I know a lot of parents can relate to the hustle and bustle of parenthood. We get so lost in doing everything for everybody til sometimes we don’t realize that we’re doing what parents do while experiencing anxiety. After a while It all starts to feel the same. I know for myself i’m a free uber, cook, friend, wife, doctor, nurse, bank, manager, secretary, protector, confidant, and just all around fixer of everything and so much more. This is why its so important that we practice self care. Pay attention to whats going on with you mentally & physically.
On a normal day I would come home and sit outside on the patio (get my mind right). On yesterday, I came home from work and instantly started cleaning, washing, folding, sweeping, sending out emails and doing everything I could. I had this overwhelming need to have everything right before the night was over (so not me). I didn’t take off my shoes until after 9pm. Pretty normal night for a parent right?! But, what was not normal was the amount of anxiety I was experiencing. I could not sit, I was constantly doing something. My heart was beating fast and I felt like I was in a panic.
Anxiety is much more than a handful of symptoms, it can affect your everyday life in more ways than you could imagine.
Every ACTION brings a REACTION…I was already aware of how my husband felt about depression, anxiety, and all things mental health. He would always say that he didn’t understand that “CRAZY SH**”. That being depressed was a choice, and that in our situation Jaime was just spoiled. He would say that kids today are just WEAK, and that when we were growing up kids weren’t depressed. We dealt with all kinds of sh** “The Real Way”. What’s “The Real Way” Lanier? Man they need to “SUCK THAT SH** UP”!!!! LOL! Its funny to me now because I know he knows better but at that time I was stuck in the middle. You see, I somewhat knew about metal health issues. My middle brother suffers with depression. But at that time we were still uneducated on the issue and continued to function as a normal family trough the EPISODES/CRISIS he would have. So, with Lanier’s views on MH and my semi awareness we handled Jai’s episode/crisis (yes I can admit it) all WRONG.
I didn’t recognize the early symptoms. My approach to the signs she was showing of a crisis (pacing & talking crazy) was me going in the room with her and like my daddy would say…. “I told her how the cow eats the cabbage”. WRONG that only made it worse. I should’ve reacted calmly and rationally. At this point her actions bought out my reaction and now she’s reacting to my action and my anxiety is out the roof, she’s crying and so am I. My crying then led to Lanier interjecting and demanding that Jaime go in the room, she rebelled, she lashed out. All kinds of conditions were broken down in our family.
After all was said and done I was having a total breakdown so I called my mom hysterically crying about the whole ordeal. After explaining the situation my mom who some of you may know said in short…..
Hope, you need to WOMAN UP. Take control of your family. I don’t care what kind of episode Jaime is having down there she is not allowed to be disrespectful. Now you get off this phone, stop that crying and call me back when you got everything handled.
Me: OK Ma
When I tell you I hung up that phone and cried like I had just got news my daddy was dead or something. I remember telling Lanier what my momma said and how she hurt my feelings. How could she tell me that? I’m a 40yr old woman with my own family! I cried for hours, every time those words rang in my ears I cried. I even called my cousin Summer and said do you know what my momma just told me? (as if she could do something). Now, was that the right approach my mom took I don’t know but what I do know is I needed that. So, although I had let my own anxiety take over me in that situation my mom knew that In order for me to reconcile things I needed to be in a sound state of mind. And if challenging me to get things under control meant challenging my woman hood she was gonna do it. I believe sometimes we need to be challenged to bring out what’s already in us.
The effects of that ordeal came back with us to Louisiana. I was so stressed I hardly ate anything for weeks, I lost weight (i needed too) but not the healthy way, my stomach was weak for days at a time, and I could hardly function at work. I hadn’t been on my anxiety medication for awhile and boy did I need it. I called my doctors office like PLEASE call me in a prescription.
Each time we experience something different in regard to depression & anxiety or anything in life we have to learn from it, educate yourself on the issue, and PRAY about it. I’m proud to say I survived that situation and is still surviving. I know that God is using this hard situation to bring me to my calling. Let my experience/exposure be a tool for someone else. I pray that my testimony helps someone, If just one my mission is accomplished.
Our family (minus our son) recently took a vacation to Orlando Florida. I had everything planned out. This was suppose to be EPIC for us. I got so comfortable in my planning that I hadn’t factored in anything going wrong. I mean how could it? I had covered everything from what we were going to eat, to what day and times we were going places, and even left time in the schedule for misc events. Oh, but I left out the thought of an EPISODE. Jaime had a horrible EPISODE that shook up the family and trip. There was crying, pacing, threats of hurting herself, threats of her running off, accusations of no one caring for her, just pure chaos. Some of the kids didn’t know that Jaime was having some mental health issues so needless to say the cat was out of the bag jumping and scratching. In hind sight I wish I would’ve made it known to all the kids what Jaime had been going through because we were bombarded with questions of how did she get like that, did anyone do her something, and WHY we didn’t tell them.
