To be honest, I don’t think I really understood the value in a caring connected relationship, as I never really had one with a trusted adult until very recently. My parents, while they definitely love and care about me, don’t really talk about feelings much, nor do they necessarily believe that mental health concerns are as serious as they are. I was raised thinking that all I needed to do in life was work hard, and if something wasn’t going right, it was because I wasn’t working hard enough. I went through high school with this view on life.
It wasn’t until university that I realized that something might actually be up. I started seeking out other adults (service providers), and while they validated that I was indeed dealing with anxiety and depression, I didn’t really feel supported on an emotional level. Sure, they were treating my symptoms and trying to get me through, but I never really felt like they cared. I’d get in trouble for showing up late to a 9am appointment when it took everything I had to just get out of bed that morning. I felt talked down to and misunderstood, and even started to blame myself for these things.
The last couple years, things have been better. I’ve learned to advocate for myself more, and have managed to find a few counselors who I felt somewhat comfortable talking to. No one really blew me away until I very recently started seeing a psychiatrist for ADHD.
I have never felt so supported by any professional in my life! Even though I’m only supposed to be seeing her for ADHD, she spares time to talk about my other mental health concerns as well. She empowers me to want to change, and makes me feel like I’m worth it
When discussing medication, we make decisions together. When we talk about what I could do to improve certain things, she asks me what I think first. One time, she started giving input on a certain situation only to stop herself and say ‘Why am I talking? You know yourself better!’ and encouraged me to speak first. When I talk to her, I don’t feel talked down to at all. I feel like I’m on the same level.
I wish I had had something like this earlier, but I am so thankful that I have this now. It can make such a difference to a young person to feel heard, to feel like they and their opinions matter. The ability to have input and collaborate on decisions will empower children and youth to put themselves first and see that they’re worth it.