I'll never forget the beautiful baby I saw in my first few years as a pediatrician in Pennsylvania.
Maddie came in for her first newborn visit with her parents, who also had a 3-year-old son. They were so excited to have another child and a baby sister for Joshua. We chatted about feeding and sleeping, and I told them I would see them in 2 weeks for her next wellness check.
But this was not to be. In her first few weeks of life, the little girl started having seizures and was referred to a specialist -- the first of many. In the quest to find answers, family life devolved into an endless stream of medical appointments and tests. It was not the life they had envisioned.
Recently, after many years, I received a note from Maddie’s mom. Maddie is now living in a residential home and is "happy and content," and the rest of the family is also doing well. After a long and painful road, they were able to find happiness and peace. They were, and are, resilient.
What is resilience? Simply, it is the ability to withstand difficult life events like illness, divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one -- and recover.
Since the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, we have all been through a very tough time. Not only have millions of people been infected with the deadly coronavirus, but the resulting social isolation and constant drumbeat of bad news has taken a serious toll on people's mental health, resulting in rising rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
If nothing else, COVID-19 has taught us all the importance of having a mental health "toolbox" to help us get through tough times. That is the aim of this new series: to provide you with effective tools to help build mental resilience for you and your family.
In this series, I hope to discuss elements that I have learned through my training at Emory University in CBCT (cognitive-based compassion training) and my experiences taking care of patients. I too have faced difficulties in my life, as a child of a single immigrant mom, fighting to get into and paying for college and then as a parent of premature twins. I have applied some of these tools through these challenges, and I am fortunate to get to a place of resilience and happiness. Going forward, I hope to have blogs, excerpts of my book Building Happier Kids (slated to be published in March 2022), and patient stories of bouncing back from tough times to help inspire you and hopefully make a difference in your life. We are all in this together -- and each and every one of us will at some point face tough circumstances. It's how we get through it that matters. Let’s do this.
Photo Credit: andresr / E+ via Getty Images
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