Thursday, July 26, 2012

One look.

That’s it. My 12 year old daughter looked at me last night and I saw the faintest almost quiver of her lips. I saw tears well up and then stop. I could hear that she was having trouble saying her words. Her tone was oddly quieter than usual.

And then I really looked in her eyes.

Right after that, I had to look away so she couldn’t see the fear in mine.

I know that look. I know the feeling behind it. My God – I prayed that this was something I’d never, ever see in my children.

The situation that caused it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that my daughter was on her way to a full blown panic or anxiety attack. I’d ask her a question and she couldn’t really answer. She was trying too hard not to fall apart when her friend was in the other room. In my heart, I knew that she needed that friend to leave – even after that friend had been told she could spend the night. My daughter couldn’t go through with it.

But she was afraid to say the words and couldn’t say them. Scared to hurt her friend. Scared of the reaction. Scared to voice what she felt. Probably even embarrassed.

The worst for her – as is for anyone in anxiety – is that she couldn’t pinpoint why or what was wrong or why she felt like she was standing on the edge of a cliff when moments ago she was fine.

I fixed it for her. I said the words she couldn’t. I gave her a way out. I would have walked on fire to erase that look in her eyes.

And later I don’t know if doing that was the right thing. I had to tell her later that she needs to put a voice to her feelings. That she needs to not be embarrassed of anything she feels. That she needs to not be afraid of the consequences of telling someone the truth. That real friends understand and don’t get mad. They want to help. That nothing she feels is right or wrong.

I hate the whole thing. I hate it all. I hate that I can even discuss this. I hate that I know what anxiety and depression are. I f*cking hate it. I hate that it’s chemical and I’ve always hated fearing that I’d pass this on to my girls - even knowing it's chemical.

It’s probably time that I stopped fearing it and admit that it’s a done deal. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the signs in her. The fact is and always has been that she is me…just younger.

Exactly. Sometimes so much it scares the hell out of me. Most times I know how and what she is feeling before she knows herself…just by looking at her.

Yet, I’m a person that is a best friend to denial. I remember when I went through my first life-crushing depression…the time when I had to be physically carried out of my workplace…the time when I saw a therapist weekly – yah, I remember that. I also remember that one day in a therapy session when the therapist said something about me having clinical diagnosed depression.

I had never heard those words before – in relation to me. Oh I’m sure in all the medical doctor visits it was said – but I couldn’t remember. In those appointments I had no idea who was even in the room. I was just focusing on trying to take my next breath and staying alive.

When the therapist said those words to me and I actually heard them – I remember saying, “What? I’m really diagnosed with that? Is it bad? I mean as far as depression goes, was what I was in considered a bad one?”

I will never ever forget her saying to me while she looked at me incredulously like she couldn’t believe I didn’t already know the answer, “Oh honey. This was a 10+. This was a MAJOR depression. You just went through hell and survived.”

Jesus. Even typing that makes me want to cry.

Who does that? Who goes through a major 10+ depression and has no idea it’s that bad? Who has the ability to pretend that much – for months and years?

I do.

My own mother had no idea that I cried myself to sleep every night…just one door down from her. She had no clue that every day was painful for me and living was exhausting.

I smiled through everything. Lived through the debilitating internal pain. I screamed at God each night for making me live another day. I never stopped wondering why. I was pissed that no one could see past my façade and at the same time – scared to death that someone would.

Years and years of pushing down feelings and denying pain worked for a while. Mentally I had tricked myself and everyone else that I was fine.

Until one day my body decided enough was enough. If I wasn’t going to heed the mental warnings my mind was giving me…it was going to throw out some physical clues.

Like passing out, weakness, rapid weight loss, exhaustion and vomiting….for no reason.

Pretty hard to pretend you’re okay when your co-workers are carrying you out to your mother’s car because you’re too weak to walk. Pretty hard to pretend life is peachy when you find yourself on a therapist’s couch once a week. Pretty hard to pretend you’re loving life when you have to take meds just to stay alive.

The whole damn thing is just pretty hard.

For me, the remembering is hard too. I don’t remember much during the time that I was bed-ridden and recovering and my family was pretending that I just had the flu. I have blocked it out without even knowing I did.

