11-year-old Caine Smith was choked, beaten, harassed, and was called a long list of names simply because he had two moms and long hair. Instead of staying locked away and hiding, he stood up and did something about it.
A dozen important signs you don't want to miss.
How easily these two words slip from our mouths, often when nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes, it feels safer to hide our true feelings, lest someone make a judgment or have a negative reaction. Other times, it’s a social rule instilled in childhood, perhaps even through punishment. Or maybe denying is the only way to combat overwhelm—if we ignore it all long enough, things will eventually get better anyway.
At the end of the day … it’s all about avoiding further pain, isn’t it?
To quote Emily Roberts, M.A., LPC. a psychotherapist, in her article for Mind Body Green, "Deciding to bury your feelings, ignoring them, internalizing them, pretending they didn’t happen, or convincing yourself that there is no need to deal with them can literally make you sick from the stress.”
It also makes it harder for others to help, if they don’t know what’s really going on. Fortunately, mental health continues to be a topic of interest, and open conversations about red flags help to raise awareness and help people better understand one another.
On a recent Ask Reddit thread, people shared their own indirect “cries for help” they’ve either witnessed, or made themselves. Their stories were eye-opening. It’s true that some are better at hiding their struggles than others, but even those individuals often give off subtle warning signs.
You can read them below.
“Anger and irritability can be a symptom of depression. It’s harder to empathize with someone who’s having angry outbursts, but it’s still important to recognize.” – @celolex
“Some people become very quiet and docile, like if they've resigned themselves to the minimum.” – @methyltheobromine_
“Purposely avoiding sad and difficult topics. Sometimes when a person is constantly feeling like shit the last thing they want to do is bring up more negativity when hanging out with people they enjoy being around.” – @sunnyrubberboots
“Marked differences in behavior where the person becomes way more positive and energetic than normal. We tend to think of these sorts of changes as being good, but any sudden and large enough change in behavior is something you need to keep an eye on. This is especially true if they are going from a very negative pattern of thinking/behavior into an uber-positive one very quickly. Usually, those ‘now I feel like I can conquer the world’ changes are the precursor to suicide attempts and the like.” – [deleted]
“I had a girlfriend who occasionally suffered extreme bouts of depression. She’d be high energy then suddenly she would try to sleep as much as possible. She said “it just doesn’t hurt as much when you’re asleep.” Any time I hear anyone sleeping A LOT I know they are having a very difficult time and just try to be there for them.” – @CharlieTuna_
“When they start cutting off contact. That outgoing, happy person suddenly ‘just isn't up to it,’ or [saying] ‘maybe some other time,’ then something is wrong.” – @driving_andflying
“Anhedonia. Losing interest in things a person usually found to be a source of enjoyment. Depression is a very insidious illness and a very isolating one. Sometimes it can be hard to spot, because people are very conditioned to hide it.” – @kutuup1989
“One of the things I used to say when I was suicidal was, ‘I’d never just walk in front of an 18-wheeler, but I wouldn’t get out of the way, either.’ I wanted to die but didn’t want to be the one to do it because I knew that while an accident would absolutely crush my loved ones, me pulling the trigger would likely cause a chain reaction. It’s just a sort of numb acceptance. You wait and sort of hope an opportunity arises. I’m doing better now. But yeah. Second hand suicide is real.” – @starkrocket
“A reduction in food consumption. I’ve found when I’ve fallen down the hole and I just stop caring anymore I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I normally do. Instead of having the standard 3-4 meal things a day I’ll be lucky to convince myself to have 2 as I simply don’t care anymore.” – @funland8642
“It may seem a bit obvious, but when someone says that they don’t see themselves living past a certain age, or acting surprised that they made it to a certain milestone in their lives.” – @nickgio19
“When someone has obviously been crying or tears up without apparent provocation, even in a very public setting, it can be a sign that they're in too much pain even to try masking it. I've also heard of severely depressed people who abruptly 'snap out of it,' and go perky, and that can be indicative of a person who was agonizing over whether to end things, who has now decided to do so. Making that decision, sadly, gives them peace and relief.” – @FlourChild1026
“Giving a lot of personal possessions away without wanting anything in return.” – [deleted]
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide or require mental health support, call or text 988 to talk to a trained counselor at the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, or visit 988lifeline.org to connect with a counselor and chat in real time. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress as well as prevention and crisis resources for healthcare professionals.
'It's good to see someone like her, who will be the next Selena in so many ways.'
Selena Quintanilla Pérez is so well-known that she's best recognized simply as "Selena," the same way people refer to Madonna.
Nearly 30 years after her untimely death, parents are passing the music of Selena onto their children and creating a new generation of fans. And in the age of social media, that means the new waves of fans are creating videos singing the icon's hits. In a video clip uploaded to Instagram and TikTok, 10-year-old Mariapaula Mazon gets up on stage to belt out "Como La Flor."
