A day or two ago, Jax had an appointment with a psychiatrist. Jax has never met this man before, but I have, and I like him a lot. He regurgitates mountains of stuff from memory, has a Harvard degree, and is smart, smart, smart. All good stuff when you’re a mom seeking advice for your child, but I like him because he’s a helper and he takes it very seriously.
Jax has been hanging out in, what he calls, the “dark mind.” This isn’t new, but it’s not something we ignore. We’ve seen psychs before, but they have deferred to the other experts on Jax’s team and their treatments. Jax’s emotional stuff has always gone hand-in-hand with Jax’s medical stuff.
But the medical stuff has been at bay so I called up this psychiatrist I like so much and set an appointment. Mostly I wanted to cross it off my list. No stone unturned.
I rattled off the therapies and treatments and meds that we had tried to help Jax feel better and safer. I have a list and it’s several pages long. I’m not a rookie at this, I know the drill and I know what comes next. “Well, you’ve certainly tried everything so why don’t we try (insert something like a gluten-free diet, yet another SSRI, or a $400 supplement that can only be found at the peak of Kilimanjaro in the second week November) for a few months?”
What I got instead was, “None of his doctors have treated him medically for PTSD?”
“Huh? Isn’t that what this was for, and this and this?”
“Those are for Symptom X and Symptom Y, but they aren’t front-line medications for PTSD.”
I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember the conversation or the words or even much of the explanation. What I remember is that there is something real, something tangible that we haven’t tried. Something that, according to this doctor, could be a game-changer for my son. Something that could lighten up the dark mind, shift his inherent joy back to front and center, reduce his worries and his impulses and his fear. Big stuff.
It’s not the challenges that break you; it’s the hope.
A hundred times I’ve been asked “have you tried this?” and a hundred times I have run to the pharmacy or the health food store or the cannabis dispensary armed with the hope of maybe this time. And each and every time it didn’t help Jax feel better, I broke a little bit.
Finally, when there was nothing left to try – no more magic pills to swallow, no more exotic supplements to boil into tea – I settled. With everything crossed off the list, I was able to settle in at the top of that zen plateau called acceptance and say Jax is Jax. I have tried everything to help my son.
Until today. When I left my perch and stood, once again, in line at the pharmacy with my brain reminding me that Jax is a different kid and what works for others doesn’t usually work for him so don’t get your hopes up, Becca. But my heart – creeping up in the background, unable to be quiet, unable to give up hope – whispering maybe this time.
Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, follow her on Instagram.