What goes up, must come down

It’s been just over a month since I finally dared to say it out loud, that we believed Chickadee was getting better, that our long nightmare of a year might—finally!—be headed somewhere more hopeful. Meds were changed, improvements took hold, and I felt like we could hope without holding our collective breath.

Since then, life here on the “outside” has marched on without my daughter. Monkey started school; Otto started back to work; when I drive past the high school in the late afternoon and see the cross country team out running, I quietly count to myself how many of the kids we know, and find myself predicting where in the long line of jostling teenagers my Chickie would be, if she was there with them as she’d originally planned.

When friends ask, I smile and tell them we’re hanging in there. But after the first couple of times, yeah, I changed up my schedule so that I no longer pass the high school when the kids are out. It hurts to look at them. The little stabs of tangled up longing-and-fear they inspire make it hard for me to breathe.

We are hanging in there. But it’s gonna be a long hang.

It’s unclear if the medication switch that seemed to bring Chickadee at least partway back to us has stopped working entirely or if it’s still working, but the initial “oh my gosh, I suddenly don’t feel so crappy, THIS IS AMAZING” reaction she had has worn off (leaving her, once again, with Other Stuff To Deal With).

When I was a teenager, I developed a perhaps irrational love of the movie Buckaroo Bonzai. The most iconic line from the movie—say it with me, fans—is, “Wherever you go, there you are.” (I’ve always felt like that sentence spoke volumes, even if it’s from a dumb movie.) This is what my daughter is living right now, I think. When you’ve spent your lifetime (however short; no matter how old and wise she feels at 14, HO HO CHILD, YOU ARE ONLY 14) stuffing down your problems, coping in all kinds of terrible and ultimately maladaptive ways, and pretending EVERYTHING IS FINE JUST FINE IT IS SHUT UP, there is no medication that changes that. There is no magic bullet the doctors can whip out to “fix” your life. Ultimately, everyone’s life requires their willing participation to reach some level of happiness and harmony, and sitting around waiting for the magic Fix-It Fairy to descend and make it all better is a losing game.

So things got better, because she felt less terrible. There was a honeymoon period. She talked about goals and things she was looking forward to and coming home. I don’t know what changed. The novelty of not feeling like utter crap all the time wore off, or maybe the meds stopped working and she feels like utter crap again, or maybe—most likely—she came face to face with the reality that work is still required on her part; that her coping skills are still very poor, and life doesn’t always go the way we want it to, and healthy people learn how to deal with disappointments in ways that don’t destroy themselves.

There’s another medication she’s on that has stopped her from cutting herself. That one is a minor miracle, as far as I’m concerned, because of everything that’s gone on these last however many months, it was the cutting that scared me the most. This medication is actually an anti-addiction opiate blocker, and it removes the endorphin rush addicts get from using, or cutters get from cutting. So: no more cutting. That’s huge. But. Without changes in how she views the world, how she feels she can cope with unpleasant feelings, all that happens is that the cutting no longer feeds that gaping, unfillable need she has for… SOMETHING… and has been replaced with… other behaviors. Maybe they don’t make her bleed, but they are equally unacceptable. And in some cases, nearly as dangerous.

Plainly put, unraveling the mental illness from the life choices is exhausting, terrifying work, and there are plenty of adults unwilling or unable to do it. Do I believe my 14-year-old can handle it? Is she strong enough, brave enough? Absolutely. When she wants it badly enough, she will do it, and she will triumph because she’s incredible and capable and once she really sets her mind to it, there will be no stopping her.

Right now, she isn’t there. She’s in that horrible limbo where she accepts that she is ill, but uses it as the excuse for why she can’t change. She has a bevy of therapists, doctors, and support staff there to teach her how to take back control of her life. They have everything but pom-poms and a Chickadee Fight Song. And she can’t see it, yet. She’s not ready. And no one can make her ready; not the hospital staff, not us, no one.

It is a heartbreaking powerlessness. We can see what is possible; we are frustrated she won’t (or can’t). And there is nothing to do but wait for her to tire of treading water, and either drown or decide to swim.

So I don’t talk about it, much. I was afraid to hope and then I did and now that hope feels like torture. I spend my personal therapy sessions asking my therapist to help me figure out how I continue to relate to this child I love so fiercely but no longer understand. I spend our family therapy sessions silently counting to 10, focusing on keeping my outward emotions and voice even, and being ready to calmly depart when her behavior becomes abusive.

When school started up again, we went to doing family therapy over the phone rather than driving in mid-week. It saves us hours of travel, plus it allows Otto to participate between classes when necessary. Chickadee is indignant about this change. She complains nearly every time I talk to her on the phone that she wants us to COME for those sessions, and WHY can’t we BE THERE, and if Otto’s schedule means HE can’t come in, FINE, I should come in to see her and HE can phone in. I have mostly managed to demur based on Monkey’s schedule, but she is unyielding in her demands.

