(When people mistake therapy as the go-to action for “insane” individuals only…)
“This is ludicrous! Why is that quack doctor recommending therapy for my grandson? Is little Mikey crazy? We don’t have mentally insane family members – I’m sure of that. I’m not certain about your side of the family, though, Rita.” My mother-in-law said that so coldly. She always put me down and even if my husband said that his mother likes me, I know deep in my heart that she doesn’t see me as her daughter. In fact, on our wedding day, she told me that her son could do so much better.
“It’s important to have friends to talk to, but a therapist is trained to understand these matters more deeply and therefore is able to offer more than just good advice.” says Ari Tuckman, PsyD.
We’re not rich like them, nor did our family know a lot of powerful people in politics. My parents are educators and their parents (my grandparents) were educators, as well. We all know that educators are not moneyed, but it is a decent profession and frankly, it’s quite heroic. A president of a country can’t become who he is pertaining to education if not for his teachers. A doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a CPA, a banker, an entrepreneur and all the other money-making professionals in this world can’t raise that kind of cash if not for their knowledge. And where did they get that knowledge? Partly, their teachers have helped them. I’m just looking at my mother-in-law with a smile on my face because I know, one day, she will realize my worth.
“Mother, therapy is not just for the mentally unstable. Your grandson has ASD with signs of ADHD. ASD means Autism Spectrum Disorder. ADHD means Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. These are behavioral issues and not psychological problems. Mikey is not mentally unstable. He has a behavioral concern, specifically his impulse control, his lack of focus, his inattentiveness and most especially, his hyperactivity. As for our family, no – we don’t have any history of psychological or mental challenges. We also don’t have a history of behavioral issues.” I said that with class and a smile.
“Mom, isn’t Uncle Danny bipolar?” And my husband helped me out.
“He is not bipolar!!! He is depressed because his first love dumped him and he wasn’t able to recover.” His mother hastily said.
“Even after 15 years, mom? Seriously?” Replied my husband.
“Yes!” Oh, the old woman was stubborn.
“Mom, I love you – but if you ever belittle my wife again, I won’t show myself and my son to you. Nothing is wrong with Rita’s blood. The problem is with our blood. I just recently discovered that I have ADHD and that’s one of the main possible reasons why little Mikey has it.” My husband revealed to his mother.
“You don’t have ADHD, you’re not crazy darling. It’s just that you were a physical boy. You love sports and you want to be playing all the time. Look where it got you. You’re a professional ballplayer.” She said.
“Exactly, mom. Good thing, I am a professional athlete and my ADHD was put to good use. What if it wasn’t? Rita has supported me all the way and this is not her fault. So, please. She is just telling you that our son has a disorder and that we are pushing through with therapy.” My husband concluded.
“I’m just telling you darling that we don’t have the “crazy” genes.” The old woman replied. I tried to control my chuckle.
“ADHD is not “crazy”, mother. And yes – we have the crazy genes. Look at your brother! There’s drool coming out of his mouth, at times. Enough of this. We’re just here to inform you of Mikey and that’s that.” He stood up and left the room.
“Mother, Michael and I together with little Mikey will be having a family therapy session once a week. Maybe, you’d like to join us so that we can all help out Michael and Mikey with their behavioral issues. The therapist said it can be managed and people can cope with it. It would make all of us happy if you join us.” I told her with a reassuring smile on my face.
“But I’m not crazy.” She said.
I said, “Ok, mom. We have to go. Michael’s honking. I hope you’d change your mind. We’d love to have you there with us, as a family.”
We all left her house and Michael was still very pissed. When we got home, my phone rang and it was mother-in-law calling.
“Rita, I’d like to talk to that therapist and give her a piece of my mind. Michael doesn’t have ADHD and little Mikey don’t have that ADHD too. Hmmmm…. What’s ADHD again?” She said.
“Ok, mom. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday at 2 PM here in our home.” I said. At least, she wanted to join our session. Hoping the therapist can enlighten her so that she’d stop saying that only “crazy” people need therapy. And yes, she needs to learn about ASD and ADHD too. Online therapy can assist with that.
“Some people believe that therapists push their ideas and agendas on their clients. However, a good clinician helps you re-discover or regain your voice, not lose it.” says Amy Pershing, LMSW.