Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dear Emily, I believe in you

Half way through 2012 it became clear that Emily was really struggling with her mood. We recognised the symptoms of Bipolar, as her Dad is Bipolar, so began the process of getting her some support. During this time things were very difficult for Emily, and she required a fair bit of time away from school. This is a letter I wrote to her during that time.

Dear Emily,

things are tough right now. Feeling as bad as you do lately is not easy. I know what it is like to feel so low that you don’t want to get out of bed, or talk to anyone, or make a decision about what to eat. I know what it is like to be so depressed that you feel like you are surrounded by a fog that will never go away. I know what it is like for that to go on long enough that you give up even caring if it goes away. I know what it is like to feel anxious about everything. So anxious that your chest hurts and you can’t think about anything else. 

I can remember clearly being told that I was suffering depression, and the reluctance to admit that it might be true. I wanted to be in control and able to deal with anything. I was angry that this was happening to me.

I can’t say that I know how it feels for that depression to suddenly lift and to change to feeling on top of the world. So good that it seems like everyone else is lagging behind you. But Dad does, and he’s told me about it, and I can see the effects it has on his behaviour and on yours. 

I can’t imagine the frustration of that good mood suddenly disappearing and being replaced again by that familiar suffocating fog. 

I can imagine, though, what it is like to have to consider the possibility that you are about to be diagnosed with a mood disorder that you will have for the rest of your life. I wouldn’t be happy about it if it was happening to me. I wonder if you find it irritating that I keep saying things like “it’s going to be OK” and “don’t worry, we’ll manage it together”? I wonder if it annoys you that I am trying to be so calm and relaxed about it all? I wonder if you wish I would stop trying to convince you that it will be alright when I’m not the one who has to actually live with it, and be treated for it, and learn to manage it on a daily basis? 

Here’s the thing, though. I’ve been doing this parenting kids with extra “challenges” thing for a while now, and I’ve learned that even when things seem completely overwhelming all I have to do is wait for a while and they’ll get easier. Honestly. It really is that simple. The crapness of life does move on and become less intrusive and easier to deal with. That doesn’t  mean that on the inside I don’t have a bit of a panic.... or a big panic..... but it does mean that the panics don’t last as long anymore as they used to. 

We do have some crappy stuff to do over the next few weeks, I know. Talking to the psychiatrist won’t be easy. Finding out if you need a diagnosis might make us cry. Getting through the end of the school year will be an effort. Some days getting up and facing the day will be tough. I know you must feel nervous about a lot of things. I do too. Lately I spend a lot of time wondering about the future and trying to anticipate how I will be able to support you. I’m not ever going to say to you that it will be easy. It won’t! But it will be manageable. 

I know it will be manageable because I know that you are an amazing young woman. 

You are compassionate, you are brave. You have grown up in an “unusual” family and had to live daily with things most people never experience. You have become a resourceful and independent person. You are intelligent and you have big dreams. 

At the moment you might not remember these things about yourself, but I do. I know they are true, and I know you will get back to a place of knowing them too, once we have spent some time getting you the right kind of support. I will be here to go through those steps with you. 

I love you.

I am proud of you.

I believe in you.


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