Sharing this is hard. I guess because you will know some deep dark secrets into my family. Yet, the pull to share has been intense lately, and I truly believe I need to share it with all those out there that have struggles like me.
My daughter suffers deeply. Sometimes as we try to fall asleep, she says to me…
“Mommy. I think I am going to die in the middle of the night.”
“Because I didn’t drink enough water.” OR “Because I ate too much and I am going to throw up.” OR “Because my brain is telling me that I am going to get sick and die.” OR “Because I am afraid to go to sleep because my brain is telling me not to.”
As tears stream down her face, I can see she is hurting. She is scared. She doesn’t understand what is happening and how to stop it.
She has gone days without eating because she feels her body doesn’t want her to eat because she might throw up. She will drink gallons of water each day so she doesn’t dehydrate and die.
Someone will say something about death at school or in a conversation, and her mind goes right to – what if that happens to me?
I have to be careful about what she watches on tv, at the movies or reads because it might trigger anxiety.
She has real panic attacks. Her heart races and feels like it is pounding out of her body. Her throat feels as though it is closing up, and her stomach feels upset.
These are serious and real situations that I have with my 10 year old almost everyday. She suffers from anxiety and depression.
We have tried neuro-feedback therapy (which has made definite strides in the anxiety). We have seen naturopath doctors and psychologists. We have used pharmaceuticals, vitamins and just about everything you can imagine. We have changed her diet. There have been years of trials. At times I have felt like a mad scientist experimenting with my own daughter. It is exhausting, confusing and humiliating.
It is not uncommon for my daughter to lash out at me because her anxiety ramps up. Her outbursts are uncomfortable for me especially in public. I sometimes feel as though others are looking at both of us and judging what a bad mom I am, and what a brat my daughter is. It is awkward.
I seldom help out at her school because it just ramps up her anxiety. School work already makes her anxious, so me being there worsens the situation. I am that mom who is never at school. I am the mom that everyone asks, “why doesn’t she volunteer for field trips, classroom help, etc.” Trust me I find other ways to help that don’t require my presence, but may go unnoticed by others.
My true friends have stuck by me, while others have left. The suffering that my daughter endures is tremendous and very real to her. It is difficult for me to understand her struggles because I am not privy to what goes on in her mind. Sometimes I want to scream out in frustration, “These thoughts are CRAZY!” Yet, I know to her they are very real.
My daughter is almost 11 years old and I can count on ONE HAND how many times she has been invited to a birthday party. Because of her anxiety friendships are few and far between. In third grade, she met her best pal, M. M is amazing with my daughter. She is kind, considerate and even-tempered. She puts up with my daughter’s anxiety, and even comforts her as needed. She is a Godsend to our family, and we love M dearly for what she has offered my daughter.
So today when I read the Ephesians verses below (which were given to us by our naturopath doctor), I thought immediately of my sweet daughter…
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Each day my sweet daughter puts on her shield of faith. I pray over her each morning that the evil that resides in her mind will leave and allow her to enjoy her day. We take it a day at a time because that is all we can handle. We ask for the Lord’s hedge of protection over her. We ask God to help her see the Truth, and weed out the lies.
Her struggles involve the real deal – evil. Her struggles are not just about “flesh and blood” but against the evil in her mind that is trying desperately to take authority over her body.
As we spend each morning in prayer, I am reminded that we are not alone. This battle is fought by many of our families. There are thousands out there battling demons in life. The struggles we endure are very real. We must fight and pray for all people.
Somehow just knowing my family is not alone in this battle makes it a little easier to persevere.