Last night on the phone I reminded her that we have therapy today, and again she started in with “But I want you to come in for that.”

Without thinking, I replied, “But I want you to comply with the rules and work your program, so it turns out neither of us is getting what we want.” I kept my voice light. It was not an accusation. Merely a statement of the unfairness of the world, I guess.

Neither of us spoke for a good long while. The silence stretched between us as I tried to will her to hear my unspoken words: I love you to pieces, but I can’t do this for you. I’m here but you have to make the choice. You have to want it. You have to work for it. I’ll be the first in line to cheer you on once you’re ready.

Finally she spoke again, changing the topic and pretending that exchange hadn’t happened. For now.

We are hanging in there. I guess.

93 Responses to “What goes up, must come down”

  1. 1
    Brandi August 23, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    I wish I could hug her tight and let her know that she’s loved beyond belief. Too bad that you can’t get a magical hug via the internet.

  2. 2
    Beth R August 23, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    … no words. Just a huge hug for the whole family.

  3. 3
    RL Julia August 23, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Recently discovered your blog and read the whole thing over a course of a week (o.k. I am prone to being a little over directed in my reading – which means I relate to (but don’t share your love Buckaroo Bonzai – although I do remember the quote -pretty much sums it up). Anyway – this is just to say – keep hanging in there. And I enjoy reading your writing.

  4. 4
    Tricia August 23, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Oh Mir, would that we could all accept part of the pain and frustration and longing that you have and share it out over all of your devoted readers. You have me in tears again this morning… not just for all you’re dealing with, but also because it makes me think of all the other girls there (and in other facilities) who don’t have such amazing parents to support them. Thank you for continuing to share with all of us.

  5. 5
    liz August 23, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Sending hugs to your whole family.

  6. 6
    MomQueenBee August 23, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    When you are drowning, just keeping your head above water is a victory. Don’t stop treading, and know we’re all waving our pompons and singing the Mir fight song.

  7. 7
    Paige August 23, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Love Buckaroo with a passion.

    I am familiar with this waiting place. I am grateful the Chickadee is in a place where she is physically safe, even if she’s not willing to accept help.

  8. 8
    Jan August 23, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    I have read every entry on this site. While I don’t pretend to know the whole you, I think it’s safe to say that I know how deep your love for your children goes, and this:

    I spend our family therapy sessions silently counting to 10, focusing on keeping my outward emotions and voice even, and being ready to calmly depart when her behavior becomes abusive.

    just makes my heart hurt for you.

    Sometimes hanging in there is the best you can do. And that just stinks.

  9. 9
    Navhelowife August 23, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Oh Mir, I wish i had a fix it fairy to send to you.
    And Buckaroo Bonzai? Wonderful movie. Use that line all the time.
    Hugs, Prayers, and all that to you, to your family, to all those in the battle with you.

  10. 10
    Brigid August 23, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Wishing I had some great nugget of wisdom to give you a little peace, but instead I will just send love and positive thoughts.

  11. 11
    Amy August 23, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    In my past of being married to an alcoholic, I would attend AA meetings with him as a show of solidarity. One quote that I heard in the meeting really stuck with me that said “keep coming back, it works if you work it”. Maybe that’s the spot that Chickie is in right now. She knows that if she works her program that it will work for her and make her better, but she is held up by the fact that it’s hard, hard work.

  12. 12
    Lylah August 23, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Her changing the topic but staying on the phone to talk could actually be something positive… she didn’t argue with the logic of what you said, didn’t dismiss it, didn’t say it wasn’t true, but didn’t want to end the conversation. I think she heard you — the part you said and the part you didn’t say, during the silence.

    “Wherever you go, there you are” is one of my favorite quotes, BTW…

  13. 13
    stephanie August 23, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    heart. aches…

  14. 14
    amy August 23, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Keep hanging in there. Right now that’s all anybody can do.

  15. 15
    the Iowa Expat August 23, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    I sure wish that magical Fix-it Fairy would get her shit together and take care of this! In the meantime, I’m one of many praying for you, Chickie, and the rest of the family.

  16. 16
    Sheila August 23, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    I do hope Chickadee gets to read this, especially this line:

    “When she wants it badly enough, she will do it, and she will triumph because she’s incredible and capable and once she really sets her mind to it, there will be no stopping her.”

    I bet you say that to her in so many ways, but I think that reading it and knowing that her Mama has declared it to the world would be empowering.

    Still cheering for you, and of course for your girl, over here.

