“Its a Girl!” Instantly my heart was full, a little girl… I was filled with excitement, hopes and dreams. The names I had scribbled on my notepad 100 times over, I would now choose one. I felt during my pregnancy she was a girl, but sonograms in 1990 were not what they are today, so my doctor had never confirmed with certainty. Todays technology and social media makes it difficult for me to think back to a time when we did gender neutral baby showers, we actually picked up a telephone to share our news, and congratulatory cards were sent via snail mail. Somedays, I wish it were still like that, but thats a different blog. So here we are almost 28 years later. My daughter Amanda. How much I love you then and now.
She was a big baby 9lbs 14 oz! She had light blonde hair and blue eyes. Dressing little girls is fun, she wore easter dresses complete with hat and tiny gloves, red velvet Christmas dresses and I remember the cutest tiny pair of tennis shoes.
She was a strong willed child. I’m sad now to think back at all the times I tried so hard to break her spirit. If I knew then what I know now, but she was stubborn and discipline was a challenge. I raised her the only way I knew how, similar to the way I was raised. I would change some things if I could go back, but I can’t.
As she grew older she would be involved in sports, very athletic and she had a great sense of humor. As a teenager she had many friends, who spent a lot of time in our home. I miss those days. We were close, but the teen years did present many challenges. We laughed, cried, argued and fought, I have always supported and encouraged her to go after her dreams, to pursue whatever career she chose and told her she could be anything she wants to be.
She was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder at age 14. She had routine counseling and medication from then on. I struggled to understand depression. At the time, I was still married to her father. She had a nice home, she was beautiful, smart, funny and had many friends. How does someone so young become depressed and stressed?
I pushed her, maybe too much? I wanted her to have what I knew as a “normal” life. When her grades began to slip, I hired a tutor. When she signed up for a sports team and felt like quitting, I made her finish the season. When she misbehaved there were consequences.
As she grew older, the trials and tribulations escalated. The depression was deeper and she began to experiment with drugs around 17 or 18. There are many back stories here, maybe in another blog I will share some of those.
Depression is like a snake. At first, sneaky and slow as it approaches prey. Stalking ready for ambush it strikes then strangles until the life is sucked out of its victim and it swallows you whole.
I have watched depression robbing my daughter of a full life for almost 14 years now. There have been circumstances which cause the symptoms to become worse and even unmanageable at times. What you may not know or understand is how strong my daughter actually is.
As a society we see depression as a sign of weakness. I am telling you right now, my daughter has been through hell and she is stronger than she knows! She has had significant losses, her cousin who was more like her big brother, close friends, and in 2015 she lost her daughter. She has health issues including chronic pancreatitis and chronic back pain. I have sat bedside at the hospital she and I both in tears pleading with doctors and nurses to please help, to make the pain stop. As a parent it is so difficult to watch your child, no matter their age suffer like this.
She and I have been through much of this alone. She has lost so many friends because they can’t handle her complaints or cries for help. She has been negative at times, but wouldn’t you be if you spent much of your life in the hospital and incapacitated?
Every day she faces depression, anxiety, chronic pain and grief. EVERY DAY!! Depression is a dark and lonely world. Each day when she opens her eyes and begins to feel her heart pounding with anxiety, her legs are weak from the nerve pain and she swallows a mouthful of pills to help her digest food if she can take the dogs out and take a shower it is a victory for her.
Somehow, someway over time we have learned to live with depression. Some days are harder than others. She and I have accepted it and we deal with it the best way we can. Every day I try to encourage her, to show her love and compassion. I have told her many times how much I love her and that I can’t live without her. She has expressed that she doesn’t want to be here on this earth anymore. Those words hurt my heart and they scare me. I will continue to love her through this disease and try to shine some light into her dark lonely world. I will carry the lantern for her in hopes that one day she will be able to see the light on her own. My daughter Amanda, how much I love you then and now.
So, why open up our personal lives to strangers? Why do I feel the need to write and share our story. It is my hope that in doing so we are able to help someone. Maybe someone feels they are alone and have nowhere to turn. It is my hope the negative stigma associated with mental illness will decrease and readers will educate themselves and reach out to family and friends who are affected by mental illness.
Thank You for reading. I am not an expert, just a mom. I am new to blogging so my apologies if this is too long. I am certain there are errors. Until next time, be gentle and leave a comment below.