Information and education on mental health should be discussed among families. Honestly, I was hiding it from the other kids. I figured it wasn’t their problem. I now know that it is all of our problem. In order for them to understand what Jaime is going through and be able to assist and show compassion they needed to know. After educating myself on depression & anxiety I’m sad to say that i did everything wrong when trying to deescalate an episode. Education is KEY in overcoming and coping with any mental illness.
One moment in time….
Pictures are just one still moment in time, it doesn’t depict the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months or years that you don’t see. In that one still moment of time you may see happiness, sadness, sorrow, excitement, fear etc. So, often times what you think you see in those still moments is not an accurate reflection of the chaos that’s actually going on on the inside. You don’t get to see the turn of events that can be triggered at any given time. I say all that to say living with anxiety and caring for someone with depression is not easy and things are subject to change at any given second, minute, hours or days.
Leading a balanced lifestyle can help you manage symptoms of depression. Here are some suggestions from people who have lived experience with depression:
Learn all you can. Learn about the many treatment options available. Connect with other people experiencing depression in support groups or meetings. Attend local conferences and conventions. Build a personal library of useful websites and helpful books.
Recognize early symptoms. Depression often has warning signs, such as a low mood, feeling fatigued or having trouble sleeping. Discuss your friend or family member’s past episodes with them to help them improve their ability to recognize the signs early.
Communicate. Speak honestly and kindly. Don’t scold or blame people with depression or urge them to “try harder” to “just be happy.” Instead, make specific offers of help and follow through with those offers. Tell the person you care about them. Ask them how they feel and truly listen.
React calmly and rationally. Even if your family member or friend is in a crisis, it’s important to remain calm. Listen to their concerns and make them feel understood—then take the next step toward getting help.
Find emotional support from others. Share your thoughts, fears and questions with other people who have loved ones with similar conditions. Connect with others through online message boards or NAMI peer-education programs.
Bullying in school has become a real epidemic. More and more children are committing suicide as a result of being bullied in school. This hit close to home as a student in an EBR middle school took his life. Please take a moment to talk to your kids about bullying. Remind them to treat others the way they want to be treated and to never participate in any gossip, or partake in an activity where they are being mean to another student. We must remind our children to be kind at all times. Also make sure that they know they can come to you about any topic. If they see something, say something. It could save a life.
After doing research and finding the statistics on mental health illnesses and the effects of it is disheartening. I believe the lack of information, embarrassment and cultural differences play a big role in the silence of mental illness in the African American community especially.
Mental health is not an easy subject but we have to be aware, be educated on the issue, stop judging, show compassion and SPEAK UP. Speaking up is a major step in ending the STIGMA associated with mental illnesses. I had so many doubts about starting this blog and telling everyone what my family was going through. And yes, I said family because it truly effected us all. I was only able to go forward after asking Jaime if she was truly OK with me doing this and she said:
Momma if I don’t say anything how anyone else will know it’s ok.
Yes, it is ok hunni! With that being said… just know that mental illnesses are treatable, it’s not your fault, you are not a bad parent, you are NOT weak and yes, RECOVERY is POSSIBLE.
You Are Not Alone
1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
The Ripple Effect Of Mental Illness
People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. People with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions.
19.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2018 (9.2 million individuals)
The rate of unemployment is higher among U.S. adults who have mental illness (5.8%) compared to those who do not (3.6%)
High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers
At least 8.4 million people in the U.S. provide care to an adult with a mental or emotional health issue
Caregivers of adults with mental or emotional health issues spend an average of 32 hours per week providing unpaid care
Mental illness and substance use disorders are involved in 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits by a U.S. adult (estimated 12 million visits)
20.1% of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. have a serious mental health condition
37% of adults incarcerated in the state and federal prison system have a diagnosed mental illness
70.4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness
Mood disorders are the most common cause of hospitalization for all people in the U.S. under age 45 (after excluding hospitalization relating to pregnancy and birth)
41% of Veteran’s Health Administration patients have a diagnosed mental illness or substance use disorder
My original plan was to go live with my website on October 1st, day one of Mental Health Awareness week. But then there was an overwhelming need to do it sooner, God said now! After posting I couldn’t be more surprised with the overwhelming responses from loved ones, friends, co-workers, and even some I didn’t even know. The responses were of encouragement, admissions to dealing with the same thing and commending me on my bravery for speaking out. That was confirmation that the time was right. I spent a couple of months trying to build this website and wanted things perfect but who was I kidding I would’ve never been satisfied either way LOL.
