Don’t ig­nore men­tal health, fam­ily sup­port is crit­i­cal

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­vice.com DEAR EL­LIE

Reader’s com­men­taries re­gard­ing a “child that needs help,” in sit­u­a­tions as de­scribed by “des­per­ate fa­ther” (July 11):

Reader #1: “I’m a young adult who suf­fers from de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, and post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD), as a re­sult of emo­tional abuse from a ro­man­tic part­ner.

“Dur­ing my rough­est times, I had zero sup­port from my par­ents. When I said I was see­ing a coun­sel­lor at univer­sity, they were an­noyed that I hadn’t ‘got­ten over’ the abuse. Luck­ily, with the sup­port of the coun­sel­lor and friends, I was able to grad­u­ate and land a job.

“I imag­ine the son is go­ing through an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult time, and the par­ents prob­a­bly don’t know the full ex­tent of it. Yet they can’t force him to dis­close ev­ery­thing.

“I ad­vise them to ask him what he needs to be suc­cess­ful, and to truly lis­ten and pro­vide sup­port. Telling him which paths to take, or how he should be do­ing things, won’t be fruit­ful. He has to make those choices for him­self, and be sup­ported in his de­ci­sions.

“You can give some­one a fish, or you can teach them to fish, but you should first ask if they eat fish.”

Reader #2: “I am, was and have been the child that needed help. I’ve been deal­ing with de­pres­sion and as­sorted ec­cen­tric­i­ties, foibles and quirks that it’s foisted on me over years. I’m now 56.

“I’d tell Dis­traught Fa­ther this: Don’t do what my fam­ily did — they ig­nored it. Don’t pre­tend it’ll go away, it won’t.

“Here’s what you can tell your wife (El­lie: She won’t dis­cuss their son’s sit­u­a­tion with any­one) to ex­pect: I don’t work, haven’t in years, still suf­fer from de­pres­sion.

“Will this hap­pen to your son? If he doesn’t get help it’s very likely he’ll end up in the same space as me.

“Ask your­selves, what’ll hap­pen to your son af­ter you’re both gone and he’s truly alone?” Reader #3: “Young adults may try dif­fer­ent paths be­fore find­ing their fit. Be their cham­pion. Lis­ten. And have pa­tience.

“I’d sus­pect de­pres­sion, pos­si­ble fo­cus is­sues (a learn­ing dis­abil­ity), lack of con­fi­dence, or lack of prob­lem-solv­ing abil­ity. Or, some­thing not shared with you that’s dis­tress­ing him.

“Let him know you’re in his cor­ner. Don’t bring up past mis­takes, losses, or is­sues. Sug­gest a doc­tor’s visit for a gen­eral checkup. Say you love him and his health’s im­por­tant. Ask what he’d like, go­ing for­ward. Look at your re­la­tion­ship at home. If you change your in­ter­ac­tions to very pos­i­tive ones, he’ll be­gin to change too over time.

“If you need a men­tal health spe­cial­ist, do the re­search to find one he’ll ac­cept. Sug­gest he de­cides through a phone in­ter­view. Don’t be nosy about the ap­point­ment if he goes.

“Let him know you’re not per­fect. Most peo­ple have had a men­tal health is­sue, like de­pres­sion, at some point. Be thank­ful your child is safe in your home and you can still help him.”

Q. I have a crush on an older guy, 18. He’s su­per witty, smart, hard­work­ing. But I’m 12.

I def­i­nitely think he likes me. I play soc­cer with him and his friends. His mom works with mine. I get to see him daily.

I’m to­tally at ease with him. He’s my best/only friend.

Should I keep lov­ing him or ac­cept that I can’t date older boys?

A. You will “move on” from ado­les­cence to be­ing a teenager. It’s im­por­tant to stay open to mak­ing other friends, to share the jour­ney.

He may be a great guy, cool enough to let you join the soc­cer game. But his more grown-up in­ter­ests are be­yond your ex­pe­ri­ence and abil­ity to han­dle.

This is a starter-crush. It feels nice to think so highly of him, but un­wise to count on for more.

You al­ready know you’re not ready for that, and smart enough to ask about it.

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