“Mom, are you coming to watch me at gymnastics tonight?” my eight year old daughter asked last night.
“No sweetie, your sister has her class musical tonight.” I replied.
Her shoulders lowered, a sadness filled her eyes.
With complete honesty and showing her disappointment she said “Mom, I think I keep failing gymnastics because I don’t feel supported.”
My heart sank, it ached deep inside. At first I tried to defend myself and then she replied “You’re always busy Mom!”
I stopped, feeling like a ton of bricks had just been slammed into my face. “Sweetie, I am so sorry you don’t feel supported, that is definitely not what I ever want you to feel.”
There was much more to the conversation, some to be treasured as private exchange with my beautiful daughter. I shared with my husband Neil and we spoke with our 12 year old daughter and all agreed I would go watch gymnastics and Neil would go watch the musical.
There were a few realizations that came to me from this conversation:
- Support looks and feels different to everyone.
- Honoring my #1 value – Family
- Being open, honest & vulnerable.
- Courage to ASK for what you need
So how do these play out for mental health awareness month? This post I will focus on:
Support Looks and Feels Different to Everyone
In his book The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman talks about the languages that express each individuals desire of giving and receiving love. The 5 Love Languages of Children takes these great languages and applies them for children.
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
For my daughter, “Quality Time” is one of her languages of love – she feels loved when I spend quality time with her. For myself, I feel loved and supported through (in order):
1. Physical Touch – a hug of reassurance, holding my hand reassuring me it’s okay
2. Acts of Service – helping with tasks, sharing something I am passionate about.
3. Words of Affirmation – words like “I love you” “I am so grateful for you” “You are courageous, you will get through this”
4. Quality Time – time spent cuddling on a couch, sitting by a fire, doing crafts together, lunch with a friend.
5. Gifts - a card in the mail is one of the most heart warming gifts I receive.
My husband is different – he feels loved and supported through his #1 love language “Acts of Service” – when I surprise him by cleaning the garage (his haven) it lets him know I love him.
It’s important to know each person has their own language of love and support. For someone dealing with depression – support could be Words of Affirmation, it could be Acts of Service – which in someone’s mind could be as simple as “listening.”
It’s always important to ask for what you want and need? What are your languages of love? I highly encourage you to read Gary Chapman’s book.
And on the other side.
There are some simple ways you can support a loved one through mental illness, one of the most important is always ask “How can I support you, and let you know you are loved?”
What I hold with me this morning, is the smile on my daughters face as she looked up and saw me watching her at gymnastics. For almost two hours I disconnected from technology, to do’s, stress and overwhelm.
For almost two hours I showed my daughter she matters and that I love and support her. That is priceless!