Motherhood.....the changing tides and parenting a child with depression and anxiety!9:11 AM
I've been meaning to type this up for a very long time, but it just never seemed like the right moment, or I didn't have the right words or felt like there was more to think about before I could put it into words.
However, this morning I felt moved to actually sit down and try to get my words out, if nothing else than in a way that I can maybe help myself deal with the struggles of being a mother and especially now that my children are both teenagers.
When we have children we have all these dreams and hopes and thoughts of what they're going to do, of how they're going to act and the people they will be.
I used to fall into the trap of the "my children will never do that"...."my children will never behave that way"....."I won't ever make them eat this or that." At the time I was so sure that I meant what I was saying and that all those parents I saw struggling with kids had to be doing something wrong, maybe they weren't strict enough or maybe they just weren't cut out to be parents.
Oh how wrong I was and today I'm the mom sitting in the corner quiet giggling when I hear a young woman or man proclaim exactly what I use to. Truth is, they have no idea what they're in for.
I'm not going to talk about motherhood or parenting in general because you all know it's one of my greatest treasures on earth, I love my children with every fiber of my being and I wouldn't trade the life I have or the children I have, for anything in this world, and yes I include even the tough moments.
Just a warning, this is going to be a very long post and I apologize for it, but there is so much I need to say.
I want to talk about her, this gorgeous girl above, the light of my eyes, my mini me.
Jasmine is 17years old and very much a typical girl her age, except for the part where she struggles with depression, anxiety and eating issues. She's not bulimic, she's not anorexic but she has never been one to eat much or properly at all and has always been extremely thin and tiny.
When she turned 12, as her body started changing and her hormones kicked up, things changed and since then she's been trying to deal with the normal challenges of growing up but added in the difficult struggles of depression and anxiety. For the most part she could keep in under control, until about 10 months ago.
She's been in a relationship with a wonderful boy for over 2 years and just like normal relationships they have their ups and downs, unfortunately the fact that it's a long distance relationship also adds in more stress. If you remember end of last year they had a horrible break up, and around that time she was going through a pretty dark patch in her life.
You have never known worry and fear, until you see your child suffering and not knowing how to help her or even understand what she is feeling or thinking.
She became extremely withdrawn, she wouldn't leave heoooooooor bedroom, she would stay in bed for days on end, she was irritable, she sobbed at the drop of a hat, she was clingy and needy, she stopped caring about school and fell behind to the point where I didn't know if she was going to finish her school year, she wasn't eating, she started passing out randomly, she started lying and being manipulative. She wasn't my daughter, she wasn't the sweet little red headed girl that we had raised, the happy go lucky, full of life child that I knew.
There was so much going on, and I immediately knew that this was serious.
The worst part as a parent who doesn't suffer from depression or anxiety, is not knowing how to help or how to reach out, and so I began a long process of figuring out what set her off, when to speak to her, when to leave her alone, when to reach out, when to hug, when to walk away, and most importantly NOT to take what she said in her moments of anger, to heart.
That my friends was the hardest part for me.
Small little things that I learned to look for, like for example, I would walk into her room in the morning and say hi and she would be her old self, hug me, and be happy to see me and talk to me......I would walk out and if I walked back in 30 minutes later, her demeanor and reaction to me would tell me whether I could proceed to talk or just close the door and give her space.
I quickly learned how to be there for her when she wanted to talk, and how to leave her alone when she didn't. My husband on the other hand had a very hard time and they did not get along at all.
He is retired military, he is a tough guy, he is all about protecting his children and if there is a problem, solving it. When he saw her struggling his instinct was to hug her and hold her, but in those moments where she was having a really bad anxiety attack, she didn't want to be touched, she didn't want to be hugged, she wanted no one around her and so it became a power struggle.....with me in the middle.
Between December and May of this year, I was in a haze. Not many knew, only a very select few close to me would know what was happening, or at least to some extent, and the deep dark place I was in.
I cried, I prayed, my husband and I had marital problems to the point where we came close to divorce, I felt pulled and in the middle of my daughter and my husband not quite knowing how to help either one while at the same time trying to support each individually. I felt so alone, I felt misunderstood, I felt helpless, I felt like nobody cared about me or how I was dealing with it all.
I withdrew myself, I didn't want to go out, I stopped caring about myself and my house and anything that wasn't relating to my daughter.
Worst of all, I was in complete denial, I mean how could a 17 year old (16 at the time), have depression or anxiety? Stupidly I kept thinking it would get better, it was a phase, it would pass. Until one day, early morning, my daughter sent me a text message from her bedroom saying "Momma, I need help, I need to see a doctor, I need medication, please!".
And that was it, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
The first thing I did was cry and then look for answers, stupidly enough. What did I do to cause this, what did my husband do, what did anyone do? If and If and IF.
I dropped to my knees and God immediately set me straight. "Pull yourself up, you did nothing, your husband did nothing, no one did anything wrong. No one is to blame, it just is, but what you decide to do from now on is what matters".
And so I did what I was told, I got up, I wiped away my tears, I walked into my daughter's room and gave her the biggest hug ever and right then and there made a doctor's appointment.
A few months have passed, she's on medication for Depression and Anxiety and has been seeing a Therapist every week. The change I have seen in her is like nothing I could have imagined.
She is back to her loving, happy self, she has put on 3 pounds, she is eating and enjoying eating, she is back on track with school, she just got her driver's permit, she is planning on college and what she wants to do, she knows where she wants to go, she is out of her bedroom and spending time with the family, she is doing well with in her relationship, matter of fact he is picking her up next week and she will be spending a whole week at his grandmother's house.
I'm so proud of her and looking forward to her future.
Not to say that she still doesn't have a bad day here and there, she does, and I think she always will. Medication is not meant to make her feel nothing, but it IS meant to take balance it all out and help
her function, so that on those odd bad days, she is able to deal with them easier.
In the middle of all this, I'm also having to learn to go with the flow and to embrace the changing tides of parenting. She is no longer a little toddler or a small child needing my full attention 24/7, she is a young woman and in a few months probably moving out and moving away.
It's hard to think of that moment, not just because she will be out on her own, but because of her depression and anxiety and knowing that I won't be there every day helping if needed.
You know we go our whole lives protecting them, shielding them, trying to keep them from things we know or fear will hurt them in any way, but the truth is that they need to grow and spread their wings, and learn on their own.
I hope that the morals and values we have instilled in her and my son, stay with them for the rest of their lives. If we take every decision out of their hands, or try to stop them from making mistakes or continue to shield them from everything life has to offer, we are only hurting them in the long run.
Because when we are no longer there, I need to trust that they will make the right decisions on their own, and if not, that they will learn from whatever the outcome may be.
This has been one of the hardest posts for me to write, funny enough I seem to be having a few of those lately , bare truth, open, nothing held back.
But God led me to write this, I don't know why or who will read it, who it will help, or if it is meant for someone in particular who may be going through the same and no exactly knowing what to do, or seeing that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me, there is.
At first I questioned why this was happening to us, why did I have to go through this, but I trust God and I trust that this is for a reason and that I'm being taught a huge lesson as a parent, and really I am, I have learned so much about myself and my child, and the bond we have is something that will never be broken.
On my birthday, she posted this message:
"Happy birthday to the best momma in the world. Thank you for being there for me through everything, even if you don't agree with or understand certain things you still try to and that's what matters. You've supported me through everything and I really can't thank you enough. I love you mama, I hope you have an amazing day. :3c".
And that is when I knew.....I'm on the right path, I've done my best. To have your 17 year old say these things to you is the best feeling in the world. I am ONE lucky mom!