It’s not everyday that you can say it has been a good day. There is no relative ground when it comes to the mood swings of someone who suffers with Depression or Bi-polar Disorder. Waking up on any given day could mean catastrophe and a simple statement like, “hello, how was your day” could open a whole can of worms that takes hours to recooperate from. That is why I have learned it is easier to take it moment by moment.
Recently I found myself in an utter panic when I came home to realize that my daughter wasn’t home. My brain turned chaotic as I ran around the tiny little apartment calling her name and re-checking all the rooms for a sign of her lifeless body. Then it dawned on me, she had called earlier that evening to tell me she was going for a walk. I sighed with relief. Then in a split second, utter frenzy entered my mind. I asked myself, “Why isn’t she home yet?” I immediately started pacing thinking the most awful things of her in the park all alone, and what could have happened to her. Within moments of our search we were reunited with a cheerful young lady who did not caution to impose her distain upon us for worrying so frantically. She said, “I always take hour long walks mom! Why didn’t you just look at the time I called you? You would’ve realized I was just still out walking! Geze!” And with a roll of her eyes she dismissed herself to her room. I was left in disbelief, shaking nervously and trying to regain the calm sense I had recently arrived home with. It was all my fault, this time.
Now, you may be wondering why in the world would you have first thought to look for a lifeless body? That seems a bit presumptious don’t you think? Being the mother of a person who suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder can put a lot of strain on the mind. It leaves room for the imagination to wander and the soul to feel despairity even when there is nothing to despair. The constant review of how your child is feeling can become a disheartening cycle. You learn so much about how you might be failing them, how incredibly lost they feel, how they have no desire to live and sometimes, how much they despise you. But what you need to learn about is, the “WHY”.
My daughter and I started life out on two opposite sides of the universe. Now, when I say we didn’t get along, I mean, we REALLY did not get along. There was very little bond between us due to her upbringing in a confused home with two parents who had two different ideas of discipline and child rearing. It unfortunately put me, the disciplanarian on the wrong side of her fence. After my divorce I made it a personal goal to find a way for her and I to bond. I wanted to create that special relationship between mother and daughter that I never had with my own mother. And most of all, I wanted her to know that I loved her more than anything in the whole world. I was willing to fight for her like no one had ever fought for her before.
When my daughter was young we experienced some very odd behaviors. Behaviors that eventually not only got the attention of loved ones and family, but even teachers, principals and finally the “system”. She was evaluated around five years old for mental behavioral issues. The news was not good. I was devasted and had no idea where to turn, so I turned to my husband and family. When their reaction was completely the opposite, we collectively decided that the diagnosis was irratic and unsubstantiated. And in that, we did nothing.
Continuing a life of family issues, social anxieties, bad grades and heartless speeches about “Life, and what’s normal”; my beautiful daughter’s struggle grew. It started to consume her personality, her diet, her activities and even started affecting family relationships because of the disagreements we would have on how to handle her wrong behavior. After the divorce she started using danger terms like, “I wish I was dead” and “What’s the point, none of it matters anyway.” I knew it was time for a change and I decided maybe again it was time to have my daughter evaluated.
Since then and for the past three years, my daughter and I have been on a road of healing. We have taken the steps to understand the “WHY” and what the ramifications are when it comes to mental health disorders. We have opened avenues of communication and delved deep into our psyche to figure out exactly what it is we can do to develop a better communication. We have found pains that we didn’t even know were there and learned ways to resolve conflicts in our personal lives as well as in our relationship with one another. The journey has been long, but it has been wonderful.
The reason why my mind goes to thinking she may have commited suicide so easily is due to the fact that I have finally admitted to myself that will always be a possibility. It is something that the doctors told me to take very seriously for so long. I dreaded it and it became a fear that I ended up ignoring due to my inability to understand the “WHY”. I now understand why she would want to do something so drastic as to take her life. Even when I heard her light cheerful voice just an hour before. Why she would give up on everything that is good around her. Why she has no motivation. I understand now that the “WHY” is not ME. It is not because I was a bad mom, or that I disciplined her too hard, or that she is trying to get back at me for something I did…. It is just because, She FEELS bad and she can’t make it go away. Her brain is telling her one thing and the world is telling her another. Have you ever had a song in your head that you couldn’t seem to stop hearing? Try replacing it with thoughts of death, mutilation, singulation, dread, anxiety, fear, sadness and remorse. You wouldn’t be the same person in just a small amount of time. The mind can play awful tricks on us. It is our job to understand WHEN and WHY it is doing it. Studying the mind can become a very long and timeless activity. But, when it brings you to a place of rest, it is well worth the time.
I now know what it is like to feel Depressed. I have lived it not only through my father, my mother, my husband and many friends, but now, through the eyes of my daughter. Someone who I wanted to feel excited about life had all but given up on it. Someone I wanted to smile all the time walked around with gloom in her eyes. I know what she felt, and I wanted her to know that it was ok. It was ok for her to feel hopeless, saddened, gloomy, and tired. I would take her any way I could as long as she was alive.
It had been a long time since I had acted on the fear of losing her like I did when I panicked the other night. But it made me realize that her illlness has completely changed me too. But what was even more eye opening and revealing was her reaction to my panic. Her somewhat normal teenage response made me realize how very far we have come since the first time she told me that she wanted to die. Last month my daughter came to me describing how excited she was to be growing up and that she looked forward to graduating and getting her very own house where she could have me and her step-dad come over for dinner. She said she would not allow me to see it until she had decorated it just right… then she would make a big dinner for everyone and we would all come to her house and be a family. I cried with delight hearing her talk about a future. Listening to her go on and on about something so normal gave me insurmountable joy. It surprised every fiber in me that she had finally come to a place where tomorrow didn’t look so bad. Tomorrow could maybe be fun and full of great things. And, that maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be a good day.