Mental health. It is something we’ve become more aware of now than before. Many have made an effort to be heard and defied the stigma that comes with mental illness. So, here I am, sharing stories related to anxiety and depression, hoping to keep the flame going for mental health awareness. Here’s a mother’s story.
“Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Causes of death: Suicide by hanging. Three days apart. My heart goes out to their families.
Depression certainly does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, whether you are rich and famous or just an ordinary person, like my daughter.
These recent events on mental health have brought me back to a phone call that I have never forgotten. It was from my daughter who revealed that she was on medication for depression. Since then, I have been living my life in constant fear of the worst”.
”Yes. I couldn’t even bring myself to say the word. And because my daughter was living away from home, that fear was compounded by my guilt of not being able to physically protect her. If it were up to me, I would have encouraged her to come home. But of course, that was not feasible. I cannot tell her to abandon university, come live with me and then what? Make drastic changes to her career path and her future plans? I simply can’t do that. Besides, such decisions were not up to me.
Then it dawned on me. I actually did not know what to do albeit I’ve become more aware of mental health and read more about depression.
It is true. You will not understand until it happens to you. Ironically, it did happen to someone like me who least expected it. I was caught off guard and got thrown into a battle which I was not ready for. I was at a loss and this made me quite angry. What was I supposed to do?
I felt helpless. I found myself wanting for depression to be a physical entity, so I could see and determine how to fight and keep it away from my daughter.
While I groped for answers, I suddenly realized that I was seeing it all wrong! This was not about me at all.
It was about my daughter. I had relegated my own concerns, my anger, and especially my fear, to the background. Doing this paved the way for me to focus on the real issue and accept a painful reality; my daughter has depression. She’s got to cope with it for the rest of her life. But, I am her mother and I’ll make sure she won’t be alone to face it. We are going to deal with it, together.
A friend has said to me. ”You know, I admire your daughter very much. I think she is smart. When she recognized that she was having problems, she did something about it. It must have been difficult but she decided to fight anyway.”
I never saw it that way until I heard those words.
Indeed, when my daughter was struggling and having thoughts of ”it was better for everyone if I’m gone”, she knew she must seek professional help.
And then she bravely made that phone call and opened up to me. For this, I am incredibly thankful. It meant another life saved”.
To follow: A Daughter’s Story
Please read: The Onlookers’ Story