Why did you wait so long to get me help?

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Since kindergarten, Athena and her parents have known about her learning differences, and those were treated early on. But her severe anxiety wasn’t. Today, she’s asking her mom Cassie: why was it so hard for you to get me the help I needed, and what took you so long?

Looking for resources? Visit ineedtoaskyousomething.org for info on how to strengthen relationships, deal with traumatic events, and get help.

Dr. Monica Band is the host of this show and consultant with the Jed Foundation. Chrystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer, and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and original music by Bobby Woody. Additional music by Andi Kristinsdottir. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson. Jackie Danziger is our VP of Narrative Content. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs.

This series was created with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults. Find ways to manage your emotional health, cope with challenges, and support the people in your life at jedfoundation.org. 

This series is presented by Hopelab, a social innovation lab and impact investor supporting the mental health of adolescents, ages 10-25, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Learn more at hopelab.org

This series is also presented by the Stupski Foundation, returning resources to the communities it calls home in Hawaiʻi and the San Francisco Bay Area by 2029 to support just and resilient food, health, and higher education systems for all. Learn more at stupski.org. 

This series is also presented by the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Learn more at luminafoundation.org.

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To follow along with a transcript, go to lemonadamedia.com/show/ shortly after the air date.



Cassie, Dr. Monica Band, Athena

Dr. Monica Band  00:01

This episode includes conversations about anxiety and learning differences. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself. And if you need to take a moment to pause while listening, we’ll be here when you’re ready.

Athena  01:02

The anxiety was such a source of shame. I was trying to hide to my best of my ability. I mean, I wasn’t hiding it at home, but I was hiding it from my friends. I was hiding it from school I was I didn’t want to face it because by that stage, I was just so wound up with self hatred.

Cassie  01:35

I think I probably had it confused with depression. I didn’t see it as being caught in these thought loops that you can’t get out of.

Athena  01:45

For years I struggled with an anxiety disorder and it was compounded with learning disability and while the learning disability was diagnosed, the anxiety went largely ignored.

Cassie  01:56

I was scared of what another diagnosis meant.

Athena  02:00

For the longest time, I was really nervous to admit that I had a problem even though it was the worst kept secret in the world.

Cassie  02:10

We weren’t recognizing that this was actually majorly inhibiting her life and her ability to be happy and her ability to have just even function.

Dr. Monica Band  02:23

Meet Cassie and her 24 year old daughter Athena. Today, Athena is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. But years ago, she never thought she’d make it to a top school. Sure, she studied hard and did really well in her classes. But it wasn’t easy for her because she was living with undiagnosed anxiety, the panic attacks, low self esteem and negative thought patterns. They were debilitating and got progressively worse. On top of all of that, when Athena was a kid, she was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. For her this made reading and writing really difficult. This meant that school could be frustrating at best and agonizing at worst. learning differences or LD for short run in Athena’s family. Her mom Cassie has dyslexia so she knew exactly what to look out for when Athena started school. But her family felt less equipped when it came to her anxiety. Today we’ll dive into two questions that have been has been wanting to ask her mom for years.

Athena  03:25

Why was it so hard for her to get me help? And what took you so long to get me the help I needed?

Dr. Monica Band  03:31

This is I Need To Ask You Something and I am your host, Dr. Monica Band.

Cassie  03:49

I kind of go back to a moment when I think you were probably 7 or 8 years old, maybe even younger. And you would ask me the same question over and over again. Like Mommy I touched liquid cleaner or something and then I touched my finger to my mouth. Am I gonna die? And I would think no, no, Athena, you’re fine. You know, wash your hands, you’re fine. You would then ask me again, 10 minutes later, and then 10 minutes later, and then 10 minutes later.

Dr. Monica Band  04:16

That’s Cassie. Athena is mom describing one of her earliest memories of Athena is anxiety. But at the time, that’s not the word Cassie used to describe it.

Cassie  04:26

I remember thinking, does she have obsessive compulsive disorder? And I was working with depression. I was working with anxiety, but you were so high achieving that it was like could that really be the issue?

