Christie O.

It’s OK to talk about your mental health – we need to know we’re not alone

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This week’s Laugh Through the Tears Podcast is a deep one. It started out as a prayer for clarity – but I was moved to talk about our family’s battle through mental health midway through. I want to talk about it because it’s important – it’s like the elephant in the room for many families who are isolated and alone.

This episode is really just the tip of the iceberg, but I want you to know you’re not alone.

Podcast transcript below (or listen here):

Well I guess I’m serious about having a podcast now because i got a fancy new microphone and i’m using it right now!

Before, I had this idea for a podcast, I researched a little on the platform I should use, I used a tiny wearable microphone that I plugged into my laptop, and the first episode was up within 24 hours!

if you saw me you’d laugh, I am at this tiny table with my microphone and laptop and I print out what I’m saying but I put it on the back of a big canvas painting so i can read it without shuffling papers. It really looks like a hot mess. But it works!

I’m not at the point to improvise yet and I know these have not been perfect but my point about telling you this is that when you have an idea JUST GO FOR IT.

Dont dilly dally. dont sit there wishing you did something and then see later that someone else executed your idea (ive done that a lot).

And if you’re terrified about doing it, DO IT ANYWAY.
DO IT SCARED.

You’ll figure it out.

Anyway, let’s get started with this week’s prayer.
Here we go.

ahem.

Dear God,
I am a little stuck right now.

Again, I have lists and my lists have lists, and I could use some clarity and some direction.

I feel paralyzed.

In fact I was so paralyzed, the words for this podcast didn’t come like they usually do and so here I am knowing we’re going to hash it out together while we listen to some Post Malone.

I’m going to spend this week getting un-stuck. I’m not sure how to do that exactly but I’m listening for ideas!

In fact, Post Malone’s song “Circles” is on right now – OH YOU’RE SO FUNNY, UNIVERSE.

(Run away, but we’re running in circles.
Run away, run away…)

Things have been so hard this year, I’ve sure felt like running away!

Oh boy…
I can feel you pulling me to talk about the hard stuff out loud God, and I’m going to need you to give me the courage to do that.

I know you’re telling me it will help other people — I can hear you saying it and I can feel it through the playlist you’re giving me as I write this. Making me laugh through the tears!

I’m kind of feeling like I’m stuck because you don’t want me to write anything else until I address this! But I’m scared to do that, dear God, so you’re going to have to help me walk through this in real time.

I’m going to thank you first for getting us through this year as a family, God, nearly healed and whole.

Because that wasn’t the case earlier this year.

You were by my side when my son went through a horrible time with depression and anxiety this year. He’s a smart, incredible, talented human being. He’s a gift. He has so many gifts.

And it was so.HARD. to watch him go through this – never, ever having gone through this with anyone, ever before, let alone my child.

It is a miracle that in our deepest, darkest moments together, when I cried out to you for help and direction, the right doctors, the right therapists, the right teachers, the right schools, and the right tools that we needed to overcome it – showed up.

It started last summer, one year ago – You gave me the opportunity to start my own business, but little did I know that this would actually become my opportunity to be home to help my son during this tumultuous year.

That a spiral would begin and I would have to find a way out of it.

You showed me that things are not always what they seem.

That the path I thought we would walk would take a hard left and we’d be traveling, improvising, down a new, very unfamiliar path.

You taught me flexibility.

Patience.

ENDURANCE.

You taught me that it’s OK to not be OK.

And that McDonald’s has a really good large iced coffee with no sugar.

You taught me how to FIGHT for someone I loved.

Fight like our lives depended on it because it did.

To become a mother bear and allow my instincts to lead in the fight.

How to go into battle without armour and find the tools along the way.

I swear we went to Mordor and back, dear God, on this unexpected journey.

You knew we would walk it and you knew we would make it – even when I didn’t. And had no idea how to.

You taught me that I only needed to know the ONE next step – not all of them.

