A Valentine’s Day Post From My Mom

So, I asked my brilliant woman of a mother to contribute a post to my blog about raising a child with anxiety and depression. And then, I cried. I am BEYOND blessed to have a mom THIS understanding and patient. I am, at times, one of the MOST DIFFICULT humans to handle and while I’ve seen a glimmer of frustration in her eyes, my mom never gave up on me.

You have people in your life who love you like this. They are there to support you, let you wear wigs that aren’t the color of your hair, and help you embrace your quirks. I hope everyone had an amazing weekend! Love to all of you today and always…

Valentine’s Day, 2015

As a valentine to my exquisite daughter, I’m going to try and put in words the pure, magical, joyful love that I feel for her. As a mother, I would hope that every single one of us feels that our child is the most beautiful, gifted, perfect little person to ever be put on this earth. Of course, I’m no exception. From the moment I became pregnant, it was the most glorious time of my life. I felt perfectly comfortable knowing this child had picked me to be her guide and protector and teacher throughout her journey. And together we would be able to handle whatever crossed our paths. That trust and confidence has served us both well. Little did we know what life would have in store for us.

I think Bri’s anxiety started at a very young age. She hated her crib, stroller,
car seat, playpen………..anything that confined her. She didn’t like to sleep, so we usually read about 5 books at bedtime! I didn’t mind. It was our cuddle time. She didn’t like loud noises, dark places, adults who wanted to
hold and hug her just because she was cute. She wasn’t a friendly baby with strangers, which is actually not a bad thing! Family vacations were tough, and really aggravated her anxiety. Places outside of familiar territory would put her in panic mode, which usually started just an hour after departing our home destination. Her and I would repeat a mantra every hour about how we would be home soon, but how much fun we were having in the interim. However, she repeatedly informed me know how much she disliked the hotels, cars, vacation sites and everything else that was not in her comfort zone. It could have been exhausting, but I used these experiences as teaching tools for coping mechanisms. Luckily, or not, my family history is filled with anxiety and depression, so I felt very comfortable working thru her panic attacks at that stage in her life.

My daughter was her own person from the day she was born. When she was done playing with playmates, she wanted them to go home. Usually after an hour. When going out to dinner, she would dress up in costumes, perhaps a
Snow White dress, and a long platinum blonde ponytail clipped into her jet-black hair. I thought she looked fabulous and we rolled with it. If going out to dinner as a character made her more comfortable, it worked for us! She loved to dance, but only if she could make up the steps. She loved to sing in the backseat of the van, but only if she imagined I wasn’t driving in the car with her!! Her hyper-sensitivity made her so creative and intuitive and fun that we always kept busy with interesting projects and lots of friends and family around. It was a wonderfully magical time.

There were some tough times. At 5. her grandfather passed away. At 8, her dad had a lengthy illness. At 10, her precious grandmother passed away. We made it thru these times and became even tighter as a family of 3. But at 14, after another long illness, her dad was taken from us. Life was forever changed. We had to reinvent ourselves. No time for panic attacks. No time for pity parties. Just get the job done. And I think in this space in time, we put a lot of feelings away. We have always been extremely close, but this period of time was a disaster. Bri had to grow up very fast, and I wasn’t much help. Lost in my own grief and just putting one foot in front of the other, each day was a struggle. But I think, looking back on everything, we’re extremely happy for the experiences we had, because they made us who we are today. We are survivors. We learned that laughter and speaking our feelings certainly can be the best medicine in tough times.

Once our lives settled into some sense of normalcy, I watched my daughter settle into relationships with several guys who weren’t really worthy of her fabulosity. I hoped and prayed one day she would see that she was this incredibly loving, giving, sensitive human being who could be even MORE without a man. She didn’t need to give up her hopes and dreams to be a couple. She didn’t need any man to complete her. She needed to complete herself, and enjoy things that interested and excited her, just as she did as a child. She needed to look in the mirror and see who I saw. Only then, would she WANT the right man for her……not NEED the wrong ones.

And one day, it all came to her. Thru a breakDOWN, that turned into her incredible breakTHROUGH!!!!! Her anxiety and depression all came out over the discovery, after 3 years, that she was with someone who really wasn’t right for her. It was frightening, and horribly sad to see my daughter in such a state, but it was time to get her professional help and move her to the next level of her journey. With the help of an amazing professional team,
and family and friends, she has done it with courage and honesty and diligence. She has learned what makes her tick. She has faced the hard questions that sometimes gave her even tougher answers. She is pursuing her passions and dreams, and figuring out that sometimes you have to tolerate certain things to reach your goals. She is running solo marathons, and pursuing her love of yoga with teacher training. She has started this blog, which touches my heart every day thru insights into who she was and who she is becoming. I could not be prouder or love this child of mine any more fiercely than I do each and every day. Her depression does not define her. It has made her discover who she really is and has pushed her towards life goals that will make her happy and fulfilled and a leader of others. I only wish the same for others who read this.

So, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, to my amazingly beautiful daughter!!!
You have taught me what true, unconditional, unselfish love is. It has been an honor and privilege to be your mother and life partner. You truly are the
great love of my life! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. XOXO

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