My name is Tricia. I am the proud mom of two amazing young men.
My youngest son was always a very energetic and highly reactive child. Life with him was often like a roller coaster ride. He had to work very hard to learn how to manage his emotions and behaviors. By the time he turned 10, he had learned to manage them fairly well. But one night while watching the movie The Mummy, his anxiety was triggered. Night after night, he just could not get the scary images out of his head. This went on for almost a year where he would cry in bed at night. Nothing we tried seemed to help. So we decided to take him to see a psychiatrist where he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder.
Unfortunately, the care and medications that he received from various professionals did not really help. By educating myself, I began to learn that there were many more options that had not been provided or suggested. I believe that had I had more information sooner; his care could have been better tailored to his needs. This was a very difficult time not only for my son but for our entire family. We had to develop new ways of interacting that did not cause fights over the littlest things. We had to learn the hard way what not to do in a crisis. My husband had to learn that you don’t have to have a reason to be depressed or anxious. Sometimes you just are. And that it is not helpful to say to a depressed person, that they have no reason to be depressed. Having never experienced these feelings himself, my husband really struggled with understanding these things. But now that he gets it, he wishes he would have understood sooner so he could have been more supportive of our son in the beginning.
Thankfully, our son has found his own way through the darkness. And he has developed some skills and tools for managing his mental illness. He is successfully working a fulltime job and even has his own place. I am very proud of all that he has achieved. But his path could have been easier and less painful for him had we known about these other options sooner.
As parents and caregivers, we need to educate ourselves on their illnesses and the evidence-based care options that are out there. We have a limited number of clinicians that treat children and teens, so we sometimes only get to see them once a month. What kind of impact do you think you could have on your child if you only saw him once a month? We need to bring as much to the table as possible. The clinicians can only work with the information they are given. The more you can tell them the better they will be able to tailor your child’s care to his needs. We also need to know how to be the parents our child needs because what works for other kids does not always work for ours.
I would like to help educate others so that their path to recovery might be made shorter. There is a lot of support out there, but sometimes we do not hear about it. NAMI is the first support that I will recommend.
NAMI the National Alliance on Mental Illness is the largest grassroots mental health organization in America. Through NAMI you will find support and education that can help you to better facilitate the care your child needs. https://www.nami.org/