To the People Who Embrace My Daughter: Anxiety, Depression and All

Words barely express the ways your actions have breathed life into my daughter.

Movement into unknown territory involves risks. Your willingness to do that does not go unnoticed. As you know, she’s not one of those outgoing social butterfly types. She’s an observer. In addition, her mental illness makes identifying and controlling emotions challenging. She realizes the impact of her actions and words, yet, managing the whirlwind within becomes difficult at times.

By inviting her into your space, you moved beyond the walls of fear that easily keep us from engaging with those who seem different from ourselves. Sometimes the fears are rooted in real experiences, yet, each of us has our own narrative. You have demonstrated to others that learning how to give and receive support is a significant life skill. There is no “us” and “them.” Everyone faces their own struggles.

We, her parents, are walking in unfamiliar territory. We have gleaned much about the way our society values others as well as the assumptions aimed toward families who don’t capture the “All American Dream.” Stigmas and fear feed this, and the journey becomes a lonely one for the whole family.

You have witnessed the storm of emotions blow out of her with a breath-taking pace. Out of her mouth, harsh words may have been hurled in your direction. Yet, you saw that she was more than those utterances. The open invitation to your home created a refuge and gave her purpose. How could you have known that her desire to conquer an eight-hour day of was rooted in the reward of spending time with your family? Thank you for loving her unconditionally.

To those unsung heroes at school, you are appreciated more than you can grasp. Her struggles impact our whole family. As parents, we transport, cajole, and encourage her to embrace the school day. But the reality is that some days, we all feel wiped out my 9:00 a.m.

How do you fight the clutches of anxiety/depression which attempt to pull your child back into bed? Some days, the nuances of battle were apparent. She arrived with eyes, swollen and puffy. But you welcomed her nonetheless and let her sit. Sometimes, you even provoked a smile and a laugh. You far exceed your job expectations.

Thank you for loving my daughter. Whether you welcomed her with a simple gesture or invested time with her, your kindness reaps a harvest in her soul.

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Thinkstock photo via Monika Gniot

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