I'm going to try to write more often, every day or every other if I can. I know, that's ambitious, but there's a reason behind it.
L has been struggling lately. Like, a lot. I'm now sure that he suffers from depression and anxiety, and it's breaking my heart. The reason I hope to be able to write more often is twofold:
One, I want to try to journal what's happening with him each day. I think it may be helpful when we start going to therapy.
Two, I hope that it may help someone else. Reading about another's journey with something difficult can always be helpful, especially for parents. We need to know that we're not alone.
I am putting this out there, making it public because mental illness isn't something to hide. I didn't want to think or accept at first that my son could be mentally ill. And with kids, it's so overlooked. It's brushed off as bad behaviour, bad moods, or something they'll "grow out of."
This isn't easy to write, trust me. My hands are shaking, I have had trouble all day keeping my emotions even, and the lump in my throat is painful.
I'll back up a bit, to a few weeks ago. L, as usual, was fighting with me about homework. He hates it, it stresses him out (even though he can easily do it, it's not an understanding-the-work thing) and I really have to push him to do it. He had a blow up, right before dinner, and ran to his room. When I went to seek him out about 10 minutes later, he had written a note and was about to tape it to his door. It said that he felt like a terrible person. That he should die. That basically, he felt worthless and didn't deserve to live.
God, I still can't think of this note without crying. I understand those feelings. I've felt them myself. Mostly as a teen, but I DO remember that feeling. It's awful. We spent the rest of the night crying, cuddling, and talking a bit. It came out that he had had an altercation with another child in his class. One who apparently called him "a bad friend" (and isn't actually his friend at all) and who went to all of L's friends to ask them why they were friends with him and that they shouldn't be friends with him.
I can certainly understand why this would be upsetting. To a child whose self-esteem is already low, who struggles with friendships at school, this was devastating. Even though his BFF told the other kid to basically take a hike, L didn't hear that, or didn't want to. He just heard the negative.
I let him stay home the next day, as a mental health day, and the day after, I had a meeting with the principal and teacher. I made them aware that he is struggling with anxiety, and that the work load needed to be lightened, since he couldn't deal with it.
Not a lot has been done on the workload front, but the teacher did have a threeway meeting with L and this other kid. She also involved L's BFF as a support for L, and witness too, I'm sure.
Since then, we've had good days and bad day. But Sundays are when the shit hits the fan and L starts to become despondent as the evening wears on. It means Monday is coming, and the start of a whole other week of torture and misery for him. He cries himself to sleep those nights, worried and anxious about the next week at school.
Now, this week has been the worst one yet. Sunday night - he cried himself to sleep. Monday morning - he went to school with a stomachache. I told him to call me if it got worse. Around one, I had to retrieve him from school. Tuesday- he stayed home from school, we did some homework together after lunch, and his stomach didn't seem to be bothering him much. Tuesday evening, he got upset again. Right before dinner he retreated to his room and wouldn't tell me what he was upset about. I still don't know what set him off now. Tuesday night- he cried himself to sleep again with words of "I don't want to live this life anymore, I can't live my life like this, I want a new life, no one understands me, no one can help me, I don't have any friends at school, everyone thinks I'm an idiot because I was crying..." I should mention that his BFF is on vacation this week. I'm thinking this a part of the additional stress he's experiencing.
I myself, am feeling depressed now. I feel terrible for him. My mind starts to race with all the things I've ever done wrong, and I try desperately to shut that down. The past is the past, and I must not make those mistakes again. Through some reading a bit on the Web, I've learned a little better how to listen to L. I think it has helped somewhat and I don't seem to have to try as hard to get him to open up to me. This morning though, was the worst. I really didn't know what to do. I still don't know if I did the right thing. I woke him up, and got his clothes out, as usual. Instead of pestering him constantly to get up and get dressed as usual, I just left him to it. I couldn't do the fight thing this morning. I just couldn't. So I left him, until about 8:25 when I said we were leaving in about five minutes for school. He did get dressed and come downstairs, but went back up when I asked him to brush his teeth. He hadn't even had breakfast yet. But time was running out. Five minutes later, I went to see where he was, and he was in the spare room just sitting there. He wouldn't talk to me, wouldn't look at me, wouldn't let me touch him. He also wouldn't get up to come get his coat on for school. I told him I was going to call his dad, and I really was, because I was at my wit's end. I didn't want to start yelling at him, or threatening him this morning, I really didn't want the fight. So I didn't. He came down then, and got ready and walked to school, but he didn't talk to me, didn't acknowledge my presence, didn't say goodbye at school.
I called the principal later from home, and had him check on him and inform the teacher. He is also putting him on a list for the school social worker, but who knows how long that will take.
DH and I talked again to our family doctor on the weekend. L has another appt with the pediatrician at the end of Feb, and we are looking for a psychologist. I've contacted one, but she's a bit out of town, so if we can find one in town that would be better. I'm waiting for a response to a voicemail I left with another. I hope she calls back soon. It feels more and more urgent to me. Like a clock is winding down. To hear my boy cry at night, and tell me these feelings, it's so hard. I just want to make it go away, like any parent wants their child's pain to go away magically. I'm so scared now that he's going to give up, that he's going to hurt himself. We're not quite there yet, but with how fast things seem to have escalated lately, I'm very scared that the breaking point could be sooner than I think.