Reading back over my last posts, they all have something in common…stress and worry and anxiety were running pretty rampant around here! I know the heart of all of it..for A and myself. She was increasingly worried about something, she didn’t really want to talk about it, at least in admitting how much it was really bothering her. It was affecting all things…school, her routines, causing the madness and mayhem. I was frustrated with the chaos and worried about her because I knew, that deep down, she was pretending to be fine when she wasn’t. A is an expert pretender. She has her happy face down to a science. She is scary good at it.
So that brings me to an important point. A was stressed. She was sad. She was frustrated, she was tired, helpless and depressed. Do you want to know what the face of depression can sometimes be? A smiling twelve year old girl that looks just like any other normal twelve year old girl. A girl that seems to go about her usual routine, who seems to not be bothered by too much. That girl that tells you she is fine with a smile (although it doesn’t quite reach her eyes if you know how to look) A girl that is playing soccer, drawing pictures, going to band practice, talking about her friends — that girl is at the end of her rope. She is spiraling downward and doesn’t know how to stop it. That girl wants to die. What is the face of a child that thinks she would be better off dead? Not the face you imagine. There are no obvious outward signs. You wouldn’t know. You would have no idea, just by looking at her, or watching her go about her business.
A was in that place. She was (is) the girl thinking about dying every single day while she goes about her daily life hoping no one notices. That thinking was causing the spike in the ADHD symptoms too. The forgetfulness, the impulsive behavior, the mess — it all plays a role in something bigger. She was too overwhelmed with her feelings to have anything left for the mundane necessities of life.
This thinking isn’t new to A. When she was seven years old, (I’ve mentioned this before, sorry for repeating) she first told me of her desire to be dead. She told me how she could use a knife to cut herself to bleed to death. The next few years were a haze of just doing whatever was needed to get her better. Nothing else mattered. She was doing better. The thing is, even though she was feeling better, the situation that most caused her to feel this was was still ongoing. She stopped talking about wanting to die, but that didn’t mean that the thought was gone. In the last few months, she reached a wall. A place where she thought she couldn’t deal with a certain situation any more. She felt the only way out of the situation was if she were dead. Her grades were dropping, her forgetfulness and sloppiness were growing, her anxiety was increasing, and depression was rearing its head. Her friends noticed. Her teacher noticed. I noticed. I talked to the teacher and the principal. The teacher decided to talk to A. When she did, a floodgate opened, and everything came tumbling out. This was a child who was in crisis. No, she didn’t need to go to a hospital. But how long does a child think about death before it starts to look like a viable option? She wanted to disappear. She wanted to be gone. She believed that if she were dead, she would finally be free of the situation that caused her so much unhappiness.
So that is the short answer to where I’ve been lately. Things are getting better. She was given a break from said situation, and hopefully it will help her. She worries about what might happen in a few months when she is afraid the break will be over. I tell her not to dwell on that. We will take care of that when the times comes. We have been getting ready for Christmas. Doing more than I usually do, but keeping her busy is a good idea. We’ve made candy and cookies, we’ve decorated, we’ve shopped. We’ve watched movies and spent time together. She’s hung out with friends and cousins. I’ve watched her mood lift and the nightmares are less frequent. She said this is the best Christmas ever. Now she is out of school for a couple weeks and we will do our best to make the most of that time and lighten up and have some fun.
Sometimes the hard times sneak up on you. It isn’t like you don’t know they are out there, you just sort of get used to dealing with the bad stuff, and then one day the dam breaks and all you can do is paddle to keep your head above water. I will fight for my daughter’s mental health and happiness. I will fight for what is right for her. I will fight to have her see what I see when I look at her. She has so much to offer. She is such a beautiful human being, and I just want her to know that.
Hopefully I will get back to some sort of routine soon, but for now, all is on hold while I take care of what is truly important.