Dr. Monica Band  04:41

Through her work, Cassie became familiar with the signs and symptoms of diagnoses like depression and anxiety, but she didn’t register her daughter’s behaviors on the same way. For Theano. Worrying about the liquid cleaner as a seven year old was one of many anxious episodes that piled up over the years twice. She reached a breaking point, once during junior year of high school. And again, in college.

Athena  05:07

I was succeeding getting like A’s at University of Chicago, yet I still had this sensation that any moment, the pin was going to drop, like people were going to find out that I was not good enough. And it was beginning to affect my grades, I mean, not heavily, but it was enough that it was contributing to the cycle in my head of, oh my god, this is the moment where like, people find out that I’m a failure.

Dr. Monica Band  05:31

At the time, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for thena to have multiple panic attacks. And one week, these would last for hours, which to her felt like an eternity, breathing became more difficult, and the tears wouldn’t stop. And those negative thought loops that kept creeping in, they would leave the theater feeling guilty, exhausted, and less than when she went to her parents for support. The responses then, and throughout her childhood kind of varied.

Athena  05:59

With mom, she just something’s wrong with me don’t know what’s wrong. When she’s angry at me, Athena, you know, laugh in the world laughs or if you cry and you cry alone, you’re on your own right? Or don’t throw a pity party or any of that where my dad though it was almost like he didn’t recognize it fully. It’s a problem because it was like, Well, everyone, all the women in my family are like this, you know, so he’s was really good at being able to kind of get me back to my logical brain of like, a Fina? Have you slept? No, go get some sleep, you’ll feel better. Let’s see now have you eaten today? Had a granola bar earlier, go eat something.

Dr. Monica Band  06:38

I’m hearing that. And I’d love for you, Cassie, to correct me if I’m wrong here. The overachieving nature of how like how you were witnessing your daughter, it just didn’t add up to what you thought at the time anxiety was, what did we think anxiety looked like then that we know differently?

Cassie  06:56

You know, I think I probably had it confused with depression, I kind of thought it was not getting out of bed. And not being able to function. I didn’t see it as being caught in these thought loops that you can’t get out of. And then the anger that sometimes goes with those thought loops. I was raised by parents who were immigrants from a former British colony. And so you know, the pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and the stiff upper lip and laughing the world laughs with you cry, you cry alone, you know, so that stiff upper lip, British thing, I think was a huge mental hurdle for me to get over because one hand I had my my mother in law saying everyone our families like this. And on the other hand, I had my side of the family who was like, if there is something wrong, you just you go to a private place and you do not share it.

Dr. Monica Band  07:50

At fina at the time, how was that for you? How different was that for you?

Athena  07:54

My dad wouldn’t lose it with me where my mom wouldn’t like you’d lose it. But that’s because you didn’t know what to do. But it wasn’t healthy. Either normalizing it to the point of, you know, oh, this is no big deal. This is just our family. And it wasn’t healthy. Any of it? No, you know, no, either.

Dr. Monica Band  08:16

It’s on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Athena  08:19

Yeah. Would having panic or anxiety, it’d be much easier to talk to my dad, but like, we shouldn’t have normalized it.

Dr. Monica Band  08:26

What did that do for your relationship with your mom at the time if it was easier to talk to dad?

Athena  08:32

I mean, I definitely worsened it. I remember I was panicking right before like a math test freshman year of college. And I tried to call my dad but you picked up dad cell phone, mom, and you got really mad and heard that it was like, Well, why don’t you talk want to talk to me about it? And I’m like, because it’s going to end in a fight. And it did end in a fight. Yep. It’s about like, you know, you were such an advocate for me and so many other areas. You didn’t understand this, the irrationality of it was something you couldn’t understand. I mean, it’s hard to deal with somebody who’s being irrational, right. But anxiety is irrational. That’s that’s the nature of anxiety. Otherwise, it’s justified fear. That was never about whatever I was saying it was about it was just the feeling of fear. And it was even worse when I couldn’t pin it down, because then you can’t logic your way out of it. Right? And it’s just infuriating for both you and everyone around you.

