I’ve selfishly avoided looking into therapy for my son because I felt he “doesn’t need it”. He has stated again and again he doesn’t want to see a doctor, but I question how much of this aversion is coming from truly understanding what I’m asking versus the cues I present when I talk about seeing a doctor; and the fact he has been through a LOT over the last (6) years – Neurologist, Geneticist, and a bunch of other specialists as we tried to uncover if he was susceptible to the genetic disease that killed my wife (appears he is not).
And, if I’m being completely honest, I do not speak well of mental health professionals. I absolutely believe in what they do, and I think there is a very real need. My issue is the lack of an “end” with many of the ones I’ve met. I’m a black/white start/finish kind of guy; so I want to know how something may be judged complete – I don’t want to feel I’m being strung along so somebody can keep getting paid (jaded, yes – I own this). This feeling goes double for my son, because I have difficulty deciphering what he’s trying to communicate. The last thing I want to do is “trap” him into a never-ending loop.
As I write this I realize just how broad of a characterization I’ve made about the mental health field, and I can only shake my head. Here’s a guy who has always prided himself on being very open-minded, yet nothing I’ve written indicates this tendency. I think some of this may come from my time in the military, when you were ostracized if you even mentioned mental health (things have gotten much better from what I understand); and even more from my lack of understanding of how these professionals work.
The “why” is a challenge to be addressed on another day. I’m writing it out because I want others who may feel similar to know they’re not alone. Although I’m leery about scheduling an appointment for my son, things have progressed far enough I’m more nervous about not scheduling one (or as many as it takes). As with so much else I write, my intent is to help others avoid my mistakes – in this case don’t wait until things get “extreme”.
It seems too easy to justify not doing something, especially if it’s not for yourself. I’m sure I’m not the only one who downplays situations because I “don’t have the bandwidth” or whatever my excuse du jour is. Mental health professionals deserve much more credit than I have been giving them, rereading this post really opened my eyes to how deep my mistrust of the field goes (and how much work I need to do to unpack the “why”). I will be making an appointment for my son, and let someone much more qualified tell me if he needs to talk or if it’s “teenage angst”. My hope is others who feel as I do are equally willing (or more) to have their preconceptions and strongly held beliefs challenged.