like my passions fizzle out. I will take up a hobby one year and the next, I’m over it.

It’s amazing I homeschooled as long as I did (12 years to be exact).

I realize that I’m burned out. I probably have been for several years. Currently, I can’t handle a lot emotionally speaking. I turn into a useless ball of tears in the midst of conflict. I don’t hold on to hope. Sometimes I wish I’d get an incurable disease so the decision would be made for me. I just get tired of the fight.

You know… The fight. Always battling the words people say, my own emotions, my introverted and sensitive nature. I often don’t feel fit for such a harsh world. I don’t fit in with most women. I’m 40 and still don’t have a tribe. I’m starting to think that term is BS.

I realize I’m an irrational weirdo but life just has never felt easy. It’s always wrought with conflict. And now my kids have their own and I feel like I have to handle theirs too.

I recently told people I was done homeschooling. The question then becomes, “oh, then what are you doing next year?” I feel a sense of laziness because my plan is to do very little. I’m going to work from home 10 hours a week then pick up my kids from school. That’s about it.

Oh I could go rush back into full time employment but like I said, I’m burned out. I’m cynical, irritable, depressed, and don’t enjoy being around many people. The signs of burn out include isolation and moodiness. The remedy is rest and support. So I’m planning a year of just that.

People don’t realize the emotional toll I’ve had to deal with. I homeschooled one child on the spectrum, another with a mental health problem, and another who got lost in the mix. I didn’t keep up with their schooling and now I feel a sense of failure. I should’ve done more. But I was unable.

The year I had last year included several visits to the ER, mental health therapy on a weekly basis, partial hospitalization, doctor visits, psychiatry visits, physical therapy, surgery, eye and dental visits, and conflict almost everyday. It was comparable to being in combat. I wondered if it would ever end. I still do.

Although things are a little better, I don’t know what this year will bring. But I know my soul has taken a beating. I know I need a break.

I’ve lost any passions I had for life. My motivation for art has dwindled. While I love my kids, I think they stress me out too much. I need to find the things that don’t cause me anxiety. I’m not even sure what that is anymore.

There is guilt in admitting I need a break. In admitting motherhood is a drag. Because I always prided myself on being a mom, it feels like I am losing my identity. They’ll all be away from me next year. I’m scared of what being alone all day might do.

But it’s a phase. I’m hoping after some time, I’ll bounce back. Maybe I’ll find a new hobby. Maybe I’ll meet new people. Maybe I’ll feel hope again.

I’ll still be dealing with stress because life never hands us complete peace. We still have responsibilities. We can’t completely check out. But I know I can’t keep going full speed like I have been either.

It’s ok to quit. Sometimes quitting leads to new adventures. Or so I hope.

Nothing more than feelings

There are times when stress really changes me. I start to feel insane. I wonder if I should even be around humanity. Seems like I’d be better off away from everyone.

I don’t know when it started but over the past few weeks, I just feel like I don’t really matter. I don’t know if I’m just sick of being a mom or tired of no one really caring. I’m confused by my own thought processes at times.

Maybe it started when my sister told me I was a miserable person. They say even when people insult you, there’s some truth in it. Problem is I think there’s a lot of truth and then can’t seem to find any good in myself or my life. She told me I hate everything and then insulted my marriage by saying I’ve barely stayed married.

Of course, there is something to be said of verbal insults. It can wreak havok on the mind and heart. Maybe this is where I started to veer off.

There’s been a few difficulties with my older kids. They prefer to snap at me and huff off. Then I start to feel like I really don’t matter. I’m just a means to an end. If I try to get my kids to change, they are completely inflexible and take out their anger on me. Simple requests turn into stomping and snippy remarks. Maybe I’m just tired of being everyone’s doormat. So today, I walked out and went to the gym after telling my kids how I was only trying to help. I came back and they all cleaned up their rooms. So maybe I need to set better boundaries. It’s not ok to treat me like crap just because your annoyed.

Enter Facebook where everyone can sit behind their computers and be fake as hell. I deleted the thing but ended back on there. I have deep regrets. My siblings and I don’t talk much. I don’t talk to my nieces and nephews. There are a few I do, but overall, I know they are back stabbing phonies. I have kept my distance but I do try to be kind. So when they friend requested me, I decided I’d try it.

It was my brother’s birthday and we aren’t Facebook pals. He acts like I don’t exist. But despite that, his wife and I are friends. Or something. So she posted a pic of my brother and I wrote, “tell my brother happy birthday.” I didn’t have to write a damn thing. I owe him nothing. So when his daughter responded with “why don’t you tell him yourself”, I told her to suck it. No one wishes me a happy birthday and the phone goes both ways. Further, I don’t owe them my serenity. She blasted me with a bunch of garbage so I blocked her and her mom. Honestly, I don’t have time for their drama. But thanks for proving how nasty you are.

My sister in law then told my sister that it was a joke and I was being a bitch. Yeah, real funny to be attacked when I was trying to be kind. I guess my family has no idea what that is since they are so full of shit.