Cassie  09:28

Yeah, I would throw my hands up. And I would hand her off to her father and her dad was better at it. But then he would come home. And he would just be completely and utterly exhausted, drained. And then she would keep calling and then it was like, Okay, who’s gonna deal with her, and then my son would go hide in the basement because he didn’t want to deal with it. So all three of us were kind of looking at each other like, okay, who’s going to deal with her now? You know, you just, you just didn’t quite know what to do.

Dr. Monica Band  09:55

What’s it like for you now to hear? I mean, you’re hearing your mom say I do. Don’t know what to do. And it sounds like there’s kind of this handoff hot potato situation, can you share what’s going on for you right now?

Athena  10:07

It’s bringing back a lot of bad emotions of like, remembering a lot of the self hatred that came with this period. Because I knew no one wanted to deal with me. But I couldn’t work my way out of it. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t stop the thoughts. And when I was alone, it was way worse.

Dr. Monica Band  10:26

Would you care to share what happened when you were alone?

Athena  10:30

Just the spiraling like, there was no way out on my own. You know, I just I felt like the need to reach out to someone because it felt like I was falling. And it’s just the feeling of I can’t be alone with us, like, I gotta escape this, I can’t escape by reaching out to someone. The anxiety was such a source of shame. I was trying to hide to my best of my ability. I mean, I wasn’t hiding it at home, but I was hiding it from my friends, I was hiding it from school like it was. I didn’t want to face it. Because at that point, by that stage, I was just so wound up with self hatred.

Dr. Monica Band  11:07

Athena, there is something in your voice that changes when you think back to that time in which that self hatred was really strong. And if you’re willing, it could be helpful to like, really hear the depth of what you mean, when you refer to that time of your life what was going on? When you say self hatred.

Athena  11:31

It had mostly to do with guilt, you know, that was the strongest emotion. Because anytime I had anxiety after the panic had faded, there was no real relief because you feel guilt. And it’s the guilt of not handling things better. It’s the guilt of being a burden on those you love. It’s the guilt of, you know, dragging people down and it’s the guilt of not understanding what’s wrong with me. Why can I handle this when everyone else seems to wake? Why am I so afraid of stuff that rational Athena even at the time would be like, I know, I have no reason to be afraid, but I am absolutely terrified.

Dr. Monica Band  12:09

What was the guilt telling you, Athena?

Athena  12:11

The guilt was that I was making my loved ones lives worse by being in it, you know?

Dr. Monica Band  12:17

Oh, baby. No, you know, you always in that stage, were apologizing every two minutes. It was almost like your catchphrase. But you know, you had nothing to apologize for. We love you so much. And you bring us so much joy in our lives. And there’s there’s no shame here at all.

Dr. Monica Band  12:37

I wonder in reflection, if at the time we talk about societal messages, were talking about how influential your mom’s upbringing and I think the trickle down effect of that kind of intergenerational narrative had on that experience of self hatred, that kind of aloneness, like, I need to do this on my own. I need to figure this out. I need to there’s a part of me that should know better.

Athena  13:00

Yeah, no, I mean, it’s definitely those messages made me feel like there was something wrong with me. And there was something bad, you know, the laugh in the world laughs If she would cry and you cry alone was a message of get your shit together, or no one will be there.

Dr. Monica Band  13:17

Cassie, what’s that like to hear your daughter, like really internalize that old family message?

Cassie  13:25

It makes me realize how totally wrong that message is. You know, and I think that that’s the other thing that, you know, we’re able to look back and say, Wow, a lot of that culture was really stifling, and really unhealthy. And it’s, it’s hard to take a look at the way you were raised in your 40s and 50s. And suddenly go, wow, that’s just really screwed up.

Athena  13:49

Yeah, and I mean, you wouldn’t recognize it as just how screwed up it is. Because this was initially you ever had, right? Like you were really good and advocating for things that we share, like dyslexia and stuff, you were able to be my ally and my advocate, because you understood it. There was no way and no one who hasn’t had anxiety can fully understand that feeling.

