Cindy G — August 2, 2023

I typically do not post anything too personal as I’m a very private person. Since Haley’s passing, I have had several parents reach out and confide in me struggles they and their kids have been going through. I think this is because anyone that knows me knows that I was a very involved parent with Haley and her life and had a very close relationship with her, so if I didn’t have a clue she was struggling, it scares them with their own kids. I thought I would post what I have learned going through this if it helps one parent or one child, as my mission is to carry on Haley’s legacy of helping people. This post is one simple thing I can do.  I warn you it’s very long but I didn’t know how to make it shorter and still tell all of our story.

We chose to be very open from the beginning that Haley took her own life.  I cannot begin to tell you how this was the most shocking, horrifying, devastating thing of my life because we had absolutely NO clue she was struggling with anything  and doing something like this is the opposite of our daughter’s character. She always sacrificed herself for others, wanting to make them happy and take their pain or worries away, and this was exact opposite of that.

Haley and I talked about everything and had talked about suicide numerous times in age appropriate conversations throughout the years, especially when there was a lot of controversy around the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why. She had asked what it was about as it was being talked about in school. I did not let her watch it as she was in middle school and I felt like it wasn’t appropriate for her to watch, but it was an opportunity to talk about how devastating that decision is for the person and the people left behind and how it’s a permanent fix to a temporary problem. It was great opportunity for in depth discussion. She promised me she would always come to me and talk to me and she said she would never do something like that and didn’t understand how people could hurt the people they love.

Haley gave me details about everything going on in her life every day and all the things going on with her friends. Her friends are surprised at how much I know. Lol We are very close to her friends, they are family now and we are beyond grateful for them. They have pulled us through very dark times and we did the same for them.

She did share with me about a month and a half before she passed that she had a lot of anxiety dealing with life and all of the drama in her friend group and we had her in counseling to learn how as an Empath, to not take on everyone’s emotions and problems. For those of you who do not know, if I was hooked up to a brain monitor and shown something sad, my brain would light up in an area that did not pertain to it happening to me, if Haley was shown the same thing, hers would light up in the part of the brain that occurs when something is directly happening to her. That is how the counselor explained it to us at the time. That is an empath. I know the word gets used loosely and misused nowadays;  life is very hard on empaths. Haley would come to me and say she was feeling sad, and we would have to figure out if it was her sadness or someone else’s. She always needed to unplug from people as she was so drained by them even though she was social and loved people.

 On top of that, unbeknownst to us and her close friends, she was terrified to grow up, to drive, to go to college, to get a job, it all felt pressuring and scary.  Us and her friends only knew that she had the general anxiety that all kids have, we didn’t know how severe that fear was. She would say things like college seems intimidating or I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up and we would talk it through. None of us, including her counselor, knew  how much anxiety she carried around with her. She wrote in her journal that she didn’t let others know what she was feeling because she didn’t want to burden anyone, especially me.

 I have spent endless hours blaming myself on how I didn’t see it, we were so close so it’s my fault, it was my job to know and keep her safe. But as much as I want to blame myself and trust me, I find every way possible, I still cannot see how I would have seen it since I only know from what she left in a journal she wrote shortly before she left us and the notes she left, plus a few things in her phone in a place I would not have known to look. My point is that I realize that as parents, none of us really know what our kids are truly thinking and feeling, and usually the parents are the last to know.  I wish I would have realized when she brought something up that it had more weight behind it than I knew. Haley was incredibly close to her friend group and they are just as in shock as we are.

 There were no typical signs we are trained to look for. Haley never got in trouble and I trusted her, so we respected her privacy. She did get in trouble for the first time and we grounded her for the first time about a month and a half before she left us and I took her phone away. She was so bored she started that journal for something to do, which thankfully she did as it helped us know what was going through her mind that she hid so we could make some sense out of this. I did go through her phone for the first time back then and nothing was in there that alerted me to any of this, but I did discover she was vaping nicotine and marijuana, which I’m finding out most kids are doing now, kind of like smoking and drinking back in our day. She told me she started because her anxiety was so bad so I got her into a counselor within 3 days to work on that anxiety and determine if she needed medicine.

So my advice to people asking or worrying about their kids would be to always assume you don’t know what is going on with your children totally. When they do come to you with an issue, assume it might be bothering them more than they say and spend extra time helping them and listening. Stop what you are doing, put everything in your life away and focus on them. Take the time to talk to them and build that relationship. I built that with Haley and seeing things she wrote, I realized without knowing it I was pulling her out of some dark days and making her feel better when she was struggling.

 Haley was beautiful, she had a ton of friends, everyone loved her. She was genuinely a fun happy person on a daily basis who always was laughing so loudly with her friends every night that we couldn’t hear the tv. From talking to her friends, I realize how much pressure these kids are under and how our society today is only making that worse. I have heard this from many kids since this happened, admitting that they too feel overwhelmed and scared.

