Are the mental issues of parents hereditary? I was afraid they were and then my friend who studied anthropology said they weren’t. I remember when Kurt Cobain committed suicide, articles would mention that his uncle had also committed suicide. That had been proof enough for my young brain and it stuck with me through the years. My friend managed to appease me, but now I’m not so sure anymore she’s right.
My daughter’ been having a hard time transitioning in middle school. For the most part she’s a social butterfly and generally happy, but her grades have suffered and she has a hard time dealing with a few issues. Is it just a natural part of growing up or has she inherited some sort of anxiety/depression gene from her dad and me? A brief internet search tells me I have the right to be worried.
I’ve told my daughter a few times now that if she wants to see a counselor that I can help her find one and it’s okay to go to a few before she find the right one. But I have no idea what I’m talking about and am going off other people I know who’ve received therapy. I have never felt comfortable with the idea of going to a therapist for myself. But man did I ever need to see a therapist when I was in middle school and high school. Some people might scoff at that. A lot of adolescents need therapy. And it’s that kind of comment that has kept me away from a shrink my whole life. If so many people need that kind of help, then I’m a totally average person and should just handle my life.
What would a shrink say to me? There’s really only two choices in life. You either jump off a bridge or you suck it up and keep going. I’ve told that motto to people who look at me like i’m nuts for thinking that way. It’s taken me awhile to understand that just because you’re breathing, doesn’t mean you’re living.
So back to my daughter. By this point her father and I have come clean to her about our own inner battles. Neither of us ever saw a therapist (unless he’s gone since we’ve split), but we made it through high school still breathing if not worse for wear.
But I remember clearly how bleak my existence looked to me when I was 15. I remember waking up trembling, my heart racing and my brain telling me I should just kill myself. I remember wishing I could just stop existing.
And I don’t want her to go through that. Worse, I don’t want her to pretend to be strong and never ask for help. But how can I convince her asking for help is the right thing to do if I didn’t take the advice I’m now giving? Now I’m the adult who just doesn’t get these kids today. And of course, because an anxiety disorder isn’t something you just outgrow, isn’t this all at least 50% my fault?
One last thing, and this sounds nuts, but reading Wil Wheaton’s blog about his battles with depression and anxiety really gave me some perspective and has let me get to the point where I’m not as hard on myself as I use to be. Thanks, Wil.