Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
The dream started out most of ours did. Let’s have a baby; babies are so cute! The baby will grow up into a fun-loving child and then a teenager and we will have lots of fun together. Family time will be filled with adventures and something everyone will look forward to. There will be relatively little teenage strife and I will approve of all their friends! Then, since we live in the Midwest my child will go to a Big 10 school, maybe, if they want to go farther a way, I will have to settle for an Ivy League. Next will come a respected profession that will enable my child to earn enough money so they can get off our payroll, a cute place in the city, marriage to another professional, a house in the suburbs, etc. etc. My reality will be just like all those pictures I see on Facebook. Boy, that was a great dream! What I learned was that there is no perfect family and no one is as happy as they look on Facebook.
My dream was not my reality. Yes, my child is wonderful; witty, smart, funny, hardworking and I love my child very much. My child began showing signs of depression in middle school. We tried therapy, looked into medication, worked with the schools, anything and everything we could think of but our child moved deeper into depression. By college, there was self-harm and other dangerous behaviors our child did in crisis. No amount of intervention could control what was happening.
After one particularly scary event I realized our child had hit rock bottom. We had no choice but to take drastic measures and decided pretty quickly to send our child to a wilderness program. From there our child went to a residential treatment program in Utah and eventually a transitional program as well. When people ask if it was the hardest decision we ever made I say, no, it was the easiest decision we ever made but was the hardest thing we’ve ever done.
I was traumatized by the years of crisis and by the decisions my husband and I had to make. How could this have happened? We come from a good family, live in a good neighborhood and send our children to good public schools. This shouldn’t happen in the life we created. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, what would they think?
My husband was a true teammate in all of this and I’m proud of how we worked together but it would have been great to be able to talk to others without fear of stigma or judgment. We would have benefited from a larger support system. Over the past several years everyone in the family has done some hard work and I’m thrilled to report our child is a college graduate, happy, healthy and has a full life ahead. We are so proud of the work that has been done. There can be a happy ending. That’s why I’m a parent coach, so I can help you on your journey to find your happy ending.
Whether your child is in therapy and living in the home or if you have or are considering wilderness or residential placement, parents deserve a support system to help face challenges without judgment. It’s not your fault. Depression, anxiety, addiction and other behavioral disorders have become an epidemic in teenagers recently and parents do not yet have all the tools and knowledge to deal with these problems. My goal and my passion are to create that support for you.
If any part of the story above sounds familiar you are in the right place. As Hillary Clinton says, “It takes a village” and that is truer now than ever before. I hope you will follow my blog and visit my website often. I’d love to hear from you and looking forward to working with many of you in the near future.