It's hard balancing life as a single mother, a student, and a freelancer, but it becomes harder when life hits you times three. While dealing with my own personal health issues, I also have a daughter who self harms. She is 12, to me still a baby, yet she is in a pain that I cannot take away from her. A pain that I cannot heal. A pain that even she doesn't quite understand.

I walk on eggshells. I try to be firm and still the parent I have always been to her, but the truth is I am worried. What if something I say triggers her to want to take a blade and cut her arms. I don't want to coddle her, because I know the world doesn't care as much as I do, but I also want to wrap her up in a blanket of comfort and hold her to my chest as if she was an infant. I want to protect her from the world, from herself and from eyes of those who do not understand.

And all the while, I don't understand.

I understand depression, anxiety, and even times not wanting to live, but cutting to release frustration I don't get. If only she can see the girl I see. Talented, beautiful, smart, funny and a joy to be around. Instead, all she sees are the words that jealous classmates and mean bullies put in her head. She believes that she is not worth wonderful things, or love, when she is the embodiment of love.

Everything I do is for her and her sisters, but I feel as if maybe I am not doing enough. When I'm next to her, talking to her, she's happy. There are nights she asks me to come to sleep with her. Where all I do is sit in her bed, writing or reading and watching her be at peace. Then the nights when I can't because my illness has me immobilized, she cuts.

Therapy is not working.

At times I fear it's making it worse. School and social activities only bring stress and mumbled words when she returns. She's so soft-spoken, I fear she's getting run over, she's so forgiving even when those have bullied her, she is the girl I wish I was at her age. But she doesn't see it.

How can I help her? How can I as her mother make her feel that she is safe with her self? Staying up and watching her is not always an option. So I'm patient, I'm strong for her, and I am still her mother. I want her to enter the world strong and able to handle whatever comes her way.