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Holiday Lemonade

By December 29, 2016May 15th, 2020One Comment

Another Utah holiday visit with Chloe in the books. It’s always hard for me to leave her alone, confused as to why we’ve sent her away in the first place. Yes, she knows that she hadn’t been making good choices with friends and wasn’t attending school but beyond that, her neurological deficits prevent her from anticipating or understanding what her future might hold when making these choices. She just gets swept away in the drama of the moment.

One of our assignments during our holiday pass with her was to identify A, B and C friends. A task that stressed her and Jeff quite a bit. Chloe because she felt judged by us, and Jeff because it was all he could do to control his emotions while reading some of the posts and conversations going on between Chloe and some of the scumbag predators and users out there.

Our therapist instructed us not to discuss the friends but to simply put them into categories. Then, we will start the process of talking about what qualities embody a good friend and what do not at some point during family therapy.

I’ve always known that Chloe struggles with understanding consequences and connecting the dots, but boy was it blatantly clear a few weeks ago in therapy. We were planning for our holiday pass in Utah and our therapist was trying to help Chloe identify areas in which she could have a successful visit with us, by learning from past mistakes from our recent Thanksgiving visit.

She was having a hard time relating the concepts and didn’t understand what last visit had to do with the upcoming visit. When our therapist asked her how she was feeling, she said, “It feels like you’re trying to trick me into losing my upcoming pass.” I was floored! I asked her, “Do you trust Jon (therapist)?” “I don’t know. I haven’t known him for very long,” she replied. I asked, “Do you trust mommy and daddy to make decisions in your best interest?” “I don’t know,” she replied.

It was heartbreaking for me on so many levels. First and foremost, she’s not sure she can trust us, which I somewhat understand as we’ve had to trick her twice to get her admitted to residential treatment. And, from her point of view, she’s not really sure why she needs to be there. Secondly, her deficits in anticipating the future and connecting the dots are plainly severe. I never really understood how much so until I saw her interaction with her therapist.

It has helped me do a little reflecting on what to expect as we move through our journey with Chloe in her program, as well as supports she may need moving in the future. She is only three months into her program, so she still has a lot of time to develop, mature and learn new skills, as do we. I will admit, I’m not a patient person and Chloe has certainly taught me that good things do come to those who wait and persevere.

We always love seeing Chloe and spending time with her when we get the opportunity. We had a lot of snuggle time during our Christmas visit with her as everyone, except Jeff, ended up getting sick with the crud. Jeff and I did share a beautiful evening walk to the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple on Christmas night, which was stunning. Chloe also got to share with us her favorite hamburger joint in downtown Salt Lake, Hires Big H, on our last evening together. All-in-all, lots of love and positive time shared, in between the sniffles and coughing.

Sometimes, you only need to look another direction to find gratitude, hope and love.

Andrea Berryman Childreth

Author Andrea Berryman Childreth

Andrea Berryman Childreth is an award-winning author of the book, ON THE EDGE: Help and hope for parenting children with mental illness, founder of The Lemonade Project, advocate and parent coach. She has first-hand experience with parenting a mentally ill daughter and has struggled with mental illness, herself. Her goal is to help empower people to openly share their stories and improve access to equitable mental health services.

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