May is Mental Health Awareness month and hits close to home.
About a year ago, I wrote a post about my daughter, Elise, and her struggles with anxiety (you can read it here). After the 2020-2021 school year ended, I took her to a counselor. At the time, she was so anxious that her clothes felt weird, she was paranoid, and talked of wanting to kill herself…at 9 years old. We were all struggling and heartbroken.
After her first counseling session, we met with her pediatrician and she was diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsion Disorder). We put her on some medication and saw a huge change in her disposition…I felt like I was finally getting my sweet, smiling girl back.
Her anxiety and emotions ebb and flow, but we have come so far from where we were last year. I try to remember this as we go through the ups and downs of mental health.
When people hear of OCD, they think of constantly checking locked doors or counting obsessively, etc. That is just one way that OCD manifests itself.
For Elise, it’s more about the obsessive thoughts. When things go wrong or she feels hurt, she can’t stop thinking about it. If she thinks a friend is mad at her, she gets incredibly anxious and worries that they won’t be her friend anymore. Elise loves BIG and is incredibly loyal…and expects the same from others. So, when she feels that a friend doesn’t have her back or care the same way, it tears her up inside.
When she feels overwhelmed, she works on breathing, uses fidgets, or escapes the room to process. Oftentimes, when people don’t allow a person with OCD to use their strategies and get in their personal space, it can lead to anger and frustration.
My little girl is incredible. I’m so proud of her and how hard she works to manage everything. And I desperately want her to know that there is nothing wrong with her — she is amazing.
Being seen and known
Mental health is often an invisible struggle. I want my precious daughter to know that she is seen and known…and loved. As we work through her struggles, I want her to know that I’m always on her side, helping and praying for her. I want her to know that there are so many people looking out for her and caring for her.
My sweet, smart, and kind girl is so incredibly fierce and brave — facing some hard issues. But, I believe, that she is only going to grow stronger and develop an empathy for others and their mental health challenges. I’m hopeful and excited to see how God is going to use her trials now to help others in the future.