Lessons I’m Teaching my Future Daughter

I started showing symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder at the age of nine. My mother, who has had the same struggles, brought me to a psychiatrist. I felt as if it was hard to open up to this psychiatrist, as I was so embarrassed of myself and my differences. I felt ashamed that I was different from other kids who didn’t have the same repeating, and sometimes disturbing thoughts running through their heads. I only went once because of this and tried to cope with my anxiety on my own as a nine year-old. 

At the age of eighteen, before my first year of college, I started showing symptoms of panic disorder. Panic disorder is the feeling you are losing control at random times, causing panic attacks. I could not leave my house to go to work without feeling like I was going to pass out or hyperventilate. This was one of the most challenging physical experiences of my life. Leaving the house was so hard to do and eating meals was sometimes impossible. My body was constantly on edge. It was so tiring and it only got worse when I first got to college. The mornings before exams were a nightmare, I would start crying and losing my breath minutes before I had to leave for class. 

Finally, I thought this was enough for me. Regular everyday tasks were difficult for me to accomplish; I had to reach out for help.

I went to see my doctor and talked to him about lifestyle changes for my disorders, as well as medication options. My doctor told me that beyond lifestyle changes and medication, I needed to know how to handle these symptoms that come up in my daily life because one day my kids are going to experience the same thing. Anxiety disorders are genetic.

I am lucky enough to have my mother in my life. My mother and I are the same person, in and out. We both have the same blessings and we definitely share a lot of the same struggles.

Both my mother and I are women with anxiety disorders and, because of this, I know my daughter will be one too. There are a lot of things I experienced differently growing up with an anxiety disorder as a little girl. All because of this, I am going to teach my daughter a few things differently.

Even though you may feel as if you’re always doing something wrong and you will never be good enough, this will never be true. You are capable of doing anything you set your endless, beautiful mind to. There are outlooks you will have on life that some other people will not have; the feeling that the world is crushing you and you are always doing something wrong. Despite those feelings, you need to know that in order to conquer this, you need to crush the world back. You need to rise above this feeling and know that the world needs you in a certain way. You need to find out what that is and you need to put everything you have into it. Your soul and your determination can get you further than people think you can go.

When you look in the mirror, I want you to know that even though you think you have flaws,  the image looking back at you means nothing compared to the strength of your character and the power of your perseverance. You will be strong, witty, and intelligent, just like the women who came before you. Whatever society wants you to think about your nose, stomach, thighs, or height means absolutely nothing unless you let it. 

Don’t take yourself so seriously. I know your mind will trick you into thinking every mistake you make is what determines your worth, but this is far from the truth. We are all here for such a short time,so have fun, make mistakes, and know that all of this is simply part of being human. Be a free woman, by loving and experiencing without boundaries. Never restrict yourself because you’re afraid of the unknown, or because you’re afraid of making a mistake.

As young women, we are taught to stay quiet, be small, and always act polite. Even though kindness and grace are things that everyone needs to have, don’t be polite, small, or quiet when it comes to making a difference in the world you are living in.

Just as my mother taught me, you need to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. This can help distract yourself from worrying about things that you can’t change, and shifts your focus to doing things that make a difference in the lives of those who need it the most. This is the most helpful advice because not only does it change the lives of those you come in contact with, but it takes your mind off of your repeating, baseless thoughts that make your anxiety worse.

When it comes to boys, whether they are making you feel inferior or they’re making you feel as if you need to live to please them, I will use all my might to teach you that you need to get to know yourself and your power first. Don’t let the thoughts that you are not good enough repeat in your head and keep you up at night. You are beyond good enough, and you deserve the most the world can give you. You need to spend time alone. You need to love every part of yourself and be so confident in yourself that it scares the boys you come across. You need to carry yourself in a way that will intimidate them because only then will the right person come along to love you.

I’ll end this with one of my favorite poems, thank you so much for reading!

 

“i want to apologize to all the women i have called beautiful

before i’ve called them intelligent or brave

i am sorry i made it sound as though

something as simple as what you’re born with

is all you have to be proud of

when you have broken mountains with your wit 

from now on i will say things like

you are resilient, or you are extraordinary

not because i don’t think you’re beautiful

but because i need you to know

you are more than that”

- Rupi Kaur