Thursday, September 1, 2016

Motherhood.....the changing tides and parenting a child with depression and anxiety!

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!

14 comments:

Laurie said...

Hi Sandra, I'm not a doctor but after reading your post, I felt like I should tell you about Niacin (B3). I've read that it can be used to treat depression. There was a Wellness Summit online that I watched and they touched on this. The Summit is over, but FoodMatters.com hosted it. You may be able to go to the website and find out about Niacin.

Hugs and blessings!

Stephanie said...

I literally just cried reading this post. I went something similar with my daughter when she was 14. She was losing weight, cutting, crying all the time...it was heartbreaking to watch. Fortunately, she turned a corner and is now a "normal" 16 year old. At the time, I was willing to get her whatever help she needed. I let her decide her path. She cut some very toxic people out of her life, started reading Christian devotionals,journaling, and using essential oils. Without a doubt, had she needed medication and therapy, we would have gone that route.

My heart goes out to you. You should be proud of yourself. You held your family together through this crisis. You helped your daughter as only a mama can. And YOU survived this and we all know a child's words can cut you like no other. Many hugs to you!!!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

I've been following you for a few years now and it is amazing to see Jasmine as a beautiful young woman, not a little girl anymore.

I hope she continues to do well, and maybe there are some alternative ways to deal with this also like Laurie mentioned above.

Love, hugs & prayers for all of you ~ FlowerLady

Conny Hutchinson said...

God bless you for sharing, Sandra! That was very brave. My daughter (age 15) has suffered anxiety and such this past year as well. We ended up at the doctor as well (when she wouldn't get out of bed, said she didn't feel well but didn't know why or how to explain it). She has seen a therapist this summer - and will continue a few more weeks/months. It is SO wondeful to see the "break through" after months of hard, hard days and not understanding what is going on and seeing your child suffer.
I haven't said much publicly about my daughter's struggle - but I know so many kids these days have such a hard time adapting to life, situations, etc etc etc. (and maybe we did too, but somehow, it wasn't talked about or we had no options but to cope in our day - 30+ years ago). Anyway - may God continue to bless you all with His grace as you keep trusting Him! <3

Mari said...

When our kids hurt, it is the absolute worst thing! You want to fix it, but can't. I'm so glad things are going better for all of you!

happymum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawn said...

Oh my, Sandra. My heart is breaking for your daughter and for you. I am sorry to hear about her depression and anxiety and I truly am praying for her. I don't know her personally but I can relate to the struggle of both depression and anxiety. To tell you a little about my own personal struggle, I was never happy even as a small child. At 14 years old I attempted to commit suicide. I was feeling so down, so low and much like your daughter all I wanted to do was stay in bed and not do anything or see anyone. There were times when I couldn't even go to school and I completely lost interest. I couldn't smile even if I tried. It was bad. The emotional pain I was feeling was so bad I didn't want to live. A friend found out and reported it to the school counselor who contacted my parents and before long I was seeing a therapist, the school counselor and was put on anti depressants. I truly, deeply hated my life and couldn't explain why I was feeling so down. Therapy and medication helped and with time I learned how to just deal but years later I still have depression. A few years ago I started getting anxiety, which was new to me at the time. I'm not sure what was happening and why but I couldn't leave the house without feeling like I was going to pass out and I even had this numbness in my body. I went to the doctor and she put me on medicine and I started seeing a therapist again. The anxiety isn't as bad as it was but I do feel it whenever I'm in a situation that's out of my control, like being stuck in traffic. It's an awful thing to live with. I feel for your daughter. I really do. When I was a teenager I felt so alone in the depression. I didn't know anyone else who had suffered with it. Now it seems so common, doesn't it? I just don't understand why. What your daughter is going through is no joke and it's awful. Depression could hit anyone, even those who have such wonderful lives and nothing to be sad about. I'm so glad to hear that therapy and medication is helping her. The depression may always be part of her but she will learn to control it and learn how to work through it. I will continue to pray. Also, kudos to you for doing such a great job in helping her. (Sorry this was such a long comment)

Carrie B. said...

OH Sandra ~

Thank you so much for sharing this and letting yourself be so vulnerable. Parenting can be SO HARD!! We want everything to be perfect and it's not reality. I'm dealing with a teenager right now - and we have our moments. Some of what you wrote goes straight to my heart and I can relate....but in different ways. My son has some anxiety issues and to the extremes you've share, but it still feels so good to not be alone in navigating how to deal with all of these things.

I continue to pray for Jasmine. For her wonderful healing so far and continuation to do so in the future. I pray for her bright beautiful future! And for you as wonderful parents that have stuck by her and worked to help her through this time.

Blessings to you All. xoxo

Row. said...

Sandra, I had almost made it though until I got to the very end and I read what your daughter wrote. oh boy. Parenthood is never easy is it? Thank you so much for sharing this with us. sending prayers and good thoughts your way.

Mindy Gauthier said...

Sandra,
Thank you for writing this. It was beautiful and honest. I've read your blog for more than seven years and commented here and there, but as you know when you let others into your life and home and family through any type of outlet we make connections and I am so very happy that Jasmine, and all of you, have come through this time in your lives healthier, happier, and safe. I work in a high school with all types of teenagers, I have three children, it is so hard watching them deal with life while they grow and mature into the people they are meant to be. You and your husband are Jasmine's rock and roots, she always knew that but taking control and being there for her in her greatest time of need this past year I am sure has cemented that in her heart and mind. I am so very glad for this happy ending for Jasmine and all of you.
Mindy

Susanne said...

Sandra you are a great mom and Curt a great dad! Parenting is the hardest thing we'll ever do and I'm so proud of you for letting go of beating yourself up and doing what needed to be done. Jasmine is a lovely young lady with a great future ahead of her and loving supportive parents behind her. Praying that she continues to improve as she moves on into this time in her life.

A said...

Being a mom and wife is tough stuff then throw in depression and the military and oh my challenges can arise. Thank you for sharing! You are a wonderful wife, mom, and friend. Prayers and Hugs!

Renee said...

Oh Sandra, my heart goes out to you all for all you and your family have gone through. Thank you so much for your openness and honesty. I am so glad to hear things are getting better. Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. Renee'

amanda thornton said...

Beautiful post