  17. 17
    {sue} August 23, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    ((HUGS)), Mir. Even though you may feel like you no longer understand this child, I am so impressed with your ability to understand her internal struggle. Maybe not what motivates her to make the choices she’s making, but you get the battle that she’s fighting. You are a HUGE part of that strong team Chickadee has behind her. She doesn’t see that, but I sure do.

    Also? You’re pretty. :-)

  18. 18
    Katherine August 23, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Prayers for you all. Sounds like a long hard road ahead and I wish there was something we internets could do to help.

  19. 19
    Sandra Tayler August 23, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I hate not being able to tell the difference between can’t and won’t. If I could tell I would know when to push and when to back off.

    I’m pulling for you and am a silent member of the Chickadee Recovery Pep Squad.

  20. 20
    Cheney August 23, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I’ve been reading for a couple of months and now I am delurking, just to say there’s someone else out there who’s thinking of you and your family and hoping that there is a happy ending to this story.

    Also to say – I grew up with a girl who had serious psychiatric problems and was abusive to herself and other students between grade 7-9. Everyone thought she was crazy, she lost pretty much all of her friends, and no one really thought she would make it. Our freshman year she went to an inpatient facility and came back about six months later having been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and they’d finally found the right combination of drugs to help her. Now, fourteen years later, she is happily married with two beautiful daughters. There’s hope to be had out there.

  21. 21
    Kristine N August 23, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Sending you many hugs and tons of prayers for all of you. I cannot imagine what you are going through….

    I pray that she finally realizes how much she is loved and to love herself enough to accept the help she needs….

  22. 22
    Rosie August 23, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    (((Hugs from Wisconsin)))

  23. 23
    Kellie August 23, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Prayers and love your way.

  24. 24
    Aimee August 23, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    I have a feeling that Chickadee did hear your unspoken words. I hope she gets to a point, very soon, where she decides to work it for real. She has so many people pulling for her.

  25. 25
    hollygee August 23, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    My prayers/wishes/hopes/vibes that her ‘I’m-ready-to-fight-for-my-life’ switch goes to the ON position.

  26. 26
    Stimey August 23, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    It is so hard to watch your child struggle in such a profound way when you can’t help. I know that you would take all of her problems on yourself if it could make her better.

    Here’s the thing though. You believe in your daughter and I know that she must know that somewhere. Keep hanging in. You guys can come out the other side.

  27. 27
    cheyenna August 23, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Big hugs. I am cheering for Chickie and you and your family. Your strength will surprise you. Chickie’s strength will surprise her when she is ready.

  28. 28
    suburbancorrespondent August 23, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Oh, awesome response! Loving detachment is key. I’m thinking she may be using the attendance-in-person issue as a distractor.

  29. 29
    TC August 23, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    I know what you’re describing…I’m the daughter of what you’re describing…but I still cannot imagine what it is really like when it’s your KID you’re describing. Unbearably frustrating.

    We acclimate to stuff, we humans. The “these meds took away my horrible pain; they’re the best thing ever” becomes “I was in horrible pain? whatever. i don’t remember that. but, hey, there’s a little pain in my toe now; weren’t these meds supposed to make me feel perfect forever? oh no, they’re not working any more!” Hope is similar. At first you’re so excited to feel ANY; soon, however, the minor gains that sent you soaring aren’t enough, and any progress, unless it’s major and The Thing You’re Waiting For leaves you feeling like you’ve actually gone backward. Or maybe that’s just me, but it’s a phenomenon I know well. So keep charting the forward progress, even if it doesn’t fill you with the same hope it did at first.

    And, finally, could you make your attending therapy sessions a carrot for her? She works X part of the program this week; you’ll be there next time. There are probably so many positive and negative reinforcers in her life right now anyway that that might be irrelevant, but it was the first thing that popped into my need-to-help-her-fix-this head.

    Many, many hugs.

  30. 30
    Kim August 23, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    All of this sounds so damn hard, Mir. I wish there was a magic bullet. I’m glad you’re taking steps to protect yourself. Internet hugs to all of you.

  31. 31
    Hally August 23, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    ” I love you to pieces, but I can’t do this for you. I’m here but you have to make the choice. You have to want it. You have to work for it. I’ll be the first in line to cheer you on once you’re ready.”

    This…this…all over the place. It’s the mantra of all moms in the trenches. And while we may decorate said trenches with flowers, bows, cute HGTV tips and unicorns, it’s still a trench….and we’re still digging out of it.

    All the hugs and good wishes from the interwebs.

