Friday, February 12, 2016

Coming out of the tunnel

This past couple weeks have been unbelievable. Not in a good way. Today is the first day of a 4 day weekend, and I finally feel a sense of some relief, like I am walking out of a tunnel into the sunlight.

A little history... "My girls" issues began so long ago, at 12, 13 years old we noticed some significant bouts of depression going on. Refusal to leave the house, to go to school, some paralyzing anxiety. At that point in my journey, I was not anywhere near a place of acceptance or facing things head on....so I tried to cheer her up! I tried to force solutions, I pulled and prodded and demanded, (I am the parent here!) I bought her things, I put on a big smile, I told myself it would pass...but as you all know, it didn't. We took her to counselors and doctors and she was given a little 10mg rx of Prozac and a firm lecture on "being a good girl" and we were sent on our way. 

13 years makes a HUGE difference in the way mental health issues are handled with teens today. Little one hit 12, 13, and began to experience the same exact emotional issues. Minus the anger, the rebellion, and the self medicating. I think those differences are due to personality and we are very different parents than we were 13 years ago. We have learned a lot. And not to be melodramatic....but we have suffered a lot. 

The upside to that is that not much rattles me anymore. In comparison to the past 13 years, not much registers on my calamity scale. 

So little one is battling the same inner demons that her sister has battled. She is terrified of drugs, thank all that is holy, but still she has some big mountains to overcome. The difference is that she is receiving a good dose of medications to help her, she has a psychiatrist, a therapist, a weekly support group, she is in the mental health system of our giant HMO and she is receiving treatment and loads of support and being taught coping skills. I am over my fear of labeling my child....we can call it whatever we want, but I can't lose another child to this shit. 

So a week or so ago, she said, she couldn't bear to go back to school. She couldn't stand it. The noise, the crowds, the chaos, she was so overwhelmed it felt like she was drowning...she just wanted to be in her peaceful home doing the different things she loves. She is very self directed and has many interests.....but it is not healthy to be alone day after day after day. So I couldn't allow that, but I could help her to find a middle ground that would be more doable for her. Her medical staff, her school staff, and us, her parents, were all working together to figure this out and to support her. But the problem persisted. We were hours away from resorting to using a home/hospital plan where she would just do school from home. Which was not an ideal solution as it allowed her to isolate, and though I am a huge proponent of alternatives to traditional schooling, I know that people need people too. 

Then, by some perfectly timed cosmic God thing, all of a sudden, big sister Molly came over and started up a conversation. Molly who has struggled with school and anxiety for YEARS due to her severe dyslexia, who is slowly making her way through college and wondering everyday why she is putting herself through this, why there isn't a different way to get from point A to point B, why no one can acknowledge a person's natural talents and gifts....but instead looks at how far through school you made it. 

They talked about being honest about your stuff, about communicating to your teachers about the battles you fight each day just to be there, that you WANT to do the work, and in "little ones" case that you are ABLE to do the work, but the noise, the crowds, the kids walking around, and all at the same time the teacher is talking and the pressure to retain what he/she is saying, all feels suffocating and overwhelming. They both cried, because for different reasons it all feels so hard sometimes. Then my gracious Molly, who is battling her own battles right now, offered to meet little one at school the next day and go to her art class with her and work with her to help her get caught up. That was the bridge "little one" needed to get back to school. She went yesterday morning, gathered up all of her work she was behind on, her sister met her for art, they worked together and got some things done, brought home supplies and ideas to work on over the weekend, and for today the plan is to continue on through the end of the school year. But she knows if things get too hard again, she has resources, a plan B, and lots of loving supportive people in her life. 

I think back on this time in "my girls" life and how her needs were not met. The medical community was not as evolved as they are today in regards to mental health. There was still a lot of stigma (more than today,) it was looked at as a parenting issue, a behavior issue, my fragile self esteem couldn't handle the idea that I couldn't fix this, nor did I have any ideas of what to do, I didn't know what to ask for. I didn't know how to advocate for her and truthfully I just wanted it all to go away and let's get back to being the beautiful family that I worked so hard to present at all times! 