When Mariapaula gets up on stage, she whispers something in the ear of the man sitting next to Chris Pérez, Selena's widower. Within a few short seconds the microphone is up to her mouth and she's singing with the tone and richness of a trained adult singer. It's clear that the man is impressed because he stands up to record the young singer with his cellphone. While Mariapaula sings, the man recording says, "It makes me cry. It’s good to see someone like her, who will be the next Selena in so many ways.” The girl's voice is so impressive that the video has been viewed more than 5 million times on TikTok.
Thank you Chris Pérez for allowing me to sing you this beautiful song by your sweet love 🌹🕊❤️ Thank you Las Vegas. #lasvegas #selenaquintanilla #comolaflor #chrisperez #selenanetflix #selena #selenafan #abquintanilla #tejano
Mariapaula told "Hoy Día" that she has been singing since she was 2 years old. She also explained that her mother is a singer and has been teaching her. While she can sing Selena's song like it was written for her, Mariapaula wasn't introduced to the late singer's music until her 9th birthday. It was then her father threw her a Selena-themed birthday party and the little girl got to know a pop icon.
After going viral, the talented fifth grader will get to perform at the Tejano Music Awards in Texas on November 26, according to a video uploaded to her Instagram. I certainly can't wait to see what else is in store for this pint-sized star and I'm sure she can't wait either.
A beautiful blend of empathy, encouragement and empowerment.
As a parent, it's not always easy to know how to help your kids learn from life experiences. Some lessons they learn naturally and others they learn through parental guidance, but discerning which is which and how those things overlap can be challenging.
Kids don't come with instruction manuals, of course, but sometimes we see examples of great parenting we can point to and say, "AHA! That's how it's done."
One such example comes from a dad named Robert. He's been teaching his 5-year-old daughter Aubrin to skateboard and set up a mini half pipe for her to learn on. In a video on Instagram, Robert shared his interchanges with Aubrin after she crashed hard on the ramp during a lesson.
It's a sweet video that doubles as a masterclass in effective parenting. Robert communicates with a perfect blend of empathy, encouragement and empowerment, which gives his daughter exactly what she needs to tackle her fears and persevere in what she wants to do.
Even his initial question after she fell—"Did it scare you or did it hurt you?"—is helpful for making her more aware of what she's actually feeling as well as knowing how best to help her.
Seeing this gentle parenting scenario play out is just so heartwarming. (And if Aubrin's voice sounds familiar, you may have seen the viral "stuckasaurus" video in which she offered delightful color commentary while snowboarding in a dinosaur suit.)
Robert explained his thinking behind the way he responded to Aubrin's fall:
"Trying something new can be scary but re-trying something after slamming can be terrifying.
I had to re-gain her trust and she needed to re-establish her confidence after this slam and it was a tough but beautiful rollercoaster experience.
This is one of the biggest psychological battles we face as humans, because once that negative experience has made its home in our brain it’s very hard to get it out.
I know from intense personal experience that a bad fall can have long lasting [psychological] effects and truly believe, that when possible, it’s best to get back up and try it again with the goal being to end the session with a positive experience; to not have that negative memory ruminating in your head until the next time you return to try.
I’ve been asked a lot 'How do you know what to say in these moments?' and the truth is I absolutely don’t know what to say.
Seeing her slam sucks the air out of my lungs and my heart drops but I just try to stay calm and redirect with some questions or comments while surveying the situation. A parent's emotions (depending on how you instinctively react) will oftentimes influence the child’s emotional response and it’s my goal to remove my influence and allow her to just be, to feel, to hurt at her pace and it allows me to get a better reading of how she’s truly feeling in these pivotal moments.
Ultimately I just respond from the heart. If you calmly lead with empathy and support without applying pressure you’ll do just fine."
Beautiful insight and advice. Unfortunately, many parents are raising kids while working through wounds from their own childhoods, and when you're battling parental instincts that aren't particularly healthy or helpful, having it all laid out like this is really valuable. Commenters on Instagram and Reddit have expressed how much they appreciate seeing supportive parenting in action.
"I actually got emotional watching this..." wrote one person. "I am learning so much from your posts!!! As someone whose parents led from a place of fear a lot of the time, this is showing me so much possibility of what the opposite can look like. Thank you for being so open, we are all made the better from it."
"I wish I had a dad like you growing up. She’s so lucky," wrote another.
"Made me smile and also as a grown ass man, gave me watery eyes - as someone that never had this kind of treatment growing up and kind of needed it - this is the kind of dad I will be if I ever meet someone and have kids," shared another.
Whether we were raised by gentle, supportive parents or the opposite, we can all recognize effective parenting when we see it. Thank you, Robert, for sharing such a stellar example we can all watch and learn from.