  32. 32
    Crisanne August 23, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Mir-I haven’t commented much lately. We’ve moved a couple of times this summer, and I have spent very little time on the computer. But I can say this, not an hour passes when I don’t think about you and your girl. I pray for strength for you, Otto, and Monkey as you ready yourselves to cheer her on. I pray that Chickie hears all the words you say and those you don’t, takes them to heart, and figures out how to be that strong, brave girl we all long for her to be. Much love you and yours.

  33. 33
    Issa August 23, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    No words, just hugs to you all.

  34. 34
    bryan August 23, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Crying for you. I think she did hear you–the fact that she didn’t react makes me think that. My daughter is at a point (I had “the point” but I’m afraid this is not the only time she’ll struggle with that) that she uses her Asperger’s as an excuse not to work on her Asperger’s. (I can’t do that so I won’t try.) It has made the last 2 weeks miserable for her & she does so love to share that. I know it doesn’t really compare in scope, but I can understand your frustration. Sending you love and light, prayers and positive thoughts.

  35. 35
    Chris August 23, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Mental heath issues during the teenage years are a double whammy such that is doesn’t surprise me she is still struggling to cope. The mom job is hard and at times relentless in its worries and pressures. You are doing a fabulous job of hanging in there and I think the last exchange with Chickie was important and needed to be said.

    My kids hate to hear what I am sure sounds like a trite phrase to them “Life is not fair” so I try to make it more specific wherever possible. I know it is hard to be a teenager but it is hard to be a mom too.


  36. 36
    Arnebya August 23, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    I believe she was quiet that long because she heard you, really heard, listened. She processed those words, noted the lack of accusation, but found herself powerless to battle it because of the same thing. She knows how much you love her. And I’m hopeful that soon she’s realize that she can count on your love as she continues to get better, and appreciate your inability to do it for her. She will get to that point and understand what it must be like to be a mother, what it is like to watch your child suffer, what it means to make your child fight for what she deserves.

  37. 37
    mamalang August 23, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I have had to issue those types of “I want you to blah, and you won’t, so neither of us are getting it” statements, and omg they are hard. Hard to say lightly, so that the tone doesn’t cause more damage, so that maybe they will hear what you are truly saying. It sucks. But it’s the tough love kind of things that I think people need sometimes, not just kids. (although saying it to my children is a lot more difficult than saying it to an adult…lol).

    I can’t say enough Thank You’s for sharing this story in a respectful way. This is important. You are making a difference, and not just with tampon lemonade.

  38. 38
    birchsprite August 23, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Not a lot to add to all the lovely comments. Justing sending you hugs and hopeful wishes for the future.

  39. 39
    Jen August 23, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Sending hugs your way.

  40. 40
    Redneck Mommy August 23, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    I absolutely have zero words to offer. This situation with your child is so far out of the realm of my experience I just don’t know what to say. So I will just tell you that I am cheering for Chickie, and for your family. And that I know there must be moments that are so tenuous, when you are barely hanging on and that this must be so damn difficult I can’t even fully comprehend it. It’s in those moments that I am sending you all my strength and admiration. xo

  41. 41
    Beverly August 23, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Ohh. :(

    I’m thinking of you and praying for you, all of you.

  42. 42
    Carla Hinkle August 23, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Thinking of you.

  43. 43
    John Smallberries August 23, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    I agree with everything everyone else already said. Love, hugs, strength and prayers.

  44. 44
    karen August 23, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    I think the very hardest part of being a parent is when we are sometimes given the very torturous reality that the best thing for them is to -not do anything – for them, let them sink or swim through their own very difficult work.

    Chickie has so much going for her… at some point she’ll find the will and desire to work toward copying with the mental illness and have her life back, to move on with all that potential. From where I sit way over here, you are doing all the right supportive ( and not too submissive) things that need to be done so that she can get out of the hole and lead a normal life again.

    How is Monkey doing? …. all around. THis must be very confusing and difficult for him too. Wishing and hoping for you that life at the MirOttoChickMonkey house gets a whole lot better sooner, rather than later.

  45. 45
    Rebecca August 23, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    “Ultimately, everyone’s life requires their willing participation to reach some level of happiness and harmony, and sitting around waiting for the magic Fix-It Fairy to descend and make it all better is a losing game.”

    This was SUCH an a-ha moment for me. Wow. I literally said “wow” out loud.

    Thank you for speaking during this unspeakable time. Hugs.

  46. 46
    Tracy B August 23, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Just keep swimming, Mir! Please just keep swimming! As you cheer for your Chickie, WE are cheering for you (and her and Otto and Monkey))! {{{{hugs}}}}

  47. 47
    Kathryn August 23, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I have to believe that this nightmare will end for all of you, and she will come out of it so much stronger and more powerful than she could have been without it. Thank you for sharing this; I can’t imagine writing all this out for everyone to read, but you are giving voice to, I would think, thousands of others who are trying to cope with something similar but just don’t have the words. You and your family are in the hearts of so many here, we are all rooting for you to find the other side of this.

