The Tool Box Conversation

The other day I was talking to a friend who has a daughter in high school.

She was telling me how her daughter had a rough year this past year.

My friend was telling me how she and her husband got their daughter into therapy, how the therapist explained to them and to their daughter that what she was going through was totally typical for a girl her age.

She told me how going to therapy helped their daughter so much and how it was one of the best things she and her husband ever did for her and how she is doing great and back to her old self again.

She also told me how her daughter’s friends reacted to her going to therapy.

Or shall I say “friends.”

How they were unsupportive, and how they couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just “talk to her family.”

This led to them giving her a hard time and basically harassing her on Twitter.

They spread rumors that she was a lesbian and said lots of other awful things. (Not that being a lesbian is awful. It’s not. Unless you aren’t one. Unless you aren’t one and you are already feeling extremely vulnerable and your so-called friends are telling lies about you in an attempt to hurt you in any way possible).

I know kids can be mean.

I know girls, in particular, can be ruthless.

But someone is teaching these kids that going to therapy is bad.

That it makes you weak.

That if you go to therapy, you are fucked up.

I have news for you.

Everyone is fucked up.

EVERYONE.

We may all have different ways of coping with our fuckupedness.

We may turn to pills.

Alcohol.

Food.

Sex.

We may binge.

We may purge.

We may lie or cheat or steal.

We may cut or pick or rock or pluck.

We may straighten and disinfect and count and recount.

Some of us may do all of those things in combination.

And sure, there is a range on the fucked up spectrum.

Some of us have it worse than others.

But we are all on it.

Mental illness affects all of us.

Anxiety, depression, mania, obsession, compulsion. Whatever.

Sometimes the form mental illness takes is just a short blip on the radar.

Sometimes it’s a constant.

Either way, getting help for it does not make you weak.

On the contrary, it makes you quite strong.

So do me a favor.

Add mental health and receiving therapy to the list of important conversations you need to have with your kids.

I’d say it goes in front of the sex talk as far as items on the list of priorities.

Let your kids know that we all have some crazy shit going on in our heads at some point.

All of us.

That it is okay to ask for help.

That there are people who can help them get through it.

That going to some form of therapy is one of the healthiest things a person can do when he or she is in that place.

That everything is going to be okay.

Just like you need a lot of tools to build a house, you need a lot of tools to make it through life.

You are born with some of those tools.

The rest are given to you along the way.

You get some from your parents.

Some from other relatives.

Some from teachers and coaches and friends.

Sometimes the tools you get from these people might not work the right way.

They might be a little outdated.

Or you may not know how to use them.

So then, you might want to go to a therapist.

And he or she will help you fix the tools or tune them up or show you how to use them properly, so you can really put them to good use.

And build yourself a kick-ass “house” to live in.

And then with some practice, you’ll get really, really good at using these tools.

In fact, you might just get so good at using them that you’ll be able to help those other tools who thought it was okay to make fun of you for getting a little help in the first place.

 

Perfect T-Shirt for Mental Health Advocates. Stop the Stigma! Get Yours Here!

 

 

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7 replies
  1. Annie
    Annie says:

    Great post! It’s true, the stigma around mental illness is still there and it shouldn’t be. It is so pervasive that the days of hiding it and seeing therapy as shameful need to be GONE!

    Reply
  2. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    I wish the entire world could read this post. My daughter became very depressed around 13. She started cutting and was unable some days to even get out of bed. Years of hospitalization started when she was 15.

    Do you know what was sometimes the hardest part, for her, for me? Being told she should just pull herself together, her father telling her it’s okay to have problems and then wanting to lie about it. My next door neighbor (whose husband was a therapist by the way) wouldn’t let her daughter play with my younger daughters. Did she really think depression
    was contagious?

    As we reached $75,000 in uncovered medical expenses,
    I used to think about the fact
    that if my daughter had a physical illness, our small town would hold fundraisers. Instead it was a dirty little secret.

    But as bad as the mental health stigma was, it was far surpassed by my daughters decision to commit suicide when she was 34.

    But I don’t lie about her, I don’t deny her existence and her struggles. And I really feel that by openly talking about her, it helps remove a tiny fraction of the stigma.

    Reply
    • Beth
      Beth says:

      I was going to ask Susie, I didn’t see cutting on your list. I know it wasn’t meant to be all inclusive, but something many teenagers are dealing with in counseling.

      Reply

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