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.