  48. 48
    Nic August 23, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Mir, I lurk more often than not but I wanted to say that I think of y’all and hope for good things for you everyday. I have no frame of reference for your troubles but you so clearly describe them I feel your pain. Wishing you, Chickadee and your family peace of heart. Hugs.

  49. 49
    Rita August 23, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Need just a little laugh? I saw the line “They have everything but pom-poms …” and read “they have everything but tampons…” and thought to myself, but surely they have tampons now? My thoughts and prayers remain with you and your family as Chickie unravels her issues and finds her strength in the meanwhile.

  50. 50
    Janine August 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    I live everyday telling myself (lying I suppose), “if there is a problem, I will fix it. I will. No matter what, I will find a way to fix it.” I read Chickie’s story and my heart breaks. The way you describe your life through your writing, I feel as if I am you and I feel utterly helpless. I am so sorry this is happening to you and your family (and many others). It is such a hard place to be as a parent. Stay strong, stay consistent, and keep loving the snot out of your kids. This too shall pass. Sending my strength to you!!

  51. 51
    Daisy August 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    “Ultimately, everyone’s life requires their willing participation to reach some level of happiness and harmony, and sitting around waiting for the magic Fix-It Fairy to descend and make it all better is a losing game.” So true – and at the same time, so difficult.

  52. 52
    Amy-Go August 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Hope is torture, I know that is too true right now. But hope is also the anchor. Don’t let it go.

    Praying for you. Every day. Hard.

  53. 53
    Jill W. August 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I don’t know what to say, except to tell you that a day does not go by that I don’t think about you and your girl and send you both (and Otto and Monkey) a prayer and a wish.

  54. 54
    Tenessa August 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    The hard truths need to be said. She needed to hear you say what you need of her in that moment. I believe this. Also? “When she wants it badly enough, she will do it, and she will triumph because she’s incredible and capable and once she really sets her mind to it, there will be no stopping her.” You should continue saying this to her in all the ways you do and maybe word for word, too.

    You are amazing to me, Mir. You are a warrior woman and mom. You are fighting the hard fights and you will win. YOU WILL!

  55. 55
    laura August 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

  56. 56
    KateB August 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Oh, girl. I am so impressed with your strength and honesty, as usual. Not that this will probably help, but my dear friend had a severe eating disorder and was a cutter in high school. Through a lot of work, therapy, love , and, as you pointed out, a decision to get better, she is now a 27 year old happy, healthy woman. Chickie sounds so much like my friend. “Everything is fine! Big smiles!” Super cute and bright. And stuffing their emotions into deep, dark corners. Going away was the best thing for my friend, though it hurt her family and us to be away from her. I pray for all of you and wish you peace and love.

  57. 57
    Jen H. August 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm #


  58. 58
    not supergirl August 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this struggle. Like others, I think that silence after your comment was significant in a good way. I don’t know what she was feeling when she was silent. Maybe she was angry and had to settle herself before she spoke again. Maybe she was considering the truth of your statement. Maybe she was considering a comeback… I like to imagine that she was just struggling with the pride that gets in the way when you realize your mom is right. Regardless, she didn’t respond in any inappropriate way. She moved on. And I think that’s kind of awesome.

    Keep hanging in there. There’s just not a better option right now, anyway, I guess.

  59. 59
    Lara August 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Hugs Mir. Think about you all every day and hoping for the best.

  60. 60
    Susan in SF August 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Thinking of you and your family.

  61. 61
    B August 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    I’m sure this is cold comfort, but it is so great she is working on this now (or at least, that is the hope) than ignoring it for the next 10 or 20 years.

    I am the recipient of a genetic heritage of crazy. My paternal grandfather cracked up in middle age and went to his grave having alienated much of his family. My dad cracked up in his 20s and 30s. I don’t know a lot of detail (don’t want to), but I believe he was institutionalized a few times. He is great now but missed a lot of our childhoods while dealing with his own crap. I cracked up in my teens, 17 to be specific. When I finally admitted the problem and convinced my mom to get me a therapist, one thing the therapist told me was that I had basically no coping skills (unless crying about everything counts). I got better, with therapy and medication. I had another crackup a few years later, and spent several months “treading water” (maybe better called wallowing) while all my friends were like, “can you really not just get yourself back in therapy and take care of this?” But I needed that time to let out all the bad feelings I’d been holding in.

    Anyway, just saying that your statements about treading water and coping skills struck a chord with me. As a former crazy kid who is a pretty functional adult (though of course I still deal with this stuff) I am so grateful that this happened when I was younger. I didn’t blow up my life the way my older relatives did. I didn’t hurt my spouse or kids or drag anyone down with me.

