I wanted to share some positive news!
Last I blogged, I wrote about our struggles here coping with teenage depression and suicidal thought patterns.
Here is me hoping and praying, that we are making steps in the right direction.
Having gone from complete breakdowns and self harming to smiling, chatting and being more sociable, we used techniques and books to guide us through tough love, thought reframing and home safety to make these changes.
I will include a link to books, on a UK site you may find really really useful should you find yourself in one of these situations or just need some self help and care:
There you go, link above. Let me tell you what we did though. Obviously everybody is different and one method won’t work for everyone, so take time to do some research and think about what will work for you.
One major tip: what one big change do you make which makes you or the person suffering suddenly change behaviour?
For example, for us: No Phone. This results in a teen who can no longer hibernate alone with a phone for hours and forces them to seek out other means of entertainment.
We stayed with this for one week only, then gradually reintroduced the phone in time slots over the coming weeks to break the phone addiction.
What resulted was a teen who watched TV with us, came out with us, who slept more (crucial), who started talking to us again and opening up. A complete change and life changer!
Sleep, well I had noticed a pattern of not sleeping at night then snoozing through the day. The no phone meant no late night chats to friends, increased sleep, early rising. From a teenager no less.
No food upstairs, this meant we all had to eat together, or if not together atleast on the same level, to be honest this more saved me having to clear a teenagers room of plates, cutlery and glasses. An added bonus.
Removal or ALL sharps in the house, that’s right, no razors in the bathroom, razors were asked for and given back after use. No knifes or scissors in the kitchen, all in a box in my wardrobe marked ‘car spares’. Something my teen is completely uninterested in. This took some adjusting too. At first there was an awkwardness asking for a knife; this soon passed.
No leaving the house alone. So you want to go to a friends? Okay, get them to walk here and collect you or I’ll drive you. Seems a little over the top? If you’re not alone you don’t have the mental moments to allow those thought patterns to sneak back in. Instead you can think about me being a paranoid controlling parent, much better.
Sleeping in the teens room, yes, drastic times lead to drastic measures. Night time trying to sleep is the one time a mind can go into overdrive and over think when all these changes are happening. This was met with tantrums at first but don’t back down. I gave it ten days sleeping in their room before they asked if they could sleep alone because they were tired and I was keeping them awake! Bad mother, night reading.
So what’s new, we have been able to have honest open discussions about how my disability and sleeping during the day due to medication left the teen feeling alone. Homeschool lessons are evening time for us so day times are more casual.
As a result, I have started to change my medication and when tired we go for a little walk, just as far as I can go. Different places mostly, some we drive too.
Not only do we enjoy each other’s company, we have started doing new things, going to stables to help muck out, getting out during the day, looking at volunteering opportunities. Planning a future. We all eat together, watch tv, go for walks, plan, help around the house. The family has become more of a unit and we have been able to slowly return to normal on some of the restrictions.
We all sleep better, we all eat better and no one misses the phones. Mentally we are all in a better place. It’s amazing how much negativity we pick up from social media.
I’ve learnt that I love so much I’m scared of tough love, sometimes tough love is really necessary to break bad habits and create mutual respect and trust.
I also learnt to listen and so has our teen. Don’t chat back, just listen. It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree, this is how THEY feel. Acknowledge that.
My teen feels safer, more valued, less alone, more able to talk about feelings and those bad thoughts are like a nightmare, a bad dream that doesn’t seem real anymore. The scars are healing and so are we as a family.
If you’re struggling or as a family have a teen who is struggling, I am happy to answer any questions. I’ll drop the book link again below and if you’d like the link for another country, let me know, I’ll add one for you.