 As we have put pieces together over the last months, we have learned how much vaping marijuana played a part in our loss of Haley.

 We’ve  learned  that vaping nicotine and marijuana is a huge thing now and because it’s concentrated, it’s a different weed and nicotine than we grew up with and it’s very addictive. It’s the new version of “smoking and drinking” and most kids have tried it or are doing it, and you can’t smell it. This is also a huge thing our kids get pressured into in this society. Usually starts in middle school or junior high. They do it right in school. Another thing to be aware of Is that nicotine hardens their lungs, which is why Haley’s asthma attacks were increasing and we were ending up in the hospital.  There are so many things sold that look like common things that allow them to hide it like Deodorant, shaving cream, etc. Haley hid hers in a small hole in her stuffed animals. Even after she passed and I went through her room specifically looking, I didn’t know that. Her friends told me.

Vaping marijuana is new  and it’s not just like smoking pot in plant form, it’s so strong. Her toxicology report spoke to that. They are doing long term testing on this and I know we will find out more on how devastating this is on our youth as time goes on. It’s already being reported on the news more and more. One story was titled “Not Your Grandpa’s Weed.” Their generation are the Guinea pigs.  I have learned it’s 15 to 20 times stronger than smoking the plant. The high does not last long so you have to hit it more frequently and it’s incredibly addictive. It often causes anxiety, suicide ideology, negative self-talk, depression and it’s being linked to higher suicide rates and especially drug addiction. It’s a more potent version of the “gateway” drug. It’s also often laced with things that kids do not know about.

 Kids brains do not fully develop until around 25, so Vaping is different for them rather than an adult with a fully developed brain. They believe the marijuana chemicals bond to brain chemicals and change the thinking of their brains. More studies are being done to confirm this. One  of Haley’s friends shared with me that she doesn’t do it and can’t find friends who don’t, yet most parents, like us,  don’t think their kids are doing it.  The math doesn’t add up. It doesn’t smell, the smoke dissipates quickly, so kids can do it anywhere without anyone knowing, even in classrooms. Haley did it in her bedroom while we were home. We had NO clue. They have “plugs” a term I learned is basically a drug dealer that will drive and deliver to their house. Haley’s was a Clarkston High School student who had been expelled. He would drop it off in the mailbox while we were sleeping and Haley would go and get it. You can pay them electronically. Since we watched Haley’s bank account like a Hawk, her friends would sometimes buy it for her and then she would transfer them money making up an excuse to us that they loaned her money or pay them in Grubhub. Of course I learned all of this after she passed. We would NEVER have guessed that our sweet, honest, happy and communicative kid was doing this. It still blows my mind.
Scary part is I’m learning that this is all very common with teens.

Putting all the pieces together over the past almost 11 months, our daughter had anxiety and she was told by friends to try vaping  marijuana as it helps with that and you can’t get addicted. The illusion was that it helped her anxiety but the reality is that it created more anxiety which then made her do it more and she become addicted. She wrote in her letter that it’s a lie that marijuana isn’t  addictive that she can’t stop and is a drug addict. Although I don’t consider her smoking pot as being a drug addict, that’s how she saw herself at the end as she was trying to get off of it and couldn’t. It also created negative self talk, low self worth and changed her thinking. It sent her into a depression where life felt more and more overwhelming, problems seemed bigger. It took those natural fears kids have growing up and made them monsters until she felt hopeless and joyless and very very alone. She hid all of it under a mask of laughter and happiness, similar to Twitch’s story.

I just really want parents to be aware of how serious this can be. My path in life is helping people now in a variety of ways, especially struggling teens. One way I can help is by sharing what I have learned thru this experience,  hoping it helps others. I am not trying to get into a marijuana debate as I know it has many good things about it medicinally, but that is different than what I’m talking about.

My intention of this post is to just tell you our story in hopes that it helps someone. Suicide, especially among teen girls is on the rise. So many adults are struggling in this world so you can just imagine how it is for our youth. Their generation has had to deal with so many things that my generation did not have to deal with such as Covid and all that brought including a lot of mental struggles, legalization of marijuana, vaping of concentrates, social media and just living in this world that sometimes feels as if it’s so divided and a little crazy.

Please remember to be kind to people and give people a little grace. You never know what struggles people are going through. A smile to a stranger can be something that brightens someone’s dark day. It’s done that for me. There’s so much anger and hate right now and a little love and kindness can go a long way in healing that. Especially remember to be kind to yourself. Often we are the hardest on ourselves than anyone else. Believe me, I know this all too well. Focus on how amazing you truly are not all your shortcomings.

