Morning times are the most difficult. Tears are shed. Struggles are met. There are questions brought forth about why she has to go to school. Discussions are had about how she cannot handle the people and the anxiety that develops. I remind her about the force field that her therapist told her about. It is a coping technique that helps her filter out the mean words and bad thoughts. Mornings are spent talking my daughter down and building her back up. Finally, yesterday I allowed it all in. The guilt, the pain, the frustration, and the fear all entered my mind. I allowed every one of them access to my spirit. You see I am her, my daughter.
Did she learn from the early lessons I taught? When she was little I was in the deepest of depths with my dark friend. Severe depression and PTSD engulfed my soul. The cage was around me and I could not escape it. There were many mornings getting out of bed required all the energy I had, which left little for the smiling young girl in front of me. She would ask me to play and I would put her in front of a television and turn on the Wiggles. Then I would curl up into a ball and cry. I wanted out. I would scream internally at myself……please let me out. That little smiling face needed me and I was trapped. Some days were easier than others. On occasion I would wake-up feeling like a new person and the door to my cage would open. I would feel the sun on my face and smile with my little girl. However, I came to learn my dark friend was teasing me on those days. It was allowing me a simple taste of pleasure and then would quickly take it away. The next day I would again be stuck in my cage begging to be let out. These are the things people who have never struggled with a mental illness or supported a loved one who had one do not fully understand. When I speak about my journey with my dark friend to others I often tell them it was no different than having an abusive partner by my side. I was secluded, felt worthless, was an expert at pushing people away, and felt stuck. I often felt I would never escape. Now I am considered a survivor. This is not to say my dark friend is gone forever, but I have learned how to be the dominant one in our relationship. For eight years now I have been speaking openly about my story as a way of educating others and helping to end stigma. Each blog post I will be sharing here will be pieces of my journey. I look forward to each of you joining me.
For now I simply breathe. Each morning is brand new and I embrace it. I realize that I am her, my daughter. However, she is also me. It took me sixteen years to confront my dark friend and let it know it was no longer in charge. No matter how many years my daughter travels with this same friend I will be there every step of the way. My voice is loud and my knowledge is vast. So we begin.
I see you are from Burlington. I live in Hillsborough. I appreciate your story. I’m dealing with depression and trying to be a good father to my eight-year-old daughter. Thanks for speaking out.
I am always happy to speak out and share my stories. It was a tough battle. I lived with major depression and PTSD for 16 years. I will be keeping you in my thoughts Luke. Keep being strong!!
I am so glad you didn’t expunge you Daughter and even The Dark One. From personal experience, I believe they are not like some cancerous tumor, but parts of our Whole Self that need healing. In order to heal, they need to not feel like they have to be in charge(because the self is in danger) and nurturing (maybe buy your Daughter dolls, let TheDark One hit a tree trunk with a baseball bat, etc) You are awesome and I applaud your work on yourselves!
Thank you for these amazing words Elizabeth.
Mine has been a journey of 40 years. Initially diagnosed as unipolar as science psychiatry and psychology and general understanding advanced it became recognized that I was suffering from bipolar. I am so happy to see the doors and windows are opening now allowing the entrance of love, compassion, kindness, understanding and acceptance for brain illnesses and brain functions to be incorporated into our overall realization of the importance of the mind body spirit connection. So many strong organization’s are helping to open these doors and windows around the world. In this way stigma will be erased and light will illuminate and help the processes of healing and acceptance for all.
Thank you for speaking out Denyse!! Keep being strong!!
As I type this for you, my eyes are spilling tears! I found not even half way through your message I was having my innards explained in a way I haven’t been able to find words for. So I began to just CRY! I am a sensitive soul, but not to be made to cry from reading something like what you said. So I have realized that I am in such a similar state and need to find trust worthy professionals so that I can really help myself so that I can help the 4 amazing kids my boyfriend & I have.
Every morning and day are battles I often spend screaming at myself(on the inside), I find this to be a big problem, I have known this to be a big problem. I can’t get myself to trust anyone in the professional field to take my observations and research seriously. So in the end it’s not only I who suffers it’s our whole home.
My intention of writing this response to you is to thank you for sharing your story with the world; I NEED you to know how you have shed some much needed light into my world.
Through your journey I hope you find your peace and always remember that you have/are/will help son many others.
You are welcome Katie and I am glad my words reached your heart. Please know you are not alone and I am here to listen in this virtual world. You are strong. It took me years to find the right counsellor that fit my personality and it took many medicines when I fought major depression and PTSD. I struggled for 16 years. However, now for the past 8 I have found peace. Peace with my spirit and my soul. I love myself and that took years to do. You can do this too. Be breaths and little steps.
I was that girl. My mom had a “dark friend” too. It was rough. I was lonely…the youngest of 7, my mom would lock herself in the bedroom or watch t.v. all day. I remember at four years old trying to find food, eating from the bag of sugar or butter. It wasn’t any easier as I grew. Her depression, paranoia and jealousy (mental illness) never got better. She never sought help…so I moved to another state. She died last year with Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and then pancreatic cancer….just six days after the diagnosis. She was a good woman with so many struggles. I wish I could have had more compassion toward her during certain times. It’s still doing a number on me. Lots of counseling and lots of tears. I’m SO proud of you for speaking out. Btw, my brother also suffered from depression and took his own life when I was 18. This topic is very close to my heart. XO XO
Thank you for sharing your story Jessica. It is wonderful to hear from someone who was on the other side of the experience and to see the strong person that came out of it. You are amazing!!
Being a parent is one of the hardest things about dealing with depression. It also helps me to keep my head up, simply because I have to. Thank you for this!
Colette, that is one of the toughest parts indeed. Keep on keeping that head up and that heart strong. You have got this!!