    I think you are right, your kid can pull herself through this. It just might take a while.

  62. 62
    Mandy August 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    I am amazed by you – your grace under pressure, your loving Mom words while your heart has to be hurting, your ability to share with us. If I had one of those elusive Fix-It Fairies, I would so ship her to Georgia! ((non-creepy internet hugs))

  63. 63
    Varda (Squashed Mom) August 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    And my heart is just breaking into a million shards again, reading this. I am not going to say “I don’t know how you get through each day” because I do. You just get through it. Because you’re the Mom. And it hurts like hell, all the time. {hugs}

    I am sending a thousand gazillion well wishes your way, and Chickie’s. Here’s to hoping the waiting is as minimally torturesome as possible and that your daughter turns the corner soon.

  64. 64
    Emily August 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    Mir, thank you for keeping us updated. Her behaviors sound so much like mine when I was younger – I just couldn’t see how my own attitudes and habits and selfishness were destroying everything and everyone around me…I’m so sorry your Chickadee is going through this, and I pray she’ll continue to progress on the long road of recovery.

  65. 65
    Jeanie August 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    You all remain in my prayers.

  66. 66
    Staci August 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    When my teenage daughter was sick, I remember feeling like I would never be okay until she was okay. And when she became (more) okay, well, my work began in earnest.

    May your girl learn how to flip the switch inside from victimhood to empowerment.

    And in the meantime, we’re here. We’re here. During unimaginable moments one step at a time has to be enough.

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    NTE August 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I just… have so many things I wish I could say right now. That part about sitting in therapy counting to ten, waiting to walk away if necessary? Hits so close to home at this particular moment that I can’t even tell you. My heart is with you, and Chickie, and Monkey & Otto and all of you. May you all be As Well As Possible, As Soon As Possible.

  68. 68
    Leah August 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Love and prayers for your family. I am sure it is tremendously difficult but thank you so much for updating.

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    EG August 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    This is a great post. What a great description of the complexity of mental illness and life coping mechanisms being intertwined.

    I’m sorry Chickie didn’t find a miracle drug. I think maybe it’s better that she’s a 14 year old dealing with this instead of an adult. Kids are resilient.

  70. 70
    Mary August 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    I responded to callers on a crisis hotline for 8 years and your post reminded me a lot of that experience. There were so many frustrating calls where it was so clear that the caller had tons of options and support if s/he would just choose to take action. It can be the hardest thing accepting and meeting someone where s/he is. And that’s for interactions with complete strangers who I would likely never talk to again.

    I think you’re pretty amazing. You’re planting good seeds, showering your daughter with all forms of love, and setting an incredible example of maintaining healthy boundaries.

    As the mother of a daughter, I really look up to you.

  71. 71
    Jessica August 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    “She’s in that horrible limbo where she accepts that she is ill, but uses it as the excuse for why she can’t change.” This. This, this, this. I have never been able to express this so succinctly, but I know how it feels to see a loved one in this limbo. I’m still praying, Mir.

  72. 72
    jodifur August 23, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    I don’t think hope is ever bad…because without hope where would we be, really? Mir, you are absolutely one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and I like to believe that you are all going to get through this to the other side of something, somewhere….

  73. 73
    The Other Dawn August 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Another commenter said earlier that Chickie’s reaction to your comment that no one was getting what they wanted meant she may have taken the idea on board was my reaction, too. Also, you must have gotten the tone just right, while I would probably have succumbed to the sarcasm fairy, which would have blown up in my face. Perhaps it’s a revelation to Chickie that she’s not the only one hurting, but she’s the only one who can fix what’s hurting everyone. We’re self-centered enough at 14, even when we’re not trying to cope with mental illness issues. It may be quite a new idea for her. And maybe an incentive? Kind of like when our Inner Mama Bear comes out when something hurts another family member? I hope she finds whatever trigger she needs to push her to do the work soon.

    As always, love and best wishes to you all.

  74. 74
    Rocky Mountain Woman August 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    I use that quote all the time. I’m going to go buy some pom poms tomorrow and start cheering for Chickie and her mom…



  75. 75
    Cele August 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Crawly little baby steps, one day at a time, and you will make it. My prayers and well wishes continue for you and Chickie, Monkey, and Otto.

  76. 76
    Korinthia Klein August 24, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    Wow. I’m not even sure how to comment on the content of this post, but I do need to say that you are a remarkable writer. You put things into words in a manner that is so poignant and heartfelt and eloquent and real…. I’m in awe.

