Celebrating each victory

So . . . my last post was a bit heavier than usual, but tonight as I write this, my heart is full.

Right around the time of my previous post, we had a tiny bit of celebration in our household. Well, it was a big deal to one person in particular, and just a generally happy moment for the rest of us. Daughter Dearest was able to celebrate her final appointment with the counselor she’s been meeting with for the past sixteen-plus months.

Over the past couple years, Ellie has struggled with depression and anxiety. At first, we chalked it up to typical teen angst and sort of waited for her to snap out of it. All stellar parents are trained to not overreact when their teenaged daughter goes through the ups and downs of each day . . . or each hour . . . or sometimes each moment. Because Ellie has not typically been a “down” type, we really did think it was a phase. After all, she had a few friends who were going through struggles, and she’s the type of person who takes her friends’ problems seriously—sometimes to the point where she feels it’s her duty to fix things (which pulls her down when they’re down). Plus . . . that stellar parent thing.

But when she came to us and asked if she could see a counselor, and shared some of her struggles and thought processes with us, we realized it was a much more serious issue than teen garbage.  The problems were real, they were serious, and they needed immediate attention that we were ill-equipped to provide.

Thankfully, we found an incredible counselor who was the perfect fit for her. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s not always that easy for a patient and counselor to “click.” In Ellie’s case, I feel as if we won the lottery. Her counselor shared our beliefs, and was patient and gentle but really didn’t let her make excuses. She tackled each issue from a different angle and always pressed for honesty and accountability. Sometimes Tim or I would stay in the session with her and sometimes we waited in the hallway, but we always felt Ellie was in good hands. For her own part, Ellie was pretty open about what was discussed most weeks, and if there was something she didn’t feel ready to share, we didn’t press. The important thing was for her to be honest with the counselor even when she struggled with allowing us to see her failings.

I think one of the things I liked most about this counselor is something many Christians may not like to hear me say: she didn’t fall back on the “Well, just pray about it” angle. Yes, I believe prayer should be our first action. But there are those who will twist their theology and say we’re not praying hard enough if we aren’t getting the answers we seek. Or that we don’t have strong enough faith if God doesn’t choose to heal us supernaturally. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”? Believe me, I’ve gone down that road with Matthew 21:22 and those accusations tossed my way, and I am quick to call it out when I hear it. If it were that easy to twist God’s arm, forcing him to do what I want because I’ve followed the right formula, then he wouldn’t amount to much, as far as gods are concerned.

But that’s another blog post for another day.

Tonight, I listened to our beautiful daughter practice her songs as she prepared to lead worship for her small group Sunday morning with the youth ministry. The other night, I listened to her excitement as she made plans for when she starts her first job this coming week. I’ve listened as she’s shared her relapses, and I’ve listened as she’s shared her victories. The victories are far outweighing the relapses, and her joy when she realizes how far she’s come is contagious.

Cause for celebration indeed.



17 thoughts on “Celebrating each victory

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  1. Sweet! 😀 Awesome to hear that your daughter is doing better! That was extremely intelligent to realize that she had a problem, and that she was brave enough to step out and ask for help. Even better that the counselor was a great fit for her and your family as well as sharing your values! I’m throwing her a little party over here in my side of the world~ ❤

    1. I really believe homeschooling helped us here, because we had a solid relationship established where she knew she wouldn’t be punished for being honest with us, no matter how uncomfortable things got. Thanks for celebrating with us!

  2. So happy for your family… Mountains and valleys that families all go thru. Thankful that you listened and were able to see her changes.. Discerning parenting..

    1. Thank you, Deb. I’m finding that this is more common than I would ever have thought. She’s had incredible youth leaders, too, who have supported and listened to her, encouraging her at every turn to share with us. I’m so proud of how hard she’s worked to get healthy.

    1. Hey, I like the idea that we’re brilliant! But in all seriousness, we are so proud of her for being willing to work at it. I think she’s harder on herself than anyone else could be.

  3. I know a family who is struggling with something similar with their teenage daughter. Reading your post is so encouraging and uplifting. I’m glad your daughter’s victories are outweighing the relapses.

    1. Thank you, Ellen! It has been a long couple years, but seeing how healthy she is now makes us realize we acted almost too late. I think knowing we are not alone in this is a huge encouragement. Please pass along a hug to your friend.

    1. Thank you, Damyanti! Parenting is hard work, but it has its perks. Ellie surprises me sometimes with the depth of her thoughts and willingness to discuss the tough issues. I was never able to talk with my own mother the way she talks with me, so I’m pretty thankful for the open communication.

  4. I know the struggle, especially the youngest daughter one. I’ve blogged about it, because hers turned out to be either wholly or mostly a rare sleep disorder no one could diagnose (until we did, as she had to come back home to live, and I started paying attention to her timing). Non-24 also had so solution – but we found an MD and a PhD psychologist at U. Penn – and they have changed her life completely. The misdiagnosis of all kinds were cruel and wrong – and put the blame on a hard-working victim.

    As a specialist in being misunderstood by doctors, I could offer support – but not help, even after the diagnosis by mom and internet, confirmed by statistician dad. Same result – a wonderful young lady whose problem is under control.

    1. Alicia, I’ve never heard of Non-24, but went and read about it as a result of your comment. I can only imagine the kinds of diagnoses your daughter received from doctors who didn’t understand. I’m thankful she has you and your husband to support, at least, so she doesn’t blame herself.

      1. We haven’t quite gotten her over the negative effect of those diagnoses. When people say, ‘go see a mental health professional,’ it is no kind of guarantee. And our insurance coverage, which is supposed to be the same for physical and mental illnesses, was woefully undersupplied – most psychiatrists won’t take their payouts, for example.

        And, since there is often nothing measurable, you’re going to be given drugs because that’s the easiest – and they may not be anything near what you really need. Anti-depressants are a terrible response to situational depression – what needs attention is the situation.

        Last but not least: physical causes have mental manifestations. Make sure the physical part is pursued.

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