Dear Mom and Dad,
I wouldn’t be here if it were not for you.
I want it to be clear that nothing that has happened in my life, that led to, or perpetuated my depression, was your fault. I am sick. And the life circumstances that plagued me were out of your control. The blame isn’t yours to hold, never has been, never will be.
The truth is, you two are saints. I couldn’t be more grateful for the sacrifices you’ve made and the years you’ve spent helping me manage my illness. These are things I don’t feel as if I share with you enough, or perhaps neglect to remember in times when everyone seems like the enemy.
I was lucky that cold Christmas Day when you rushed me to the hospital for the very first time. I was lucky for a myriad of reasons. You took my illness seriously when it could have easily been dismissed as teenage angst. You knew this was more than just angst, and you took action immediately. I was lucky that for 8 hours in the ER you both sat with me in a room that was entirely bare, except for one chair and a mattress on the floor, not once leaving my side. And I was lucky that when we were forced to miss a family obligation that evening, you didn’t lie. You didn’t say I had the flu or pneumonia; you told the truth. You let them know we were in the GBMC Emergency Room…in the psychiatric wing.
That confession took great courage, as so many are quick to sweep mental illness under the rug in shame. With all the stigma surrounding mental illness in this society it’s easy to get caught up in the feelings of shame or embarrassment. Your ability to shake off the judgment of others, and focus on protecting me, was what ignited my passion to work in the mental health field.
I wasn’t always an easy patient, an easy client, or an easy child. I cried for hours on end, locked myself in my room, dug my heels in the ground about going to therapy, school, and treatment, and probably scared the crap out of you guys on more occasions than I can count. But somehow your support never wavered.
Whether it was never missing a visiting hour during inpatient stays, driving down to the city every day for outpatient treatment, picking up countless prescriptions, canceling plans just to stay home and keep me company, or setting up home and hospital, you laid everything on the line for me. I remember one day we spoke of sending me away to board for treatment. I looked up the price of such treatment recently, and it made me fall to my knees. Although never utilized, the thought that you were willing to go to such lengths for my recovery, shows dedication far beyond what I could have ever hoped for.
We have been on this journey together for several years now, and every day continues to bring us challenges. However, we continue to fight to see moments of great light. There have been arguments about the course of my treatment, and each of us has had some missteps, but we remain a strong team. I know that depression throws everything at a family to tear them apart, but we survived. And we will continue to survive. Some days the frustration and endless worry will get the best of us, and that’s okay. Those feelings are valid and very much a part of the process. But at the end of the day I’m truly grateful for your willingness to bend over backwards to save my life.
There are one thousand and one things I could cry over, but at this moment I choose to smile at the fact that I have two incredible parents. My OG’s (Original Gothelf’s), my heroes, and my loving parental units, thank you for all that you do. I am strong, but WE are stronger.