Are you allowing your child to be a part of his care plan? Studies have shown that treatment is much more effective when the parents and the child are influential in the development of the child’s care. This is especially true when they are in there teens. The more that they feel they have a say the more they will buy into their own care. If they aren’t on board they are not going to put in the necessary effort. There is so much that I would do differently, hindsight being 20/20 and all. But this is a big one. If you have never had to take psychiatric medication, you may not realize the awful side effects that your child may be experiencing and unable to articulate. And surprisingly many psychiatrists do not fully know the side effects of the medication they are prescribing. I know this first hand because I asked my psychiatrist about some side effects that I was experiencing only to be told that medication doesn’t cause that. Yet later I learned that those were some of the primary side effects experienced by people. For many people, the medications cause weight gain and for them to not feel like themselves any longer. Where they once were energetic, they become somber and lack the energy to do things that they once loved.
I think for myself I wish I could go back and listen a little better about what my son’s feelings were and what his thoughts were on how he would have liked his care to progress. I have learned since our time navigating the mental health system that children with more input into their care stick with it and put in more effort because they feel like they have helped decide how they would like to be helped.
As always I will attach some links. These are on the importance of family and client driven care. As a side note, he did not receive the right therapy either. I truly believe had we had the right team of providers things would have been much easier for him and us. Please learn all you can. Connect with other parents through organizations like https://www.nami.org/. Through sharing with each other we learn so much faster than trying to go it alone. And it helps to know others have been where you are and have come through it intact.
Published by Parenting For Good Mental Health
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 to 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. 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/
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