When we feel overwhelmed, reaching out for help can be challenging. Sometimes, we do not want to admit that things are problematic and becoming complicated. Other times, we might not know where to turn for help. Finding support when dealing with problems at home might make us feel alienated. We might feel as though no one else understands the challenges that we face. As parents of kids struggling with challenging behaviors, like addiction and other mental health illnesses, we might believe that no one can relate anyway.
The Danger of Being “Terminally Unique”
When we view our problems as being so unique that no one else can understand or help, we are closing ourselves off to help from others. Fire Mountain’s Aaron Huey discusses the issue of “terminal uniqueness” on many episodes of “Beyond Risk and Back.” Being “terminally unique” means that we feel that our problems are so out of the ordinary that only we experience them. We fail to reach out for help or support because we falsely believe that “no one else will understand.”
Yet, if we are the only ones dealing with addiction, depression, cutting, running away, or other problems in our homes, why would residential treatment facilities exist? Other families deal with some of the same challenges that we might be facing with our kids. Parents might feel embarrassed or ashamed to open up about their problems. They might believe that problems within their family are a reflection of their parenting skills. They see their friends’ families appear so normal and put together and assume that their family is the only one with issues.
Peer Support: Not Just for Kids in Treatment
Families of kids in treatment can provide support for one another. When we hear that other people face similar challenges, we start to drop our “terminal uniqueness.” By listening to other parents’ stories, we can feel empowered and encouraged to share our struggles.
Peer support for families can help us realize that we are not alone. Sometimes, just being in a room with other people that understand our struggles can help us reach out for support. Other families can share the things that they have found helpful when dealing with problematic behaviors. They can share resources and their experience of helping a child through addiction and mental health challenges.
Looking For Support: Where to Begin
We might not be ready yet to enter a room of people or feel vulnerable enough to open up to others about our family. We can benefit from looking online or in libraries for resources to help. When we read articles online, watch videos from the stories of others, or read about recovery, we can feel more comfortable knowing that we are not alone. Overcoming shame and putting ourselves out there can be difficult. By having some background information, we can feel more comfortable about our issues.
Finding support from our parenting partner might be one of the best places to begin. We need to remember that our relationship with our partner is essential when dealing with a family crisis. When feeling overwhelmed by challenges at home, we might need to admit to our parenting partner that we need a break or additional support. They might also feel overwhelmed, and we can take turns supporting each other or giving one another a break.
Friends, Family, and Other Support
When our kids’ behaviors seem out-of-control, we might need to rely on others to help us manage things at home. We can reach out to extended family members or trusted friends to help us or just listen to us speak. Opening up to others may not be easy; however, our family and friends will most likely want to help the best that they can. Sometimes, those closest to us recognize that something is “off” yet are unsure how to help. We might be surprised at how willing people are to help us when we overcome shame and admit that we need assistance.
Other people in our child’s life can offer additional support as well. We can speak with our child’s teachers, coaches, or other community members about warning signs of problematic behaviors. Spending time getting to know our kids’ friends’ parents can also help us feel supported. They can be our eyes and ears when we are not around so that we are not burdened alone. Knowing that others are there to help and support us can lift a huge weight from our shoulders.
When we feel overwhelmed and exhausted from issues at home, we might not know how to ask for help or where to turn. We can suffer from feeling “terminally unique,” which makes us think that we are the only ones experiencing our problems. Other families like ours deal with similar issues. We can find peer support from other parents of kids dealing with challenging behaviors like addiction, depression, suicidal ideation, cutting, running away, promiscuity, and other mental health concerns. When things become too overwhelming, we might need to find additional support from professionals to help us get our kid back. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, understands that teens’ problematic behaviors can make parents feel alienated and alone. Fire Mountain is here to support teens and their families during the treatment process. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest.