I remember when she first told me she was struggling with depression and anxiety, I immediately thought ‘It’s my fault. I should have been a better Mom. I should have held her more, listened more, paid more attention to her.” But then I realized this is not about me and my insecurities over my faulty parenting.
(And for all you new parents out there — no one does the parenting thing perfectly, regardless of what you see on facebook, instagram or pinterest. Parenting is a dance between absolute selflessness and total selfishness — I want the best for my girls, but I also want some ME time … and a big glass of wine.)
My baby girl — who at 22 years old is no longer a baby, but still my baby – struggles with depression and has for years. I didn’t find out about it until recently and when I found out I immediately went into my ‘Fixit Mom’ mode. I’m the Mom and I have all the answers – right? Nope, wrong. I don’t even understand the questions. Depression and anxiety are very foreign to me. I’m the eternal optimist — always looking for the silver lining in the dark cloud. But depression and anxiety aren’t about attitude — they are about the chemicals in your brain.
My daughter, Paige Snyder Dorman, has a mental illness. Geez, that was HARD to type. And before I typed it I called her and asked if I should say that. Because she is fearless and brave, she said Yes. I don’t want to say there are prejudices against mental illness, but there are — some of which I have long held. I thought depression was just being sad and blue. I thought depressed people could and should just ‘get over it.’ I was wrong. Depression is about what is in your brain. Now I don’t pretend to be a medical professional although I binge watched Grey’s Anatomy this summer and feel as if I’m qualified to do surgery with a pocket knife, some super glue and a stapler. I don’t understand all that depression is about. And anxiety? I once thought that could be cured with a glass of wine and an episode of Parks and Rec (somehow it all comes back to me and my TV shows). But Paige’s anxiety is something I don’t understand — I’m learning.
I can’t fix her because she doesn’t need fixing. She is learning to manage her illness her way. Mom can’t swoop in with superMom powers and make it all good again with a plate of cookies and a fun movie. Paige has decided to live her life out loud — and that takes GREAT courage. More courage than I have at my age — and I much more than I ever had at the sweet age of 22. When I was 22 I was most concerned about what party I would be attending and just how high I could tease my bangs. (I was a thoughtful and wise young woman… or not). While she navigates through the ups and downs of this illness, she’s decided to start a blog — some of it about the struggles of anxiety and depression and some about her life in general.
Take a few minutes to get to know her at website Dear Dorman — she’s a amazing writer and great communicator. You’ll enjoy her and if you know someone walking through anxiety and depression — point them her way.