I am about to send kid #2 off to college. And start a new job. And move. To a city farther away from my family and one I have virtually no good knowledge. My first kid trying to kick a chronic and mental illness, and my second experiencing his first run in with debilitating anxiety are coming along for the ride, like it or not.
I really like to live on the edge.
Last night we flew to college orientation with my new little anxiety sufferer. Our flight was delayed three hours and by the time we checked into the hotel it was after midnight, said child was in tears and I had relocated my attitude to a new city I like to call WOEISME. I visit this city every once in a while – in fact I hold a fastpass ticket here when things get overwhelming. My stay includes enjoying time thinking about how much better everyone else has it and why oh why is the world against me and why can’t I have it easy JUST THIS ONCE! Kind of like shoes are unnecessary on your beach vacation, solid reasoning and good coping skills are unnecessary in WOISME. So is counting your blessings. Leave those uplifting thoughts at home, you won’t need them here.
Orientation started at 8 am this morning – and since I am currently staying in WOEISME, I got my little anxiety case up WAYYY too early and we were a solid 30 minutes ahead of schedule. As you can imagine, I am Mr. Anxious’ favorite person on the planet. Not. We choose not to speak to each other for those 30 minutes. And I drank my coffee as we entered orientation with 300+ other parents and new college students.
We started talking about how smart our little prodigies are, how “exclusive” this university, how lucky these high achievers were to be here in these hallowed halls…blah blah blah. Then 45 minutes into orientation, the staff took a sharp left turn in the style of presentation. And we started talking about mental health in college. God bless them, they are trying to communicate the realities of college and mental health in a room of 300+ parents who believe their kid is EXCEPTIONAL.
I sat straight up, put my coffee down, set my phone aside (I was listening to the first part of the program…just multitasking) and had a moment deep in my soul. I am not alone. And I am ridiculous for thinking so. In fact, I am so lucky. I know this stuff they are teaching up there. I am expert level in fact. If this happens to us again, I’ve totally got it. As my therapist says, “You are smart enough to figure this out”.
Sigh. I am not the only one that might have to deal with some hard shit this year. Parents all across the country are sending their children off to college next month and everything that first year may not go as planned. If the statistics work like they are supposed to, more than one third of these families are going to have some difficult mental health conversations in the year ahead. They may have some really hard moments. Mental health among college students is at epidemic proportions. I don’t buy the bullshit that it is helicopter parenting, social media, technology (all of those can exacerbate an already off kilter brain for sure but they don’t cause it). I think it is because we are talking about it – because its becoming okay to reach out and say “I need some help.”
I can either wallow in WOEISME or I can reach out and talk about it. Ask for help. Get out and use what I know to support someone else going through what I can handle. Get out of my own skin and recognize we all just want to own a life well lived.
I am going to:
Reach out for help for my struggling new college guy (who just needs some coping skills that do not include that fastpass …)
Take time for me and for more blog posts
Girls night out. Several of them. Setting them up TODAY.
AND big news: Megan has been asked to speak at a mental health conference in San Diego! So proud of my mental health advocate! I have been putting off helping her with the presentation (I’m so BUSSYYY!!). This task becomes one of my top priorities this month.
So I am saying goodbye to WOEISME, turning in my fastpass and getting down to the real work of being a good human being.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!