I am not usually a grudge holder, but I have faithfully carried one for the past 13 years.
In our early years of struggle and acting out, we took our girl to a therapist who then recommended that we take her to her pediatrician and ask for an anti-depressant. The thinking was that my girl was "self-medicating" to soothe her discomfort from the depression and anxiety that plagued her little soul.
So I did.
My girl came along to the appointment of course, dressed in all of her 14 year old rebellious ware, looking outlandish and sullen. When I explained to the dr the reason for our visit, she crossed her arms and began to question us. It wasn't a conversation....it was accusatory, punitive, incredulous bullying....it was awful. She commented on my girl's appearance and how "for someone with social anxiety you sure dress in a way to draw attention to yourself." "Who is monitoring this child after school?" Me, I replied. "Well its time you reel her in Mom!" On and on it went. I was in tears by the end, feeling so ashamed. My worst fears had been confirmed by a professional. My daughter was acting out and I wasn't doing "it" right. I certainly wasn't helping the situation.
At that time I was totally and completely NOT prepared to look at what was wrong. It all felt like such a personal failure and the guilt was crushing me. I just wanted it all to get better, fast, before anyone found out how messed up we were and what a failure I was at being a mom...the very job I had wanted to be so so very good at. Perfect at.
Looking back now, I realize that the pediatrician, for whatever reasons, lack of knowledge, arrogance, made some grave mistakes in not only her assessment but her treatment of us. She did NOT give my girl a referral to the mental health dept of our then health care network. Instead she wrote out a prescription for a small dose of Prozac and sent us off, with no follow up care. If she could have gotten past my girl's appearance (black hair, plaid short skirt, ripped tshirt with safety pins, high top converse tennis shoes....you get the picture) and what she thought she knew about us....and made the referral, I have often wondered if things would have gone differently. Maybe not, maybe so. It remains one of my greatest regrets....I didn't know what to ask for, I didn't know that I was strong enough to walk out of that appointment, and I didn't know I could or should file a complaint. I didn't know how strong I really was. Or how wrong that dr. really was.
I have spent the past 13 years, inbetween rehab stints, psychiatrist visits, therapists, being mad at this woman. Wishing I could write her a scathing letter.
For my parent coaching class I am needing to read the book Beyond Addiction. As I have read, I got the big idea that I would buy an extra copy and send it to this dr. I would share my story......
This is what I would say:
Dear Dr. C.
13 years ago you were my daughters pediatrician. I brought her to you at the recommendation of her therapist because she was suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety and was cutting herself and skipping school and smoking pot and drinking. The thinking was that if she could get on an antidepressant, she would stop self medicating. You however, only saw her rebellious appearance, and what you perceived as a weak mother. You proceeded to tell us all that we were doing wrong. You begrudgingly gave her the prescription with no follow up care and no referral to mental health. I didn't know I could or should ask for one. I trusted that you knew what was best.
We have had 13 years of a journey that I couldn't even begin to go into here. I will just say that my daughter has continued to be very sick through the years.
This letter is not to assign blame. You are not the only doctor who felt they knew best only to lose interest when their methods didn't solve everything. This letter is to hopefully encourage you to see your young patients differently when they come through your door broken, lost, and feeling disgusted and hateful toward themselves. Read this book. Make the mental health referral. Be kind. Look at life from their perspective. Provide a place for them to feel safe, not judged. They are coming to you for help and guidance.
So I was ready! I felt like getting this out would purge this resentment from my spirit. I needed to do this. I was waiting in front of the hospital for little one to come out, the same facility that this pediatrician works in. I had just gotten the notification on my phone from Amazon that my book had been delivered....when a woman walking out pushing a stroller, talking on the phone said, clear as a bell, "Guess who they got to replace Dr. C....."
What?! She's not here anymore?! All these years and when I finally decide to say something, she's gone?!
And that still small voice inside me said, "Its done. Its all over. You can let this go now." I felt the weight lift. The weight of my resentment toward a misguided dr. who in my thinking had hurt my girl. Its over.....I can let it go now.
Our life is what it is. Maybe the choices Dr. C made, made no difference at all. Or maybe they did. I will never know. What I do know today is that God is in charge of our journey. That God has my girl in His hands and THAT is something that I can believe in, trust in, and count on.