My girl has suffered for years. She is not the evil drug addicted crazy girl. She is a broken person that the health care system, and her parents have failed. Not due to any sort of malicious intent or not caring, but due to lack of knowledge, due to believing what we were told, both us and the medical professionals who perpetuated what they learned in school and books vs what they learned from real life interactions and being invested in people with major depressive and anxiety disorders. It is tragic on the most basic level. I am not beating myself up though, so please know I don't need or want anyone to feel that they need to encourage me.....this just is what it is. My girl and I have had many conversations about this very issue. She is always forgiving, always lets me off the hook, saying, "Who knew mom?! Who knew that I would be so stuck for so long?" 

I still believe she can make it back....one day at a time. She recently had 2 days heroin free. She is going for 3 days this weekend. Maybe her getting healthy will look very different than anything I ever expected. Maybe it won't include rehabs and meetings. Maybe it will be just she and her therapist working together week after week, putting together a few days here and there, until pretty soon, she has several weeks, and then months. Maybe God will redeem what has been lost and it won't match my big ideas of shoulds and coulds and woulds. One thing I know, is that it will have nothing to do with anything I do or don't do. 

Praying for us all.....
Annette
PS: Written with Little Ones and Molly's knowledge and seal of approval. :o) 

12 comments:

notmyboy (lori) said...


It sounds like Molly was just who your daughter needed. I pray your girl gets her three days this weekend...and then three more and three more and three more and...

2hope4 said...

as always, your girl is in my prayers.

Birdie said...

Your youngest makes me think of myself when I went to school. I really don't know how I made it through. I graduated but all my classes were remedial. I later learned about being Highly Sensitive.

http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-child-test/

http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/

I wish I would have known about this years ago because I look back and was depressed at about 7 years of age onward. I am curious if this rings true for your girls?

Cindy M said...

So grateful for any small steps that happen. Like Lori said, I am also praying for your girl to get her next 3 days and 3 more and 3 more.
I suspect your mom heart is bursting with love and gratitude for Molly's help for little one. I love it when God works out all the details.❤️
Praying for all of our children.

Dawn said...

Wow.........that is awesome!!

Borden said...

I wish your daughter all the best!

Annette said...

Birdie, YES! That is definitely my two girls....all of us to a certain extent. I did the quiz for my youngest and she scored 19!! I have the books....for adult and child.

Mark said...

I teach adolescent high school males.
Such a difficult age. Everything is changing and there feels so little to hold on to as it changes.
Those boys drive me crazy. And I'm usually comforted by the notion that I no longer am an adolescent male myself.
I'm so glad to read that things are better than they were (if only sightly). My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family reading this post...

Birdie said...

I scored a 19 as well. All I know that it is very, very hard living like this. I have learned how important my 'down time' is and take breaks as often as possible. Learning and practicing Mindfulness has been the greatest help. I have an app that send me reminders to check in to prevent me from getting into that awful loop vortex thing that send me over the edge.
Sending love to all of you. This isn't easy and it is a lifetime of taking one day at a time.

beachteacher said...

Wow Annette......per usual ----you write and explain your (and their) journey so well... I continue to pray for H to get those days and continue to get those days ......sending love to you and your family. You are certainly the mother they needed to have.

Mrs. Dubose said...

It takes a long time to accept that it has nothing to do with what you do or don't do. It's the hardest lesson I have learned. I blamed myself for years, (for the silliest things!) but that judgement is lessening.

The road to sobriety is tricky and personal. I hope and pray that both our girls, one day find it.
xo

Hattie Heaton said...

I'm so glad that Molly could share her experience with her sister. What a wonderful girl, she must be. My son got sober working at a bar. My brother in law got sober cold turkey no meetings, no rehab. Who is to say, how it will work out? Only God knows. I'm still praying for you.