they grow up…in spite of…

Having an only child, one who was born more than a decade after my husband and I were married, makes me extremely thankful that she came along at all. I believe in God, and I believe He sent her to us. I don’t usually ask Him for anything, but I might have prayed for her, or him. At 36 years of age, I wasn’t about to be finicky.

Mary and Jesus

Image via Wikipedia

It may sound corny, but I remember telling a close friend that I felt God had entrusted His child into my safekeeping…for a time. That like Mary, Jesus’ mother, I was just enlisted to care for my daughter’s earthly needs, while she was about God’s business…whatever that might be. Thankfully, my girlfriend didn’t laugh in my face.

As it turns out my daughter’s birth led me down the path to self discovery, self confidence and eventually…self esteem. Diverting attention from myself to her, meant investing most of my time and energy on being a really good mom to my daughter. That didn’t mean, however, that I was perfect. Far from it. I made mistakes. I got angry. I yelled. I cried. I reverted to childish ways. But I always returned to the job about which I’ve been the most passionate…being a mom…the best one I could be.

So when my 24-year-old daughter returned home to my husband and me in the Fall of 2010 because of depression, I felt helpless to fix her. We’d known she’d had bouts here and there, but nothing life-altering. And she thought it was pretty much because of her relationship with a former boyfriend, and some stresses with a former employer. While both tipped the scales, they alone weren’t to blame.

Because of my belief in Dr. Daniel Amen‘s work, we sought treatment for our daughter at his clinic. The psychiatrist with whom she worked discovered where her problem lay via a spect scan, a scan that tracks the blood flow throughout the brain. As a result he prescribed an assortment of natural supplements, including vitamin D, to correct her brain’s chemical imbalance. In addition, our daughter had a couple of sessions with a staff psychologist trained in life coaching. And for now, she remains on a low dosage of Cymbalta, prescribed earlier by another psychologist whom she’d seen.

My daughter returned to work in January of this year; her fellow dancers and the administrative staff welcoming her back with a tremendous display of love and support. A contributing factor towards my daughter’s getting better was the generous guarantee by the artistic director that her job would be waiting for her.

What I was surprised to learn from her treatment at Amen’s Clinic is that an accident our daughter had as a 7 or 8-year-old, might possibly have been the “seed” that sprouted her depression.

Twirling around as a last fare thee well to a fun birthday party for a good friend, my daughter fell flat on her face on a cement floor. This possibly resulted in a slight concussion which caused injury to her brain. At the time she showed no signs of needing emergency care. In the fall, one of her front teeth shifted. It was a fraction higher than the other. But visits to the dentist had both teeth eventually in sync again.

Cover of

Cover of First Time Parents

In hindsight, and after many family discussions, it seemed my daughter’s perception of life had altered after the accident. But as first time parents, with extended family living thousands of miles away, my husband and I were on our own in figuring things out. Unfortunately neither of us had a clue as to what our daughter was experiencing. However she soon became interested in dance, which seemed to turn her attention away from what seemed to “go bump in the night”…or at least in her mind.

My daughter has turned the corner in her depression with our help, and that of Amen Clinic‘s staff, and her friends and coworkers. That’s why she ‘s allowed me to speak of it now. She’s in control again, especially since she now knows that the problem is primarily a physical impairment. That it’s not all “in her mind”…but literally…in her brain.


Image by Hibr via Flickr

When I spoke to her about my writing this post, I suggested that it might help other parents who are dealing with depression in their own children. Studies seem to point to the fact that the disease affects more young people today, perhaps because of the world in which they find themselves…facebook, youtube, reality shows, bullying, unemployment, bad role models, immorality gone amok. How do parents counter this onslaught, short of encasing their children in a bubble?

I suggest that the answer is communication…an ongoing conversation…one that runs both ways…talking and listening, mostly listening. I tend to be verbose, no surprise to any of you who’ve followed hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. But hey! That’s who I am. It often takes a lot of circular discussion, a lot, before I arrive at the conclusion that feels right in my gut, and makes sense to all involved. 

Cover of

Cover of Daughter

What I think I learned from my daughter’s experience with depression is that in parenting there’s another part to the equation. So busy trying to fix our children, parents often forget that children are also trying to fix themselves. We need to listen. We need to hit the “pause” button in our yada, yada, yada…and suck in our breaths while we allow our offspring to have their full say…as often…and for as long…as they need. Sometimes our years of experience is unneccessary baggage in a conversation about their lives. A hard pill to swallow…

but one we might add…to our daily intake of vitamins and supplements………hugmamma.       

18 thoughts on “they grow up…in spite of…

  1. I never knew that about brain injuries early in life. That’s kind of scary. So many pitfalls for parents to have to watch out for.

    Many of us struggle with depression. We probably don’t spend enough time feeding our souls.


    • Dr. Amen warns against sports and activities that can cause brain concussions. He and his clinics are working with former pro-football players who have issues, trying to rectify years of damage. And they are succeeding in returning these men to normalcy…or as close to it as is possible.

      Knowing what I do now…I’d think twice about contact sports for children. Their brains, and ours, are like marshmallows encased in containers with some jagged edges. Drop the container, and the marshmallow might be pierced. Voila! We have an imperfect marshmallow.

      Why chance it with our brains which control all that we do in life?

      something to consider…seriously…especially with the possibility of alzheimer’s messing with our brains anyway.


  2. What a wonderful post. One that speaks from the heart – and so touches others. So much of what you say rings true. Not so long ago, my daughter, who rings me almost every day had a problem. i must have gone into fix it mode, because she called me on it.
    “Mum, you don’t need to fix it,” she said. “I just need to rant a bit so I can straighten it out in my head. I just need you to listen.”
    I was a huge moment in our relationship. I had to step back and let her be an adult.


    • Hugs for sharing your experience. Always good to know we’re not alone in our experiences…especially one involving our children. Sounds like your daughter is as precious to you…as mine is to me. We talk almost daily as well. Some of her friends are amazed that we’re in touch so often. But she doesn’t care…we’re BFFs.

      mothers and daughters…something special. 😉


  3. Yes, I understand….we have had a similar journey in our home…I’m so thankful for your daughter and you that she is able to be back enjoying the flow of her life…truly a blessing, isn’t it? We are experiencing a similar blessing here in our home….


    • A journey…nice choice of words. My daughter likes to say “it’s a process.” Also good.

      i’ll offer a prayer for your…journey. 😉 and thank you for your kind wishes.


  4. I agree. If you love someone, you listen to them. I try very hard to listen – with an open mind – to both of my daughters.

    So glad your lovely daughter is doing better.


    • Thank you. You can imagine our relief as well. Our daughter’s managing her illness…which is all she can do. Such a thing does not evaporate into thin air. But she’s got everything on her side…so she’ll be fine. 🙂


  5. Wonderful post!
    And you summed it up beautifully:

    Sometimes our years of experience is unneccessary baggage in a conversation about their lives. A hard pill to swallow…

    The first duty of love is to listen.

    Glad your daughter is back on her feet . . . dancing.


hugs for sharing some brief thoughts...and keeping them positive

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