I wish my son had a stomach virus.
That’s all I could think of as we sat in the waiting room of the ER watching a toddler run around with a vomit bag.
But my child’s injuries couldn’t be seen on the outside and had to be explained over and over again to each different nurse and doctor who treated us. He had just made a third attempt to end his life. My man child looked at me lying on the little bed in the ER with his scruffy beard and long, skinny legs and said, “I guess I didn’t take enough.”
My heart broke.
The agony for a parent with a child suffering from mental illness is excruciating.
Emotions swing from anger to sadness to guilt to worry. I’m angry at the person who first offered him marijuana and said it would help. I’m angry I had no idea. I’m sad my baby feels this way and his siblings have had a front-row seat to it all. I feel guilty I couldn’t stop it. And I’m terrified that next time he’ll succeed.
All I want to do is fix it or put a Band-Aid on it or find the magic pill that will make it all better. How did we get here? My husband and I have poured love and Jesus into this boy since the day he was born. What happened?
Sin happened. Satan was waiting and watching for the perfect time to strike and that happened to be the sophomore year of high school. While taking a full load of honors and AP classes and juggling basketball and yearbook, a weak spot of insecurity was found and Satan pounced.
Looking back, I don’t know how we could have changed things or built up a better defense. Maybe if I prayed more, or he was homeschooled, or wasn’t in any advanced classes? The doubts circle around in my head constantly. The things I do know and have learned are:
Jesus might give us more than we can handle, but He never leaves our side.
Throughout all of this, there have been people with words of wisdom and prayer for our family and love for my son.
It’s up to us parents—not teachers, coaches or administrators—to find mental health help for our kids. Sadly, it took us six months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist. There’s a shortage of adolescent psychiatrists in America that I had no idea about. Start calling as soon as you suspect something. We have a whole generation of youth in agony because of new demands and temptations we never faced—like social media, increased pressure to test well and earn college credit in high school, legalization of marijuana, and new discoveries like vaping that make hiding it all easier.
Moodiness is normal in teens, but if accompanied by heavy sleep or loss of sleep, make sure you are reading text messages. I never would have known about my son’s first suicide attempt had I not read his messages to a girlfriend.
Refuse to blame. Blaming your spouse or a friend group won’t solve the problem. Two are better than one, the Bible says. Now is the time to stick together more than ever and get on your knees.
Our son is not out of the woods yet. We have had to take drastic measures toward healing, but I refuse to give in. I am fighting for him, and I will not stop believing God has a plan and will and can use this to write our story and our son’s testimony. I can’t wait to see the end!