My Son Has Asked to Speak to a Therapist
Mental Health and Hemophilia: Taking Control
I live with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, and I rely on talk therapy at least once a month to keep my emotional well-being in check. The process of talking through my emotions and trusting a professional to give me new perspectives on the issues I deal with brings me peace.
Recently, my youngest son, Caeleb, asked if I could find him a mental health therapist.
I admit that I hesitated. Even though I have a healthy respect for talk therapy, and I have needed it, part of me does not want Caeleb to need a therapist. For me, there is still a stigma attached to the idea of needing to see a therapist, because it signals that there is something wrong with you. I know this is not true, of course, and I want my son to live an empowered, healthy life despite having hemophilia and having to deal with complications from the clotting factor.
At 15, Caeleb has dealt with more pain and trauma than most adults will ever endure in their lifetimes, so I understand that taking care of his mental health is critical.
For years, Caeleb has been treated with kid gloves. Everybody would tiptoe around him for fear that he might hurt himself. Considering the white pallor of his skin when he was confined to a wheelchair, it is no wonder that people were concerned for his well-being. He has been hospitalized countless times, has had problems with central venous access devices — called ports — for his infusions, has dealt with an allergy to the factor VIII clotting treatment, to a needle phobia, and numerous painful bleeding episodes. Now that he is in a place where hemophilia is not the primary focus in his life, it is no wonder he needs to talk to someone to help develop a new perspective, to help him catch up for the years that were taken away by hemophilia.
Caeleb is now looking forward to his future after high school, and it is coming quickly. He has not had the chance to catch his breath and consider the trauma he has experienced. I hope that therapy will help him process it.
It is easy for parents to forget what it was like to be a teenager. In my case, I did not have a chronic medical condition as a young person, and now, as an adult, I have a difficult time dealing with the consequences of one, so I am often amazed at how Caeleb has managed. Sometimes, I wonder how he gets up day after day. I know that I often denied and even minimized his suffering simply because I wanted him to conquer the next mountain and move on. But I won’t let my own misgivings about talk therapy get in the way of my son’s needs.
Therapy may be the outlet Caeleb needs to handle the pressures of life as a teenager, and I’ll make sure he gets it. I will continue to be by his side as he figures out what his life will look like in the years to come.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.