It’s becoming more difficult to push through each day. My freelance business and part-time work aren’t providing a living wage, though I’m working both of them with all the energy I can muster. I’m raising two very busy, typically moody (and then some) teenagers. I’m exhausted. But I think the most difficult thing I face every day is helping my daughter work through her depression while I cope with my own.
Yesterday I sat by her side in both her psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s offices. I listened and empathized and sympathized and encouraged and filled in the blanks when she asked me to. And I worried so damn hard it drained some of the life from me—the Pit of Despair has nothing on parenting a child with mental illness. An hour after I dropped her off at school, she texted me, and I IM’d her through a panic attack triggered by the four-month anniversary of her grandfather’s sudden death. Then I called the school counselor to have her pulled from class and given time to gain composure—because my efforts were completely useless. And then I had my own breakdown.
It isn’t just the tears and the sadness and the occasional breakdown for me. Each day there’s a rising paralysis. A fight to get out of bed. A struggle to do my jobs, not to mention do them well. Sometimes I have to rely on willpower alone to get me through the door and beyond the apartment parking lot. Some days it takes effort just to exist. And I know now it isn’t just a matter of perspective; it’s not something I’m doing wrong. This is depression, and it’s stronger this time than I’ve experienced before.
I’m a fighter, so I know I’ll survive both my daughter’s depression and my own, but that logical reasoning doesn’t actually do much more than hover in the background of my mind. Knowing that someday I’ll feel better doesn’t get me out of bed or through the day.
So what does? I’ve thought about this a lot, and the answer is a single word: perseverance. I keep going because the only other option is giving up, and I don’t do that. The truth is, no one is going to get me through this but me. No one’s going to make my legs walk forward or send in job applications in my name but me.
This is life. It’s hard, and it is painful and it is every day. But we fight.
So up I get. Teeth and hair brushed. Clean clothes donned—because I did my laundry. I take my kids to school, to the doctor, to the psychological office, wherever. I go to work and I succeed there. Then home to make dinner and then out again to pick up my kids. And then I do it again, tomorrow and next week and next month, every day. Because I’m the only one who can do me.
Life isn’t easy. It’s exhausting and painful and it breaks us. But on we go. We fight the paralysis and sadness, and we push ourselves to the brink. I know this because as I write this before the sun is yet up, the prospect of today already threatens to overwhelm me. In a few minutes my daughter’s alarm will go off, and while she struggles with her depression today, I’ll struggle with mine. But we’ll survive.