July 6, 2024 – In April 2019, after his parents confiscated cash he’d planned to use for drugs, Luka became enraged, shattering a glass against a wall. He spit in his mother’s face and tried to cut himself and his stepfather with a shard of glass. After nearly 6 years, 7 psychiatrists and 5 therapists, Luka, now 20, is in a healthier place. His mom wrote I Can Fix This. And Other Lies I Told Myself While Parenting My Struggling Child.

LUKA KUZMIC As a kid I loved making people laugh. But I was bullied severely and it had a big effect. I wanted to fit in but I didn’t know how. I felt alone in a group of people. I wanted to escape.

KRISTINA KUZMIC He was isolating, but I thought it was normal — teens don’t love hanging out with their parents. I thought the anger was raging hormones. Then I noticed he was isolating from his friends. He wasn’t finding joy in anything.

LUKA I remember feeling a coldness, a darkness. Those feelings grew in high school.

KRISTINA When I started seeing signs, I wish we had gone to therapy together, but not to try to fix him. I wish I had approached it as, “I want to be a better support.”

LUKA When I first drank and smoked, it was the happiest I’ve ever felt. Like, “Why would I want to be sad when I can pop a pill and not deal with it?” It slowly progressed. I would walk around school and pay people a dollar for a hit. It was the only thing getting me by.

KRISTINA We were in the car one day and I asked, “Have you ever thought about hurting yourself?” He said, “Yes.” My world shifted. I was consumed with fear. I remember wanting to say, “No, Luka, that’s not what you want.” But I knew if I did, he’d never open up again. Because it’s like me saying, “I don’t believe you.” So I tried to keep the hard conversation going.