It’s so hard to see your child in an altered state of mind

teen suicide
This is one of the last photos of Charles before he died

I came downstairs and walked into the den and Charles was lying on the floor at weird angles. My heart panicked then dropped to the floor. I thought he was dead and immediately checked his pulse.

He was alive but had been so drunk he passed out on the floor. He was fifteen and had been angry with me about something and this was his rebellious reaction to our argument. We had a conversation later and I told him that it did hurt me but “vindictive drinking” hurt him, too.

One night he came home walking in robotic, stiff movements and completely out of it. Robo tripping. There was the time on the roof naked and peeing in twenty-two-degree weather, glassy-eyed and out of it. That was the time he smoked marijuana and it triggered psychosis and I wondered if I’d ever see my real child again. Later on a family beach trip, he would drink alcohol with his sleep meds and break into a convenience store using a sledgehammer on the door at the beach and steal Mike’s Hard Lemonade, two cigars, and $5 from off the counter.

He nodded off at dinner a few times, and his inflated happiness made my heart lurch with sadness because I knew he had been doing some hard drugs and it was more than just experimentation. Denial was my friend back then. If he was normal the next day, I’d talk myself into thinking it was just one-time event because I didn’t want to face the truth right then. My mind wouldn’t let me Then the feeling of loss as I saw that I was losing him to drugs and his depression.

I wanted that happy little boy I remembered but had trouble divorcing that image and accepting that the funniest kid in school was depressed. I never got accustomed to seeing my child spaced out, high, dragged down by his depression, or in jail, his face screaming shame. I was helpless and it chipped away a piece of my heart every single time.

It was after those experiences I learned to check my judgment at the door. And although I find myself doing it because we all do, I remind myself that everyone has a story and on a day that someone doesn’t respond or even gets cross with me, it could be because their car broke down, or they got a cancer diagnosis. It’s not personal. And neither is your child’s behavior when they are not themselves. All we can do is love them and let them know. That is never the wrong thing to do. Ever.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

5 thoughts on “It’s so hard to see your child in an altered state of mind”

  1. It is the hardest thing to watch your child, with some much potential, spiral down to someone unrecognizable. My heart broke a thousand times but my love and desire to help never faltered. You are so right that showing love is never the wrong thing to do.

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