My oldest is 13, and I have been fearful of this time in her life. I heard so many horror stories of mean girls and the hormonal dreadful years to come. In this time of her life, she has asked more questions than I ever asked my own mother, and she has told me things I would have never told my mother. That is our relationship right now, I hope it continues to be that way as she grows. I hope she never stops asking me to lay in bed with her and just talk. I hope she continues to text me during the day just to tell me a funny joke or send me an I-love-you text.
I have the rational fears every mother has for her teenage daughter, but what she wanted to talk about one night during our dinner run was the topic of depression and suicide.
She didn’t just flat out ask me about it because I have been a pretty open book about anything. But not this subject, mostly because there are parts of my past, I would like to keep hidden. This moment was the moment I knew as a mom I needed to speak up.
You know that feeling you get when you are so overwhelmed and nervous you start to get too hot? You begin to sweat but feel cold at the same time? This was that moment for me. I listened to her talk about what it meant. I listened to her talk about where she heard it from and curiously wonder how someone could do that? I was trembling and trying to compose myself because, as a mom, I wanted her to hear me without my tears interrupting.
She looked at me seeking answers, and that’s all it took for the dam to break, the tears spilled over my eyes running down my cheeks. The lump in my throat began to rise as I tried so hard to swallow. I said, “Sometimes the moment we are living in seems too much, and there is no way out of that feeling of emptiness.” She apologized and said she didn’t mean to make me cry. I told her she had no reason to apologize; this was a conversation that needed to happen.
I began to tell her about my suicide attempt when I was a freshman in high school, and I felt alone.
I never talked to my parents about it because they had their own issues. They were there to listen, but I never felt the need to talk to them. I was quiet about it. I thought how easy it would be to say everything I had worried about was just about my appearance and school — all things that now seem so frivolous. But at that moment in time, they were all I had as a teen. I thought no one cared about me and didn’t think anyone would mind if I stepped out.
I wanted to tell my daughter that I was not thinking of what my parents would have found, or what my sisters’ life would have been without the middle sister, or what my friends would have said at my funeral. Those thoughts didn’t cross my mind at that moment because at that moment, in those minutes of silence, I was happy with my decision I was about to make. As I laid there reading a book and thinking of the life I could have one day, I thought maybe me putting it off for another week wouldn’t be so bad. So, I just laid down and cried and fell asleep eventually.
I don’t know what changed in me that night, but from that night on, I chose my future over the dark that had crept in no matter how inviting it was at the time.
She asked me “are you glad you didn’t do it?” And I told her not a day goes by that I am not grateful that I didn’t do it. Sometimes in life, you have some of the hardest days you will ever have to face but know that you don’t have to face them alone. I let her listen to a song that came out months after my attempt by Good Charlotte called “Hold On.” She watched it and just sat there crying with me. I am so glad I held on.
I know this is a topic not many parents want to have with their teens, but it’s a topic that needs to be discussed.
As parents, we want to think our child is immune to these types of thoughts but sometimes the best thing you can do is just let him or her know you are there to talk about it and that it’s okay to ask for help. Make your child aware if he or she doesn’t want to talk to you, that a friend, teacher, or counselor is also available. Make sure your child understands he or she is not alone, and that life will get better.