“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.” - Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym
When first asked this question, I couldn’t help but to think about one of the most extraordinary women I have encountered during my time in this profession. I think about this woman’s journey, and I can only describe her as “a woman made of iron.”
When I first met Jane, I sat with her in her home and listened to her explain her journey and what circumstances had brought her to the doors of a mental health facility. She explained there was a history of mental illness that ran in her family, and she explained the current situation she was facing with her children. She reported feeling hopeless and lost – as if she had failed as a parent, as a mother, and as a daughter all at one time. As we spoke she described the many responsibilities she carried on a daily basis. This woman had been on a journey that led her to abuse, heartache, pain, and uncertainty. She explained that she was seeking services for her family and wanted to find a solution to what she described as an “impossible situation.” In all of the ways that Jane described herself, what I heard was not what I saw. I saw someone courageous, strong, steadfast, and fearless.
This brings me to responding to the question: What do I wish parents of children with mental health issues would know when they first come to us for services?
Parents and children might describe their roads to recovery as difficult, strenuous, uncertain, and hopeless. However, by accessing mental health services, this same road can become clear, defined, and hopeful. Taking the road does require great strength and a tremendous amount of courage, but through the support of family, friends, professionals, and the community, you and your child really can do it.
Here are some tips to make sure that if this is a call you do have to make, everything goes as smooth as possible.
I have always been a quiet person who wanted everyone to get along. I would do whatever I could not to cause trouble or to prevent it. The word "no" was not in my vocabulary.