Hindsight is 20/20. That’s a phrase I’ve been hearing all my life, but never did I realize how true it was until I lost my T.J. to suicide. In the years since, I’ve spent so much time going over every detail of his life looking for clues, trying to figure out what I missed.
What I realize is first and foremost trust your intuition. I believe that little voice that tells you something may be wrong is usually right. From the time T.J. was a little boy he was always more. His feelings were more sensitive, his tantrums were bigger, his hugs were tighter, his smiles brighter and his tears more intense. He loved more and most.
I spend so much time speaking to parents and teachers these days about how to distinguish between typical teen behavior and what rises to the level of getting professional help. While it can be difficult to figure out, it is important to look for and notice changes in behavior and mood that occur and last over a period of time—and to trust your gut. Parents often have a sense that something isn’t quite right, and we need to learn to trust that sense instead of being too quick to dismiss it.
In my heart I knew something serious was going on with T.J., but I couldn’t put my finger on what was happening. When it came to mental health issues and suicide risk I was completely in the dark. I was not aware of how common mental health disorders are or what the risk factors were. I had never really explored our family history with regard to mental health and didn't know what to look for. I allowed myself to listen to his teachers and counselors telling me what I seeing was typical teenage behavior and to stop worrying. By the time T.J. began to spiral out of control it was too late, and we lost him before we could find him the right help.
So, during Mental Health Awareness Month, do yourself a favor and take some time to educate yourself and to become more aware. Hopefully, it is knowledge you will never need for a loved one, but if something is going on with your child what a blessing it will be to have the knowledge and awareness to get them the help they need before a crisis point is reached.
Posted with Love and T.J. Hugs