We have all seen the “I see you” articles written in the acknowledgement of the struggles someone else is going through. The ones I have seen the most are parent-to-parent. They mean a lot, but I still sometimes feel like I’m yelling into a void or am invisible to people who should recognize I need help. I get tons of help and support from family and friends. However, there are times I need help from professionals. Finding those professionals has been nearly impossible, but today I felt seen.
Today I was at an appointment for Lyra and I was just chit chatting with the provider working with her. Somehow we got on the topic of support for parents (or lack there of). This woman got worked up and said, “THIS! THIS IS WHAT I AM TRYING TO GET THE SYSTEM TO UNDERSTAND!” And then she said the one thing that showed me she really sees us:
“We give these parents a diagnosis for their child that alters their whole world and what that world will look like in the future. Then we (the doctors/therapists/etc) just expect these parents to pick up and charge forward. We give them no room to grieve the loss of the child that might have been. We make them feel ashamed of that grief. We don’t acknowledge the parents can love that child desperately, and absolutely step up to the plate, but also grieve the loss.”
Now, parents in my community talk about this with other parents. We give each other permission to feel that grief, but it feels like the system doesn’t. It doesn’t even want to believe that the grief and trauma exists.
I told this provider about my frustrations. That I can get therapy for Lyra, but I have no way of getting it for me. And when I have tried, the people in the mental health field I have spoken to seem to be completely unequipped to handle me. You see, the system knows how to handle and counsel someone who has lost a child. And the system knows how approach someone with PTSD after they have been removed from a situation and they are away from the trauma. But for those of us who live in the middle? The system seems clueless. You see, the events that have traumatized me aren’t necessarily in the past. The most traumatic ones have a decent chance of happening again. So my anxiety isn’t unfounded. And my flashbacks could also be foresight. The system doesn’t know how to deal with that. I have been told by mental health professionals to:
- “only focus on the positive things” – if I could do that I wouldn’t have sought professional help
- “just be more grateful”
- “just let others do more of the work” – I have quite a bit of help and support, plus I still want to be her mom and take care of her
- “I bet your hormones are off”
- “You just need to take a multivitamin”
- “Go see this doctor, he will put you on drugs” – I am NOT against medication (I have taken it in the past with very beneficial results), but I also need other tools for coping.
There were other comments, but you get my point.
All this being said, I am okay most days. Could I be better? Yes. Do I think I would be better with help from a mental health professional? Absolutely. But I am lucky and have lots of support. I have family and friends I can call. I have family and friends who help. And I know that I am not alone, even if it feels like that sometimes. And today, the system saw me. Or at least, someone in the system did. And that person is waving a red flag and shouting for us. Because she knows that healthy parents make happy homes for kids who just need lots of love. And us parents, love those kids more than we can truly express, even if we grieve for them sometimes.