DEALING WITH LIFE NOT AS PLANNED
“While we try to teach our children all about Life, our children teach us what Life is all about”, Angela Schwindt
Our interview this week with Barbara Oxenham, a survivor of Life. Dealing with Life not as planned is truly someone who by the end of the Podcast you will have respect and admiration for her struggles and journey in her life. What an outstanding story of courage, and living with mental health issues in her family and how to overcome the tribulations. I have so much respect and love for Barbara and her family for then and now. We love you Barbara and what you represent. Our story starts with family dynamics and how to deal with mental health obstacles. You won’t want to miss this one!
Dealing with Life not as planned is a real life story of a journey with a family, loving mother, loving hard-working military father, a daughter, and a son with mental health issues. Nothing seemed to appear as the kids were growing up through their adolescent years until they reached their leaving the nest, their early 20’s.
What happened, will we ever know? Do we ever really know what happens with your kids, your brother, or sister or even friend when they reach this point in life.?
“There’s no way around it: the world is really scary right now. Now that Coronavirus is sweeping the globe as a pandemic, we’re all afraid for the health of ourselves and our loved ones. People all across the world are pinching pennies to make rent and support their families. Parents are forced to put their work (and potentially income) on hold to homeschool their kids… that is if their kid is even old enough for school. If not, then they suddenly need to provide 24/7 childcare while keeping up a job. And, everyone everywhere must stay away from social situations. It’s scary. And isolating. And lonely. Yet, we have the tools at our fingertips to help each other. Even in isolation, we’re still connected”.
“What do you do when you’re worried that a child might be feeling suicidal? First and foremost, it’s important that you talk to him about your concerns in a calm, non-accusatory manner. Sometimes when parents are very worried, they end up saying, “Don’t think this way,” or “You shouldn’t feel that way,” and they come across not as loving and caring, as intended, but as critical. Children respond negatively to that. So you really need to be as calm and non-accusatory as you can when talking to them.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
Show the love
It may seem obvious to you that you love your children, and that they know you love them. But when they’re having a hard time, kids need to hear over and over again from you how much you love them, and how much you care about them. It’s not good enough to just say, “You know I love you.” You need to convey that in small and big ways. These days, we all have so many things we’re juggling that kids can end up unsure of where they fit in, and whether you really have time for them. Let them know how important they are to you.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
“It’s also important to validate a child’s feelings. You want to make statements that express empathy for her distress: “It sounds like that was really difficult.” “I know how painful that can be.” “I know what that’s like. I’ve felt that way.” Telling them not to feel that way, to “pull it together,” isn’t as helpful as saying, “What is it that you’re concerned about, and how can I help you?” If you’re really concerned about your child it’s important that you encourage him to get professional help, and that you convey that getting help isn’t weak, but something you would respect him for doing, and that you would work together to accomplish.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
Prioritize the positive
“Another important way to prevent suicidal behavior is to prioritize interacting with your child in positive ways. Some times we get into a sort of vicious cycle with a child. The child does something concerning; the parent gets critical; the kid does something more concerning; the parents get more upset. All interactions turn contentious. Interacting in positive ways means doing fun things together, hanging out and chatting about things that aren’t controversial, that aren’t difficult.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
“So choose your battles wisely with your kid. It’s part of normal development for adolescents to rebel, and you need to pick what you’re going to set limits about, and the rest of the time you want to focus on the positive connections. It also helps to try to increase your child’s involvement in positive experiences. Kids who are involved in a lot of engaging or fun activities tend to fare better. Your goal as a parent is to reassure struggling kids that they won’t feel like this forever, and you can help do this by promoting positive experiences. When kids feel suicidal it’s often because they feel hopeless and can’t imagine things being better.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
Stay in touch
“It’s also really important to monitor your child’s whereabouts when they aren’t with you, whether online or out of the house. You can’t stop your kids from texting and Facebooking and using Twitter. That’s normal social interaction at this point. So you need to get on Facebook yourself, learn how to tweet, learn how to text. And use those channels to stay on top of what your kids are doing.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
Know your child’s friends
“In the “real” world, it’s also critical to know your child’s friends—to have a good sense of who they are and to have a connection with them. Sometimes it’s harder the older your kids get, but it’s really important you do that. You should know the parents of their friends and be in touch with them, too. And you want to communicate regularly with your child’s school to ensure her safety and care in the school setting. Don’t hesitate to use the school and the people in the school as partners in your child’s care when you have concerns.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
“But again, the crucial first step: If you think your child might be suicidal, talk with him about it, ask him about suicidal thoughts. Sometimes people are afraid that if they talk about it it will make suicidal thoughts more real, and suicide more likely to happen. But the truth is that if a child feels that he has someone safe in the family that he can talk to, he feels better. He feels more understood. He feels like there’s more empathy for him. And that gives you an opening to explain the value of psychotherapy, and possibly medication for the feelings that are causing him so much pain.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
Find a clinician who’s a good match
“To get a referral to a mental health professional, you can consult your child’s doctor or a psychologist at his school. I recommend that you look for a mental health professional who has experience with suicidal teenagers. Not everybody is comfortable with, or has experience with kids who are suicidal. And when you’re interviewing people, it’s important to pick somebody you—and your child—feel comfortable with. So if your son says, “I just can’t connect with him; I don’t feel comfortable with him,” you want to take that seriously. Of course, if he does that with the second person and then the third person, at some point you may need to say, “Well, of these three people, who did you feel best with?”” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
Participate in therapy
“And once you’ve found a clinician, participate actively in therapy with your child. You need to be a partner in your child’s therapy. The more the child feels like you really care, the better. And that’s not just one parent. When somebody in the family is suicidal it’s a family affair, and everybody needs to help out and be engaged.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
“There are several kinds of therapy that have been shown in research trials to be particularly useful for suicidal kids. One is cognitive behavioral therapy, and that helps change kids’ thoughts, which in turn changes their feelings and their actions. And dialectical behavior therapy is another approach. It’s a more mindfulness-based approach, and we know that that’s helpful for particular types of suicidal kids, particularly those who have what’s called borderline personality disorder, and lots of suicidal thoughts. And, finally, some kids, particularly those who are seriously depressed or anxious or have ADHD, may benefit from medication in combination with psychotherapy.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
Take emergency measures
“Of course, if you’re worried that if you don’t do something right now your child will attempt suicide, you need to call 911, or whatever the emergency mental health access number is in your community, or take your child to the hospital. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are an emergency, and must be considered as such.” https://childmind.org/article/youre-worried-suicide/
“A serious public health problem, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in children and adolescents.” https://blog.chocchildrens.org/suicide-prevention-what-parents-need-to-know/
“And while suicide and depression are interwoven, other triggers of suicidal thoughts and actions can include a romantic relationship breakup, failing in school, being bullied, or experiencing abuse, loss or other trauma.” https://blog.chocchildrens.org/suicide-prevention-what-parents-need-to-know/
“Here’s what parents need to know about suicide prevention:
1. Know the warning signs
- Pay attention to children talking about wanting to die or kill themselves, feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, or being a being a burden to others.
