Q & A: Why do my parents think isolating me will help with my mental health?

I don’t know your parents, so I can only speak from experience. Whenever I see someone react like this, I tend to believe they’re frightened. They’ve encountered a situation that makes them feel helpless. So they “double-down”, trying to control everything they possibly can, even if it’s the wrong thing or in the wrong way.

If this is what’s going on, it’s not as though they’ve thought it through. What I mean to say is that it’s not deliberate. They’re not thinking “I NEED CONTROL!”. It’s more an instinct really, and that’s the problem. If they’re not doing it deliberately you can’t really reason with them. They’re just acting out in the face of a frightening situation – it’s hard to imagine something more frightening to a parent than a sick child. Talking to them in this case might make things worse – challenging them may simply make them try harder.

If they’re not listening to you, try talking to someone else. You might want to start with a school counselor – someone who they perceive to be in a position of authority. If they’re religious it might be worthwhile to speak to the leader of their congregation – if you think they’ll be receptive. If you’re in therapy see if you can plan a strategy with your therapist. If you’re not in therapy, is that an option? They think mental health is a mindset. Tell them a therapist will help you improve your mindset!

What you’re looking for is a way to open a constructive dialogue. I know it’s tough. You’re the one who’s sick. Unfortunately, with any invisible condition the burden will always fall on the patient. You’ll be called upon over and over to prove this thing that can’t be seen really exists. It’s not fair, but don’t expect that to change.

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Fighting the Beast

This is the new “Forward” or “Author’s Note” I’ve written for Fighting the Beast.

I want to talk to you. You picked up this book for a reason. Maybe you thought the cover was interesting, or the title caught your eye. Maybe you went looking specifically for it. No matter how you did it, I’m glad you’re here.

It was a sunny day, I remember that. My doctor left me alone in his office – offering a little private time to collect my thoughts. Only, I didn’t have any thoughts. Every hope or dream I’d ever had derailed during that conversation. My mind was a gerbil wheel, spinning idly without reason or purpose. I walked over to the window and looked down to the street several stories below. There were little bubbles in the glass – unexpected in a high rise. Ordinary people walked down the street as though the world hadn’t just ended. I remember how the thick carpet muffled my steps, I still feel the slightly worn wood of the chair’s arm when I sat down again.

fight yourselfI don’t know how I got home that night. In shock, I don’t really remember anything except feeling somehow unhinged and disconnected. I wasn’t frightened, or angry. I felt almost alien, as though everything about me was distanced and unreal. I was trapped in a thing I had always thought of as “me”. Somehow, in the course of that afternoon, my body became “other”. It was no longer “me” – it was the enemy. Surrounded by my friends, in a city full of people, I’d never felt so alone.

That was the first time I had “the talk” but the worst was yet to come. Between now and then I’ve had that talk twice more. Each time I looked across at a doctor who offered to “give me a moment” so that I could collect myself. I’m starting to get used to it, but it doesn’t get easier.

Have you had “the talk”? You know, the one that changes your entire life? Do you know someone who’s going through it? I know it feels like it, but you’re not alone. I’ve been there. Let’s do this together.