I have the pleasure of being a part of this new women’s empowerment group called She Declared: W A R (willing and ready). Saturday past was the first actual meet & greet event that went very well. After having such a wonderful time who knew a mini war would be brewing for me after getting home. I got home at about 6pm, received a call at about 8:39 pm and it went like this…..
Jaime’s coworker: you need to come Jaime is having an anxiety attack at work. Me: where are y’all? Jaime’s coworker: In the restroom at work and she won’t stop crying. Me: i’m on my way.
I grabbed her medicine, got in the car and began to PRAY. It took me 7 minutes to get to her job, she came out crying hysterically. For a moment I was speechless, I just looked at her and in the back of my mind (don’t judge me i’m just being real) I was thinking this girl is crazy as hell! For one moment I allowed the STIGMA to take over me.
Me: why are you crying? what’s wrong? Her: IDK Me: just staring. Her: I miss my uncle Geroid and Momo, I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately.
My heart dropped because I knew her pain, I suffered the same pain. So, I calmed her down, went and parked my car and stayed in the parking lot until she got off @10pm.
Anyone caring for a loved one with a mental illness is definitely sharing in the suffering. The emotions we experience in witnessing their episodes are heartbreaking and tiring all at the same time. As a mother wanting to protect our children puts us in all kinds of positions but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would gladly sit in my car for hours again, have sleepless nights to check on her every hour, and do things with her although i’m tired just to make sure she’s OK. Parents/caregivers stay prayed up, stay strong, be attentive, take nothing for granted and please take care of yourselves.
Feeling down from time to time isn’t necessarily a symptom of depression. Depression doesn’t always need a trigger. Sadness can arrive without any unpleasant event or warning.
Common depression triggers include:
a major life change such as a move, graduation, or a new job
financial troubles, including bankruptcy or debt
relationship issues such as tension in the family, a breakup, or a divorce (your own or a loved one’s)
the death of a loved one
giving birth to a child (this is called postpartum depression)
loneliness — for example, if friends and family have moved away
As I sit here with so much anxiety at the thought of typing/writing/speaking my truth I know it has to be done. If exposing my truth and experiences can help one person I’ve done what I’ve been called to do. I know that a lot of times God gives us the hardest task, the things that stretch us and make us uncomfortable to do. But, I know that my task is not just about ME, it’s about helping others as well. So here goes…my daughter is battling depression and I suffer with anxiety… WHEW I SAID IT!!!!! Mental illness is REAL! Not that I didn’t believe it before but when I say it’s REAL its REALLY REAL. This year 2019 has been the by far one of the hardest years of my life. Never did I ever believe I would be here dealing with this.
Through this blog I aspire to give real life situations in caring for someone with Depression while dealing with my own Anxiety issues. No two situations are the same but I do believe that sharing my experiences will lead to someone else possibly recognizing signs or symptoms of depression and anxiety in a loved one, friend, coworker etc. Trust me I didn’t just catch the signs and symptoms of depression in Jaime and proceeded to get her help no no no…. I missed all the signs, I blew a lot of signs off to her just being a typical teenager. I just thank GOD that at the point when it got to be too much for her she cried out vs. doing something more drastic like harming herself, someone else or suicide.
Now looking at the signs that I’ve now identified Jaime as having were some of the typical signs of a normal teenager or so I thought. Teenagers sleep all day and stay up all night, they eat funny depending on how their schedule is, and those GIRLS OMG they carry constant attitudes. And, although I have zero tolerance for attitudes I could still see where she was more moody than usual. Jaime and I talked on a regular basis and because she was still making great grades and holding a job I thought she was fine. I later learned that her being able to balance school and 24hrs a week at work was a way for her to not cope or deal with the emotions she was having and that later lead to a break down.
Signs to be aware of:
Changes in sleep (Jaime would stay up all night)
Changes in appetite (eating habits became less)
Lack of concentration (lost focus in school)
Loss of energy (stayed in bed a lot)
Lack of interest in activities
Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
Changes in movement (less activity or agitation) (highly irritable)
Physical aches and pains (stomach upset & body aches)
Suicidal thoughts (YES, these thoughts. If she had not gotten help I would’ve never known)
Y ‘all I’m by far no writer, nor specialist in mental health, I’m just a real person/mother living through a real situation where as my journey may be able to help someone else. What I’ve shared is just the beginning of my story and I’ll take you all through it all week by week. I’ll also be sharing struggles with anxiety and how I manage it. So, stay tuned in and subscribe, feel free to leave comments, advice, encouragement, ask questions or whatever (no negative vibes please). We’re all in this together lets be “Iron Sharpening Iron” lets “Glean in one another fields” .