All I Want Is For My Son To Be Okay

by Rae Jackson
Originally Published: 
A teen struggling with depression sitting on the floor with head on his knees
Oleg Golovnev / EyeEm / Getty

All I wanted for Christmas was for him to be okay.

Every other year, when my husband, my kids, etc., have asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I’d say, “no sibling fights for a day,” or “nothing.” Maybe I’d throw in “I am out of lotion” if I felt up to helping them on this need to “get” me something. We have generally always had the things that we needed – tougher at times than others, and we definitely are not rich, but we’ve always been okay, and I really don’t think I have ever wanted anything.

This year, I really just want my oldest son to be okay. I’d love happy and healthy, but I would also so be just fine with, okay. Anything for him to not be hurt, depressed, sad.

For the past year, I have lived the life of a mom who has a teenager with depression. It is a lonely and scary place that I wish on no one. I worry for my son constantly. My husband and I, already on pretty thin ice, have completely drifted from one another in this crisis. With the supervision needs to prevent self-harm, I spend no time with friends. With even more judgment passed by my mother, I have pretty much isolated myself from any type of support system in navigating this most horrifying part of my life.

This intense loneliness has led me to a place where I feel compelled to share my story so other mothers know they are not alone. A decade ago, I had a miscarriage. It was still taboo at the time to talk about it, poor decision making if you brought it up before meeting the 13-week benchmark (what was she thinking!).

I did not have the love and support that is starting to show itself today, where love and support for all of the mothers who have lost unborn babies abounds on social media. Society is starting to wrap arms around these women who are hurting the most unbelievable hurt. I think that love could have helped me, and I want to start the love for another group of moms.

For all of you moms out there who have a son or daughter suffering with mental illness, I love you. I feel your pain, and I wish I could take it away. I do empathize, though, and as much as it seems that you are alone, you are not alone. I was with you when you cried on the drive to work because the adrenaline wore off in the five minutes you weren’t focused on keeping someone else alive.

I was with you when you looked at your child’s arms, resembling more of lattice than skin. I was with you when you hid the over-the-counter drugs in your closet, and all of the household scissors in your sock drawer. I was with you when you started saying no to outings with friends because you needed to keep an eye on things at home, and I was with you when you became the overbearing, nagging parent you never wanted to be.

I was with you when strangers brought your child home in the middle of the night because he went for a walk, with no phone, and no coat, became lost, and started knocking on doors to find a sympathetic soul who would bring home.

I have cried more in the past year in my awareness of my son’s depression than at any point in my life. I would do anything to fix it. Anything. We have been to the therapist, started medication, are working on sleep patterns, I have increased supervision, advocated with teachers, tried to open up communication pathways… and I sometimes think we are worse off than we were a year ago.

But I did get my wish. My son was okay on Christmas. He watched tv with me on Christmas Eve and we laughed. We saw family over the holiday and he partook in the conversation. We went to the movie (a musical) and he enjoyed it. And when we asked all of the kids about a fun memory for the season, he had one.

We still aren’t “happy and healthy,” and I have still shed quite a few tears while writing this, but he is doing better, and he is, for right now, with me, and “ok.”

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