Suicide Prevention: The Blame Game

If you’ve been following our story as part of Suicide Prevention Month, you’ve heard me mention the Blame Game.

I blamed myself.

I blamed the world.

I blamed myself.

I blamed teenage angst.

I blamed myself.

I blamed hormones.

I blamed myself.

Blaming myself seemed natural. I birthed her. I fed her and rocked her. I taught her to read. I was responsible for her health, her safety, her education. I was responsible for stablishing her moral compass, teaching her manners, building her compassion, her work ethic. All the things, right?!

My 14 year old who, in a matter of days, had gone from a “normal” teenager to a depressed, agitated, hallucinating, tic-ridden, crying mess told me she wanted to kill herself…and had come close to trying.

Where did I go wrong?

We have always been homeschoolers. Maybe it was that.

I insisted she clean up her room, do her laundry, clean her toilet. Maybe I was too hard.

Did I make her feel insecure? Did I leave her too much? Was there anything going on I didn’t know about (and oh my gosh, how could I not know?!)?

Here’s what learned… and after much crying and struggling…

Some mental health issues are hereditary. I realized there’s not much I can do about that. Tourettes (one of her diagnoses) is hereditary, as are provisional tics and even OCD and anxiety.

Some mental health symptoms may have existed for some time, perhaps since birth. She sucked her thumb, was late to potty train, was late on some behavioral milestones. She always preferred small spaces, she screamed when she was in a car seat, she could never stand still. I chalked it up to normal developmental stuff and kid quirks. Maybe they were signs.

Chemistry. Brain development. Environmental toxins. Past illnesses. All of these affect mental health. There are a zillion factors at play, most of which have nothing to do with me or my parenting.

Some questions don’t have answers, and mental health problems are rarely logical. I had to accept that there may never be answers to some questions. Some things just are. And hardest of all, my will to reason and apply logic…fruitless.

And most importantly…your kid is a completely separate human being from you. I am one person. My child is another. There is a limit to my responsibility. The rest is purely her – her body, her mind, her choices, her actions, her feelings, her behavior.

Of course, I blamed other things, too, not just myself. I blamed the world for being so twisted and “woke” and ridiculous and unscrupulous and brain washing. I tried to decide whether the covid pandemic had wrecked her, with all the vaccine madness, the closings, the stress we endured keeping our businesses open, people getting sick and dying. Was it friend drama? Was it social pressures?

It was none of that. It just was. It’s the cards we were dealt, and for whatever reason, our hand got flipped face up, and we had to figure out a playing strategy fast or fold… and folding wasn’t an option.

If you’re going through mental health struggles or, God forbid, suicidal ideation, you listen to me. Definitely address the obvious concerns first – was there an event that triggered this, why is this happening, do I bear any responsibility. But then you move on and start fighting.

Sometimes mental health challenges have no explanation. You did nothing. There are no logical conclusions. And sometimes, evil is at work. Believe it or don’t.

Just fight. Stay the course. Don’t give up.

Go find a place to scream. Seize a moment by yourself to cuss and raise hell and shake your fist in the air. Yell out how you hate it, how you’re sick of it, how you’re scared to death. Cry. Lift your loudest voice to God and ask Him, implore Him, to help.

Screw that job. Forget that meeting. Ditch that obligation. Don’t even think about fake smiling at that family event.

Wipe your face, take a few deep breaths, and get back in the fight. Put the blaming and why’s and the poor-me nonsense aside, and do whatever you have to do to keep your child alive.

It is natural for us to want to know why. It’s how we make sense of things. It’s easier for us to deal with whatever if we can identify it and put it in a box with a label. The Blame Game is futile, though, and only hinders your ability to fight.

Note: If there HASD been an event that triggered the mental health struggles you’re trying to manage, there is help for ANY AND ALL such events. If you do know who or what is to blame, there are solutions for addressing those. Please. Find help.

The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can be accessed by calling 988 (or texting).

Published by Amanda Herring, Writer

Practical wisdom, joys and pains, motivation and tough love, from the perspective of a Mississippi mom, traveler, business owner, goal crusher, substance seeker, and full-time dreamer

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