The more we talk about the challenges we face in our lives, the more others realize they are not alone. We can combat feelings of shame around addiction, mental illness, excessive gaming, cutting, suicidal ideation, and gender identity by discussing these topics openly. Many people experience these issues, yet many of us hold back on discussing them due to shame, guilt, and negative stigma. For parents of kids that struggle, we can help one another by “talking about it.”
Too Many People Don’t Talk About It
When considering the numbers of those with underlying mental health issues or addictions, we often only think of those seeking treatment or outwardly identifying that they have these issues. The reality is that some of the “unique” problems occurring in our homes with our kids engaged in problematic behaviors are happening more than we realize. When we open up to connect with others, we might be shocked at how prevalent these issues might be.
5 Benefits of Sharing Our Story
Sharing experiences with others can help in many ways. Five ways that “talking about it” can benefit ourselves and others are:
- Sharing Makes It Real: Opening up to others about our experiences gets these topics out into the open. When we share, we put our thoughts and feelings out into the world. By seeing and hearing others react to our words, the feelings become tangible and real. Once our inner life exists outside of our minds, the experiences live on in the minds of others. As others empathize with us, we know that our painful emotions are not just the result of our character or inability to cope. We can see that how we feel is how nearly anyone would feel in similar situations.
- Organizes Our Thoughts: By discussing our story with others, we can organize our own thoughts surrounding these difficult topics. Some of our experiences have caused distortions in our memories. Often, challenging and heightened emotional experiences can distort our recollections of them. When we share with others, we need to put all the pieces together and clarify certain aspects of our stories. If we are not yet comfortable sharing our stories with others, we can journal about our experiences as if we were explaining to another person.
- Form Connections: Parents of teens who struggle often feel alone in their pain. They might think that no one understands them. When we share our inner experiences with others, we might receive validation when we see our pain reflected in the eyes of others and when we hear others say, “I’ve been there before, too!” Once we build connections with other parents, we can start the healing process for ourselves and get out of the “terminally unique” mindsets keeping us trapped in loneliness.
- Helps Us Remember and Learn: By sharing and discussing complex topics, we can remember the experience better and learn how to move forward. By recalling the consequences of what happened, the impact of our experiences, and understanding what we did right versus what we could have done better, we can use these challenges as teachable moments to steer us toward a brighter future.
- Helps Others: By sharing, we validate the experiences of others. When bringing complex topics into the light, we let others know that they are not alone. We can inspire others to open up, share, and heal in their recovery. As more and more parents speak up about these challenges, the negative stigma and shame can dissipate. When we inspire others to speak up, we combat the shame that keeps many from getting the help they deserve.
The Importance of Caring for Ourselves
Finding support for ourselves is crucial to supporting our kids and our families. When we expect our kids to heal without seeking our own outlet, we unintentionally sham our children. By keeping our experiences and emotions to ourselves, we hope to sweep these experiences under the rug. By not talking about it, we are further stigmatizing the issues that our kids and families face. We live with the false hope that fixing one person will fix all other problems occurring in our homes.
By finding an outlet to heal, parents can support their families better. As parents of struggling teens, we might have put our own needs on the back burner. We might become rundown and stressed out. By discussing our experiences, however difficult this may be, we can heal ourselves and gain the resilience needed to help our family through the current crisis in our homes.
Talking about our stories and challenges in our lives can combat the shame that many experience in recovery. Some of us might have children or other family members dealing with addiction or mental health challenges and feel alone as their actions impact our lives. We might believe that no one else can relate to our experiences; we keep everything to ourselves, assuming that we can bear the brunt of these issues. However, many families experience similar challenges in their homes with their kids and loved ones. By openly sharing our stories with one another, we can create a community of support and understanding for one another as we get our kids back. If your child is dealing with an addiction, mental health issue, or engaging in problematic behaviors, residential treatment might be the next right step. Call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, today at (303) 443-3343.