As I was wandering work before leaving the other day, a coworker stopped to ask me how things were going and I said great. And they are, don’t get me wrong but she talked about boys and teenage years. Jokingly I laughed it off and said all the boys will be castrated who came to the house and if she’s anything like me, she’s going to die, by my hand.
Now I wasn’t a truly bad child or teenager, I had my flaws and my bad days but more over we talked about how we didn’t cope with our life situations turning us into assholes. Her parents had divorced sending her through a harder teenage experience than most, with her parents being too self absorbed to find her help to cope with the loss.
My parents on the other hand didn’t divorce, I wasn’t picked on in school, I wasn’t popular or unpopular, not a jock, not a nerd… I was just me and I had a group of friends that seemed to be just like me. But depression took over one of my friend’s minds and after his story, I became a bit of an asshole. During our sophomore year he had tried to slit his wrists in the bathroom at school, wanting this pain, which no one could describe, to end. Unsuccessful and what it seemed to be a positive eye opener to him, ended in misery a year later when he took his life with a gun. Now I won’t get into the details of our friendship, let’s just say we knew each other since we were about 2, our brothers’ grew up together, we went to the same school, and here I was sitting in my room wondering what went wrong.
Teens committing suicide is on a rise every year. So is teen homicides, the rate of drug and alcohol use, sex and babies… So how do we stop it? Sex, drugs, pregnancy are talked about in schools every day. But why not depression, mental disorders, and how to cope with loss.
‘We have counseling on staff to talk to’ I remember hearing this quote used over and over by the faculty…. yea they had counseling alright, school counselors who didn’t know a damn thing about loss, depression, or suicide. Or how to make a student at ease with any situation. I fought with my counselor monthly about my school schedule, she was too stupid and bitchy to get that right, how would she help me feel better?
Why is such a relevant thing left out of school? And how can we help our children cope with loss… of a parent, of a single household, of a friend? Most parents I think turn their cheek as if this won’t effect us in our later years, but it’s in those last four years we develop into who we are today. There’s a lot of molding that goes into those years and don’t we want our children to be open and confident on talking about their feelings, instead of turning into assholes.
I remember being emotionally distraught after his first attempt and even worse after his second. I sat in the classroom staring at the wall, sick to my stomach, and holding back any emotion I had. I would go to the bathroom to cry, go home to dwell, and go to work to keep it out of my mind. Though people noticed I had a changed state of mind, not one person offered me help or counseling. Just the pathetic phrases of ‘It’ll get better with time’ or ‘he’s in a better place’ or ‘maybe you should just go home’. Being alone was the last thing I needed and the last thing any teenager needs, I needed my hope and faith in humanity to be restored. I needed to see why life was worth living, why people are joyful and happy. I needed to see and feel why every person doesn’t take their life. But I didn’t get any of that. There was no support group, there was no healing time, there was nothing but a gaping hole with too many questions to ponder. What if? Why? the blame. the shame. where do you go from here?
I turned to self pity, alcohol, hate, overly caring, but above all, I didn’t talk about it to anyone… ever. Not how I truly felt, I sugar coated everything. I tried seeking my own way of help by education and others’ experience. I talk(ed)to his family more, which helped and hurt. I became a person I never thought I would be… I quit truly caring about what people thought or how I felt. Like if I just locked all my emotion inside and made everyone happy, this would never happen again. I would never have to go thru the loss of someone again. But I was wrong, really wrong. Within a year, I had to cope with the fact a friend gave Pat the gun he used, I had to talk to the police about what I knew, I had lost two more friends, and seen another crawl into a dark hole, not speaking to me for months. Because one of those friends, was her brother.
I see now, how this has effected my life and my choices. How most of the time I bottle things up just to let it screw me over in the end… and I wonder if maybe I just had opened up about my feelings and talked to someone if things would be different.
Now, I sit here and think about my own daughter and how much I hate for her to go through bad times, especially when she is older. And how I will try my hardest not to turn my cheek but not to be over bearing in these hard times. How I will teach her to be strong enough to get through but weak enough to be open about her feelings. How I won’t sit and blame it on teenage issues when she needs someone to talk to, and it can’t be me. How I will be willing and able to get her help or counseling, if needed or wanted. How I won’t put her on medication so she cant feel anything, just because the doctor says its best. Overall I hope to teach her that even as her mom, I know what she is going through and I can be a confidant, a friend. That I won’t degrade her feelings but embrace them and except them. And though I can’t make everything better, I can be there for her and help her grow to be stronger.