Why I'm Here
My parenting journey has been unique compared to many parents I know. All of my children suffer at some level from debilitating anxiety and depression. As a result, I have become well-educated over the last several years on the particular parenting skills required to support my children and others like them.
My outgoing teenage son had just begun his freshman year in high school. I expected some adjustments, of course. But just a few weeks into the new school year, he began to change. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my sweet, social, high-achieving child… was disappearing.
He stopped participating in activities outside of school and spending time with his friends. He stayed mostly in his bedroom, playing video games. He withdrew more and more—until he barely spoke to anyone.
When your child isn’t well, you bring him to doctors and specialists, and you hope they have answers. But doctor after doctor and we had no answers. A psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants and told him to “man up.” I was frustrated, angry and afraid. I knew something was terribly wrong and none of the experts I trusted was able to help.
My son was suffering from overwhelming anxiety and depression. No amount of discipline was going to change that. What I would come to learn is that he couldn’t act any differently—not without the right help and the right support at home.
Two years later, when anxiety and depression stopped my younger daughter in her tracks, I thought I knew exactly how to help her. I was wrong.
My pull to help my children and to help other parents was so strong that I left my career of 20 years as the director of conflict management for the University System of Georgia to become a parenting coach.
The years I’ve spent working with mothers and helping them see that they are not alone in their struggle with their teen’s anxiety and depression have been some of the most rewarding of my life.
Depression and anxiety don’t just “go away.” But I’ve come to learn the most important thing we can do as moms is offer understanding and build connection. I know it’s not always easy, but we can practice this every day, because practice makes connection.