You taught me that there is no ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL when it comes to children.

Each child has different needs.

Their languages are so different.

And they will do well when they CAN.

When they can’t, it’s often beyond their control. You taught me to identify this.

You taught me to speak his language and meet him where he was at.

You see, feelings, thoughts, behavior COMES FROM SOMEWHERE.

And I learned ALL OF THOSE SOMEWHERES.

Anxiety, depression, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, giftedness (I learned the term twice exceptional) food dye allergies, magnesium deficiencies, iron, zinc, copper, probiotics – gut health, CBD, hormones – I mean, the amount of information I learned on this journey is unbelievable.

Medicine doesn’t work for everyone. It can be a miracle for others – just not for us. Learned that too – the hard way.

And that sitting in the hospital parking lot – helpless – feeling like my heart is literally ripping out of my chest is one of the darkest feelings I’ve ever felt in my life.

You also taught me there are groups and groups and groups of parents and children with similar struggles – and by making me write about it and talk about it, dear god, you’re helping me to fight the stigma associated with children and mental health. You’re helping me lead others down the path we tread for them.

So now my prayer, dear God, is for them.

Those who are walking this out right now in their lives.

The kids who have panic attacks in the bathroom at school, who shut down and close up – paralyzed – who can’t get out of bed, who know what they should and could be doing but just physically CAN’T, who hear voices of self doubt, worthlessness in their head, who hurt so bad they feel like there is no way out.

Shield them, dear God and help them.

Comfort and guide their families.

It’s easy to isolate yourself when you’re going through this, so Dear God, be with them. Do NOT LEAVE THEM. Stay with them like you stayed with me.

There’s no sleep when this is happening and there are so many tears, so please dear God, wrap your arms around them and comfort them.

Show them the tools, give them the people, SAVE THEIR LIVES, dear God.

Let them know they’re DOING THE BEST THEY CAN.

Please dole out patience and vigilance like you never have before – so parents can fight the fight for their kids exhausted and then find it in them to go another hundred rounds day after day after day. Because it’s hard and isolating, and people on the outside don’t understand. Because they can’t. It’s not their fault.

Give doctors the wisdom to treat these kids dear God and give teachers the wisdom to know they’re not bad and lazy students – they’re bright and they’re struggling.

Give out understanding, dear God, like beads at Mardi Gras.

Dole it out everywhere all over the place – like Oprah giving out cars. YOU GET UNDERSTANDING AND YOU GET UNDERSTANDING AND YOU GET UNDERSTANDING!

Give parents the ability to find the good chicken fingers at the hospital and help them find healthy ways to cope.

Give light in the darkness dear God.

Amen.


If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, many cities have mobile crisis centers who will send out mobile crisis counselors to your house in the middle of a crisis. Crises can pop up at any time. Anger and dysregulation can come from anxiety, depression, ADHD, prolonged and/or previous trauma, medication dosing, hormonal/chemical imbalance, PANDAS, and a number of other issues and illnesses.

When this happens, you don’t have to call 911, instead you can find your mobile crisis center and have that number on hand. I didn’t know there was such a thing as mobile crisis and YES, we have reached out when we needed to. They were an incredible help in diffusing escalations as opposed to calling 911. However, do note, if you or anyone in your home is in imminent danger, 911 might be the right thing to do. I don’t want you to avoid 911 in an emergency, I want you to know there are options, because I didn’t know this.

Calling mobile crisis will often lead to more help, free counseling or therapy programs, like offered at the Suncoast Center in my area of Florida (Pinellas County). They will follow up with free resources for you and connect you with school psychologists and advocates who will help your child at school, too.

There are local chapters at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which also has lots of Zoom support groups locally.

There are outpatient programs at places like Rogers Behavioral Health in Tampa (many people travel from out of state to go here), and there are others all around the country.

These Facebook groups are a wealth of information:

Find your tribe. Email me at christie@christieo.com if you’re lost.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE. I promise.

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