"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."
- James Baldwin
So I continue to fight this fucking depression and anxiety and it's extremely difficult.
Add the fact that I'm a mom to three school-aged kids to the mix and it is even worse.
Because kids are kids and they can only understand so much.
I’m currently staying in Toronto with my parents as I seek treatment and recovery. This means my three boys remain with their dad – except when my folks and I spend a weekend day with them each week.
So I am not working and I am not caring for my children day to day at the moment – as prescribed by my doctor.
I need rest. I need to take care of myself.
I need to get better.
God bless the adults who do what they can do to educate themselves – and their children - about mental health.
And of course I (and other members of the family) have tried to explain as best we can - in ways that are as age-appropriate as we can - why mommy is not around too much right now. Difficult when they are aged 15, 13 and 6 with very different personalities, questions, concerns willingness' (is that a word?) to communicate their feelings and understanding levels.
But I would think this must be a really hard way to for school-aged kids to learn.
Ya know. When your mom has it.
Why is she sad? Anxious? Did I cause any of this? When she broke down crying when we were fighting with each other and she told us she couldn’t take it anymore…was that our fault?
When she woke up - again - and ran the water in the bathroom and tried to cover up the sound of her throwing up before rushing to get herself and us ready for work and school - her eyes all red and weary…was that our fault?
Is that depression? Is that anxiety?
Is that what they wonder?
God I want to hold them and tell them all no and feel that they understand that no…no…no…it is not their fault.
(Oh but by the way kids, besides it not being your fault, would you mind behaving when your mom is with you so that her anxiety doesn’t go through the roof? Thanks.)
Are my kids experiencing anxiety about my anxiety?
That thought really causes me a lot of…well…anxiety.
Add it to my list.
See how it never ends?
But I digress.
Teenage boys don’t tell their moms much. At least mine don’t.
Not about feelings or emotions and all that touchy feely stuff.
Sometimes they do…and I hope that they continue to do so...but generally, like many boys, they don’t seem to want to talk much - even when I call right now.
Everything is “fine” and “good” and questions about how they are doing are not often reciprocated because I think they would rather not talk about it.
Or is that just me being anxious?
Are they just being then same boys…the same kids?
Am I being too sensitive because I miss the crap out of them?
Is this my never-ending guilt talking?
I'm guessing all of the above.
But it's hard.
So yeah. I continue to fight fucking depression and anxiety.
And it really sucks.
But those three young boys that mean more to me than anything else know that I love them.
And maybe…just maybe…this is a learning experience that will serve them and others well as they grow.
This is what I try to tell myself.
They will hopefully learn that taking care of yourself and your health is vitally important.
They will hopefully learn that mental heath is just as important as physical heath and should be taken seriously - both in themselves and in others.
Perhaps seeing that depression and anxiety are real - and seeing their mom fight and get better - will be a great lesson.
A lesson about invisible illnesses.
A lesson about compassion.
A lesson about pulling together as a family.
A lesson about strength and resiliency.
And as their mother…and their life-long teacher…I not only plan to teach them.
I plan to show them.
Because while many of you may not be able to see my illness…nor can you see my strength.