Finding the right people to include in your child’s care and support team can be like getting central air in the dead heat of an Arizona summer. These people can bring some much-needed air for you and your child to be able to breathe again. There were many decisions that I made that I now wish I could go back and change. This one is a biggy. Without proper support, you find yourself spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast.
Who should be part of the team? Let’s start with the clinician that does therapy with your child. If your child is not comfortable with this person they are not going to be able to help. We do need to give the clinician some time to develop rapport, but if they just seem to make your child angry, it is probably not going to work out. Not many people will open up to someone they do not like. Get involved with your local NAMI or any other support group for parents. This is a good place to get recommendations if you have not found the right therapist. You will also need a good rapport with your child’s therapist. You want somebody that does not push you out but invites you in and encourages a healthy relationship between you and your child.
I was never one to believe the whole “It takes a village thing.” But now I am a true believer. When you have a child who is struggling with mental illness you need all the support that you can get. Make a list of people in your life that you and your child trust. Then list them from how accessible they are to you. Do they live next door or two states away. This will determine what type of support they can provide. Looking through your list, who is able to keep your child overnight? Who is able to watch him for a couple of hours? Who is available for coffee (yes this is important). Who is willing to just spend time with your child and help him to know that he is awesome? Once you have listed these people out. I want you to ask your child what information they are comfortable with you sharing. It is important to remember that this is a very personal subject. Although it is your story too, it is not yours alone. For anything he does not want you to share, you should have your own therapist that can help support you in this area. When you have worked out how much can be shared, you can call each of these people and ask for their help. You will explain what you hope they will be able to help you with so that everyone is on the same page.
You will hear a lot about self-care. You may not feel like you have the time. If you utilize your team, they can provide you with the time and opportunity. You cannot pour from an empty cup, put your mask on first etc… We can only give so much without replenishing ourselves. Take advantage of the support people willing to give you so that you can be the best support you can be for your child.