As the title of this blog states, this is the first in a series of blogs. I do not share this information lightly. I have weighed the impact of publicly voicing this part of my life, versus letting people know about my daughter. It has been a very difficult decision. But throughout the process- and healing IS a process- I've found a voice which makes me want to advocate for those who suffer.
While I haven't blogged frequently of late, I have had a lot on my plate and on my mind. I've been wanting to talk about a very personal family struggle. If you've read my blog before, you know I am very outspoken when it comes to mental health awareness. Being a sufferer of depression and anxiety, I know the highs and the very lows life can deliver. All too often, those struggles are stigmatized and highly misunderstood.
In part, my blogging silence has been due to a bit of a family crisis. One day over the summer, I noticed some pretty deep scratches on my daughter's arm. Concerned, I asked her what had happened. She explained she had cut herself moving. Totally plausible. We had moved and we were all a little black and blue. You know how it goes.
As the summer progressed, I noticed my daughter was more sullen than usual. Which, let's be honest- aren't all 14 year old girls sullen, moody, crabby...need I go on? But there were other little things. Her favorite activity every summer is swimming. We had just moved close to a beautiful city pool, and I was surprised she turned down every single invitation to swim.
By mid-summer I had a hunch all was not well. I couldn't put a finger on it. There were little signs. The lack of interest. Wearing sweatshirts. Avoiding friends. One afternoon, my daughter and I were moving a piece of furniture upstairs. Her shirt sleeve crept up, and my eyes went directly to deep scratches on her arm. I asked her what had happened. "I was helping with yard work and I scratched myself." Nope. My kid would rather have teeth pulled than work on the yard.
I asked again. "Oh, I was helping Abuelo move things and I got cut." Wrong again. I looked into her eyes and asked what I suddenly knew to be true: "Have you been cutting yourself?" She hemmed, hawed, and denied. After about 5 endless minutes on the stairs, she looked at me and answered, "You already said it." And like that, my life shifted permanently. My beautiful daughter was practicing self-harm.
As parents, we try to protect our kids from all sorts of things- germs, creepy strangers, spoiled food, pornography, heartache.... But what do you do and where do you turn, when your child's mind is what they need protecting from?
If you read this & you self harm, have suicidal ideation, depression....or are a parent or friend of someone who struggles with these issues, KNOW THIS: It gets better. You are loved. You are valued. And tomorrow is a new day. Hang on, hang in. There is help available and life is worth every single moment of struggle.