This is a story about a girl and a bully.
We had no idea that our little girl who was always smiling, laughing and talking to everyone had buried herself deep inside where she felt so tired and alone. It started with a group of her peers that she believed were friends, they started making negative comments about her on social media. I was strict with social media and saw all of this happening in front of my eyes. My daughter and I have always been really close, we have a strong bond and we strive for open communication. We openly talked about bullying and how these “friends” were not the kind of people that she should associate with. The bullying didn’t stop, if it wasn’t on social media it happened at school or outside in the neighborhood. Things were getting out of control and fast.
Our daughter quickly changed, she withdrew herself from her activities, started spending more time alone and more importantly she stopped talking to me. It became clear that this was a battle that we could not win on our own. It was starting to create significant safety concerns and we knew that we needed help. We sought help from the Children’s Hospital where our daughter was admitted for several weeks and was later diagnosed with anxiety and was teetering with anorexia and mild depression. Our daughter would be faced with the challenge of a lifetime as she prepared to battle her biggest bully – herself. She was becoming her own worst enemy. She was spiraling out of control and we didn’t even see it happening in front of us. She was not herself and her anxiety had taken control of her life.
As a parent, I was overwhelmed with emotions and questions. I often wondered how did she get here, what did I do wrong and how did I not see it before it got to this point? My biggest fear was that I failed her. The truth is, I didn’t fail her, and I was with her the entire time. I was there to listen, talk to her, never judged her, offered advice, held her, cried with her, dried her tears and I was her biggest supporter. I know by the smile and that newly found happiness that she exudes from her soul that I didn’t fail her.
When she needed me the most, I was there. I might not have understood how she got there and why she felt so alone, but I was there trying to show her that the light at the end of the tunnel was bright and all she had to do was take a leap of faith and follow me. I held her hand every step of the way until she could see the path on her own.
Our daughter’s anxiety is an ongoing and upward conflict that will not be conquered overnight. We are breaking it down one step at a time with understanding, patience, support, communication, trust and time.