Friday, October 30, 2015
Dear New Professional Working with My Child,
While it is customary to greet new people with a sense of curiosity and hopeful anticipation, I pray you understand that the very fact that I would need to meet you fills me with sadness, fear, regret, and a general sense of anxiety that you will be just like the many others who have come and gone in our lives not fully understanding how deeply their actions affect our family. I need your help and am terrified it will make things worse all at the same time. I long for relief but hate that I am not big enough to fight for my child alone.
You see, my child is very ill and has been that way for many years. Much the same as a parent of a child with cancer or a physical illness, my child's illness is NOT my fault. Their illness is the result of biological and environmental issues that reach far beyond my time as their mother.
As their parent I have stormed heaven and earth searching desperately for anything that might make the monster of mental illness leave my child alone. I lay down each night with tears rolling knowing once again that an answer was not found; each time becoming a little less hopeful that it ever will.
At this point in our lives I desperately need a few things from you; some before we even get started on this journey together.
The very first thing I need from you is to please take a moment and review as much of my child's history as you can before ever calling me. Or, at least know their name and basic info before you call. If you don't have time, ask first what it is you need to know about my child and our family. Doing this lets me know that you care about my child and our family. It makes me feel like you might listen and not try to fit my child into the same cookie cutter treatment plan we have tried many times over and failed. It lets me know my child is not a diagnosis or case number to you. Most of all, it opens a door of communication that if not opened now I may be too exhausted to ever try and open again.
Second, I need you to understand that while you have credentials and a degree, I am my child's parent. I know them. I know every nuance and pattern, but more than all of those things, I know what we have done. I know what has failed, what has made our lives easier, what has and has not worked. Please ask me.
Third, I need you to communicate with me regularly. This especially important when dealing with the more manipulative aspects of my child's illness. You will be lied to, it will always sound very believable. Every lie you fall for wastes time; mine, theirs, and especially yours. I am terrified we are quickly running out of time.
Fourth, please know that more than a treatment plan I desperately need someone who understands the tremendous loss we are all dealing with. Unlike a death, it is a continuous grieving of what can never be and terror over what comes next.
Finally, I need you to know that every time you fail to do any of the above it makes me feel like I am all alone, fighting monsters far too big to fight alone, monsters that have already stolen so much of my child and our family. When you fail to do those very simple things while you busy yourself creating treatment plans, it feels like you are watching us drown while writing notes about drowning. It is a truly horrible feeling. It is a feeling I know they don't teach you about in college or internship. It is a feeling most parents are too exhausted, or afraid, to share with you, but in over 16 years of working with children who suffer from mental illness, there is not one parent who has not expressed these very same feelings to me.
I can't change my child. I am learning to live with what is, while grieving heavily what I know can't be. In my grief I have struggled and prayed for a purpose, for something good to come of the tragedy that has been my child's mental health treatment. What I realize is that while my child is now an adult, there are so many other parents who still have time, and so for them, I decided to write you. For them, I pray you will listen. You can be the difference.
A Mama of Many
*** Please feel free to repost, copy, paste, use some or all when dealing with the new providers working with your children.
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