Any illness or disease can conjure up the question “Why me?” “why her/him/them?”. “What did I do to deserve this?”
I’ve always managed to avoid this way of thinking. I’m not sure why, at least wasn’t until last year when I sat there and realised why I think I was “given” anxiety and depression.
To help others. To write about my experiences, to openly talk about mental health, to make others feel like it’s not just them or to even understand why a loved one may be a certain way.
But also because I can see anxiety in my son. He’s not been professionally diagnosed but as someone who has lived with this for 29 years I can see he has it. I know people will argue it is “learned behaviour” but I have always been really careful to not show my anxiety to my children and I believe if this was the case I would have two anxious children, not just one.
Last year we were going on holiday and our accommodation changed which resulted in my sons anxiety “flaring up”. Due to my experience with travel anxiety and anxiety around going to new places I was able to use my coping mechanisms to help him. And we ended up having a really lovely holiday!
I’m currently suffering with burn out and with going on holiday on Wednesday to visit my boyfriends family made the decision to request 2 days Mental Health sick leave. After a tough 2 weeks, and then a weekend of crying and panic attacks I knew that I needed 2 days to focus on me and fixing myself as best I can in the short term so I can go on holiday to relax, and to not have things whirring around in my head.
My plan was to potentially work if I felt any better. However woke up this morning (Monday) feeling already like a panic attack was waiting for me so knew it was best to relax for the time being and see how I felt later on.
It actually turned out that this morning I needed to help my son with his mental health.
For a second I felt annoyed, it was supposed to be 2 days for me to look after myself and on top of everything else I didn’t need something else added to my plate. But soon enough it changed to “YOU CAN HELP HIM”. And I remembered that have gone through and I am going through what I am going through to help him.
It was tough. We were both tired and emotional. But we got there. He felt safe. He felt listened to. He knows I will always be there for him and he thanked me for it.
At that point I almost thanked my anxiety and my depression for helping me to be able to deal with my sons feelings and thoughts. I was able to use the right words, to tell him he is not alone, to share some of my experiences so he knew I wasn’t just making things up or trying to understand how he felt. And this is what made him feel safe.
I may not have ever said “Why me?” But I do sometimes think “Why him?”. It’s hard when it’s your child and you don’t want things like this to take over their heads or hold them back in life and certainly don’t want to see them struggle but I wonder if maybe he is going through this because one day he will need this experience? If one day he might get a job and need to use this? Or be in a relationship and be able to use his experience? Or indeed with his future children? Or maybe even to help with me?
This week he has been amazing at comforting me, which maybe a child shouldn’t do in some people’s eyes but raising my child to be compassionate, affectionate and kind is so important to me.
So why us? Not because we can’t cope. But maybe because we can cope, because this reminds us of our strength and because there is a reason we were chosen? To give us experience to be able to help others.
It might break us for a while, but ultimately our strength will shine through and we will get through it.