As I shut the door, I smiled and then cried happy tears. Sure, there is joy in her new found ability in reading, a skill that has been hard earned. It's that two months ago, if I found her up at 1am reading, it would have sent the house in a panic, because AK without sleep was a time bomb waiting to go off.
Mr. Boy has asthma as his kryptonite and AK has her own kryptonite. She has a rare form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that over the years has become crippling. Over the past few months, AK had been trying to overthrow her demons. In a regular day, her anxiety would overwhelm her, but on a day when she had not had a good nights sleep, she would become a wreck. She would be inconsolable, violent, and the whole family would walk on eggshells, just trying to get through the day. It wasn't healthy, and it wasn't for a lack of trying. Mr. Man and I had spent hours meeting with different therapists and doctors, all of them after a few sessions would tell us, "I am so sorry, I just can't help you." AK's condition has biological roots, which makes it tough to treat.
On Christmas Eve, I couldn't help but post the above photo on Instagram of my family with the caption, "Dear Santa, Thanks for asking, but I already have everything I want." And I truly meant it, I was watching my daughter thrive. My whole family had finally exhaled the breath, I didn't even know we had been collectively holding for years.
I had been putting on a brave face and have been chronically trying to downplay the struggle to the outside world. Growing up, mental illness was kept hush hush. My father's mental illness was a family secret and somehow I thought keeping quiet about AK's struggles was the right thing to do. I can not describe in words the feeling of desperation when a psychiatrist would say, "I'm sorry, I just don't think I can help you." When I finally wised up and started asking everyone I knew if they had any mental health professionals they could recommend, I found the crackerjack team my daughter needed. I'm putting this out there to the world via the internet, there is no shame in asking for help, no shame in mental illness.
While I don't love the idea of AK staying up way past her bedtime reading, I am no longer filled with anxiety of what the next day will bring and how to help AK cope. I know that AK might be a bit cranky, but she will be okay and that makes me cry big fat happy tears. Can you blame me?