Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today my mom made a confession:  She sometimes dislikes how open I am with mental illness and other issues (my own and Ethan's).  She's not embarrassed by it, but crinches, because we all know there is a stigma attached to it, and she doesn't want it all "out there."  Initially it stung a little.  I have so much respect for my mom and I'd never want to say or do something to disappoint her.  But then I remembered:  my openness has helped a lot of people.  I have had people reach out to me and thank me for making it seem not quite so taboo.  I've had people seek treatment because they had the same issues I had or people who listen to Ethan's "quirks" and say, "my son/daughter does/is the same way!" 

I have a firm, firm belief:  It takes a village to raise a child.  I know that as a parent, it falls mostly on my shoulders.  I take that responsibility so seriously and I try with everything I've got to do the best job I can.  However, the harsh reality is our kids are not with us 24/7.  For my kids, the place they are the most when not with me is school.  I do not feel it is unfair to build a relationship with a school system to make sure the child is happy and successful while there, which is why I got on top of Ethan's struggles as fast as I could and did whatever I could to help him.  In my ideal, controlling mind, I'd love to just quit my job, follow him around his entire life, and keep him on the right track.  That's ridiculous, though, and we all know that.  Since I know him best, though, I am the best person to go to if someone who has to work with him to turn to for advice and suggestions.  The village, in this case, is the school.

Now as a mother and as a person who battles daily on her own with anxiety and depression, I know I can't do it alone.  For myself, I turn to my mom.  She gets me, just like I get Ethan.  Everyone needs someone they can trust to turn to when the road gets a little extra bumpy.  Everyone also needs a good, reliable doctor they can trust.  I am fortunate to have both.  As a mother, it is very easy to put the blame entirely on yourself when your child starts to struggle.  Why can't I just FIX it for him?  Why, if his home is so loving, is he so sad?  Where did I go wrong?  Social media makes it easy to reach out to your friends, family, and community and say in a roundabout way:  I need some help.  I did, and I received incredible help.  I had so many loving, encouraging, and even "been there, done that" message POUR in.  I had 50+ responses on those threads and when I am out in my community, it never fails I run into someone that reminds us they have us lifted in prayer and they will help us.  The village here, is the people that love and care for us.

Sure, it's nothing to be proud of, per se.  It's a flaw.  A yucky flaw.  A flaw that shouts, "I am weak!  I can't do this alone!"  But you know what?  We are working through it.  Neither Ethan, nor myself, have succumbed to a diagnosis.  "Hey, I get depressed!  I'll just spend the next 3 days laying on the couch in my pajamas."  Or even, "Hey!  I'm anxious!  I think I will kill you today because you are making me FREAKING insane!"  No, we work through it.  We admit it's there and it likely will never go away, but there are ways to make it SO much better.  And if we can find ways to make OUR situation better, how awful would it be to keep it a secret from others who feel the same way?  And I can guarantee others struggle just the same.  They might not want to talk about it, but they can read it and do what they want with it.

So yes.  It's something that is tough to be open with, but it's me.  And it's Ethan.  We are who we are, and honestly?  I think we are coming out on top.  I have no idea who reads my blog anymore, if anyone, and what people think about my openness, but please know I will do anything for anyone.  If you want to reach out to me 24/7 (and yes, I mean that with my whole heart, as my anxiety peaks at night) I will be here for you.  I will listen, and more than likely, I will understand at least to SOME degree.  It takes a village.  You do not have to do this alone.

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