Dearest Homeschooling Momma,
Girlfriends’ Guide to Homeschooling with Angela Jordan Perry Episode 105 was the first time a dialogue about homeschooling and mental health was in one of my personal conversations.
Listening to this sister unwrap her personal story of mental breakdown while homeschooling freed me to delicately expose to her my own mental health spiel while homeschooling.
The terminology this beautiful Queen interviewee used was ‘being a parent with ‘special needs.’
You need to go to YouTube, go to Girlfriends Guide to Homeschooling, bring a cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine and listen to the interview. Then subscribe to the channel. 😊
All my life I had a taboo about having a therapist.
Honestly, as a strong black woman, red personality, ‘Christian’, goal driven, mother of 22 years and wife of 26 years, I have always been on top of it all.
Emotions? I eat them for dinner. “Nom. Nom.”
Concerns? I prayed them away, rebuked them and put the ‘blood of Jesus’ on them. Lol.
Challenges? I had a Scripture ready to obliterate those things out the water. ‘Boom!’
I mean nothing….literally nothing took me over.
Nothing….. Took me to the edge.
Nothing….Took me to the brink.
But last year…. 2017
Took me to the edge.
Took me to the brink.
Froze my mind.
Froze my ability to process.
Stole from me emotionally.
Stole from me mentally.
Stole from me physically.
No amount of gritting my teeth; no amount of praying; no amount of Scriptures read or quoted was helping this sistah. AT. ALL.
And….I STILL HAD TO HOMESCHOOL my children.
(From Letter #1 you know the story of my journey in 2017 of eight months of depression. If you don’t know then go find ‘Dear Homeschooling Momma’ – Letter #1 and read the details or listen to my podcast Episode 39 on Girlfriends Chat with Angela Jordan Perry .)
November 2017 the thought came to me to seek out professional help because I wasn’t in a good place.
I just wasn’t.
Though depression lifted in October 2017…..I felt my mind was messed up.
I wasn’t thinking well.
I wasn’t processing well.
My mind was stuck. That’s the best way I can describe it.
For me personally it was a combination of things that was wadded all up in one big ball.
If you’ve ever seen a group of colorful rubber bands wrapped around each other to make a rubber band ball; that was me.
When you attempt to begin to unwrap or untangle this rainbow of rubber bands it’s ‘hard as dirt’ to do so because you can’t identify the actual rubber band that you are attempting to take away from the ball.
That’s how I felt.
Dearest Homeschooling Momma,
My rubber band ball consisted of so many ‘rubber bands. They were so tangled I couldn’t unravel them.
Bands tangled all up. Geeze.
Rubber band of my eldest child choosing to cut connections with our entire family.
Rubber band of racial justice activism.
Rubber band of attending church with all white people.
Rubber band of my faith.
Rubber band of ‘Christianity.’
Rubber band of my marriage.
Rubber band of my belief and feelings around LGBTQ+ community.
Rubber band of being a mother.
Rubber band of parenting well.
Rubber band of the truth of American history.
Rubber band of the movies ‘Get Out’, ’15 Years A Slave’, ‘13th’, ‘I’m Not Your Negro.’
Rubber band of what I should actually be teaching my children or teaching them at all. (unschooling)
Rubber band of my call and purpose in life.
Rubber band of yoga. (yeah..that was a ‘deal’ last year)
Rubber band of balancing finances.
Rubber band of struggling to make ends meet.
Rubber band of how to care for my parents as they were dealing with health issues.
Rubber band of my 16-year old daughter being 8-hours away in college.
Rubber band of being entrepreneurs.
Rubber band of black folks being killed like ‘cock roaches.’
Rubber band of little value for black lives.
Rubber band of the American system endangerment for people of color.
Rubber band of white ‘friends’ turning out to be truly racist at heart AND calling ‘Jesus’ their Savior.
Rubber band of my health, weight, etc.
Dearest homeschooling Momma……
The ball was so BIG.
While trying to process through this friggin’ ball of rubber bands…..
I. Could. Not. Get. The. Dang. Rubber. Bands. Apart.
My mind was a mess. Yet….
I still homeschooled.
I still served the homeschooling community.
I still cleaned house.
I still cooked meals.
I still read my Bible.
I still prayed.
I still went to church.
Yeah, I still….. (fill in the blank.)
Around that same time I heard of a previous homeschooling student that took his life through suicide by jumping off a bridge.
I was devastated. I knew him.
Around that same time I remembered a young homeschooling girl that ventured out to try public school and was bullied so bad that she took her precious 14 year old life by hanging herself.
I was heartbroken. I was familiar with the family.
Around that same time I heard of a homeschooling student that was bi-polar.