  77. 77
    Valerie August 24, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Sometimes parenting just sucks. Way to recognize what you can do and what you can’t while still keeping sight on what she needs and what she needs to learn. Here, here for therapy.

  78. 78
    Meg August 24, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    ((Hugs)). Thank you yet again for sharing your story. It is so powerful. And is helping me keep some perspective on an issue with my own 14 yo. I hope the steps forward continue and out distance the setbacks.

  79. 79
    Andrea August 24, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Wish I had something different or profound to say, but I don’t. Just want to add my support and prayers for you guys.
    I am hoping that someday I will be as strong and graceful under pressure as you. I can’t seem to stop myself from either shrieking or blubbering (or both) when my son’s issues become…well, and issue.
    Keep hanging in there, sometimes (most of the time) it’s all that we can do.

  80. 80
    Jenne August 24, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Sending love and hugs to all of you. I can’t begin to imagine how powerless and frustrated you feel. But you continue to bravely share your story, and remind all of us that being a parent is an unpredictable ride, and to be grateful for everything we have. Wishing I lived anywhere near you to offer a shoulder, but you know I am always here. <3

  81. 81
    Jan in Norman, OK August 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    I can’t help but think that, as long as everyone is still breathing, some sort of progress is being made.

  82. 82
    RuthWells August 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    You are such a good mama. And I renew my theory that you must have kicked a LOT of puppies in a former life to be going through all of this.

    Do you think Chickie would like/appreciate a “just keep swimming” necklace? (She already has enough tampons, afterall…)

  83. 83
    Rachael August 25, 2012 at 2:22 am #

    I’m sure you often don’t feel strong, but you are. You will make it through this, and so will she. (hugs)

  84. 84
    elizabeth August 25, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    Keep breathing, keep swimming, keep counting. Prayers for her growth– and redemption of the pain for all involved.

  85. 85
    Sherri August 25, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I’m sorry things are not progressing with Chickie. I know you don’t always feel strong, but I am impressed with how well you are holding it together. You are doing all you can for her and she knows you love her. And I’m with you – I know she can find the strength to deal with her issues head on and learn better coping skills. I wish we could tell you when she hits that wall and will turn it around.

  86. 86
    Heather August 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm #


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    Karen August 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    I know it’s hard to realize at this point in time, but things WILL get better. It might be tomorrow, or it might be two years from now, but life will, someday, be back to normal. my heart aches for you and your family, as I had a sister who went through a similarly heart-wrenching struggle in college. I was only twelve years old, but I remember being so confused as to why someone would want to hurt herself. There were times we wondered if she would even make it through her illness, if she could ever feel whole again. Coming from the other side of it all, I can safely say that she hasn’t been self-destructive (physically or mentally) for years. She has found meaning in life once again, and all it took was time, along with the correct balance of therapy and medication. I’ll be praying for you that your daughter’s day of recovery will come in a timely manner. Just keep holding on. These things don’t last forever.

  88. 88
    kate August 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Just wanted to say I have been reading your blog since… ’06? Or something… When y’all still lived up north. I’m Southerner with Yankee parents so I guess that’s how I frame my worldview, ha. Anyway I also was a troubled teen at one point who made irrational, often self destructive choices despite my parents’ best efforts. It puzzled me then and still does, in retrospect. I have my ideas but I also think life can be mystifying for each of us. Not sure what advice I can offer, but wanted you to know I am twenty seven, relatively well-adjusted, happy, healthy etc. I trust your judgement that your daughter has what it takes to get somewhere better, and I truly hope she does. All my best from Hot Springs, AR.

  89. 89
    Pip August 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Keep going, Mir. I know the ‘oh, it’s getting better – actually, wait, it’s worse again’ cycle very well. Even if it’s in baby steps, she’ll get there.

    (On a largely unrelated note which I hope will make you laugh, I was trying to think of something actually helpful to say, and I looked around the room for inspiration, but where I am at the moment I can only see my housemate’s fish tank. So, in that vein – ‘Oh, Mir! Those two snails are shagging!’)

  90. 90
    Michelle August 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    I just wanted to say hang in there… the most frustrating aspect of mental illness is that the person who is ill holds all the cards when it comes to their own recovery and improvement. They have to take the meds and do the theraphy, and it’s frustrating because you can’t tie them up and force them to do it.

    I think your statement to Chickie was honest and truthful and exactly what you should have said. And I’m sure she heard your unspoken words as well… she’s simply too smart not to.

    Sending some serious good vibes your way…

  91. 91
    heather August 27, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Oh Mir.

    I am sending so much love to you and yours. Those long hangs are sooooo hard, but the relief that is felt when you can let go and touch solid ground is so amazing compared to never having had to hang on and always be on solid ground. That sounds trite, but it’s not meant to be – you will come out of this eventually and while hope may seem cruel in times like this, think of how desperate you would be without it.

