So let me start off by saying by no means is this me trying to make anyone feel guilty, or me even remotely saying I know how you feel. I don’t. This is just my story. I remember when Sierra was around 7 or 8 and it started. All of a sudden a little girl that was so independent and carefree was not anymore. She never wanted to leave our side, she cried a lot, and of course she missed her mom (back story, Sierra’s mom passed away when she was 4, I am her step-mom). Sierra would scream whenever we had to go to work, she would cry if we were 2 minutes late to pick her up from school, and there was no way she would go to a friends house. Nightmares happened a lot for her. Her father and I didn’t sleep, cried a lot, and had no idea what to do. We found a therapist, that would come to our house, because Sierra would not go there, and after a while, it seemed to work and things slowly got back to normal.
Let me also say that this is the first time, I can honestly say it takes a village to raise a child. Without the help of Sierra’s friends and family, we may not have gotten through this. The next few years after that, Sierra had moments of anxiety but nothing that we felt were an issue. Looking back now, I wish we knew more about mental health issues, we would have paid more attention to some of these little moments. The worse time came when she was in grade 9. She started getting sick. A horrible cough and sometimes a fever. We had no idea what was going on. We went to many doctors (walk-ins, emergency rooms, allergy doctors, specialists) and in turn Sierra was prescribed many different medications and puffers. She missed a lot of school. Which in turn heightened her anxieties (one of her previous anxieties was about being a perfectionist). We still thought that she had a physical ailment, no clue that this was a mental health issue.
More crying, sleepless nights, trying to work, repeat. We then started going to a naturopath, who could not see anything wrong with her physically but thought maybe it was time to go to a natural therapist. We did, and what we didn’t realize was that at the age of 15 Sierra was grieving again for her mom. She would say things like she was starting to forget her, and that she felt guilty for sometimes enjoying life. She would have good days, but the bad days were really bad. She was still not going to school, we would try to get her there, but she would not (could not) go. Nobody understood what we were as a family going through. Mental health issues, was still not really talked about. People would tell us just to drop her off at school and once she saw her friends she would feel better. But how do you do that? How do I make her do something that will hurt her even more. We started home-schooling. She did her classes on line. Things seemed to be better. I am a very lucky mom, and I will never forget what happened next.
One day, Sierra said she wanted to be with her mom (in heaven). She told that to her dad. Thank god, she told him. Because that was the biggest turning point. He rushed her to the hospital. That was the day, we finally knew we couldn’t do this on our own, and we got her the help she needed. We went to a traditional therapist and she was able to learn some coping mechanisms. It started to help. And finally after 3 years she was able to go back to school. It was hard. Hard on everyone. For the 1st while, the phone didn’t leave my side. I still barely slept, waiting for her to get up in the middle of the night with a cough or crying. Years later, my beautiful daughter is doing great. But I know that there are still moments. But we talk about it. We still cry, but at the end we make sure there is a smile. Every day, I look at her and think how proud I am of her. I know it hasn’t been easy. But I want her to know that I am here for her now, and everyday. If you are suffering please talk to your parents, we may not know all the answers but we love you. And we will do whatever it takes! – Mom
If you are currently struggling with a mental health disorder and do not know how to get help, there are many resources available. Take a look at the crisis lines below and do not hesitate to get the help you deserve.
Durham Mental Health Services/Mobile Services
Short term crisis beds, visits and 24 hour free and confidential support line for individuals 16+ with a history of mental illness.
905.666.0483 or 1.800.742.1890
Distress Centre Durham
24 hour telephone counselling, crisis and suicide intervention and referral.
905.430.2522 or 1.800.452.0688
Durham Region Domestic Violence / Sexual Assault Care Centre (Lakeridge Health)
24 hour crisis line. Counselling and referrals for male/female sexual assault victims, all ages.
Durham Rape Crisis Centre
24 hour counselling and support groups for recent or past abuse.