I Matter, Too

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“More importantly, how are you doing?”

This question from Blake’s therapist takes me by surprise and throws me off balance for a moment. Blake has just walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him. Nature calling. I’m just finishing paying for the session, thinking I’m about to walk out the door, too. The therapist isn’t quite done yet.

“What do you think?” he asks, and then he points out, “He’s talking about serious stuff now.”

He’s correct. Blake only started coming to therapy when he wanted to take some control of the interventions his therapist, his dad, and I were implementing. He was angry. He came to bargain. In recent sessions, he’s talked about depression, his dislike for himself – just the mere concept of “Blake,” about his disconnection from the world. Today was no exception and, as has begun to be our routine, I sat like a fly on the wall watching the interaction between Blake and The Doc, wondering what I was doing in there. Although the therapist in me is fascinated by observing what’s going on.

It’s Not About Me, Right?

We’ve been seeing this therapist in hopes that our 18-year-old can overcome his OCD and severe depression and ready himself to live in the world.  So I just didn’t expect it when the therapist asked about me.

“I have good days and not so good days,” I answer.

“Well that’s a pretty non-specific answer,” the therapist says with a smile.

“I worry about him,” I say, “but I’m learning patience.”

The truth is, I’m kind of disconnected about how I am. I’ve been so mesmerized by the therapy session, I lost myself a bit. It’s only later in the day, as I ponder the question, “More importantly, how are you doing?” that I think over my frustration at watching my son climb back into bed multiple times each morning. It’s later that I recall the heartbreak at hearing my son talk about how life isn’t worth the good moments when he considers how awful the bad moments are. It’s later that I remember part of me sinking inside as I watch my son wash his hands immediately after handling money or tiptoeing around areas that the dogs might have contaminated.

At the same time, I’m touched by The Doc’s inquiry. As much as my son is suffering, family members are, themselves, affected when their loved one has OCD, depression, or other mental illnesses. If we aren’t directly involved in rituals, or trying to get them out of bed, we are worrying about them. So I’m appreciative of this simple act of kindness and caring. It resonates in me. It reminds me that we family members have to remember to care for ourselves in the face of our loved ones’ struggles. We have to be mindful of our own well-being. If we aren’t, we can become impatient, bitter, angry – basically of little use in this war called mental illness.

So, thank you, kind therapist, for reminding me that I matter, too. It opened something up inside of me and I feel just a little more alive and grounded. I feel less stuck in the mess with my son, and more like myself. And this morning, when I allowed myself to take a long hike in the nearby mountains, I was just a little more open to taking in the scenery and appreciating it, instead of having the specter of depression and OCD hanging over me. Yes, I matter, too.

6 thoughts on “I Matter, Too

  1. Wow, this post really hit home for me. I think we moms can be so tied up in our children’s struggles that it is hard to even briefly separate ourselves from them. But we need to – for ourselves and for them. Of course I know firsthand that this is easier said than done, but maybe just being aware of the fact that yes, of course, you matter, can get us on the right path to care not only for our children, but for ourselves as well.

  2. Karyn

    Angie, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for continuing to write this blog. My son, who is almost 14, has struggled with OCD since he was diagnosed at age 4. He is so depressed at this point that it’s hard to get through to him at all. School is a battle – we’re lucky to get him there 3 or 4 days a week, and he’s just so down on himself. It’s encouraging to read recently that Blake is taking part in his own recovery. And yes, we (their parents) DO matter, but it’s nice to be reminded of this when we’re in the trenches, spending every minute worrying about our kids and whether they’ll ever function “normally” in the world as adults. I hope that Blake continues to make progress and take part in his own treatment. It’s just so hard. Please continue to write and give us updates on Blake. It’s nice knowing that we’re not in this battle alone.

    1. Karyn, Thank YOU for taking the time to read and comment. I am so sorry your son is struggling so much at this point and I am holding you, him, and your family in my thoughts. This whole experience truly is a journey and this current place our children are in is not where they are going to remain. Thank you for your kind words about Blake. I will continue to share. My best to you. You are not alone. – Angie

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