Both of my girls, now 12 and 17, have had to deal with OCD and anxiety issues. When we discovered our oldest was struggling with OCD eleven years ago, it was a very scary time. I didn't know how to help her, but it was my job to figure it out. So, with the help of my wife, I did research. I humanized the OCD so she could understand it. I even wrote a fun, yet helpful, children's story about a girl suffering in a similar way as my daughter. And, through some really tough times, we have learned to harness her OCD.
When the younger one started exhibiting similar anxiety issues, we had an arsenal to start with in order to combat this disorder. And, my girls always looked to me as the guy who has helped them through these troubles.
That's my job as "Dad". I'm the protector, the one to come to when help is needed. But, then, not long ago, I was taken down a notch or two.
I started suffering from insomnia. It wasn't bad at first. To be honest, I didn't even think it was a real issue, but it progressed slowly. Then about a month ago, it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was suddenly a walking zombie. I couldn't function. I was always tired. My brain wouldn't work at the speed it normally could, and it wasn't nearly as sharp. I was forgetting things, and my train of thought was often derailed.
Suddenly, I was no longer my daughters' hero...at least in my eyes. How could I be? How could I be there for them when I needed someone there for me? I was too tired to go to the amusement park. I had to opt out of a trip to Yosemite. What would this mean to our relationship, I wondered. Would I be that guy who was listless and never did anything with his daughters, and they would remember the man that I used to be?
I was so afraid that "Dad" would mean something new in their eyes. And, I didn't want that.
So, I decided to attack the problem the same way I would if my daughters were the ones suffering, because, the truth is, they would be suffering if I didn't get this under control. So, I did research. I spoke with professionals. I tried this idea and I tried that technique, and as I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel, I started to see dark at the end of the night...I began sleeping again.
I'm not exactly where I want to be yet as far as sleeping, but I am right back where I want to be as "Dad": going to amusement parks, planning summer trips and having the relationship with my girls that I want.
My issue is a common one, and could happen to anyone at anytime. I don't know if I would have been able to pull myself out of it so quickly had it not been for my daughters, had it not been for the desire to keep the relationship with them that I'd forged all their lives. Being a dad saved me. My daughters saved me.