Dr. Monica Band  14:13

An anxious episode or a panic attack can feel really frightening to the person who’s in it. But to an outsider, especially someone who’s never experienced severe anxiety, these symptoms can be easy to dismiss. It’s fair to say that some people are able to hide their anxiety pretty well. They get straight A’s win the top prize at the Science Fair play a major role in the school play. It’s their way of channeling it. In forgiving her mom. Avena is recognizing that Cassie missed the signs of her anxiety. This is an important moment, especially after hearing Cassie admit that she didn’t show up for her daughter when Athena really needed her to more when we come back. Before the break, we met Athena and her mom, Cassie, Athena told us just how hard she tried to manage her anxiety on top of her dyslexia and dysgraphia. When Athena was younger, she opened up to her parents about her mental health concerns. But once those conversations ended, she was left to make sense of them alone. She couldn’t access the help she desperately needed to calm her severe anxiety, which was only getting worse.

Athena  17:54

You feel like you’re being chased by a monster in a pit. Like the anxiety makes it all consuming and it gets in the way for your ability to learn, you know. So and I do think some of that stems from my early experiences with dyslexia, and basically a kindergarten teacher who said I was going to amount to nothing, I’d never go to college like all of this fear of, they’re going to see in me what she saw in me.

Dr. Monica Band  18:21

At the age of five, Athena had what she now recognizes as her first panic attack. She was sitting at her desk trying to learn how to write the letter S and cursive. She kept asking herself, does the s face left? Or does it face right? The clock was ticking. And she felt like she couldn’t breathe. That monster was tailing her now chasing her further and further down into the depths of the pit. She started to cry. And the kindergarten teacher was anything but sympathetic.

Athena  18:53

She wanted me out of her school she eventually kicked me out illegally. Like I I was feeling anxiety as a kid. So I didn’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the class. And that was another reason she used to justify expelling me was that I mumbled the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, right? So when it’s any little mess up is seen as proof and vindication of You’re not worth teaching, you don’t have a future, you know, it’s really hard not to internalize some of that stuff. And then it just contributes to this sense of, oh, if I mess up in any little way, like people will see me as less than and believe I don’t belong, where I’m, you know where I am here. And you know, even to this day, there are some people who are very much under the impression of Oh, learning disability is not real and you’ve encountered those people of you’re faking right, like you can’t really be LD and go to University of Chicago. I had a classmate say that to me. Luckily, these attitudes are shifting, you know, it’s definitely not what it was like in your day, mom, but that’s true.

Cassie  19:53

Right where my college counselor said if I admitted that I had a learning disability that I would never get into any school at all. You have died.

Dr. Monica Band  20:02

Yeah, I mean history history didn’t exactly repeat itself. But Athena was experiencing a lot of targeted. Well, you know,

Cassie  20:09

Ironically, I was worried that I might have kids with dyslexia. And so I thought that I would outsmart the world. And I got her into, you know, the top local prep schools had to have the interview and everything at age three. Yeah, they interviewed a three year old, you know, gotta read and I thought, well, what she’s in, she’s in, right. I had no clue about school and fit. And I learned really valuable lessons, that there’s a lot of different types of schools out there. And it’s super important that you find one that fits.

Dr. Monica Band  20:45

I want to go back to something you said about you use this phrase, kind of outsmarting the world. And it was like, let me try to get ahead of this, because it’s highly likely that my children will go through something similar. I understand that I know how difficult it was for me, maybe I’m focusing on achievement or prestige, or something that gives them a leg up early, will get ahead of it. Is that correct? That was like at the time, that was the strategy.

Cassie  21:09

Well, I wasn’t so worried about achievement. My challenge with Athena as a child, is if you think of a bell curve, she comprehended stories at a seventh grade level in kindergarten, but unable to identify or sequence the alphabet. So I was terrified, because what happened to me as they refuse to teach me to read, and I got that sense that I had been thrown away. And there was no special education back in the early 70s, when I was an elementary school. So they had this real simple system, which was throw them in the lowest reading group and never call that lowest reading group. And I would go to school every day and say to my mom, do you think they’ll call my reading group? And they never did. So what I was trying to do for Athena was I was trying to make sure she wouldn’t have that experience. And of course, I ended up backfiring. 100%.

