“Hello, you’ve reached a counsellor. How can I help you tonight?” I waited. I heard soft sobs; he spoke so fast, I could not decipher his story. “Are you safe right now? Are you okay?”
“Yes, I am safe. I’m at home alone. My parents are at my school meeting teachers. It’s the parent-teacher meeting tonight. They are going to kill me when they get home!” His voice reached a high note and he sounded more like a young, scared child…not his fifteen years.
He called out of helplessness…a last resort. Wishing to protect his family as youths usually do, he needed to get this off his chest for the first time. Tonight, he wept on the phone for the first time a practice he was accustomed doing privately … his nightly lullaby.
He was worried about his parents’ reaction on their return. He had an 82% average and usually he got 90+ He talked about his listlessness and difficulty concentrating lately, his insomnia, his depression…
“I can’t remember a night I have not cried myself to sleep since I was 11. My parents say I exaggerate and that I’m just going through adolescence.”
We talked about these “depressed” thoughts and I suggested a doctor could help to ensure he had a proper diagnosis and address his melancholy and his insomnia; I asked him to describe what it was like for him to feel sad every day, how did he interact with friends, was he involved in sports. He said he wore a mask at school. He quickly added his parents were not abusive and supportive. “They always tell me they love me and want me to go to them if I need help.” He broke down sobbing again.
I asked him what he was thinking…I wondered what triggered the sobs. He hesitated, “Well, I know my parents mean well but they always criticize me and tell me it’s for my own good. But I am so tired of hearing them talk to me like that…it hurts so much.” He sobbed softly.
He told me what his parents often add to their supportive messages, my mouth dropped as I heard it, “We love you, we care, what are you STUPID?!” I was silent. I felt like I’d been kicked me in the belly. I could not imagine how hurtful it must feel hearing such “criticism” day after day, for so many years.
We explored which trusted adult he could ask for support. Someone who might be able to help his parents understand how he feels. He thought of a family friend, his father’s best friend. I asked him if he would consider seeing his family doctor. He seemed wary about seeing his doctor without his parents knowing even if he was permitted at his age but would consider emailing his father’s best friend after our phone call.
He sighed and said he was very tired now but would call us again. “It feels good finally getting this off my chest. Thank you.”
appraise and appreciate
does NOT denigrate.
© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/17
Photo credits: Psychology and Astrology
Something about Criticism.