I was surprised. I know him.
Around that same time I still had residue of depression on my shoulders and wondering if life was worth living.
Taboo in the circles of homeschooling is mental health illnesses.
Especially when you are the parent that just might need mental health care yourself.
Especially when you are with your homeschooling child almost 24/7 and not even recognize they just may need mental health attention.
Therapist on deck.
After months of contemplating reaching out to the therapist my friend had found for me, I finally decided to give her a call and get myself some help in May 2018.
Dear homeschooling Momma,
I was so scared to call.
At the same time I was so scared of the repercussion if I didn’t call her.
Four months later now and I’m so glad that I did.
She has become a life-line for me on so many levels.
If I may continue to be honest here…. I will do so. (Thank you.)
My lips have tasted and my finger tips have felt what it’s like to ‘look’ good on the outside, function on so many levels in life, handle your stuff like a champ …..
Yet literally be silently crumbling inside and mentally.
Where I once couldn’t understand mental health nor mental special needs before…..
Now I could.
I’m the gal who says,
‘Get yourself together.’
‘Let ‘it’ roll off your back.’
‘Be strong and move on.’
Yeah….I ate all those words. ‘Nom. Nom.’ Ha!
While medicine wasn’t in my story to help stabilize some mental ‘upheavals’ that were battling against me…..
a therapist was. And IS.
Dear homeschooling Momma……
Naw, there is no homeschooling curriculum, that I’m aware of, that instructs on mental health while homeschooling.
Naw, there were no teachings in my public schooling journey on how to identify mental health ‘red flags’ with your own children or with your ownself.
Naw, there are no homeschool support groups, that I’m aware of, that students with mental health illnesses can join and connect with freely.
Naw, there are no Mommas meeting up to discuss their ‘colorful balls of rubber bands’ that they need help unraveling.
But you know what……
There should be.
As part of serving my homeschooling community within my homeschool association I make ‘care calls.’
This year I made ‘care texts.’ This is my personal way of ‘checking in’ on my families to make sure each and every one of them are ‘doing well.’
Yesterday, I spoke on the phone with a homeschooling Momma. She began our conversation sounding so strong. Then she broke down in tears. She sniffled out, “Angela, I feel like I’m loosing my mind.”
Uuhhmmm….she paralyzed me with her words for a quick moment. After all….I don’t ‘know’ her. I only ‘serve’ her and her family.
She shared some pretty devastating things that had just happened to her family, she was fairly new to living in SC, she had no one to talk to and she felt she didn’t know ‘up from down’ (right now anyways) because of these recent life tragedies.
Had I not had a ‘2017’ and ‘my current’ journey I wouldn’t have been able to say, ‘Dear Heart, I fully understand.’
We talked. She cried. I shared my story. I teared up. I told her I truly understand. I got angry, hurt and broken right along with her.
I understood being broke with no money to even get food for your children.
I understood molestation.
I understood feeling alone.
I understood ‘still’ having to homeschool in the midst of it all.
I understood having to care for little ones while trying to keep it together.
I understood questioning God, ‘Why?’
I understood feeling abandoned.
The call ended with her being grateful. And me telling her to call me anytime, any day she needs to talk this out.
Her lament was that I…Me…. Angela…..
I was the only person she had right now to pour all this out to. She can’t seem to trust anyone right now.
I assured her she shouldn’t walk this journey alone. And though she is married sometimes another female can help wade through the mental entrapment, near mental breakdown and hopelessness smothering you.
Dear Homeschooling Momma….
Don’t hesitate….. Scream for HELP!
I’ll hear you!
Someone ‘will’ hear you.
Please hear me. ((love))
Serving You and Yours!
(Be sure to share this post. You just never know what homeschooling Mom ‘needs’ to scream for help but isn’t. This may be the encouragement they need to do so.)
Contact NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) as needed: 1.800.950.NAMI or https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine
(The above suggestion to contact NAMI is only a suggestion. Be sure to do your own research for the best option for you if you should need mental health care and assistance.)
Angela Jordan Perry, is a wife of 26 years, homeschooling Mom of eight children, mentor, entrepreneur, host of Girlfriends’ Guide to Homeschooling show, podcast host of Girlfriends Chat with Angela Jordan Perry, founder/Executive Director of Educating Our Own, founder/director of STEAM Co-Op of the Upstate, Co-Founder of Uhuru Co-op, Mocha Homeschooling Moms-SC founder, owner/director/administrator of United Community of Homeschoolers Unlimited Option 3 Accountability Association, direct marketer, mad’am farmer, Toastmasters Competent Communicator recipient, racial injustice activist. Angela and her family make their homestead in Campobello, SC.