Last Spring, my husband, Paul, and I noticed our youngest son, Bryant (nicknamed Moo), was coming home from college more often than usual. However, college was only an hour away, so we didn’t give it much thought.
However, one night, during one of his impromptu visits, I looked at Moo and he didn’t look “right.” He looked sad, drained, and I don’t know, not “right.” The therapist in me asked him, “Moo, are you ok?” He immediately responded, “Ma, I’m not okay.” I immediately asked him the question therapists asked clients when concerned about their emotional state, “Do you feel like harming yourself or anyone else?” Inside, I was praying he would answer my question in the negative. I responded with a calm “Okay” and a nod of the head on the outside when Moo shook his head. But on the inside, I was screaming, “Thank you Lord!” And thus started our rabbit hole journey into a hard look at his overall wellness and our family’s wellness.
To be fair, he asked for a gap year. I quickly responded, “That’s something white folks do.”
To fully understand how Moo arrived to his breaking point last Spring, and concurrently, how Team Pruden arrived to a similar state of being, an explanation of past events is necessary. From late 2018 to Spring 2021, the following events occurred:
– Moo was injured playing football (I believe his 2nd or 3rd time) and the rehab was tough;
– We moved twice in 90 days;
– Moo endured football camps but wasn’t fully healed (we didn’t know) and was questioning whether he really wanted to play football anymore;
– He had an altercation with a member of the coaching staff;
– Our aunt passed;
– His uncle passed (Paul’s brother in law);
– His relationship ended with a long term girlfriend (unhealthy);
– A good friend passed;
– His grandfather passed (Paul’s father);
– Another uncle passed 2 weeks after Bryant’s graduation (my brother)
Against all of that, Bryant struggled academically, but still managed to graduate on time and with a GPA above a 3.0. To be fair, he asked for a gap year. I quickly responded, “That’s something white folks do.” In hind sight, I wish I would have let him have his gap year.
We prepared for Moo to attend college. In hind sight, we weren’t anywhere near emotionally prepared for him to go…. and he wasn’t ready to go. But we pressed forward anyway. I have said several times since then I felt we were all so encapsulated in our own cocoons of grief it was hard to see anything/anyone else.
Things started off pretty good. Classes seemed to be going well. Moo seemed to be thriving. And then the spending started. What we thought was youthful irresponsibility (that was definitely part of it) was also Moo coping with loss, depression and anxiety. Then, he started working to show he was “responsible” when his money ran low. Paul and I adopted the tough love mantra – “Once you spend it, it’s gone.” Once again, in hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have allowed him to work, but hindsight is 20/20 right?
We were also forced to ask ourselves the same question…. and be honest with our answers and solutions.
Add all of this together, plus two speeding tickets in 30 days (Kyle Petty 🏎) and that’s where Moo was on that Spring night: depleted and defeated. As a family we sat down and asked our normal question: what do you need? Moo gave us his answers and we have added to our village. We were also forced to ask ourselves the same question…. and be honest with our answers and solutions.
We decided as a family Moo would stay home this year and go to school. There’s no need to be anything other than honest – I want to keep my eye on him, I want to see my baby every day. Our prayer is that he continues to heal and be restored in all ways as he starts his adult life again, under Paul and my watchful eyes 👀 😂.
Last month, Moo asked me to accompany him to his therapy appointment. His therapist is super cool and a fellow Pirate (ECU – Go Pirates!). We are proud of him for being brave enough to say, “I need help” and following through with therapy. We are proud of the progress he has made thus far. Team Pruden has also taken the time to slow down, cocoon ourselves and heal. We have the conversations we need to have in order to move forward in whole wellness.
Why am I sharing something so personal? I have long realized our lives are not about us, but about encouraging others to be honest about their struggles and seek help when it’s needed. Team Pruden has endured a lot, but we’re trusting God to continue to sustain us.
Our young people are hurting. Life is moving so fast, we can miss signs, symptoms or behaviors signaling a struggle.
People as a whole are struggling. There has been so much sickness, loss, separation, and sadness in this world. Life can be overwhelming.
Don’t forget to check on each other. Show love where you can❤️
Peace and Blessings,
One thought on ““Ma, I’m Not Okay””
I pray that each of you get the help needed. Thank you sharing and being so transparent, to help someone else that is struggling.