As I get older, I become more self aware. I notice what excites me, what scares me and what motivates me. Depression and anxiety were words that I would hear in passing on a commercial or in a TV show. But I never fully understood the meaning of either.
After my mother passed away in grade 7 (12 years old) I was offered therapy. As a scared 12-year-old girl who just wanted my mother, I wasn’t prepared to talk to someone I didn’t know about my mourning. Before she passed, I was actively into the performing arts. I would sing, dance and act in anything that I possibly could. Even if I personally felt like I wasn’t good enough for a certain part, my mom was always there to remind me that I was better than good enough. She truly was my motivator and my inspiration in anything that I did. If I wanted to take up hip/hop and was already in ballet, jazz and tap. She wouldn’t even bat an eye. “Let’s do it!”. The year before she passed, I went with a friend to a “bring a buddy” figure skating event. I came home and told her how much I loved it and she was instantly convincing my dad to put me into figure skating along with the rest of my extra curricular activities. You know, we lived in the same small town from grade 4 until grade 7 when she passed away. I danced in 4 surrounding towns during those years because she wanted me to be taught by the best of the best. She had her standards for me and her personal reasons why she never wanted me to settle. This always confused me, and I was constantly questioning it “Why can’t I just dance in _______?”. She would always have a different explanatio until finally one night she replied, “Because you can spin faster and kick higher than the dance teacher”. That was the moment I learned she had high hopes for me and extremely high expectations. I get my brutal honesty from my Ma 🤗
After my mom passed away, I was currently enrolled in Irish dance in a small town 45 minutes from where we lived. She would spend her evenings once/twice a week driving me to dance lessons. I don’t know how many times I made her listen to the same “Aqua” cassette tape there and back while I belted the words and tried to get her to sing along. Sometimes she would give in, but only to “Dr. Jones”. Rolling here eyes and singing “Dr. Jones, Jones. Calling Dr. Jones.” While I would erupt in laughter. After she passed, I lost all motivation to continue with my passions. I struggled with “girl stuff”. How to dress, make-up and how to do my hair. In grade 9 I told my dad I wanted to dye my hair because all the other girls were, and he said “Ok, but you can only have 6 streaks in your hair”. Imagine telling the hair dresser your dad said you can have 6 streaks. The community was small and understood what my family was going through. My hair dresser looked at me with sad eyes, then laughed said “I’ll see what I can do”.
The first time I took note to my anxiety, (from what I can remember) was in grade 12. I recall telling my dad that sometimes I couldn’t catch my breath. It was like I couldn’t get air to my lungs and I would have to stop whatever I was doing to focus on inhaling properly. I went to our Doctor and was prescribed a puffer. I think I used it twice and just decided that it wasn’t working. Later to learn that these were small panic attacks.
The year after high school there was a lot of change in my life. My dad, step mom and youngest brother were moving. I on the other hand planned to live with them while working to save money for college. Their house sold, and I spent the summer of 2006 working, partying and living with my older brother. I felt lost and forgotten about. I truly believe this was the year that my anxiety and depression reared its ugly head.
Studies show that a child who’s lost their parent before the age of 20 has a greater chance of developing mental health issues. Specifically, depression and anxiety. The feelings of abandonment and constantly needing approval are always there. I myself can speak as a motherless daughter who has spent most of my life jumping from pool to pool in hopes that I’ll catch my breath and be able to float. But each time I find a new pool, I soon realize that the currents from the winds are too strong and I’m starting to drown again. Friends and family throw me life jackets, but they aren’t the ones who I need to be saved by. The one person whose life jacket I need most, will never throw me one again. I’ll tread and tread rejecting offers until finally I realize I’m drowning. I’ll use all my strength left to resurface and find an edge. Ill catch my breath and once again realize, this isn’t the pool for me or the solution to my happiness.
I feel in my heart that my anxiety and depression come from the loss of my mother. It comes and goes, and I’ve become better at recognizing when depression is setting in. My anxiety comes and goes and is mostly situational. But my depression runs deep, and I need to constantly be doing self checks. People that I surround myself with can rarely tell that I suffer with either of these mental health conditions. Why? Because I laugh a lot. I make fun of myself, make fun of others and can turn an awkward or serious situation into a goofy one. I read an article a long time ago about how most comedians suffer from depression and I thought that was just ridiculous. How could that be possible? But now, I completely understand the meaning of comedic relief.
Bodybuilding/Fitness has been the saviour that I needed. Some turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, but I turn to structure. Having a routine and keeping on task with a goal in mind helps my anxiety. If I have a depressing day, I remind myself of how many things I’ve survived. How many things I’ve accomplished at 29 and how many things I will! Accomplish by the time I’m 30. I’m blessed with a lot, this is true. But it has all come with a price and the result of a big loss. I lost my mother and no amount of success or laughter can really heal that wound. I know she’s there and watching me from above, but unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you don’t understand the emptiness of the gaping hole inside. You can be surrounded my thousands of faces who love you and still only notice the one face that’s missing.
I wrote this for myself, for my family and friends but also for anyone struggling with anxiety or depression. For the motherless daughters or the motherless sons. For anyone who’s lost an important role model in their life and feels lost with out them. You’re not alone. It’s ok to miss them and it’s ok to admit that you’re sad. You can’t change the fact that they’re gone, but you can choose to remember them every day and honour their life. I personally am going to make more of an effort to talk about Janice Louise Boechler, because I miss her more than I ever have ❤️