I do the best I can & so does she
Talking with my daughter is one of my greatest pleasures. We often spend two or three hours on a Sunday afternoon talking about Impact Young Adults, or something that happened at my work, or a book one of us is reading, or cats, or cooking or the weather. For me, it doesn’t matter what we talk about. It’s the pleasure of being connected that counts.
It’s taken us years to have this easy back and forth. When she was living at home, we didn’t do well with the ebb and flow of conversation—probably because we weren’t very good at talking about emotions. Especially pain. But we can do better than that now. We’ve learned to talk about how we feel and to listen for understanding. I’m better about self-acceptance and so I can talk about my weaknesses and my shortcomings; I do the best I can and so does she.
I love the intimacy we’ve found. And I love what it’s taught me about my daughter. You have to see a person from the inside to know they are greater than their symptoms. It’s given me an insider’s view of her strengths— especially her persistence and her courage.
She has a lot to teach me
Written by Amy Friday, 01 July 2011 18:51
My name is Amy and my daughter has clinical depression. I want to write about some of the things I’ve learned from her that have helped me be a better mom and, on a good day, a better person.
A few years ago, my daughter went through a rough time and was admitted to the hospital. When she was ready to come out, she asked me to support her for a while and I agreed. One day she showed me some worksheets from the outpatient CBT program. She was supposed to keep track of her anxiety each day and score it on a scale of 1-10. I looked at the form and saw that her numbers ranged between seven and ten.
7-10? I knew she was depressed, but I didn’t know she was that anxious. She rarely described herself that way and I couldn’t tell from her behavior. I was taken aback. How was she able to live with it?
“I count everything orange,” she said. “Or I identify objects I can see with colors of the rainbow.”
“Sometimes I go through the alphabet and name an animal for each letter. Or I count by sevens.” She thought for a minute. “But it’s best to stay focused on the room. The idea is to get my mind busy with something else.”
“And if that doesn’t help,” she added, “I take ativan.”
I couldn’t imagine charting anxiety or any other emotion for a week. I didn’t have the patience. But she did; she’d been at it for three weeks. My life was so easy compared to hers. My emotions were moderate and usually helpful. When they were strong, I could wait a while and they would go away. For her, getting by was hard work.
I’d been too worried to pay much attention to my daughter’s strengths before, but she had courage and persistence and skills I never knew about. What else did she do that I wasn’t aware of? It was time to admit how little I knew and ask better questions. She had a lot to teach me and I had a lot to learn.