Sometimes people talk about those days and how I was and I have absolutely no recollection of them even being there and helping me. I remember a few conversations and events but whole days and weeks are genuinely lost to me. Apparently, my brain knows it’s just better to let it go and forget. I can’t handle remembering that kind of pain. I don’t even remotely want to.

People shouldn’t have to feel that they want to die. It’s against basic nature to want to end life. Everything in you is screaming that it’s wrong to want to die but everything else in you is screaming that the only way to end the pain is to die.

Which is why seeing my daughter even have a flicker of that kind of agony is jolting to me. I almost visibly gasp. I feel like I’ve been brought to my knees again in that instant. For just a second when I see what she is feeling – part of me remembers. Part of me also knows I can never, ever get too close to someone else who is feeling what I did just because of that. It causes me to remember and the fear I feel in my stomach just tells me to RUN and close my eyes and go back to pretending that I don’t know that feeling.

So I guess I don’t know what I fear more. That my daughters may face a depression OR that I will have to watch and stand by helplessly and possibly tell Rambo I have to walk away or I’ll fall back into the hole myself.

I can’t go back there. I know my reality now and I know I simply cannot go back there. It will kill me next time.  That might make me weak...but it also will keep me alive.

I guess because of that I will try to head off any of this for my daughters way before it ever gets to that point. I’ll watch for signs and ask questions. I’ll get help or meds for them before it’s too late….before they can’t walk or get out of bed. Before they want to stop living.

It’s my only option.

Because I just can’t go back there.

Ever again.


Cindy said...

I've had panic attacks, that lasted years.

I also have 3 girls, 16 year old twins and a 12 year old. I don't know the situation with your daughter... but was it possibly "just" a tween/teenager issue that seems overwhelming?

My daughter dealt with bullying and issues with other girls and teachers. Having her put a voice to her feelings did help. Me voicing/guessing her feelings did not. I just helped her with coming up with a solution.


InWeighOverMyHead said...

I dont know what to say. I just want to send you my love.

Joanna said...

It tears me up inside to hear your story. I can't even begin to imagine the horror that you went through. But, I do know what it's like to witness a child with something going on in their head that you just can't control - or fix all by yourself.

For years, I tried to think that eventually, the horror that was happening in my son's head would pass...that he would grow out of it..or it was just a "phase". It was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. This wasn't something that was just going to go needed help, help that I couldn't give.

The last paragraph of your post is the most important. You MUST get her the help she needs NOW. Even if it's just getting her a therapist. She shows no other signs of needing meds.. but getting her someone who can help, who can let her talk, who can give her advice - and it can't be you, no matter how much you'd like it to be.

There's a good chance she doesn't have a chemical could just be hormones - but don't wait to find out. If I had gone with my instinct when I first saw the signs in Butter and started getting him some help, then he wouldn't have gone through the trama - and possibly wouldn't have ended up in a psychiatric hospital for 3 months.

And more importantly - talk to her. You can't fix the problems for her, but knowing your story may help her understand what's going on inside her own head.

I'm here if you need me. Always.

Tina @ The Bandit Girl said...

Oh Draz, I am so sorry to hear your story tonight. You are such a good Mom. You are so tuned in that you will be their best support. You are doing the right things!!!

Andrea said...

I'm so sorry that you can see some warning signs in your daughter. But you are an incredible mom and she's lucky to have you there for her to recognize those signs and help her before it gets really bad. <3

Mari said...

I can truly feel the agony in your words and in the situation. I'm so sorry for your pain, I wish I could take it away. Because of my mental health, I'm terrified that I'll pass it down to my children when I have them. Nothing will change the fact that this is a horrible, excruciating situation - but remember two things, the fact that you have been through it means that you have a huge amount of knowledge on how to get through it, how to endure it and what help to get. And maybe there are some little positives, going through so much has made you a deep, compassionate, brave person - virtues that I'm sure your daughter will inherit no matter what she goes through. Love x

Ronnie said...

I'm so scared of passing my mental health problems onto my children... I know with you in her corner Watermelon will have all the help she needs at her disposal if it ever becomes a full-blown problem. Let's pray it never comes to that. *hugs*

Laura Belle said...

I love you.