Next week launches mental health awareness week. This topic is near to me as I’ve had to deal with this in my life on different levels. The most connected to me would be my daughter Symone. Symone is my rebel kid who has thoughts, dreams, and an opinion about everything. She never seems uncomfortable and always appears confident, that was until one day during our trip to Walmart. This was the first time since she started grade school that I saw a look of terror on her face. The extreme discomfort disturbed me, my first thought was someone had said something or done something to her. As a mom and wanting to protect my child I went from 0-10 real fast. I questioned her, I looked around the store to see who was near her, I left our cart in the middle of the aisle to go investigate what had upset my child. I don’t care if she’s 18 or 65 she will always be my baby and I’ll always try to do whatever I can to protect her. On this day though I felt helpless, lost and confused, I couldn’t help her, that’s a terrifying thought, not being able to help your child.
That day in Walmart standing in the aisle with my daughter as she gripped my hand tightly I learned of Symone’s anxiety issues. Right there as people passed us I held her as close to me as I possibly could to shield her from whatever had brought on this panic attack. She nestled her head in my shoulder and waited until the aisle cleared before peering out like she did as a little girl when she was in trouble. The urgency we both felt to get out of that store must have appeared apparent because it seemed as though everyone was clearing the aisles for us. I think Symone thought I felt embarrassed but that was not the case, I was worried for her. We finally arrived at the car and a sense of calm returned to her face, which made me feel a little better. We rode home in silence there were so many questions running through my head, but I know my child, and I know that when she is ready to speak, she will. That car ride home seemed to last forever, but in that time as we waited at each light I prayed, for clarity, strength, and discernment. Whatever was going on with her, I wanted to be supportive, reassuring, and loving.
The TALK. Symone turned to me and let it out. She had been suffering from these spells for a while but didn’t know what they were or how to handle them. She’d felt like people would label her as crazy because there wasn’t anything physically happening to her but the overwhelming feeling of anxiousness froze her to a point where she couldn’t move. She described how she was trying to cope and how some of her acting out was a result of not knowing how to deal with this issue. I felt bad, had I not been open enough with her to make her feel comfortable with me to want to talk about what was going on. She said it wasn’t me, but that people, family and friends had expressed their definitions of crazy and she didn’t want to be labelled. My heart ached, what type of people were we associating with that would call my baby crazy. Then I remembered there is a big misconception, especially in the African-American community, about mental health. It’s ingrained in us and some have yet to let it go and realize that mental illnesses are real and they are real for people in our communities. I listened as she expressed what the feeling was like and how she had come up with some techniques to help herself. She had been online investigating trying to determine the best course of action for herself (PROUD MOMMY MOMENT, she was investigating and researching). That day in Walmart, surrounded by all those strangers she stated her technique had failed and all she knew was that I would protect her so she grabbed my hand (PROUD MOMMY MOMENT, she knows I will protect and support her).
Where do we go from that incident?! Well we’ve looked into counselling, we’ve researched anxiety issues and how to cope, and we’ve looked into alternative medicines (she has stated medication will be a last resort and I respect that). So far we’ve learned about grounding (see hot tips), meditation, and just plain old communicating. She’s working on changing her diet, by the way Symone when you read this note, tea does not replace coffee for mommy. I’m proud of her for being an active part of her own personal care. She realizes that everyone may not understand what she’s going through but that she needs to understand and accept herself. As we continue developing this adventure I’ll keep you posted, we have more steps to take and hopefully our opening up about what our family is going through will help someone else to open up as well. Healthy mind, body, and spirit. **kisses**