Sunday, September 25, 2011

Telling His Story

September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day and I felt a strong pull to post about my son's story, so I posted about a time 18 months ago when we had to commit him to a psychiatric hospital for suicidal thoughts and a complete emotional breakdown.

I'd waited until the 10th to finish the post (yes, I put it off) and when I hit sent, I was emotionally spent. In the comments and on Twitter I received a lot of support except for one comment that questioned me telling his story. The commenter's position was that mental health issues were private, even though our young son knows his story is public for the world to see.

I do not struggle much telling his story because if a fellow blogher hadn't shared with us her story through blogging, we wouldn't have learned some unique things in caring for him during the really rough spots. For the posts that are focused on his mental health issues I read them to him and get his permission.

What that person doesn't know is that I get private emails thanking us for sharing his story of despair. I got one email that said, basically, if he at age 9 survived it, then they could too. Not only did the person see hope in our family's story, they saw the unwilling resilience of our son during that time. When he couldn't find the will to live, we found it for him. A couple of people have found his story helpful comparing their story with his and it's helped them hold on just a little while longer.

Do I question our decision to share details? Sure. Am I certain sharing our story is good, in the end? Yes. Because it is a mental/emotional issues people cringed. Some people think we should be silent. Those people don't have the same issue about my kids' medial issues. Sharing their medical journey through kidney failure and kidney transplants do not garner any criticism.

If we don't start to tell those stories of us and our kids' mental health struggles there will be people out there who don't know they can survive it. And for now, it is good enough for me that one person is helped and stigmas broken down.


Julia Roberts blogs at Kidneys and Eyes and is the co-founder of Support for Special Needs.


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