How long has it been? Maybe a few weeks, months or even years now and you are still looking for that one special therapist or that unique clinic that will help your son or daughter to recover or make their condition manageable.
Does this sound familiar?
Every parent is hugely challenged when their daughter or son suffer with depression, self harm, eating disorder, OCD or any other mental health issue. But one thing is for sure, a parent or a carer can have a big part in the young person’s recovery.
Here is the story of Louise who went through a tough time trying to help her daughter and had learned that despite feeling desperate at times, with some help and support, there was a way through.
The most dis-empowering moment in Louise’s life was when she discovered that her daughter, Olivia, was struggling with an eating disorder. Initially, Louise didn’t believe it was possible. She herself had been comfortable in her skin, she had never dieted and she hadn’t been a pushy parent. So how could this happen?
Louise and Olivia were very close. Seeing the fear, guilt and shame in Olivia’s eyes when Louise made the discovery was a torture. She promised Olivia she wouldn’t tell anyone, not even her father, assuming she was helping Olivia.
Louise had no idea what to do and what impact this was having on her as a carer especially as she was keeping it a secret. The anxiety over her daughter’s discovery gave her sleepless nights and despite all the frustration, she didn’t think she could share it with anyone.
She suggested to Olivia to go and see the GP together and they did but never opened up about the eating disorder until the second visit. The GP referred Olivia to an Eating Disorders’ clinic.
Louise was advised to share this with her husband so they could unite and fight their daughter’s condition together and she did.
Days and weeks were passing and Louise was witnessing Olivia’s struggles. At times she got angry with her, other times she got really sad realizing it wasn’t Olivia’s choice. Louise’s inconsistency wasn’t helping Olivia. Olivia was now a different person, at times feeling low, punishing herself through exercise.
When Olivia was given her appointment to see a trainee psychotherapist, Louise was relieved that Olivia was finally getting help but after attending therapy for 16 weeks, Olivia was suddenly discharged without any further instructions or information.
Louise was very confused. She knew her daughter still wasn’t well; in fact, she was getting worse. So why was she being discharged? What was she going to do now? Wait until Olivia would suddenly get better? And would she, without any further help? This was a serious condition that required help of a specialist.
Louise had a friend who has been through this experience herself and who was pleading with her to have Olivia re-referred for therapy. Louise wasn’t sure if there was any point and she didn’t make it a priority.
By now Louise felt like giving up. She was in disarray. She didn’t think she was a good parent. She was getting exhausted; she didn’t know what to do any more. She wondered if this could actually be hindering Olivia and if Olivia would ever recover.
She was losing the will to keep going and have her full focus on Olivia. The guilt was eating her up as she was running out of energy emotionally and physically.
Around this time, by chance, Louise was introduced to life coaching by a friend. She had heard of counselling and therapy but had never heard of coaching. She was feeling desperate and eventually decided to give life coaching a go.
It sounded very positive and since there was’t much positive going around in her life, she thought it might just be worth trying.
After a few sessions, Louise experienced some self-discovery. There was a lot of limitation in her life which was being challenged. She began to see her life in a more positive light which encouraged her to become more proactive particularly around Olivia.
These sessions were giving her strength and hope that recovery for Olivia was possible.She learned to examine events from different angles rather than just one, which wasn’t necessary helpful.
She was no longer thinking about giving up. She started to feel better about herself. She was determined to do whatever she needed to help Olivia. It didn’t matter how long it was going to take, she was ready to do anything and everything. She was getting empowered.
Louise wasn’t being told what to do. She was finding out what felt right and was in harmony with her and started to feel like herself again.
She explored different options and decided what she would do often based on her intuition. She become more confident and felt she could fully focus on Olivia and give her all the support she needed.
It wasn’t always an easy ride but the days Olivia was struggling, Louise was managing much better. She was regularly reviewing Olivia’s situation.
In her coaching sessions she learned some tools and techniques that become part of her life and helped her to maintain communication with Olivia at all times.
She also learned to care for herself and take breaks from caring for Olivia. Every time she came back, she felt recharged and more able to take on the next challenge. She had a lot more energy.
After a period of time of making small changes, she started to see results. She became fearless and wasn’t thinking of mistakes or failures any more. It was one learning experience after another. Every time things didn’t work out as she hoped, she’d change and try something different until it worked.
Louise’s actions started to affect Olivia positively. She was being more proactive and things were shifting in her life and Olivia’s life too. Her mind set was different.
There was no more hesitation whether Olivia should be re-referred for therapy. She was adamant that was the next step. This time round, she requested for Olivia to see someone senior with more experience.
The relationship improved and Louise and Olivia became close again. Louise knew this time that Olivia was on her way to recovery and nothing could stop her. Louise learnt that bad days weren’t going to last forever and that focusing on good days was vital.
As Louise reflected on the previous few years, she could clearly see she wasn’t the cause of Olivia’s condition but played a crucial part in her recovery.
If someone’d told her that getting support for herself would have contributed to Olivia’s recovery, she would never have believed it.
This is a true story.The names have been changed.
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Over to you
What has been your experience? Are you getting any support for yourself?
What tools or strategies have you used to help your son/ daughter to manage their condition?
If you would like to find out about me or my face to face and Skype/telephone coaching sessions, please contact me.