christmas dog

On November 29, 2010, we had to make the incredibly difficult decision to admit my son Evan, who was seven at the time, into the Pediatric Psychiatry Unit of Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  Three years later, almost to the day, we have had to make the equally painful decision to check Evan into a residential treatment facility.

While this month’s post is supposed to be the final in the series on improving communication through behavior style-flexing, it seemed more fitting to revisit the post I wrote shortly after we checked Evan into the hospital in 2010.  It appears the lessons I had learned then apply now more than ever.

Evan’s initial hospital stay was an unexpected blessing.  I fought tooth and nail to keep him from having to be hospitalized, when it turned out to be the healthiest decision we could have made for him.  I can only pray that this too is an unexpected blessing.

While these lessons are important all of the time, they are especially fitting for the holiday season:

1.  Be grateful. No matter what is happening in your life, there are blessings to be found if you take the time to look for them.  If things are going well, enjoy every moment.  If they aren’t, this too shall pass.

2.  Don’t Judge.  You never know what someone else is going through.  We are all doing the best we can with the resources we have at any given moment. If you are blessed enough not to be going through a difficult time right now, consider it your responsibility to be kinder than necessary because there are many people who aren’t so fortunate.

3.  Find ways to laugh. This continues to be one the most difficult experiences of my life, but each day, there are things to laugh about.  You have to or you will fall apart.  Look for humor in any situation.  Laughing might not take away the sadness, but it certainly helps you cope.

4.  Self-care.  As we help Evan get better, we are also getting respite. He needs us to be strong and rested when he comes home.  I have had to give myself permission to not go 110 mph all of the time.  While our tendency is to put others first, remember, in case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, put your mask on first.  You can’t care for others if you aren’t cared for.

5.  Have faith.  I have prayed so long and hard for Evan’s recovery.  It might not be in the way I had hoped, but I have to believe that this is for some greater reason.  Sometimes, you have to throw up your hands, open your heart and have faith that things will work out.

6.  People are inherently kind.  It never fails to amaze me how supportive, caring, and compassionate people are.  I can’t count the number of prayers, hugs, and offers to help we have received.  These acts of kindness have made all the difference.

7.  Speak Up.  While I certainly don’t like sharing that my son is mentally ill, I also know that there are countless other families struggling with similar situations, but they are too embarrassed to ask for help.  Mental illness is like any other illness.  You wouldn’t attach a stigma to someone getting treated for another disease. I learned recently that more money goes into dental education for children than for treating all mental illnesses combined. If people don’t speak up, mental illness will stay in the shadows.  This recent CNN story does an amazing job of shining a light on an illness stuck in the shadows.

Thank you for continuing to be part of our journey.  Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and wonderful holiday season.

As always, I love reading your comments here or on Facebook.


  1. Anne- I’ve had to make that difficult call with my son a few times. It’s heartbreaking- even soul sucking it feels at times. But you are putting him in the care of people who can help him and that’s the best call a parent can make when they know their son needs professional help. If you’d like to talk, parent to parent, feel free to contact me. I can give you my numbers. Take care and I’m saying prayers for you all.

  2. Parents have to make the toughest choices sometimes, as you said it may be the best choice for Evan, again. Also, I like the lessons you listed having had to make some very hard decisions for your son you’ve had to learn lots of qnswers the hard way. Don’t put yourself on a guilt trip because you had to make the decisions you made. I’m saying prayers for you, your husband and your son.

  3. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Anne. Number 7 hits so close to home for me. Her second year away at college, my oldest daughter attempted suicide. My then husband couldn’t handle it and didn’t want to even tell his parents about it. It took a dear family friend of his parents who unfortunately loss their son to suicide make him understand. Her words were, “If she was diagnosed with cancer or diabetes or MS you wouldn’t hesitate to tell your family so that you could have the support you & she need.” It has been a long road for all of us, but mostly for her. She has good days and bad days, but she is working and has a boyfriend, a cat & a dog. Honestly, I had moments when I thought we would never get through. But God brought us through it. Keep your faith and trust God in all things!

    • Hi Esther,

      Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad to hear she is doing better. We all have good days and bad days. I’m praying Evan has more good as time goes by. Wishing you and your family a very happy holidays.

  4. Anne, you are so brave to share and these are just wonderful reminders for everyone no matter what you are going through. I wish you strength and continued faith that Evan’s hospital stay will be for his betterment. keep up the fantastic work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment