Thank you all for your support on my last post. I was absolutely overwhelmed by your kind and wise words. It never ceases to amaze me how cherished I feel when you all reach out from the ether to hold me up and impart your wisdom. I am humbled. And eternally grateful.
I emailed my pediatrician on Monday–determined after reading all your comments–and she wrote me back almost immediately with the number I needed.
I called the next morning. When the recording welcomed me to the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry phone line my heart sank. I am calling the psychiatry department. For my four year old daughter. Suddenly her whole life flashed before my eyes: Was this just the first of countless mental health professionals she will be forced to consort with? Have I passed some irreparably defective gene onto my unsuspecting little girl?
I see so much of myself in my first born, especially in her emotional meltdowns. I am sure the main reason the empathetic approach has felt productive for me is because I can so easily put myself in her shoes and understand her hurt. I can touch that bottomless pool of loneliness and despair, I know how it waits silently, just below the surface, even though it has no explainable reason for being, even though there are no obvious springs feeding it. I get it when my daughter erupts, for seemingly no reason, into uncontrollable sobs, because that shoulder heaving emotion is ever present in my own emotional landscape, floating in and out of my periphery, waiting for me to turn my head just so.
What terrible mental health legacy have I passed on to my innocent little girl?
I wasn’t sure I was going to call, even after my pediatrician sent me the number. Maybe her outbursts will get better, I reasoned. They usually do, eventually. This is just a rough patch. Surely she’ll be her sweet self soon.
But then I picked her up from school and every moment was a struggle. At one point she was lying across the steps, face red from fury and despair, so angry at me that we don’t play with our neighbors, who she could hear outside. She has never exhibited any interest in knowing our neighbors! What was this tantrum even about?
And looking at her there, so upset over absolutely nothing, my heart broke for her and for the agony she felt. That is when I realized that getting help isn’t about me not being able to handle the hitting, it is about helping her navigating these tidal waves of emotion that threaten to sweep her out to sea.
I need to do this, for my little girl.
I finally got through to the doctor today. I’m schedule for the parent orientation next Thursday at 1pm. There I will learn of the various resources they have to offer. I will be matched with a psychiatrist who will give me tools to deal with my daughter’s “big emotions” as we call them in our house. Eventually she will probably go in to, but not for a little while.
Calling that number was the nadir of my parenting experience. It took all I had to silence (or at least turn down the volume) on the inner voices that insulted my parenting and condemned my emotional shortcomings. I know this is the right thing to do, that it’s a positive step in the right direction, but damn if I’m not devastated that I have to take this step.