Seeing a Therapist When Your Loved One Won’t
My daughter is dealing with some mental health issues. When someone is working on her mental health, it doesn’t just affect that person but the people closest to them. It is not something that is easy, and there are usually some tough times. I am a huge advocate for therapy. However, there are times that the person who needs it the most is resistant in getting the help that she needs. In Virginia, the age of consent for mental health is 14. Therefore, my daughter has a say if she wants to receive mental health services or not. I can’t force her to do it. I used to get so angry because I didn’t understand how a 14-year old can decide something as important and serious as mental health, but a parent is still responsible for the actions that this teenager does. Now that I have been going through this for a while, I get it. At 14, which is middle school age, a girl or boy can’t be pushed to do anything. If they don’t want to participate in something like therapy of any kinds, parents can’t force them to go. Yes, you can make them get in the car and go to see the therapist. But what is the point of that if they sit with their arms crossed refusing to speak or look at the therapist?
The person might not be ready to work on her stuff, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get mental health assistance for yourself. You might think “But I am ok. It’s the relationship with that person?” My therapist had a great response to this. She said, “Sometimes it’s good to go to therapy yourself to work on dealing with the person who doesn’t want to work on their stuff.” You are still in a relationship with that person. If that relationship is stressing you out enough, then you should find someone to talk to. Going to see a therapist for myself was the best thing that I did. The last time I saw a therapist was to deal with the grief of losing my sister. I wasn’t sure if I needed to see a therapist for my daughter. But, I am so glad that I did. I found a therapist who worked with teenagers so that I could have someone who has insight on what they are thinking, as well as offer me good sound advice on how to communicate with my daughter and find ways to get her help with the least resistance.
Another reason that it was good that I started seeing a therapist to learn how to work with my daughter is that I also learned that I need to focus on what I can do. I can’t control her, I can’t force, and some decisions that she makes is not my fault. I suffer from a lot of parental guilt. I can’t help but think “If I would have done this,” “Maybe if this would have been different,” “It has to be my fault.” I am learning that it isn’t, and I am doing everything that I can to give her the support that she needs.
I also learned that it’s to focus on myself. Eventually, my daughter will be an adult and make her own life. I need to let her face the natural consequences of her actions so that hopefully she learns from them. It’s fine to take myself out to do something or hang out with friends and eat a delicious dinner. Guess what? It’s ok! Cause I deserve it. No one is a perfect parent, but they are doing the best they can. I have done the best I can.
There isn’t enough for parents who are dealing with a teenager dealing with a mental health issue. For you, I say that it is going to be hard, and there are days that you will cry and just hope that one day your teenager finally decides that he/she wants help. But, you can take care of you. There are so many ways to do this depending on how much time you have or financial situation.
- Meditate even if it’s for two minutes
- Take yourself out to a nice lunch or dinner
- Go to the movies
- Have a spa day at home or at a spa
- Take a weekend trip
- Take a longer trip
- Get your hair done
- Get a manicure and/or pedicure
- Write in your diary
- Talk to a good family member or friends
- Go for a walk
- Take your dog to the dog park
- Sit outside
- Take a fun gym class
- Connect with others
And in no way blame yourself.