Dear frozen parents

There are times that the mental illness or addiction of a loved one leaves you completely and utterly unable to act. Immobile. Stunned. Catatonic.

You are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start so you shut down completely. You just want all of it to go away. There are too many layers to tackle. Too many problems you can’t solve. Many times your loved one is not compliant either, making it that much more difficult.

You are so worried about hiding your ugly family secret, you start to implode and unknowingly make the situation worse. You are so secretive, you cannibalize your own support network because friends and family feel shut out. You develop an armor so impenetrable, no one can get in. And many times, someone does want in. They want to offer you support without judgement.

But you are too stubborn and too proud to accept it or seek it.

I have a news flash for you. You can’t fix this. You are not qualified. So I have to ask. Why are you going this alone? Why are you suffering alone? Why do you think that “being strong” means isolating yourself?

Asking for help or seeking a support group is an act of courage. And I want you to dig deep and find that now.

Your child’s problems are not the result of your inability to parent. I’ve known fantastic parents who’ve had children who struggled with mental illness, addiction or both. The finest people I know I have lost children to suicide or overdose.

Human beings were not meant to fold up like napkins and live on deserted islands. We were meant to be there for one another.  We were meant to connect. And by not doing so, you are denying yourself a basic human right. Connection nurtures the soul. And if ever there was a time when you needed that, it’s now.

What I’m saying is that you need help, too. This is hard. Watching someone self destruct, go off the rails and get in trouble is awful. Watching someone take life-threatening risks is like walking on glass in bare feet. It’s torture.

You are basically ineffective if you have no resources from within to draw upon. And that’s what happens when connecting with others. You’ll never find it in a vacuum. You find that in a a support system– whether it’s a counselor or a support group.

I’m a big proponent of support groups because they are actively using resources in the community and I can’t tell you what mine meant to me. How they were there for me in a crisis.

I was once frozen, too. I know that overwhelming feeling. So find help for you.

All the best,

Anne Moss

Go to the resources pages to start with. 

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

6 thoughts on “Dear frozen parents”

  1. I am frozen. Our daughter is in a residential facility out of state for her self-harm and suicidal tendencies. She is not even doing well there. We do go visit her on weekends. She is still self harming and says she wants to die. She has been transferred to a hospital to try to stabilize her. We live in fear daily wondering if our latest visit will be the last. It is a living hell. Your blog has been helpful in validating everything I’m feeling. I don’t know when I will thaw.

    1. The helplessness and fear kept me prisoner for a long time. What worked for me was finding a support group for others going through this. There were enough unthawed people there and some were still coming after their child had done well and that was encouraging to those of us in the weeds. Education and comraderie helped me. Curling up in a ball and crying and pleading with god did not. And I spent an awful long time doing that. It is so hard. Tell yourself you will reach a point that you will know how to move forward with your own life even though you don’t see how that will happen. Just take that one cheerleading leap of faith for yourself.

  2. It took me a long time to muster the courage to share my son’s struggle because of fear. Fear of betraying him to the world by disclosing his problems, fear of being judged and fear of embarrassment. I no longer fear anything except for what will happen to him after my husband and I are gone. Even then, as now, it is out of my control. All we can do is pray, live for today, love one another and have hope for tomorrow. Thanks for suggesting support groups. I do need to resume going.

  3. One of my goals for 2018, is to attend a few support meetings. Never found one that clicked, so mainly I’ve had God, Husband, and my Sister. I’ve spent a lot of time isolating myself, so I don’t burden others with my continued grief. I also sew things, and give it away. I used to label each item with CurT’s Cross, but stopped. I’d like to find a Faith- based suicide survivor group. Seem to be nonexistent. Maybe, some day I’ll get the training, and God willing, start my own Faith based support group.

    1. My friend Charlotte started a group. She is strong in her faith. But I like that idea, Jan. I think a lot of people would really respond to that. I would start by having a discussion with your minister about it just to get his/her feedback. I would encourage you to do that. This is a group my friend, Charlotte runs. Maybe reach out to her and find out how she did it. Just to get those steps outlined in your head.

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