"I am afraid. The wild sting of hopelessness and despair that has become neighbors with my beautiful baby is terrifying. I am afraid of sleep. When I close my eyes, I see other realities. Other possibilities that I don't dare to think about when I'm awake. I feel panicked. Let me love you. Let me love you. Let yourself be loved so fully that it gives you hope and courage and bravery to allow the words to tumble from your lips, undefended. Let me teach you how to have resiliency."
I wrote this about Sethe in February this year after she attempted suicide. She'd been dealing with some pretty severe depression, coupled with relationship drama and lots of anxiety and nightmares. I knew she was depressed, and she'd been seeing a counselor for about 8 months, but it wasn't enough.
She spent a week in a mental health unit at the children's hospital in Portland in early February, then three weeks later another 5 days after another scare. It was frustrating because she didn't want to feel suicidal, but lacked the coping skills as well as the mental health to know what to do to get better on her own. We hooked her up with a fantastic counselor, who after seeing her for a couple months, advocated for her to go to a residential facility to get more intensively help/therapy/coping skills before having her out dealing with the struggles of life.
She was there for 5 weeks. No internet, no phone, no contact with outside friends. We got to see her once a week for an hour, and talked on the phone once a week in addition to that. They got her started on new medicine, and she attended classes within the facility several times a day.
During her stay there, she went through an extremely hard transition; feeling isolated from her family, and dumped into this place with no say, while having to deal with the back log of stress and emotional pain of her depression without family and friends. She had to become extremely self reliant. When she came out, it took her and I months to reconnect. I had to let her be angry and feel betrayed and give her space.
Initially she lived with Reggie at his place where she could have her own room, her own space, and ease back into daily life. She moved back home mid-summer, and a month later she got her snake.
The shifts I've seen in her have astounded me. She went from this desperate emotional place where she'd shut down at the slightest nudge of stress. Now, she talks about her feelings and asks for space. Once space is given, she uses her coping skills to calm herself down and ground herself back to a place of openness.
She started public school this fall, facing down her social anxiety like a fierce lioness. She found resources at school in the counselor and staff and teachers and a few trusted friends. She's not afraid of being seen or being vulnerable anymore. She talks to us, she trusts her counselor and sees her every week, opening, growing, sharing, learning, coping. She tells her counselor when she deals with scary stuff that she doesn't feel comfortable sharing with me. She is reconnecting with her dad, and slowly trusting him again.
She has befriended some sweet girls in our neighborhood. She shaved her head because she didn't want to be reliant on her hair for her self confidence. She lets her arms be visible.
To call her fierce is an understatement.
I know we still have a long road ahead, and she will experience triggers and speedbumps and we will probably deal with frustration around that. But I'm not so afraid anymore. She lets herself be loved and cared for, and she's reaching out, and reaching in, in healthy positive ways. She has a snake and a rat to care for. (She's such a good mama!)
She is so much braver than I could have imagined. Her growth and recovery has been an absolute inspiration to me, and I'm so proud of all of her hard and amazing work to open and unfurl and come into her own power and strength.
She is awake, she is alive, and she is thriving. In a lot of ways I'm grateful for the experience. I'm so grateful she is healthy now. I think this past year was a cocoon period for her, and I can see her emerging into a blinding and brilliant source of light in this sometimes dark world. She is made of glitter and grit, this one. I'm pretty sure she's going to change the world.
*If you are a parent struggling with a depressed or suicidal kiddo, please reach out to me. You aren't alone*