- Suicide notes are a very real sign of danger and should always be taken seriously. These notes may be in the form of letters, emails, social media posts or text messages.
- If someone has attempted suicide in the past, they are more likely to try again.”
- Watch for children making final arrangements like saying goodbye to friends; giving away prized possessions; or deleting social media profiles, pictures or posts.
- Making sudden dramatic changes can be a sign too. Watch out for teens withdrawing from friends and family; skipping school or classes; becoming less involved in activities that were once important; avoiding others; having trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time; suddenly losing or gaining weight; or showing a disinterest in appearance or hygiene.
- A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased interest in guns and other weapons, may seem to have increased access to guns or pills, or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan.
- Sudden risky behaviors can indicate suicidal thoughts. Watch for increased use of alcohol or drugs, showing rage or talking about seeking revenge. Self-injury is also a warning sign for young children and teenagers.
2. If you have any suspicion, ask your child if they are thinking about killing themselves. This will not put the idea into their head or make them more likely to attempt suicide.
3. Listen to your child without judgement and let them know you care.
4. Help your child stay engaged in their usual coping activities life family activities and sports.
5. If your child is in danger, stay with them or ensure they are in a private, secure place with another caring person until you can get further help.
6. Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt like medications, guns, sharp knives, ropes or cords, or cleaning products.
7. If danger of self-harm or suicide is mounting, call 911.
8. Know your resources.
“Find a therapist by calling CalOptima Behavioral Health at 855-877-3885 or checking with your insurance provider on its website or phone number printed on the back of your card. Here are other ways to get help for a child having suicidal thoughts: Call the MHSA Suicide Prevention Line at 877-727-4747 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Text CONNECT to 741741. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.” https://blog.chocchildrens.org/suicide-prevention-what-parents-need-to-know/
“The LifeLine App is the National free Suicide Prevention and Awareness App that offers access and guidance to support for those suffering in crisis and those who have suffered the devastating loss of a loved one from suicide. The LifeLine App also provides awareness education and prevention strategies to guide people in crisis all across the Globe.” https://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-lifeline/id752509889
“The LifeLine App was developed as a centralized hub to connect people with accredited resources in Canada and throughout the world. We encourage as many people as possible to install the app and take advantage of the incredible amount of information and guidance it offers.” https://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-lifeline/id752509889
Whether you are struggling with a child’s mental health in some shape of form or you know someone that you can help today, reach out and pass on this podcast, pass on this blog to other’s that it may a difference. You just don’t know what will work, what will make that difference! We haven’t even discussed the part after, surviving this grief.
SURVIVING YOUR CHILD’S SUICIDE
“The suicide of a child of any age presents unique circumstances that can intensify and prolong the mourning process for parents, family members and friends. Suicide is believed to be a reaction to overwhelming feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness and depression. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the United States among 10-14 year olds and 15-24 year olds, and the second leading cause among 25-34 year olds.” https://www.compassionatefriends.org/surviving-childs-suicide/
“While mental illness often plays a role in suicide, not everyone who dies by suicide is mentally ill. Some families have experienced years of treatments, hospitalizations and medications with their child, while some experience none at all.” https://www.compassionatefriends.org/surviving-childs-suicide/
“Sometimes there are warning signs of the person’s intentions. However, clues may be so disguised that even a trained professional or counselor may not recognize them. Occasionally there are no discernible signs and the child’s suicide becomes a catastrophic decision that may never be understood.” https://www.compassionatefriends.org/surviving-childs-suicide/
“There is a change taking place in the terminology when talking about suicide. The term “died by suicide” is being adopted. This new language is reflective of the changes in our understanding and compassion as we move away from the harsh statement and stigma of the words “committed suicide”, which can be offensive to families whose children have taken their own lives.” https://www.compassionatefriends.org/surviving-childs-suicide/
“Be kind, be compassionate, be there for each other”, Tina Ginn
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