    You’re a fantastic Mama, Mir – and I wish you’d catch a break, stat.

  92. 92
    Paula September 3, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    Here’s a list of things girls who hurt themselves by cutting can do instead of doing it. I’m sorry its in German, and I do not have the time to translate it, but the advice sounds quite clever (from a German self-help website called “red tears” http://www.rotetraenen.de“):

    – Versuche Dich zu entspannen bzw. abzulenken, z.B. Tief durchatmen, Baden, Musik hören, Lesen, Fernsehen…

    – Mit jemandem sprechen (ein Freund, Therapeut oder Telefon-Krisendienst)

    – Versuche, möglichst nicht alleine zu sein (einen Freund besuchen, einkaufen, spazierengehen)

    – Tagebuch schreiben bzw. schreibe das auf, was Du momentan fühlst, was Dir durch den Kopf geht

    – Versuche deine Gefühle kreativ umzusetzen, z.B. durch Zeichnen

    – Trage ein Gummi um Dein Handgelenk und laß es schnalzen, wenn Du den Drang hast, Dich selber verletzen zu wollen.

    – Male Dir rote Striche mit wasserlöslichen Filzstiften auf die Haut anstatt zu schneiden.

    – Presse Eiswürfel an Deine Haut. Die Kälte ist zwar schmerzhaft, aber weder gefährlich noch gesundheitsschädlich.

    – Versuche Dich nicht in Versuchung führen zu lassen, d.h. halte Dich nicht an Orten auf, wo du z.B. deine Klingen aufbewahrst

    – Versuche Deine Aggressionen loszuwerden (Schlag auf ein Kissen oder eine Matratze, geh nach draussen und schrei alles aus Dir heraus)

    – Suche Dir eine Sportart, bei der Du Deinen inneren Stress abbauen kannst

    – Weine, wenn du kannst. Du fühlst dich besser, wenn die Tränen erst einmal raus sind.

    – Tu irgendetwas mit deinen Händen (Malen, Zeichen, Aufräumen, Abwaschen, Hausarbeiten)

    – Schreibe einen Brief an die Person, die Dich traurig oder wütend macht bzw. die Dich verletzt hat.

    – Schreibe Dir Deinen ganzen Frust von der Seele, verfasse Kurzgeschichten oder Gedichte.

    – Mach Musik, spiele ein Instrument spielen oder erlerne es.

    – Höre laut Musik und versuche dich voll auf das Lied zu konzentrieren, lasse dich sozusagen davon fesseln.

    – Versuche Deine Gefühle mitzuteilen anstatt sie zu schlucken oder sie für Dich zu behalten.

    – Nimm den Gegenstand, mit dem du dich sonst selber verletzt und richte es dieses Mal gegen etwas anderes als dich selbst.

    – Sage Dir, dass Du Dich in 15 Minuten immer noch verletzten kannst. Versuche nach den 15 Minuten, ob du es nochmal 15 Minuten aushälst.

    – Schreib eine Liste mit Gründen, warum du das Schneiden aufhören wirst. Immer wenn du dann den Drang verspürst, dich selber zu verletzen, lies die Liste als Erinnerung daran, warum du es jetzt nicht tun solltest.

    – Wenn Du kurz davor bist Dich zu verletzten, versuche nachzudenken: Warum mache ich das? Möchte ich es wirklich? Hilft es mir? Was werden die Folgen sein? Möchte ich mit diesen Folgen leben?

    – Wenn der Drang dennoch nicht weniger wird, erlaube Dir das SVV, aber bestimme woher wie weit und versuche die Grenze nicht zu überschreiten.

    Was aus dieser Liste Dir helfen, kannst Du herausfinden. Wichtig ist es, etwas zu finden, was dem Ritzen, Schneiden, Cutten “gleichwertig” ist.
    All diese Möglichkeiten sind keine keine Heilung des SVV, sondern eine Art von Verschiebung, um mit der momentanen Situation, dass es Dir schlecht geht klarzukommen, sie zu überbrücken und zu verhindert, dass es noch schlimmer wird.
    Versuche eine Methode zu finden, um in belastenden Situationen auch ohne SVV auszukommen. Erlaube dem Drang nicht, Dich zu kontrollieren!”

    SVV = Selbst verletzendes Verhalten (self-hurting behaviour)

    Lots of sympathy and Good luck for your daughter!


  1. a little of this & a little of that {today you get random} - August 28, 2012

    […] in Athens, Georgia to visit my friend Mir.  If you read her blog you know she is going through a really, really hard time right now, and I was so happy and grateful that she made time to take us in.   She showered us with yummy […]

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