Letting A Daughter Grow and Go

Eight years ago, my then 11-year-old daughter, who was tormented with anxiety and depression, looked at me with blackness in her eyes and said, “Momma, death would be better than this.”

The author and her daughter on her 18th birthday

Dawn & Haley on Haley’s 18th birthday


She was diagnosed with social and separation anxiety, and the years between now and then were filled with many black days, much prayer over her, and a season of medication, as she was completely emotionally and spiritually dependent upon us; especially me, her mother. We put in a lot of hard work teaching her to trust Christ, and giving her the practical tools for living with a predisposition toward mental illness.

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Living With Mental Illness Is Hard

Living with mental illness as a mother is even harder.

When I first became deeply ill, I did not realize the impact it would have on my children. At the time, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of hiding it. But, I have discovered they saw more than I thought they did, and they didn’t like it.

Dawn at Tallulah Gorge, GA

The youngest one was only 2, so she doesn’t really remember. The older two were 9 and 11. They remember. They remember the emotional absence, and that’s painful for me.

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Two Sisters, Same Baggage

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Seeing God’s Hand

As I journey through life with depression, I catch glimpses of the gracious work God is doing in my heart through this “thorn” and I am learning to be thankful. As I see God’s hand at work in me, I want to share my observations with you in hope that you, too, will be encouraged to look for the grace of God in your suffering. And, I hope it will bring you a measure of joy.

A Chasm Appears

I have three sisters, one of which is a year and a half younger than I am. Growing up we were very different from each other. My life experiences made me very afraid of God, so I worked very hard at being “good” (plus, I just hated spankings). Her life experiences just made her want to experience more, whether or not she got into trouble. Others around us noticed how different we were and felt very free to comment, “You two are as different as night and day.” Like self-fulfilling prophecy, the more people said it, the more “different” from each other we became. This caused a relational rift to develop between us, a rift that deepened and widened to a chasm as we chose our separate paths in adult life.

Sharing our Baggage

I don’t remember exactly when it began, but in the last several years my sister and I discovered that we had similar struggles with mental health issues. We started sharing our experiences about panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and about living with a mitral-valve prolapse. Even though most of my siblings have had some bouts with anxiety/depression at some point, only she has all the same baggage I have.

The Chasm Narrows

Consequently, this sister who was so far from me has become my greatest ally and encourager. I can call her any time of day, tell her what is going on emotionally or physically and she gets it…she understands…and she prays for me.

Grace at Work

Who  knew? What a work of grace! God has taken two very different sisters who were broken in the same way and used that brokenness to create a special bond, while giving each of us the daily, sufficient grace we need.

I am thankful.

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