I read a blog this week that really hit me square between the eyes. I’ve read it a few times, that’s how much it resonated with me. I even posted a link to it on my FB. Why did it hit me so hard?
Because I basically could have wrote it. It so closely sums up the last year.
In her blog post, Tye Larabee talks about her struggles in watching her daughter go through self harming, a suicide attempt and anorexia. She’s open and honest about how she had judged other parents whose children struggled with mental health, wondering what they had done wrong in order for their kids to have gone down that road, only to realize the truth when it was her own child. But I think the part that really touched me the most was how she talked about how her kid used to be happy…..but now she’s not.
In one of our many episodes of “Intelligent Question Time” (questions back and forth between Katie and I in the interest of keeping me awake on the long road trips back and forth to Calgary), Katie asked what I disliked most about her eating disorder.
Well, there’s a lot of things, but one thing really stood out.
I hate this eating disorder for everything it has taken.
It’s taken time – a lot of time. For Katie, it’s taken months of her life – 3 1/2 months as an inpatient, 3 months so far as an outpatient. And that’s just the time in hospital, never mind all of the other appointments. And even that is minimal when compared to the days, weeks and months she’s spent battling her eating disorder.
It’s taken our family’s time – countless trips back and forth to Calgary, as well as various appointments here in Lethbridge. Meals that take way longer as we do our best (and sometimes failing miserably) to support Katie.
It’s definitely taken my time away from the boys – they’ve spent a lot more time here at home alone than I would like as I drive back and forth.
It’s taken time away from Terry and I as we work through the bumps and wrinkles of a new marriage.
It’s taken money – seems crass, but it’s true. Dollars spent on fuel driving back and forth, meals eaten on the road. Groceries bought to accommodate Katie’s meal plan.
Don’t get me wrong – we have had amazing support and help from so many people. But in the big picture of things, this has factored in.
However, in writing this, I am reminded of how thankful I am that I live in Canada and that the cost of Katie’s treatment is not a concern. I can bring her to the doctor, dietitian, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor – everyone that she needs and not have to worry about how we’re going to pay for it.
It’s taken opportunities. Katie was so excited to get a job this fall – had made it to the final interview stage of her dream job, only to have to tell them she couldn’t take the position because she was going into hospital.
Katie’s been working hard to get her driver’s license, but that too hasn’t happened due to her being hospitalized. While her classmates are being accepted to colleges and universities, there are no plans here yet, because we don’t know what the fall will bring.
It’s taken a emotional toll on all of us – it’s never easy when someone in your life is sick. And while this journey has shown us the communion of the saints in such a real tangible way, it also showed us how many people have suffered alongside.
Katie’s friends & classmates – they’ve stood by her through it all, supporting as they could, loving her when they just couldn’t understand, but it’s taken a toll on them.
Family friends who have watched Katie, seeing her so sick but unable to do anything.
Our extended family – Katie’s aunts, uncles, grandparents. This eating disorder has taught us a lot, but has hurt so badly.
John & Nathan – Katie’s brothers. Teenage boys should never have to stand in their sister’s hospital room, unsure of how this is going to turn out. It’s taken a huge toll on them, and has taken part of their innocence as well.
And me? Well, there’s not words. There are not words how sitting beside your child’s bed in the ICU, not knowing, change your life. There are not words for that cost.
But more than anything, this eating disorder has taken my little girl. It’s taken my daughter, the crazy, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky girl and turned her inside out with anxiety. When we have our kids, we have so many hopes and dreams for them. No one ever wishes for mental illness.
I find this the hardest – not only seeing how Katie has changed, but how the eating disorder has changed everything that I had hoped and dreamed for her.
This is my little girl, my Katie. My firstborn. And while we shouldn’t, as parents don’t we pin so many hopes and dreams on that firstborn child? Oh, the pressure. But it’s the first time we’re parents, and we just want everything for them, right?
I look at those chubby cheeks, blue eyes, blonde curls and it just hurts.
Looking through pictures, there are so many crazy ones – so many pics showing her personality. I see the happy, the carefree – that’s what the eating disorder has taken.
Because Katie used to be happy……but now she’s not. Now she’s battling her eating disorder, fighting through anxiety and depression. She’s fighting hard – so hard, and I’m so proud of her.
There’s still crazy pics of Katie – she can pose like no one else. But you can’t see deep in her eyes in those pics – you can’t see deep enough to see the sadness there.
We’re getting used to this new normal. When Katie’s counselor asked to hear about the “old” Katie, we actually both struggled a bit to remember.
I love my girl, and always will – sick or healthy, happy or sad. But it’s hard to let go of what was, knowing that we won’t get it back. She’s forever changed – we both are.