I almost don’t know how to start this post. “Bittersweet,” definitely defines this past year and, quite frankly, the past decade.
As I sit down to write, I’ve been reminded over the past week of the bittersweet moment we sent Chloe to treatment three-and-a-half years ago. A beautiful family I know has just sent their daughter to treatment the same way we did – through third-party transport. Their hurt and anxiety bring back for me those feelings of pain, crisis, anger, guilt, all of the above.
But from experience, I have faith that this family will remember this moment as a bittersweet time when they had to make one of the most difficult decisions of their life – to save their girl. Through tremendous courage, they are saying goodbye to old habits and dysfunction and hello to new possibilities and a different dimension of love.
This young lady’s departure to mental health treatment reminds me of how far we have NOT come, during the past decade, as a society in providing early access and resources to mentally ill youth. And with the rise in teen anxiety, depression and suicide, we adults are facing a new era of crises with social and digital media telling our youth they are alone and not enough.
So the “sweet” to this message, you ask? Well, of course, our beautiful daughter Chloe has returned home so grounded and self-aware. The transition has been bumpy at times but our family is getting into a groove and new normal in our household.
I also see the “sweet” in the coming months and years as The Lemonade Project forges forward in collaboration with the Grace & Kindness foundation. As you may or may not know, this organization was started by Susan Holt, who lost her daughter Grace to suicide in early 2016. From that tragedy, Susan started a 5k run (www.runwithgrace.org) in memory of Grace, which provides scholarships for youth camps and programs. What has also resulted from that tragedy is an amazing outpouring from our community in its overwhelming support of the run and increasing awareness about teen suicide.
During the coming year, Grace & Kindness and The Lemonade Project will be working to engage our youth leaders in conversation about teen mental health and suicide. Our hope is to allow these kids a platform to discuss relationship challenges, expectations, loneliness and connection in a safe space, while we collect valuable insight and data we can share with our education, community and political leaders.
We look forward to the new decade with hope, opportunity and determination to turn a corner and decrease youth mental illness and suicide. Though it can be scary and difficult as we navigate unchartered waters, we know our collaboration and connection with our teen leaders will show us the way. Join us and HELLO 2020! #SqueezeOutStigma #KindnessMatters