7 Replies to “Cindy G — August 2, 2023”

  1. Thank you Cindy for helping Haley help others. Sharing our experiences is what will eventually open enough eyes to risks and harms of today’s THC that general public, legislators and law enforcement will stop the support and promotion of this harmful product.
    I wish you peace and remembering Haley forever ❤️

  2. God bless and be with you. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful and precious daughter. May I ask how old she was?

  3. I am an Empath like your Daughter. Your post describing how Haley experienced the world brought me to tears, as it all resonates with my own experiences. If you have not heard of the concept of “HSP” or Highly Sensitive Person, I recommend reading up on it. HSP is the life’s work of Dr. Elaine Aron which is the groundbreaking research on what everyday people now refer to as an “Empath”. Dr Aron’s first HSP book was life changing for me, as I had depression and anxiety as long as I can remember, caused by deep emotional responses to everyday things that others laughed at. My HSP inturn labeled me as a weak person, and that label further exaggerated my depression and anxiety into a horrible downward spiral which turned into suicidal ideation. Dr. Arons research has shown that 20% of all species are biologically wired at birth to be more sensitive to others emotions and other environmental stimuli. Your daughter sounds like an HSP for sure. Unfortunately when one is not aware they are an “Empath” or are told its a made up excuse for being lazy or sensitive, the reaction is to HIDE it and pretend to be like the person society wrongly expects us to be. How does Marijuana fit into all of this? Marijuana is like Steroids for the emotions of an HSP/Empath. Regular cannabis use can amplify anxiety and depression in HSP/Empathic individuals as life is already too over stimulating and overwhelming — Cannabis becomes the catalyst that causes severe mood deregulation which unfortunately leads to suicide. I can tell you from my own experience with marijuana — at first it seemed to have some benefits, but after daily use my emotions became so overwhelming I almost took my own life. Ironically, I was recommended by peers to try Cannabis as an Anxiolytic “natural” medicine for my at the time unknown HSP/Empathic condition, which people & Doctors thought was just General/Social Anxiety. I am so sorry for your loss, and your daughter might have benefited had she been around other Empaths or HSPs, who may have been able to detect and relate to her struggles. It took my entire family YEARS, I was in my 30s, just to be able to understand what it was like to be me. Whenever I read of other struggles with over Empathy and HSP type personality traits, I always share my experience and warn of the dangers of Marijuana use. And Im glad there are others out there spreading the word as well. Thanks for sharing your daughter’s story — Michael.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story about your beautiful sweet and truly empathetic daughter. We have a Haley too- an empath to the core – popular, bright and yet so terribly hard on herself. She, too, found the stress of keeping up with her friend group overwhelming and she developed an eating disorder at 13. Last year, after she turned 19 she obtained her medical marijuana card – against our wishes – and against the advice of her therapist and doctor- and here we are 9 months later with her recovering from CIP.
    in June she confided in me that she was having very detailed delusions and paranoia. When I reached out to her prescribing doctor, he wouldn’t speak to me because of privacy laws… Legally, she’s an adult. Five days ago she came home from a 30 day stay at a treatment center and to say it’s been terrifying and difficult is quite an understatement. mental health professionals are dealing with so much THC induced illness. They can’t even hardly service. The patients that are coming to them completely addicted and in various stages of psychosis.
    Thankfully, her medical card has been revoked because we threatened to sue the Doctor Who prescribed it to her. He never obtained background medical information properly, nor did he follow up or follow our states guidelines and protocols for medical marijuana providers. Out of fear of a lawsuit he has been cooperating with us so far. But I’ll never stop fighting to save other children. Our daughter is safe at home with us, but the site is not over

    1. Keep her with you at home. I have found most of these Drs just go along with the Stste. They could care less about our kids. I am really sick about this. My faughter passed away. Was so hooked on all the dabbing and pot. But the Dr’s had her on psychic medicine too and she was up to 20 pills a day. Morning and Evening plus her dabbing habit. She died last month.

  5. I am touched by the heartbreaking experiences shared by your family and countless others. I believe we here at Las Animas County Department of Human Services encounter many at-risk youth and young adults who would benefit from this information. I am a Colorado Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is providing Behavioral/Mental Health Services to our clients receiving services through our Division of Children, Youth & Families (CYF) here at Las Animas County DHS. I am providing educational programs to our DHS staff who have contact with clients in both Adult and CYF Services. Is it possible to get some of your “Teacher” resources listed on this website and/or any other resources listed?

  6. Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my daughter 32 last month. She was dabbing too. Unfortunately. we won’t know what happened to her for another 6 to 9 months. The Coroner’s office is so backed up. But we found her passed away in bed. Her dabbing machine knocked over next to her bed. I found so much information in her phone about what she was doing. We had a good relationship too but she was also using men for cash and food of all things. So I am very sad and wonder how I missed all of these signs. She also had Epilepsy so she was definitely not taking care of herself.

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