Personal Stories

Our Journey Through Mental Health


I need to write this. It’s part of our family story through the last 14 months of trauma. Mental health and the turmoil it causes is traumatic for all family members. I’m writing my personal story to give hope to other families and individuals who suffer. After 14 months we have finally have hope. Real, ongoing, hope.  

It started one day in February 2014 with a call to my husband from the school counselor stating that our 13 year old was depressed and wanted to kill herself.   I panicked and was shocked. Not my confident, outgoing, funny and well liked daughter. Yes, it was true.

We learned at the same time that our daughter not only suffered from anxiety, depression and food issue, but also was engaging in self harm. It was devastating. I have done hours and hours of reading and research and learned that self-harm becomes addictive after about the 20th cut if a person is wired as such. It opens up the opioid center of the brain and releases endorphins. Our daughter, unfortunately, is wired as such and her self-harm became a daily ritual, hundreds of times a day in the same location. She would count the cuts. Her cuts reflected her internal turmoil and shame she felt about herself. It became her best friend, her coping mechanism to emotionally self-regulate. Heartbreaking.  

She had also attempted suicide through an OD of aspirin - she ingested 52 and was rushed her to the hospital. She was there for 2.5 nights while rehabilitating physically. Our family was in complete turmoil and upside down. We had no hope. It’s hard not to feel like we as parents did something wrong or weren’t good enough. This was extremely difficult. I’m here to tell you, you’ve done nothing wrong and understand that anything you’re doing to help your child is the first step to getting your child and your family healthy. The problem can be getting the right kind of help. This was our experience. 

Initially my thought was ok get her into therapy and that will fix it. That’s not what happened, at all, well initially anyways. She went to the psych ward for a week. All that did was keep her safe. We had a hugely negative health issue - because the word “mental” stood in front of health.  Her friends and their families eventually distanced themselves from us. She had no way to cope other than talk and talk and talk with her friends about it. What else is a teenager to do? They have no gauge of what their friends can handle and what they cannot. Her friends and family couldn’t tolerate it. Sad. Again, “mental” health.  

We found an adolescent psychiatrist right away and over the next few months we started her on anti-depressants, which seemed to help. After a fail at the first therapist, we eventually found a therapy that specializes in people who self-harm and eating disorders specifically. It was 10 months ago. The therapy is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). This was our answer. We got her started individually in June twice a week, and eventually in a 6-month DBT skills group.   Over the last 8 months we have attended weekly DBT skills group to get her tools to regulate her emotions first and foremost.

It has taken hours of searching for answers and resources, but it has finally paid off. We now have a calm household, skills for all of us to cope when she is struggling and it has given us all our lives back. There is hope. I wouldn’t have thought that even a month ago, but it’s true. It has taken a huge level of tolerance, tenacity and especially patience to get us to this point, but we have finally arrived.  

Mental health information and all that it encompasses has got to be shared in the schools. It should be required for kids and parents to be educated about it. Kids who suffer shouldn’t have to suffer alone, nor should families. I hope if you read this you can find a glimmer of hope to help your child and family get well. Mental health should be treated as any other type of health ailment. It’s the same amount, if not more, work to remedy it. 

With care, 

Hopeful again