Thank you to Aloria Health for sponsoring this blog post.
Being the parent of a child with a mental health diagnosis can be exhausting. Deciding to send your child away from their norm is not only a hard choice but sometimes the choice between life and loss. At Aloria Health, we invite conversations with our client’s families and address the complexities of each client’s situation, including their family dynamics. We have invited families to share their stories to help others who are facing similar challenges.
Here is Tracy’s story:
Therapy for my son started in sixth grade with an older woman who would temper his reluctance to get out of the car. It was during a family session that she recommended a professional evaluation. I was hopeful an evaluation might get me one step closer toward fixing him. Flawed thinking on my part, since this would merely be a first step into what seemed like an endless beginning. Following the evaluation, I studied the pie charts and graphs tracking the story of my son’s inner life. Yet, it was the comments that he felt really sad about his life that struck me hardest. All I could think about when I read this was, “Why? What did I do wrong?”
My quest to help him was a full-time job. Amidst my exhaustion and my worry, I was thrust into a world I knew so little about. I spent months in offices surrounded by professionals who seduced me with the success rates of their programs. Is this what he needs? I remember thinking. I could hardly work, much less tend to the needs of my other children.
My son needed something that I could not give. The research showed that residential eating disorder treatment could help. However, I was in a place where every choice I made seemed a reaction or an impulse to just want to fix my son. Given my own fragile state, it seemed impossible that I was able to make any rational decision much less such serious ones like selecting the place where he would live out the majority of his high school years. I was consumed with questioning whether I was making the right decision for my child.
Ultimately, I signed the endless paperwork and hand over his care. It wasn’t pretty. There were many more bad days before there were some good ones. The phone calls gradually progressed from Skype sessions where I watched him sit behind his therapist refusing to talk, to seeing glimmers of change, progress, and hope.
Treatment can feel like a vacuum. It is a relief. But it is only a blink of time set up against the back drop of the rest of your life. My expectation that my son would leave residential treatment, and then return home so we could live happily ever after was a not only my delusion, but also a result of my innocence. The real change happened when I stopped thinking that change was just his responsibility.
The lifelong process that I call true healing began when I stopped asking what I did wrong and who is to blame, and started looking at myself and asking with total willingness, “How can I help?”
With a Masters degree in English Education from Colombia University in New York City, native New Yorker Tracy Bleier has been a local teacher and leading voice in the field of Yoga, meditation and creative writing for twenty years. She has had many classrooms, from inside a traditional high school where she taught English to inside a yoga room where she owned a thriving yoga school for over a decade. Tracy is a wordsmith both in a class and on paper. She speaks to the heart and senses that transports your soul to a safe and creative place. Her wisdom is deep in spirituality, meditation, the body, and teaching the teacher. Tracy is happily married and co-leads a series of continuing education programs for teachers in Chicago and is a proud mama to three boys. She currently resides in Chicago where she is completing her first manuscript about the journey of raising a child who struggles with anxiety. Her most recent work is featured in Brain, Child Magazine.