Foreword by Randi Silverman:
It’s easy to forget that our children who struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges are actually incredibly strong. It’s confusing, because they often seem so fragile – like the slightest problem will simply break them.
Sometimes we have to stop ourselves and try to imagine how difficult it must be for them to live with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that they are not able to control or manage. Certainly, our children do not want to struggle. And if they had a physical condition that made getting out of bed difficult, we would certainly feel proud of their brave efforts to do so.
Once again, Katherine shares with us another beautiful story as she discovers that her daughter, in all of her fragility, is actually incredibly strong. Her words are poignant and an excellent reminder that it is in facing challenges that we build resilience.
Our teen daughter has been struggling with anxiety and depression for nearly three years. We have only known about those struggles for one year.
So that’s two years of suffering – and coping – in silence. She is in a residential program at the moment, and will not return to her current high school at discharge. Too big. Too stressful. Too unpredictable. Her father and I agree. So we are looking for a small and nurturing, yet still academically appropriate school. While she’s in the program, I have been searching, calling and filling out applications.
One school’s application asked, “How does your child handle setbacks and disappointments, and what has he/she learned from them? How has your child demonstrated resilience?”
For a split second, I hesitated.
Then I just knew I had to say it. I had to give my daughter the credit she deserves for living. For going to bed knowing that tomorrow might not be better than today was. For continuing to see her therapist, even when she wasn’t feeling any difference. For continuing to try medications that have helped so many, but that were not helping her – some even made her worse. For continuing to go to school when she was utterly exhausted. For taking the best care of her mind and body even when she felt they were not taking care of her. For talking about anything that involved planning – that involved a tomorrow. For trusting the people who are trying to help her.
So, while I cannot tell a recent story of “that game she lost in a tiebreaker,” or “that low grade she got, and how she worked long-and-late to remedy it,”
I can tell you that she is resilient.
Resilient and tough and bold and brave in a way that most of us have never had to be. She deserves a sh*t-ton of credit for that.
Here’s what I wrote:
Interesting question. My daughter has endured depression and anxiety over the past few years. She is open about her challenges, and that has been a blessing to her, and to me – since I have her permission to discuss it, too. She tries. And she keeps trying. Despite these difficulties, she has great grades, perfect attendance, good friends, and a solid relationship with her family. She has been incredibly resilient to be able to manage her life with this condition.
As with a chronic physical health condition like diabetes, hers needs to be faced head-on, managed, and treated. She is doing just that. And, as with a chronic physical health condition, a person can live a perfectly adjusted and fulfilling life -and not be defined by – a chronic mental health condition. She is striving to do so. That, most certainly, involves setbacks, disappointments, and resilience.