Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"The Talk"

The other night, I had to have The Talk with my daughter. No, not about the birds and the bees - about depression. Two nights in a row, she walked into my bedroom to see me sobbing uncontrollably, wracked in emotional pain.
The first night, I tried to hide my face behind my hands and told her to go to bed and that I wouldn't be able to tuck her in for the night.
The second night, as I curled up on the floor, shaking as I cried, she sat next to me, put her hand on my shoulder and started tearing up. "But I want to stay with you," she said, when I told her to go back to bed. "I don't want you to be sad." She started crying, and the fear and worry in her face made me sob even harder.

I knew then that I had to talk to her about it. I couldn't just send her to bed and pretend that she hadn't seen this - or that she hadn't seen it before - or that she wouldn't see me like this again. I had to tell her something - something honest, not an empty platitude or hollow reassurance that 'everything is okay.'

"Sometimes I have a sickness that isn't in my body like normal sicknesses, but has to do with my brain. It doesn't make the right chemicals that make me feel happy or even just normal. I'm not upset and crying because you did something wrong, but because I'm not feeling good in my mind."

It was a short explanation, all that I could really manage at the time. It seemed to work, though. She nodded and stopped crying, and then I made her promise to tell me if she ever feels that way - so that I could hug her just as she hugged me, and get her the help she needs if it ever happens to her.

This is not the kind of talk that I ever expected to have with my child. But as someone who has struggled with depression for most of my life, who cannot take a 'normal day' for granted, who knows that I am always just this close to teetering on an abyss of grief and pain, I also know that I can't afford to not talk about depression with my daughter.
Though I pray that she never knows what it is to experience a shadow that follows you everywhere, that whispers to you almost every day, that knows you better than you could ever know yourself... I know all too well that this insidious darkness may be a part of her genetic inheritance, and I would rather that she know what it is than to have it creep up on her one day and shatter her. I know all too well what that was like - to go one day from the uncomplicated cheerfulness of childhood to wake up surrounded by a darkness that only I could see and feel.

There is so much about parenting that no one ever prepares you for; things that you hope you'd never have to talk about. Sometimes it means having your child witness you in a place of pain and brokenness that you wish they never had to see. Sometimes it means working through that pain, admitting to it, so that - God forbid it ever afflict them - your child doesn't have to spend their life wondering what is wrong with them.


Anonymous said...

Salam sister, I just wanted to reach out to give you a virtual hug. This must be super tough for you. I pray that Allah swt brings you ease. I hope you've managed to get medical help inshallah.

I also have a young child and a long term condition, and although I don't like to burden her so she picks up on it anyways, so sometimes being open is the best option. Must have been difficult for you though.

I went through a period of having this type of depression too. I found what once I stopped taking the pill and it had all cleared from my body (took a good few months), I started feeling much better. Just thought I'd mention it in case it helps you.

I am thinking of you, you and your family are in my du'as. Please take as long as you need to recuperate before you return to social media :)

Take care, umm zainab

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this...