The body will reveal.
So true in so many ways.
Some time ago there was a tweenie girl who was struggling through the normal growing pains of navigating hormones, middle school, siblings, friends and life. This sweet girl is a good student, in fact, quite the perfectionist and the threat of not getting straight A’s sends her little head into a sideways spin.
The daily struggles were and are essentially very “normal” with mood swings and grumpiness and due to a very nurturing nature, serious concern and empathy for close friends whose struggles were the REAL DEAL: divorce, moving, depression, threatened suicide. Big problems. The girl waded through and managed well. Or so we thought.
One day, dropping kids off at school, there was a noticeable slump in the shoulders and a sad, sad walk away from the car and into school. I stopped the car and sent a quick text: “What’s wrong? You look sad. Call me.” (now our morning was blessedly uneventful, so there was no obvious problem). She called and asked if we could talk that night. I agreed, hung up the phone and prayed the whole way to work. Clearly all was not well.
That night, Pandora’s box opened. Tears fell. Hearts opened. The sadness vomited up. “Mom, I think I need to see a counselor.” I handed out my mom’s best wisdom, hugs and prayers. The next day, I found a counselor and we set up the appointment—which took about a week. But the Hubs and I had to go first. Lay down the foundation and all that. The counselor was a recommendation from a friend, but she was a bit I don’t know…….just not warm and fuzzy. But it wasn’t about me or the Hubs, it was about our daughter. If she liked her, we’d stay. I brushed it aside.
With a strong family history on both sides of significant depression and anxiety, my gut knew to act and act quickly.
Now, let me say that sending your child to counseling brings up all kinds of fears. WHAT is going on? Where have we failed? Can we fix this? The mind is unkind sometimes and there is one who loves to stir up the fear and anxieties and can send you into a tailspin of emotions once fear pokes its head in. One does not defeat fear without acting and so onward we went.
Right out of the gate, the first session, the counselor suggested a psychiatrist due to suicidal ideations. Suicide and your beautiful child are not words you want associated with one another. Our heads were spinning, our hearts were churning, but we were in “fix-it” mode….poke the bear? Nah, we were on a full-out mission to slay that beast. The appointment was made. The psychiatrist agreed. Medication was started. Estimated time of treatement 9-12 months. It was overwhelming and my head was still wrapped up in the “black box” warning of our daughter’s meds so MY brain was on one foot in front of the other and finishing strong.
From the beginning the Hubs didn’t have a great feeling about the counselor, but since our girl seemed to be coming into a better place, we went with it. For about 3 months. Until the counselor suggested an additional med and another appointment with our psychiatrist BUT she suggested switching doctors because ours was fairly conservative and probably wouldn’t go for it. She also began to hone in on a sibling relationship requesting the other sibling come in as well as dispensing some parental advice. The Hubs head fairly exploded and quite frankly, I now had serious reservations as well. I prayed. For guidance and for the RIGHT counselor because I could now see what my husband saw early on: this was not a good fit for the long haul.
I called another counseling center, Christian based, but blind. No recommendations. After making my request for someone who can relate to young kids and look outside the box I spoke to a counselor, made an appointment for the Hubs and I as well as the psychiatrist. It was time to tweak.
The second counselor. Better from the get-go. Warm, fuzzy, caring, non-condescending. Great with our daughter. (I think the popcorn and Coke sealed the deal at her first session) She also refused to comment on meds or suggest any and referred us to the psychiatrist for the piece of the puzzle.
Follow up with the psychiatrist who confirmed no additional meds, but continued treatment as planned. Our first counselor was officially fired.
There are still moments of grumpiness. Moodiness. Hormonal swings. Sibling squabbles. Nothing not to be expected in a large family. The relief in no longer carrying the weight of the world is evident and the change is tangible.
The psychiatrist weaned her off meds and released her from his care last week. 9 months of treatment. She has a 25% chance of having a recurrence of depression in her lifetime. When the time comes MANY YEARS FROM NOW, she will have to monitor for post partum-depression. Counseling continues on a bi-monthly basis for now because middle school. Tough. She’s working through some habits and learning how to navigate people and life.
But the doors have been opened. We’ve always been very honest and open with our kids, encouraging them to talk to us. We still have to pull some teeth to get the daily scoop, but overall I feel communication flows a little more freely.
It’s a work in progress but aren’t we all?