This post is a little more serious. Today was an extremely difficult day for my family. We said goodbye to one of Spencer’s childhood friends, Richard. Richard and Spencer became friends somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade and remained so all through school. He lived only a few blocks from us, and I used to tease his dad that I was going to have to start paying child support to him because I was pretty sure Spencer had moved in.
I didn’t see Richard a lot during High School, largely because kids become mobile with cars and such and busy with school/sports and work.. and they just don’t hang out as much. But, like any kid who has crossed my door and been a friend to my children, he held a special place in my heart and I enjoyed watching him play in band and stuff. Other friends of my kids can attest to this, once you’re in, you’re in. I love you. You’re part of my family. It’s just how it is. I had an awesome mother’s day lunch this year with not just my four kids, but a total of 8 kids! It’s just how we roll in Stefnee, Ks. We love.
I love Richard.
Richard struggled with depression. I didn’t know.
I wish I had.
I wish I had known, because… I struggle with it too. And you know what helps me? Not some random person at the end of a 1-800 number, not some post on facebook about how xxx people die every year because of suicide and we should copy and share this to make others aware…. no. I’m sure those things bring awareness.. but when someone is battling demons, it’s bigger than that. What helps is knowing that I’m not alone. What helps is hearing someone else talk about how they struggle with suicidal thoughts regularly. What helps is knowing that mental illness is normal. Yes. It is. The problem is that we don’t talk about it. We label it, we judge it, we point fingers and whisper.. but we don’t just have open conversations about it. And maybe if he had known that I struggle too, maybe he would have reached out. Or maybe he would have reached out to someone else…. sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is enough.
So. I’m going to talk about it today. I’m going to talk about it because it’s difficult and it’s uncomfortable and it’s ALWAYS THERE. I’m going to talk about it, because I want every single one of my kids’ friends to know that if they ever need to talk about it, my door is open.
My mental illness is depression and anxiety. My official diagnosis is Adjustment Disorder With Depressed Mood. This means I don’t handle change well, even positive change can send me for a loop, and it triggers depression. My anxiety is more PTSD (abuse) related, but it can pop up unexpectedly as well. I also struggle with suicidal ideation. Now, before you start plastering my walls with 1-800 numbers and prayers, understand what that means. Or more importantly, understand what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to drive my car into oncoming traffic at any given moment. It does mean that I think about it. Often. Not as a “I can’t take this, my life sucks, I want to die.” thought, but as a “I could do this. I won’t. But if things got to be too much for me, I could.” You know what? Things don’t ever get to be too much. Why? I talk about it.
I talk about it with my kids, I talk about it with my friends, I talk about it with my partner, I talk to my therapist, and you know what they do? Nothing. They sit and listen and they love me and they get it. They don’t judge, they don’t try to fix it, they just listen and they love me. And that is what keeps that little cloud that sits on my shoulder from floating over my head and drowning me.
This is the first time I’ve ever talked about it openly in this format, but you need to know. You need to know because if it’s 2 am and the demons are beating on your door and you don’t think you have the strength to fight them one. more. time. you need to know that I get it. I hate those bastards too, and you can call me or text me or show up at my house, and we can either fight them together or we can invite them in to watch movies and have popcorn with us and we can talk about things like grown ups.
And I won’t judge you. Because you’ve seen mine now, and you know I get it.
Richard, I love you. Thank you for being a part of my family and for your friendship. You are important to us and I hate that the demons won this time. Rest in peace, Richard, your battle is over.