The First Step :: {Facing Mental Health Issues with Our Child}

I should start by saying that yes, I contribute regularly to Houston Moms Blog. And no, I don’t usually publish anonymously. My reasons for doing so on this particular post, focusing on mental health issues with my child, are multi-faceted and complicated.


Today was hard. 

Today we turned a page in the book of us as parents, and in my daughter’s life.

Today we saw a counselor to talk about some pretty heavy mental health issues we’ve been dealing with for six months.

Today I cried buckets.

Today we made the decision to put pride aside and push away our personal and parenting agendas.

Today we found solace in someone who didn’t judge us.

Today we took the first step. The first of many I can only imagine.

Let me back up…

For reference purposes, I have a 9 year old little girl. She is precious in every way. Full of spunk, bravery, incredible wit, intelligence, and athleticism. She embodies SO much goodness. Some days I look over at her in awe, like we made that, know what I mean?

The good days are really, really freaking good. 

The “bad days” are killing us all, slowly but surely. She’s never been a particularly easy child either in temperament or circumstance. She was born with some pretty severe medical conditions, 100% out of her control but nonetheless, they are there and never far off our mental radar. She definitely went through some terrible 2’s and 3’s and really, even 4s if we are being honest. But we found our groove thang at about 5 years through most of 8 years old. And then some sort of switch flipped. She was diagnosed with a handful of learning disabilities and these last 6 months have been agonizing to put it mildly.

I don’t know my child right now on the “bad days”. She has massive fits of rage — I’m talking ear-piercing screaming, plugging her ears, super defiant, hell on wheels torture for 2 to 4 hours. It’s a tantrum that a 3 year old would throw because they don’t have the words to verbalize their feelings just yet. But she does. Which makes it even more frustrating. And sad.

Those “bad days” are coming on more and more often. My husband and I never know what may set her off so we’ve been walking on a lot of eggshells. Trying to balance our parental expectations of “you do what I say, no matter what”  and we are just too exhausted to fight again. It’s not easy for our marriage, for our parenting relationship with our daughter, or for our son who often is the forgotten one in the equation because all of our time and energy goes into our daughter. 

She will get into a “loop” as we call it and rage and yell and kick for hours, y’all. It’s not right for a 9 year old. I think part of us hoped it was a phase and things would get better, only now it’s happening more often and with less warning. 

A momma’s gut is very rarely wrong. We just KNOW these things. But even in the knowing, comes the accepting and then the stepping, and that’s just a damn hard thing to do sometimes

We finally had to say that enough was enough. I’m fortunate enough to have some really awesome friends who I’ve been able to lean on and one of them provided me the number for a therapist to help with counseling – for all of us. It took me FOREVER to schedule that appointment because it’s just easier to believe that things will get better.

I don’t think they will, not this time, not without intervention. Gosh, mamas, we are a stubborn crew, yes? It’s so hard to admit you need help. 

We had our first appointment today. Our first step in sharing what is happening in our lives and the very real grief and pain we are ALL feeling. 

It was good. It felt good to share all the things that have been pent up inside for 6 months. I bawled like a baby, at first because in a way I felt a bit of shame that we were at this point. Then I shed tears because I am just so sorry that my baby, my girl, is going through a really rough thing and I cannot fix it for her. And then I cried from relief because I know we made the right first step in helping her cope with her mental health issues. Parenting is so hard. 

I don’t know what the future holds yet for my little girl – we are looking into so many different things whether it be food allergies, anxiety disorder, bipolar, or other…or a combination thereof. But I do know that we did the right thing in reaching out to some people who can help us figure that all out. 

My hope is to post an update every month or so as we navigate this new normal. And my hope would be that if you and your family are going through a similar situation — that you KNOW you are NOT alone. Mental health issues in children can be such a hard topic to chat about unless you are in confidential company. We want to protect our children, and rightfully so, from  any more looks under the microscope. 

My heart is a little broken tonight but we can do this. I know we can. She can. 

God, let it be.

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  1. Maybe look into a disorder called DMDD, it’s a fairly new classification of mental illness in children. My family is dealing with it plus other disorders, it’s usually never one thing. I hope you find answers and peace soon.

  2. As a therapist who specializes in working with children I just want to say Thank You for listening to your Mom’s gut and taking that first step. I know it’s difficult! Having a village to help our kids when they can’t help themselves though gives all of us such great support. You are not alone in this! I hope you found a great therapist and you begin to see forward movement.

  3. You are so brave and I applaud you for stepping out and seeking help. I saw my mom do that for my siblings and me, and I try to do it for my family. We have to advocate for answers and treatments, not take no for an answer and trust that God can bring good out of even the most difficult circumstances. Y’all are in my prayers tonight!

  4. You are a fantastic mom, and you are doing the right thing!! Instincts ate everything! Last fall, we were at our breaking point with our 8 year old son. After years of frustration and three months of endless medical testing, we found out he has General Anxiety Disorder.

    We’ve worked with a therapist, agreed to medication (until he can better self regulate – if at all), had tremendous support from our school, and we’ve worked at this as a family. Some days are better than others, but it’s a constant WIP. He’s miles ahead of where he was a year ago, and that’s a victory! I just couldn’t let my son down until we found the answer.

    Stay the course and don’t give up! ❤️

  5. Following. I guest wrote about my sons adhd for similar reasons. It’s a crapshoot each day as to which version of my son I’ll see. Just know you’re the only one. I too have broke down in therapists offices. I’ve screamed at school staff to make accommodations for my son. It’s a journey.

  6. I needed to read this today. We have been battling something similar with our 6 year old for over a year now. We kept waiting for “the phase” to be over, but it an end wasn’t in sight. We sought help from a local play therapist and, unfortunately, haven’t see much improvement. From an outsider’s perspective, our daughter is intelligent, well-spoken, fun spirited and completely normal. At home, though, she goes into fits of rage where sometimes tantrums last hours. She becomes destructive and says the meanest things. None of my friends can relate, so I have always felt extremely alone…until now. So, thank you for posting this. I’m sorry you are going through this, but if we must go through it, not being alone is helpful. Hang in there.

  7. If a “switch flipped”, I strongly encourage you to have her evaluated for PANS/PANDAS. You will need to find a provider who is educated in it, though.


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