Last week was a highlight for me. It marked the end of a journey that I hadn’t asked to be on, in fact it was a nightmare that I’m happy to wake up from. I’ve written about my son’s suicide attempts, addiction to prescription meds and alcohol and his struggles with PTSD, Depression and Anxiety. But until last week I hadn’t seen the reason behind our family’s experience. I couldn’t get past asking why.
Why did we have to almost lose our son to understand that life had become too much for him to handle. Why our son, our family? I now understand the answer. Because we are the perfect people to share our experience. I’m not saying this because of conceit, I’m saying it because we are the average military family: 2 kids (boy & girl), a cat, a dog, a mini-van and us. We vacation to visit our families and we eat dinner together several nights a week. Our kids did well in school, both received scholarships that paid their college tuition. They were active in sports, had lots of friends and volunteered.
So why us? Because if it could happen to us it could happen to anyone.
When my son and I began sharing our story at events, seeing my son knock it out of the park and share something so personal in front of so many leaders, parents, students and organizations was incredible.
But the thing that hit me was the countless times people pulled me aside saying “that could be my kid”, “he doesn’t look depressed”, “he doesn’t act like an addict”, “your family doesn’t seem like the type” – whatever type they had in mind I do not know.
No he doesn’t…and no we don’t. Which is the answer to “WHY US”.
Suicide, depression and addiction aren’t selective. It happens in all kinds of families in all kinds of places. So we want parents to know they need to stay alert, watch their teens for signs they aren’t okay. And, along the way, let your kids know you are always there for them. You will always listen to them and you will support them.