Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m not doing OK. Last March, the world ground to a halt due to COVID-19 and in a moment, I was thrust into troubled waters without a map to follow. I can’t let go of longing for the life I used to have and the life I always dreamed of having… I have lost my structure, routine and predictability. This is really hard on me. I feel lost. I need you to be my compass, to look to, to help me make sense of how I feel. I can’t do this on my own.
I might not tell you how angry I feel about the changes in my life because of the pandemic or that I feel sad about losing my lifestyle. I feel really confused and even a bit scared about what the future will look like in life after Covid. This stuff is constantly going through my head and I feel it in my body. I need your help and connection to figure this out. Please don’t distract me from feeling this yucky stuff… I need your guidance to navigate through the storm, to hear all my questions and big emotions without taking it personally, so I can come out the other side being able to cope with whatever life brings.
Some people talk about the silver linings of Covid-19 … to be less busy, have more family time and a quieter schedule. But when I slow down and I am alone with my thoughts, I feel so out of control. I feel panic. I’m obsessing about things, a constant chatter of intrusive thoughts that throw me off course and cloud my thinking, my mind keeps me up at night. You might have me asking to sleep beside you again, like I did when I was little, to be close to ‘my person’ because I don’t feel safe. Help me to understand that I am not crazy for feeling this way, and to find a way to manage .
Other times I just feel numb. This is the scariest place to be… to not feel connected to my body. If you see the cut marks on my arm, ask me about them. Don’t let your own fear stop you from naming what you see. Without support, it will get worse.
Talk to me, get me off my phone. Poke me even if I snarl back… If you don’t ask how I’m doing and share your concerns in how ‘something just feels off’ to your parenting Spidey Senses, I actually think you don’t care. No matter what I say, or how I behave, I need you in my life. I need to freak out every now and then. I need you to be there in all my messiness and to validate me in the moment.
You are acting differently too. When I can tell you are stressed out, I am not sure I can come to you. I follow your lead. If you don’t show me that you are handling your issues in a healthy way, how am I supposed to handle mine. Show me that ‘HELP’ is not a terrible four-letter word. Don’t accidently let your anxiety or avoidance land on my shoulders. It’s not mine to hold. I watch what you do and how you manage your own stress more than what you say.
I am ashamed of how I feel. I tell myself I shouldn’t feel this way… other people have it far worse. So I hide in plain sight. I spend all my energy looking perfect on the outside -pretty, popular, driven, top marks, the kind of teen that no one would ever worry about, but I am performing a life, not living a life. I don’t know how to take off this mask anymore. I am suffocating. Help.
Your Child XOX