When I Wept at Work About My Daughter’s Depression and Anxiety
I see you out there. You’re suffering through something you feel is extremely private. It’s no one’s business. It’s too painful. You don’t want to bare your deepest fears out for others to pick through. You don’t want to cry in front of others. You definitely don’t want to seem weak. And what if you tell someone and they tell people?
And you’re right. Whatever you’re suffering through is no one’s business. Some people won’t understand your experience and will seem unsympathetic. Others will question your decisions and feelings. Still others will be angered by how you’re handling this fight or flight situation because it will hurt them. And these will be people you thought truly cared about you.
Here’s why I think you should share anyway.
When my daughter first exhibited signs of depression and anxiety, I thought we could quickly fix it. Therapy, relaxing, a little time away from her stressors and I just knew she’d be fine. Two years later, I realize that I don’t know anything. This diagnosis is the only thing I know with certainty. Details about how she will handle events, when the anxiety and depression will present themselves, how long the symptoms will last — these are all unpredictable.
This is where sharing comes in. There are people out there who can help. And they may not even be people who are in your life — yet.
One of the things I’ve always wanted to change about myself was my inability to stop tears when I’m sad — or laughing really hard — or touched by some kindness. I’m a weeper! It always seemed so weak to me. And no one wants to see you cry. Some truly get uncomfortable around it. I’ve gotten good at joking about my tears, but they’re real and as far as I can see — unstoppable. But being a weeper actually has helped me find the people who can help my daughter and our family through the valley on our climb back to the mountain.
As soon as we realized my daughter was in trouble, my family knew that meant we all were. I knew with complete certainty that I couldn’t perform the job at the company I working at to expectations and simultaneously handle all that was starting to happen at home. There was no way I was going to let my family suffer so that meant work would, and I couldn’t have that. Luckily, I was able to find a new job that I knew I could give my best to and would still allow me time to take care of my family. It was a gift.
There were a lot of people I didn’t know at my new job. I kept up a very professional front at first by not talking about my home problems. No one wants to hear about that, right? But after a particularly bad night with my daughter, the weeper came to work.
And guess what happened? People asked me if I was OK. I didn’t explain my dilemma — that my daughter was self-harming, not doing well in school for the first time ever and was a completely different person than she had been for her first 14 years. Many people just smiled and didn’t pry. That’s polite, right? Nothing wrong with that at all. A few people did press the issue with true concern. And so I made a brave decision. I decided to share what was going on because I needed to talk to someone about it.
As it turns out, the people I shared with all had something in common with me. They understood my situation because something similar had happened to them. They had stories of their own, words of wisdom, ideas, love, caring and hugs. The gifts were endless. And yes, I’m crying right now thinking about it!
One person in particular had a great idea. “Help her find something she can put herself into that makes her feel needed.” I pondered this, not sure what next step to take. But then a solution presented itself. Another friend I had shared with needed volunteers to help with students who needed homework help. She shared my story with her boss who welcomed my daughter.
Now, because I bared my soul and shared my deepest pain, my daughter and others struggling with a variety of situations have a place to go to help others. They’re doing an amazing job, are thriving and the students they work with are, too.
That friend who helped my daughter find purpose is a soul mate now. She stopped by the other day to tell me she hadn’t seen me cry in a long time and how happy she was because I seemed happy. So, of course, I wept. Because of kindness!
Now I understand my weeping is OK, and that it has served an invaluable purpose. Weeping led to sharing, which led to solutions and healing. So don’t be afraid to share with others because someone out there gets you and gets what you’re going through and can handle your tears. I embrace all the people I’ve met through this life-changing experience with a huge, weepy bear hug.
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