Mental Health Month (Part One)

Since May is Mental Health month, I have received permission for the following (extremely long) post. I hope it helps give a face to Anxiety and Depression and it makes someone feel less alone. Please know that even if we are not close, I am here to listen and support any of you. ALWAYS.

Last night was a crazy one for our family. Charlotte had her last Middle School choir concert, Micah had the last orchestra concert of the year, and it was my father-in-law’s 82nd birthday. So, we made a plan to meet my in-laws for dinner. After dinner, Keith attend Charlotte’s concert and then they would meet me at the high school to see at least the last combined orchestra song. (We did the opposite last year, so that helped us decide.) My father-in-law went with Keith and my mother-in-law was to meet me at the high school.

Before we left dinner, Micah ended up in the bathroom for a long time. He eventually came out and walked right out the door, clearly not in a good place mentally. I grabbed both kids to get them to their schools by call time and told Keith I would update him when I could. We dropped Charlotte off and I tried to get Micah to open up and let me help him with whatever he was struggling with. It had already been a rough week at school for his anxiety because of a final robotics project Monday and an AP Calculus exam yesterday morning. Micah had not been in orchestra at all this week because of these conflicts, so he was worried he wouldn’t be able to get his music or his violin. So, I calmed him the best I could by reminding him his teachers are very kind people and I’m sure they would let him get what he needed. Just to be sure, I promised to go home and get his other violin and bring it back. He went in doing okay.

I texted him when I was ready to return to the high school to see if he was able to get his violin and music. He replied he did, but now he was paralyzed by his thoughts in the bathroom again. I talked him down, told him to find a trusted orchestra teacher to let her know he was not okay and I was on my way to help. I arrived not knowing whether he would be waiting for me or if maybe they were able to get him warming up.

I walked in and texted him I was there, got my mother-in-law settled in a seat, and he texted he was in the lobby. We spent he next hour in a side hall. I tried literally everything I could think of to get him to go be with his orchestra – reminded him he has survived 100% of his 5 years of concerts so far, nothing bad has actually ever happened to him while playing his violin, he is a talented kid and can do this, etc… We used meditation, grounding techniques, deep breathing, lots of tissues, and I finally told him all he had to do was sit up and tune his violin. Next we had to go to the lobby. We spent most of Symphony 1’s concert working on going into the auditorium. Finally, Symphony 2 was literally leaving to go on stage. I looked at him, told him he had no more time, he had to do this, and bless his beautiful heart, he went.

My beautiful, brave child grabbed his violin and went and performed. I was broken in a million pieces (but I did not cry the whole time with him because I am not only an empath, but also incredibly stubborn), and my heart was bursting with relief and pride and love for my broken child. He looked confident and prepared on stage and no one would have ever guessed what his last hour had been. YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO SEE WHEN SOMEONE IS NOT OKAY. If you saw me, talked to me, or hugged me last night, you probably didn’t know I was walking around shattered. If you saw my child after the concert, you probably got an awkward smile.

So, I want you to know that I see you, and I will struggle with you. I know what it is like to try to be strong enough for two people when you are really breaking into a million pieces. I know what it is like to have your child say things like “I wish I was never born” or “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.” I know the grief and fear and doubt and guilt. And I know that we are all doing the best we can. Micah is in counseling and on medications. Overall, things are getting better. But it is still a terrible, dark thing he is dealing with, and it is one he has to battle alone. But you know I will be there fighting to get to him. So please be kind to us.

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