And now I’m back to feeling sick of life and people. I feel like people only ever look for my flaws or imagine some if they can’t find something. And it seems like I’m constantly reminded of how little I matter to most people. They think the absolute worst of me. My own family of birth thinks so little of me. Then I go home and my kids seem to hate me too. What’s the point of my life? To live in a world where I maybe matter to two people?

I do the block and delete and try to restore my sanity but most days I’m just fighting to exist. It sucks when you feel like the world is against you.

Always trying to grab on to hope until someone comes along and reminds you that you aren’t good enough.

I don’t miss them. I just miss the idea of having people care. They never did but I thought they did. And in return, I thought I mattered too. Lately I’m not so sure anymore.

Say NO to Nouthetic Counselors

Some people don’t know how dangerous they are. They sit behind their podiums, blasting their well-thought out theology, and never know how much damage they are inflicting. If they do start to wonder, they push those feelings aside and say, “It’s God’s Word. My feelings don’t matter.” And so goes the sad case of abuses all across the world in evangelical circles.

My husband and I have been going to counseling. At first, I wanted nothing to do with it because the guy is a Christian counselor. I thought,” What a bunch of crap!” So at first, I wasn’t game.

But our marriage was falling apart. I was convinced my husband was emotionally abusive because he neglected me, ignored me, and invalidated most things I said. I was about to leave him.

Some people told me counseling was worthless. Since I thought he was abusive, the thought was that he was good at convincing a therapist too. And I would just be further abused. And in all honesty, he showed all the signs of emotional abuse except it never seemed personal. He seemed to just be ignorant of the fact that how he acted hurt me a lot.

So I struggled with what to do.

Two years before this point, I had sat in a counseling office at church. The dangerous theology was spewed and believed by everyone but me. The pastor / counselor told me I was subject to my husband. He told my husband to love me like Christ loved the church. This never quite sat well with me just like “spare not the rod” never sat well with me in parenting. How can loving someone consist of a power trip, control, and one being over the other? How could God love me but then tell me I’m less than my husband because I am female?

It never made sense. And besides that, issues were never discussed. Bible verses were used to cover over “sins” but we never discussed those in any detail. I was sent home and told to submit. All my husband had to do was be a leader, whatever the hell that means.

When we left the church, I just was so angry at so many things. The teachings that I was less than. The idea that I didn’t matter without my husband. The constant invalidation not only from my husband but from men at church that I trusted.

I remember statements about other women too where the pastor said the husband needed to get his wife under control. But then there was always that love part thrown in. Like that means anything? Being willing to lay down your life in every way except control or leading the family or having to work. How very “Stepford Wife” of you. The hypocrisy was blinding.

So after that experience which dragged on for many months, I was just unwilling to go. I couldn’t take more invalidation or being told I didn’t matter. I couldn’t handle another blow to my already fragile heart.

I told myself I’d go one time. If during that meeting, I even once felt invalidated or not heard, I would be done. The meeting came and I felt completely like crawling out of my skin. Most of the emphasis was on my husbands fragility and self-worth. He talked previously with the counselor about his childhood. I listened with little empathy. Everyone has had a shitty childhood. Get over it. I thought to myself. But I kept listening. I didn’t feel invalidated but I still didn’t feel as if the root issue was being addressed.

I walked out rather pissed. Was I just supposed to feel sorry for him? All this talk of childhoods and maltreatment but little concern for how I feel. I decided I’d go one more time but I’d be more verbal.

Two weeks later I was back again. I expected this to be my last. But I shared many things and to my surprise, the counselor knew exactly what to say and how to address it and even told my husband that he was invalidating my feelings. He threw out some ideas to help us. I honestly didn’t feel like connecting with my husband or trying to work at our marriage but I decided to hang in there.

We’ve gone several times now and most times I’m not the one putting in the effort. Instead, I see him trying to change. This is huge because in the past, I was the one with the problems and I needed to change. So after seeing that for a few months… that he was serious, things have begun to turn around. I now trust that my efforts are worth something.

I often criticize Christians on this blog, but I can’t say anything negative about our experience with a Christian counselor. He has truly shown Christ in his dealings with my husband and I. It’s a breath of fresh air after our last experience. It causes me to wonder if there is a world of Christians that are actually sincere. I wish I knew more of them. It’s so drastically different than my dealings with those male pastors who believed in a man centered society where women just went along quietly. Psh.

I later learned the differences between these counselors. While both claimed Christianity, only one man was qualified to help me. The first counselor was trained in nouthetic counseling (NANC). Do a search and you will find horror stories of these so-called counselors.

One website describes it this way:

To become a Nouthetic counselor, one needs only to be very familiar with scripture and the Bible. There are no educational requirements—in fact, the idea of Nouthetic counseling is that it is done by friends, family, and fellow members of the church in an informal method, not as a type of therapy or formal counseling.

According to the Certified Biblical Counselors website (where my former pastor was certified), they offer training through videos and online courses and an exam. They also have you record counseling sessions and then review the session, critiquing your approach. Otherwise, anyone can basically counsel if they are willing to pay the fee and undergo limited training. The only way they won’t is if you are a sex offender. Oh joy.

