Wow! I went prom dress shopping with my daughter tonight!!! I honestly thought this would NEVER happen for me! Seriously! After years of watching people post pictures of their kids all dressed up going to school dances and homecoming and prom… I finally have a chance to feel that little bit of joy and pride that I imagined bubbles up inside you when you see your child smile and laugh and feel GOOD!
I’m feeling it – and I’m feeling it DEEPLY!!! This moment is not lost on me, nor will it be lost on any other mother who has watched their child suffer – as I’ve watched mine – with painful low self esteem, suicidal thoughts, and feelings of being worthless and meaningless… one who has felt invisible and also in the way…. a nuisance — a burden — insignificant. My heart constantly breaks for her and I fight to pull that confidence out of her on a daily basis. It is exhausting – for both of us.
So, to see her trying on dresses and twirling and smiling and — happy – it fills my heart with a joy I can’t even explain. I want to take this feeling and bottle it up and never let it go! This is a moment in time I want to savor, to remember, to feel again – with her – for her… I want her to feel beautiful and happy and excited ALL the time… or at least, MOST of the time… or even just SOME of the time… *sigh*
Most people have no idea what depression really is… they think “when I get sad I just choose to be happy… choose to get out of bed… choose to do what’s good for me…” Yes – cuz its just that easy! Well, we all know it’s not that easy. It can be challenging for someone without depression… but, for someone with depression – it is nearly impossible! It is a deep feeling of hopelessness – beyond what you can imagine – beyond the sadness you’ve ever felt. For my kid, it is a dark hole that sucks her in and keeps her there… a place she can’t be hurt. A place that has become easy and familiar. I know she feels that it’s easier to stay in there – comfortable and safe – then to fight her way out. That would mean working through every traumatic event and emotional struggle that she’s been dealt in this lifetime. It’s fucking hard… and I have to believe that it is not impossible. I have to believe that she will kick depression’s ass to the curb someday… that she will break free and break the cycle of harmful thoughts controlling her… cuz these dark moments she has… these dark moments can be very… very… dark… and nearly impossible to escape.
Then there are the beautiful, joyful moments when she is happy and laughing and smiling. Those are fantastic! Like this last weekend. I took her and three of her buddies to Kalahari for her 16th birthday. It was amazing and they had a blast! She even said at one point, “My depression is gone!” To which I was thrilled and relaxed and took some time to enjoy those feelings. I had to remember them as a place to go to when she got sucked back into the dark hole. That’s a hard crash – for both of us. After a really great experience there is always that nasty beast depression waiting for her. Going from super happy to super hopeless is a long way to fall… it makes me mad, actually. My first thought is, “COME ON! That was so much fun! She HAS to believe NOW that she’ll have fun again! She can’t NOT see it! How can she be so depressed when she just had so much fun?!?!?” Then I have to realize that she can’t just feel happy now. It’s not that easy.
Her mind believes that there will never be another chance to have that much fun again. That was it. Joy and happiness are fleeting – which is actually true – but you and I know that we will definitely have some good, fun, rockin’ times in our future… she does not. She doesn’t think of her future, because she doesn’t want to be here for it. So, I try to keep really cool, fun things planned in the not too distant future. Then during the crash after each fun thing, I talk about the next fun thing. It helps a little… I like to think it helps a lot. Who knows, really. I just know that it makes ME feel better. Because I know that during every “fun thing” we do, I’ll see her laugh and smile and… be happy – even if it’s just for a day… I get to have a “normal” moment.