I’ve seen what extreme depression and anxiety does to middle and high school students. I know what it did to me as well. But I don’t know how to handle the mentally distraught thoughts and feelings in the body of my eight year old daughter.
I am worried she will have episodes of anxiety. Episodes of depression. Maybe even episodes of mania. The genetic factors of mental health are unfair, and she’s at risk of developing these disorders in the future, maybe even now.
The guilt I feel is unreal. Maybe anytime I raised my voice it was traumatizing for her. Maybe the moments she saw me unable to get out of bed are deep somewhere in her thoughts, tainting her trust for the world. Maybe the frequent moving of homes and the separation of her parents will always haunt her.
My biggest fear is losing my daughter. Losing her to hate she might develop for me, her mother. Losing her to untrue accusations from others in her life. Losing her to mental health that will someday shape her mind and body into someone I won’t recognize. Each moment I’m not supportive I carry with a heavy heart. The moments when I need to walk away for myself I feel guilty. There it is, I just fucked her up because I was frustrated. I lost her trust. I’ll lose her forever.
I know this is my own anxious mind. I know that stepping away for myself actually makes me a better mother. I know that I have a heart of gold set aside for my daughter and my daughter only. I know I love her and that she feels my love everyday. I know I can’t be perfect and that it’s normal – because no one is perfect. But I also know I might lose her one day. I know she could be overcome with mental health struggles. I know she might grow away from needing her mommy. I know she might believe what others insulate about me and feel disconnected from our bond. My fears are real and valid. It all feels like a 50/50 shot. I will either get to keep my daughter with me until the day I die. Or, I will lose her. And then I will lose myself.