If I want him to live, I’ve got to live

 
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Imagine watching your child suffer.

It could be emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

It might be seeing your child not want to get out of bed in the morning. It might be seeing them get beat up at school. It might be seeing them constantly discouraged, full of fear or self doubt.

It might be any number of things, but on a regular basis you see your child suffering, and you are suffering too.

Have you ever been there?

I recall one day after a speaking engagement where a mother reached out to me on social media and sent me a note saying thanks. She said she could relate, and we eventually ended up on a phone call.

When I spoke with this woman, she began by sharing with me how depressed, down, and out she felt about her own life. She had been struggling watching her son constantly being in a funk. She was lacking motivation to get out of her own rut and was constantly feeling like she was either to blame or a failure for not being able to rectify the situation.

Something so common among mothers…

As she carried on her story, she described heading to the cottage one weekend to spend some time with friends. While she was away, she received a text message from another mother of one of her son’s best friends.

“Call me.” Was all that it said.

When she got on the phone, she began to learn that her son had been talking about suicide with his friend and that it sounded very serious. He needed to get help, immediately.

Upon returning home this mother chose to sit down and have a chat with her son who was open enough to acknowledge to her that yes, he does in fact have suicidal ideation.

Her next thought was “We need to go see a doctor.”

When they arrived, the doctor had a conversation with the mother first. She explained the context of the situation and shared a bit about her own struggles as well, but the focus was to be on her son. He was the one who needed help.

Or so she thought.

The son had a consultation with the doctor, and everything he said was true. He was feeling depressed, suicidal, and had a lot of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt about school, life, and everything else that was going on. But there was one more thing that really stuck out for the doctor.

When the boy’s mother went back into the room to speak with the doctor privately, she heard some information that she never saw coming. What the doctor said was “Yes, your son is challenged, however, seeing you in bed all day upsets him.”

These words hit her like a brick wall.

All this time she had been so concerned and so stressed out herself about the situation that she forgot to continue taking care of her own self. She was letting her own thoughts, health, and habits get away from her so that she could be the strong rock that she was aspiring to be.

It was like she had no idea what happened, or what was happening.

Then, the next words that came into her mind are what helped change everything. She said, “If I want my son to live, I’ve got to live.”

Wow.

That moment helped the boy’s mother begin to turn everything around and what I like to refer to as Spiral Up, Not Down.

By her own will, she decided that she needed to take responsibility for her own life and begin to do everything that she could to help get herself better first, and as quickly as possible help her son as well.

She began simply by walking, committing herself to getting outside of the house every day for just a 10–15 minute walk. She then working her way up to 30–60 minute walks. She began to focus on eating better, getting proper nutrition into her body to help her feel better, resulting in a less sluggish feeling which is one of the culprits to making you want to constantly stay in bed.

For her son, she reached out to an Employee Assistance Program internally for resources and found her son counselling. This began the process to brining her life, her son’s life, and her family’s life back on track again.

And she did all of this without medication.

The lesson here is not that medication is bad and that you have to stop looking after someone else before you get your own life back in order, but to see how and where in your life that you can begin to accept more responsibility for your situation.

I remember when I was in a relationship when I was dealing with depression and I had a girlfriend who was supportive beyond my wildest dreams. She was willing to listen to me speak openly about my depression and suicidal thoughts, she never judged me, and she stuck with me through by far one of the worst times of my life, ever.

However, when I look back on our relationship after we broke up, I can’t believe how blind I was to the situation that I had to be the one to step up and really turn my life around. It took us breaking up (and me reaching out for professional help) before I could see that I needed to do those things to help snap me out of my own funk. Goal setting, regular exercise, meditation, those were all parts of my recovery. However, so much of why we suffered as a couple was because I didn’t see where I needed to work harder on myself to get out of the funk.

Depression can do that to you, and that’s ok! Don’t beat yourself up over it if you haven’t figured it out yet. I just want to help bring some light to a few situations and help you to start thinking differently about where you are at today.

When I got off the phone with this woman, her final words to me were “Every day I just try to focus on what I have to be grateful for. I have my health, I have my son, I have my family, I have my job. I am lucky that we have caught ourselves and this situation before it had gotten a lot worse. Now we are on the mend. It may be a long road ahead, but this is something we can get through, and we will get through this together.”

We never want to see other people struggle, especially if they are close to us, but sometimes we need to remember that if we want them to live, we have to live, too.

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About Kevin Rempel:

Paralympian, keynote speaker, and founder of the corporate team building program, The Sledge Hockey Experience, I help people change their perspective about life and people with disabilities. Visit www.kevinrempel.com for more information.