Dr. Monica Band  22:04

Athena, at the time did young, you know that? This was happening that your mom carried these kinds of thoughts, and this was the strategy or plan for you?

Athena  22:17

I knew there was something wrong with me. But I didn’t know what.

Dr. Monica Band  22:21

Oh, that’s powerful. Yeah.

Athena  22:24

I didn’t know your plan, of course, in sending me to the school, but I knew that there was something really wrong with me. And I knew that people were watching me, fail. Like my teacher. She thought something was wrong with me. And I thought something was wrong with me.

Dr. Monica Band  22:41

Your mom said the phrasing it backfired earlier kind of an honest admission there in recognizing that, would you agree it backfired?

Athena  22:51

In some ways? Yes. I mean, it sucks that I got kicked out. It’s suck that I experienced that from so young. But if you’d sent me to the public school, it just would have happened later, I still would have been singled out with peers with LD eventually, this would have been a problem. But at least I was diagnosed early, which was a benefit. And I was moved to a learning disabled school from a very young age, which helped me learn those basic skills, you know, at a level I could?

Dr. Monica Band  23:18

Mom, does that. Does that comfort you a little bit to realize like, I feel like it backfired, but in a way something came out of it.

Cassie  23:25

It does. It does. You know, hindsight being 100%, right, I went on a mission to learn about every single school in the area. And I began to learn that there’s a whole journey of schools and fit and those were things I didn’t know about. When Athena was little, you know, from there on, I think you were pretty happy at the learning different school. And I felt like you were really happy in high school too. And I felt like you had a good fit with your high school.

Athena  23:53

Yeah, no, I definitely did. Again, I am eternally grateful mom, for you putting in that effort to find good places for me, you know, and it sucks that those feelings of failure, you know, plus probably a genetic predisposition. Judging from my father’s side, you know, it’s hard to pull the two apart.

Dr. Monica Band  24:14

But I noticed you both laugh when you bring up the dad side of Is there anything to that? Just the laughing?

Cassie  24:21

I think it’s more just laughing at the fact that I fell in love with this incredibly brilliant guy at University of Chicago who was a mathematical genius. And that part of I think the attraction was is that I looked at that and said, Boy, you know, I’m lacking with my learning disability. Wouldn’t it be great if I’ve got kids that don’t have my learning disability? And of course, it was the dating question we never asked. I reminded him of his mother, his mother had dyslexia. I had dyslexia he naturally picks up the slack for my dyslexia and kind of acts as my crutch in the world. Because he always did it for his mom, so he just naturally did it for me, and Of course, we produce children with dyslexia, we outnumber them.

Dr. Monica Band  25:04

Oh my gosh. And also though to say like, even in the language, I noticed the subtleties of saying, you know, my partner is XYZ and I’m lacking in this area, and it just seems like they’re still even just little remnants of feeling inadequate or less than or not good enough. Sometimes when it comes to maybe that lived experience of living with LD, did you notice you saying that? And Athena? Yeah, go ahead. And you say?

Athena  25:37

Yeah, no, I did. It is so much framed as like a lacking, you know, and it’s like a weakness. But like, he’s also I just want to bring up that it is, it is a strength to some extent, in terms of things like creativity and thinking out of the box. And I think it helps you see, like, the big picture and make connections and things. So yeah.

Cassie  25:54

It’s a double edged sword. I am really good at strategic thinking like a lot of people with dyslexia. Athena is really good artistically, like a lot of people with dyslexia. And, you know, you do have to remind yourself that, hey, I wouldn’t have achieved in my career, what I’ve achieved, most likely if I didn’t have it, because it’s packaged deal. But on the flip side, I also have to explain to a lot of people why the Vice President of Marketing can’t spell simple words. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Monica Band  26:21

Thank you. You have a sibling, right? Yes, I have a younger brother. How have you navigated your mental health journey with without noticing your brother?

