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Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

I think that leaving the room is a good strategy too @Janine-RO. Smiley Happy I've done that a lot of times myself.

Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

That is a great strategy @WheresMySquishy - sometimes it's best to just remove yourself from the situation

Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

I am loving this chat tonight, thanks everyone for being involved! So many amazing insights, stories and experiences being shared.

 

This question is a bit heavier so I just want to pop in a note about support here - 

If at all you find this conversation distressing or you feel like you need to talk to someone then it's time to get some help! You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or use their webchat and email services found on their respective sites. The links can be found here. If you are new here then welcome! Have a quick peek at our community guidelines you can find them here!

 

 

How do I express the impact they have on my mental health without hurting, making them feel like they failed with me, like my mum already thinks she did with my sister because she is getting help for self-harm and depression? Thanks

 

Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

I think this is a REALLY common experience, and I think sometimes parents can react with a lot of guilt/ shame/ feelings of failure when their kids are having difficulties with their mental health. I think trying to keep it as factual as you can, and focusing on what they CAN do to help you can be huge. So, “Mum, I’m not blaming you for this and I know you love me. I really appreciate all of your love and support.  But when you criticise me about my school work it makes me feel really anxious, can we just check in once a week instead? I need you to trust me that I have it under control”.  Focus on what YOU need from them. Mental health is really complex, and sometimes a bit more knowledge and awareness can help a lot. Sometimes it can be a real game changer for a parent to get their own support to help them through those feelings, and that’s something we suggest regularly over on the Parents forums. ReachOut do offer a free one to one support  service for parents/ carers in partnership with the Benevolent Society which I would highly recommend to any parent who feels like they could use some support.

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Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

Totally true @Janine-RO, you've gotta think about what YOU need.

We've got another related question - 

 How do I tell my parents about my self-harm without them freaking tf out? 

Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

Thanks @Hannah-RO  - and I think this one follows on a bit from the last question... and I have to admit that it's one I really found myself thinking about a bit. 

 

 

Self harm is something that a lot of parents can find pretty confronting.  Much like talking about any mental health concerns, picking your moments to talk (so a time when everyone’s calm and can focus on the conversation is ideal) is important. Fear of the unknown can also drive a lot of those freak out reactions, so sharing some information with them could help a lot – Reach Out Parents has some really great resources for parents on self harm, and it may also help them to know what supports you have to help you ,  and if there’s any strategies you use to help you stay safe.

 

Some parents we speak to on the forums take a really pragmatic approach – for example, they  make sure that they are really open about any first aid that may be needed and have supplies, for, and help their kids work on strategies that can help to avoid self harm.  So you may be surprised at how your parents react, and I think being as open and honest as possible is the best way to go.  I think it’s often human nature for us to imagine the worst, especially as parents when we’re scared for our kids, so giving as much info as you feel comfortable giving could help that.

If you’re really worried about how they react, having someone to support you like a school counsellor or other trusted adult there with you while you tell them could be another option.  

 

 

To be honest, I think it can be really hard to predict how a parent will react with those kind of discussions – all you can do is prepare yourself as much as possible for the conversation, and make sure you have supports for yourself if needed. I’d like to think that I’d be able to stay really calm if one of my kids came to me and said they were self-harming, I know how much courage that takes- but I can understand how in that moment, I might still have a really fear driven reaction. 

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Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

I think that focusing on what you need is a good strategy @Janine-RO. I think it's really easy to lose your temper without actually knowing or being able to explain what you want. It helps me to think about why I am feeling that way and what I want people to do for me.

Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

Picking your moments and getting support are some great strategies for tough convos, Thanks @Janine-RO Smiley Happy

 

I think this NEW Q   is such an important one in looking after ourselves.

Penguin Love GIF by Bare Tree Media

How do you manage guilt at making people worry? How can we avoid/manage feelings of shame?

Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

Oh totally @WheresMySquishy , and hopefully it can help a bit in trying to help parents to focus on what you need, rather than feeling blamed somehow- and make it more about specific things that are helpful, than parents feeling like they've somehow "failed". Mental health is so much more complex than that!!! 

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Re: Ask A Pro Live: Opening Up To Parents

Oh man, I think there are so many people who can relate to this one. I know I can – in the past when I was experiencing depression, I felt incredibly guilty and ashamed, and like there was something “wrong” with me for feeling the way I did. I hated that I was making my family worry . I think the stigma around mental illness has a lot to answer for here- if you have a broken arm, there’s no shame about going to the doctor to get treatment. You wouldn’t feel guilty for making people worry about that, and getting help for mental health issues shouldn’t be any different. Guilt and depression especially can really go hand in hand  a lot of the time, and it can really make us spiral into some even darker places. So I think it’s important to try and catch yourself if you’re feeling guilty about making people worry.

I think it’s also important not to take on a feeling of responsibility for other people’s feelings – which I know can be easier said than done. By opening up to parents and other people in our life you’re really doing a brave and generous thing I think , you’re letting them know what is happening for you so that they can have more understanding and help to support you. I think that’s actually something to be really proud of. It’s really common and natural to have those feelings of shame and guilt, but try not to dwell on them too much.

 

With my parent hat on, I can 1000% say that I would never want my kids to feel guilty about experiencing mental health difficulties, or about opening up to us.

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