• Depression, Addiction, and Suicide Prevention: A Story of Hope—Mighty Parenting 227 with Judy Davis

  • depression, addiction, and suicide prevention

    We don’t want to believe that we could lose our children to something that we can’t fight for them; unfortunately, depression, addiction and suicidal tendencies have become significantly more evident in teenagers around the world in recent years. And that is terrifying to every one of us who have teens of our own. How do you fight your child’s own mind? Judy Davis is one such parent, who nearly lost her son to addiction and suicide before she even realized he was struggling so much. She returns to Mighty Parenting, joining Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler to share her story and her son’s—a story of hope for parents, to remind us that suicide prevention is possible and so is recovery, be it from addiction, depression, or other mental and physical illnesses. With the right tools and support for yourself and your child, you can help them save themselves—and maybe one day, they can save others too.

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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    And I think that’s such an interesting space to hold as a parent to go, okay, my behavior is contributing to the problem and yet to not take blame for their actions.

    High Points From Our Conversation on Depression and Suicide Prevention:

    Quote on depression, addiction and suicide prevention

    Judy and Sandy originally created Mighty Parenting—focusing heavily on depression, addiction, and suicide prevention—so that other parents wouldn’t have to go through what she and her son Geoffrey went through.

    Geoffrey attempted suicide inn his sophomore year of college, and his family discovered that he’d been struggling with trauma, depression and an addiction to prescription drugs (that he’d turned to to try easing his pain) for years. That came as a serious shock to all of them, because they’d had no idea—he appeared to be a normal college student.

    Generally suicide attempts occur when the person is hurting so badly that they believe they won’t find relief any other way; they think they’ll be less of a burden to their family and friends if they were no longer present.

    One of the most important things to remember is that depression, addiction, and suicidal tendencies are not discriminatory or selective; they can happen to anyone. The first step of suicide prevention is keeping in mind that it is possible, even if the people you care about seem to have good lives or be happy.

    Some scary thoughts Judy realized about her son:

    • He had an open line of communication with his parents, but didn’t use it
    • Just because a safe space was available doesn’t mean he was ready to come into that space and ask for help
    • Until a child is ready to get help, they become master manipulators to get what they want from you, and live in their own hell somewhere else

    Geoffrey had been dealing with verbal abuse from a teacher for a long time, and his family (mother, father, and sister) only saw the change in behavior, not the cause, because he didn’t tell anyone. But what pushed him over the edge into trying drugs was when his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. The moment inability to cope became addiction was when those drug worked and he found the thing to take away the pain.

    When a child has addiction or depression or suicidal tendencies, those aren’t something only they need to get help with—we as parents have to work on ourselves too.

    When his family discovered that he was in crisis, they got him into therapy and had the first session together to try to understand.  And when Judy asked him why he never came to her, this was his reply: “I manipulated you to let me do whatever I wanted to do.” He wasn’t ready for help because he believed there was something wrong with him and that he didn’t deserve help.

    Initially when Geoffrey was diagnosed with anxiety, Judy stepped in to help him, feeling like she could remove some of the stress from his life; in doing so, she ended up enabling him and he used that to manipulate her into letting him do what he wanted to do.

    Until Judy decided to let him experience the consequences to his actions, she hadn’t realized what she was doing and that how, by constantly stepping in to help him manage his time or get college essays done, she was sending the message that she thought he wasn’t capable; that he couldn’t do things on his own.

    Judy learned about setting healthy boundaries for herself, including letting her son know that he had to take responsibility for his life if he wanted to get better. Setting those boundaries wasn’t always easy, and she relied a lot on their family therapist at the beginning, but they were necessary.

    Until Judy was ready to look at how her actions were contributing to the problem, there was no way that Geoffrey would be where he’s at today. And his life has changed, through his own work and his family’s support.

    Geoffrey’s life now:

    • Ten years clean and sober
    • Happily married to his best friend and the love of his life
    • Using his life experience to help other people
    • Certified addiction counselor running a high school sober program in Texas
    There are still days that he struggles; his depression, for one, hasn’t gone away—it’s just managed. But he took the time to know himself, to know his strengths and challenges, and embrace them instead of trying to ignore or escape the depression.

    Judy believes that having her entire family go through this experience, this years-long journey, has pulled them together and made them stronger and closer. Because who are you after going through experiences like that? I’m me, the person I always wanted to be.

    Judy also thinks we’re given children that test us in areas we need to grow, and make us feel good in our strength of helping them become the people they are. Moving through all the tragedies that they’ve had as a family made her realize that I can be me and that’s okay. Sometimes that looks kind of rough, even if from the outside it looks like an ideal family.

    Things can be ugly in our lives—but what we do during that time? That’s our grit. That’s who we are, and we don’t have to do it alone.

    For all the parents listening today: just keep creating that safe space for your child, because they will come to that space when they’re ready and willing to get some help and move through to the next stages of their life.


    Protect Your Teen From Prescription Drug Abuse | Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler. | Episode 4

    Mighty Parenting Tackles: Coping Strategies for Stress | Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler | Episode 10

    Mighty Parenting Tackles Teen Suicide Prevention | Sandy Fowler and Judy Davis | Episode 86

    Unraveled: A Mother and Son Addiction Story | Laura Cook Boldt and Tom H Boldt | Episode 179

    Our Guest Judy Davis:

    Judy Davis discusses suicide prevention

    Judy Davis is on a mission to create a space where mental wellness and stress less living meet. She is a motivational speaker, published author and mental wellness specialist with information, products and books that are go to resources to help people reduce stress and find balance in their lives. Connect with Judy at DavisInspired.com.

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit DavisInspired.com.

    Our Sponsor: 

    Inward Bound Mindfulness Education — Mindfulness courses and retreats for teens and adults 

    iBme offers online and in-person retreats, mindfulness courses, and weekly meditations tailored for various communities of teens and young adults (and even parents!) Visit iBme.com/mightyparenting  to learn more and register for programs, including in-person summer retreats.