A few weeks ago I became a father. And the transition to fatherhood has been marked by all the typical challenges. Yet at certain moments it has also kicked my anxiety into overdrive, worried about the type of father I will be, whether I will be up to the challenge. What if she develops the same demons I struggle with, what if her story includes the same dark tales?
Yet last night, as I was soothing her and trying to get her to fall asleep, she lay in my arms, looking up at me. And as the light would have it at that moment, I could see myself reflected so clearly in her little eyeballs. And at that moment I saw her as I imagine, as I hope she sees me. I saw myself not for the failures I’ve had, and the doubts of my anxiety. I saw myself not for the moments of darkness I’ve had. Instead, I saw myself as someone who had only ever been there for her. From the moment of her birth I was there, trying to comfort her, and offering her all the love my heart could hold.
Mental illness can break you if you let it. Yet the innocence of a child, the love of those you choose to let in, can also heal you if you let it. And at that moment I could only let her beautiful eyes fill mine as I let my anxiety ebb away, at least for that moment.
The point of this post? When you struggle with mental illness, chances are others see you and love you more than you realize. And stepping away from the lies of mental illness and trying to see yourself through their eyes can be incredibly healing.