The thing that really pisses me off is they feel they are able to handle any issue with a Bible verse. This quote was on their website regarding abuse:

In 2018, the ACBC annual conference will focus on the problem of abuse and show how the resources of Scripture equip Christians to counsel abused persons and those who have harmed them.

It’s ridiculous! A monkey with a piece of paper and literally no training should not be counseling abuse victims.

In contrast, our trained counselor studied at a reputable college and has an MA in marriage and family therapy where he underwent hours of supervised sessions and was trained on how to use scientifically backed therapies. Other counselors have been trained in DBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, and EDMR for abuse and trauma. They aren’t just given a degree. They put in hours of study and build up their practice and continue in their learning.

Of course there are counselors who suck, but overall I’ve seen a huge difference in my family because of therapy.

In my opinion, nouthetic counseling is abusive and causes more problems. It adds shame to trauma and abuse victims and is dangerous for those who should be seeking real help in the form of therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

If I had stayed in that church, I know by now I would’ve been divorced and my husband would still be listening to their chauvinistic BS. I’ve met people in other churches that push for trained counseling instead of nouthetic because they know how dangerous it is. I’m thankful they know where to draw the line. For these churches to counsel people with hardly any training is a sad, abusive practice. Its taken our marriage years to bounce back after their corrupt teachings. I credit the educated therapists who undergo extensive training and know how to listen and apply that knowledge in a healthy way. Without them, my family would be no more.

I Want The Simple Life

My daughter jumped off our roof the day before Mother’s Day.

A thousand things went through my head. Was she suicidal? Is she bipolar? Was she gonna be OK?

I arrived home to chaos. My son was terrified. She was laying in the grass, face covered, sobbing. My husband was on the phone.

I rushed out of my car.

“What the hell happened?” I was panicked at the scene. My husband told me she jumped from our roof. I immediately snapped, “You jumped? What the hell?!” My concern turned to anger.

Maybe it seems like I should have more empathy, but in the past year, I’ve literally dealt with way more than I can handle. Last summer, it was cutting and suicide threats. Then it was hospitalization and a month long program which diagnosed her with depression and anxiety and placed her on meds. Then she told us she was bisexual and had a girlfriend. After that, she shaved her head.

She attempted to convince her counselor she was going to kill herself again but we decided to watch her and remove sharp objects. She backed down. Then she refused to take her meds so I had her see a psychiatrist who put her on new meds. Then she jumped. And I cried buckets because it just never seems to end…all the emotional strength it takes to parent just her is something I no longer have. Plus I have two other kids and I feel like they get ignored a lot so my depressed child always knows we care. It’s downright exhausting.

There are many days I just want 18 to come. I see a lot of people missing their kids and going through empty nest but I feel like I will embrace empty nest. I will jump up and down to no longer be stuck in this emotional black hole.

My child ended up getting surgery for a broken tibia and had a titanium rod placed through her bone. It’s been a painful lesson. And we realized, she was just being a teen. She honestly thought she could clear the roof. She regrets being foolish and is suffering through pain, missing out on summer fun, and being stuck at home. I think she’s getting that she has put us through a lot based on conversations we’ve had.

My husband and I went away for the weekend. We’ve been married 20 years now. When we came back, I got depressed. I had fun just being with him. How often does our time just involve each other? Rarely ever these days. We are constantly dealing with our kids. It’s always stress. And I miss just being with my best friend.

I love my kids and always will. I sacrifice my time, energy, and entire life for them but sometimes I miss being a wife–getting attention, connecting, having fun. So we are back to life and stress and routines but I long for the day when things are boring.

Lately I just try to appreciate the moments of calm. I run off my anger at the gym. I praise my kids when they do things without me… Even if it’s small. The more I can encourage independence, the less stress I have to carry. I try to connect in small ways with my husband. I take what I can get.

Life won’t always be this way, but lately it feels so damn hard. There are parents who don’t have honor students and wish they had normal kids. They crave the simple things, but mostly peace. There is no such thing as normal, but we strive for a sense of it anyway.

I will keep loving my daughter in this hard to breath place, hoping relief will come someday. Maybe we’ll look back and laugh. I really hope so.

Want to Be Happy?

I love happy people.

Their contagious smiles.

Their laughs.

The way they seem to love life and embrace it. Every bit of it.

It’s hard to be unhappy around happy people.

Their energy is contagious. Their passion is admirable.

I wish I could be like that.

Happy Does Not Equal Phony

Happy is not sucking it up & pretending to be OK when you aren’t. It’s not flashing a plastic smile when you’re heart is breaking. Those masks need to be thrown in the trash. In a world of highlight reels of perfect families, perfect bodies, and perfect social media posts, I encourage you to embrace the freedom of being you. YOU. Yes, the ugly crying, the salty emotions, and the bad hair days. YOU. The woman (or man) who longs to be happy, who struggles to find her voice, who wonders if her best is good enough.

Don’t take away the message that you have to be anything but who you are. I want to be happy just like you do. Not fake happy. Not pretend, here’s my Facebook photo to prove ithappy.

No, the real deal.

You can just feel it when someone is authentically happy. That’s what I long for. I am thinking you do too.

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