Athena  26:34

Guilty, in a way, because when I was having panic, I would take attention away from him. Like, if I’m in crisis, like his problems were kind of shifted off to the side and my brother, you know, the hiding in the basement comment earlier? Sounds about right. But my brother is kind of like that with most issues. He’s happy go lucky, right? I think the world is falling apart. And he could be in actually really needing help. But he’ll be Oh, everything will work itself out. It’ll all be good.

Dr. Monica Band  26:58

Cassie, what was going through your mind when you heard Athena voice, her guilt and her worry?

Cassie  27:04

I don’t think she I don’t think she needs to feel guilty. You were sick. And I think he understands that too. And I think he’s in an okay place. So I don’t think you need to feel guilt at all. And I know he, he absolutely loves you to bit.

Dr. Monica Band  27:21

When it comes to this feeling or sense of being burdensome. I go back to our earlier example of what it was like, in real time when your family was trying to figure out solutions. And I can see how that could feel like you were a burden at the time. But what would that rational mind or that balanced perspective then be?

Athena  27:43

I mean, I think the balanced rational perspective was that they were doing the best they could. And, you know, they were trying out different ways to help me in the way that they could. And I needed I needed outside help, you know, to get it under control.

Cassie  27:58

Yeah, you know, at first, at least, we weren’t recognizing that this was actually majorly inhibiting her life and her ability to be happy, and her ability to just even function. And eventually the anxiety got so bad that, you know, we did, we’re going to recognize it. But once we recognized it, she had so much anxiety about talking to anybody about her anxiety, and then also that fear of being found out, you know, kept her from wanting to talk to people. So I did take her to a neuropsychologist when she was in high school. And she sobbed the entire time. And he said, Well, we couldn’t really make much progress, because she just kind of sobbed the whole time. But I think she’s just worried about getting into college, and she’ll be better after she gets into college. And sure enough, she was much better after she got into college. But again, it was a missed opportunity, because we should have been asking the question will like why is she sobbing about just going into the psychiatrist?

Dr. Monica Band  28:59

So the psychiatrists wasn’t totally off base. Athena did feel better after getting into the University of her dreams. And while that might have provided some relief to those anxious thoughts, it didn’t get rid of them. Going to college without leaving home, and leaving behind the people who are just beginning to understand how her anxiety and her LD intersected. For Athena, all these changes felt daunting, and the competitive academics reminded her of the panic and doubt she felt in kindergarten, when keeping up with the other kids felt impossible. This environment pushed Athena deeper into her anxiety. Remember that monster that was chasing her into the depths of the pit, the one that had gone unnoticed and neglected for so long? Well, it was catching up fast, and Athena had to finally face the monster, and in doing so, confront her anxiety. We’ll hear more about that when we return. Welcome back. A few years ago, Athena was in her junior year of undergrad and her mental health was deteriorating. Her panic attacks, those negative thought loops. And that feeling of self hatred, were becoming almost constant. She couldn’t ignore it any longer. This, in addition to her learning differences, meant that Athena needed a support plan tailor made for multiple diagnoses. So she got the name of a psychiatrist through a family friend. And the follow through, felt intimidating.

Athena  32:09

I was sobbing going into that office, I was so scared to address this and addressing it felt like I was admitting that I was a failure, and that I was selfish for basically needing help when no one else seemed to. And there was objectively nothing wrong with my life.

Dr. Monica Band  32:27

I’m glad you point that out. Because I think for some people hearing that it’s important to recognize like that seems counterintuitive. But actually, that’s what makes it worse almost is sort of this kind of I should have this figured out, I am supposed to have this figured out, I need to do this on my own. And to hear you say like, asking for help felt like somewhat of a failure and of itself that I couldn’t do these things, or that I needed help in a way that I couldn’t help myself. Thank you for sharing that. Okay, Cassie, how was that to hear your daughter explained that?

Cassie  33:04

Well, you know, it’s on the one hand, it’s painful, obviously, because it’s your child, and you never want your child to go through anything. On the other hand, I’m also really proud of her because she’s gone through a lot. And she’s learned a lot. And we never needed her to be perfect. And you know, she used to say, No, I have to be perfect. And we need to kind of argue with her and say nobody’s perfect. And she’d be like, well, I will be and you know, so it’s really exciting to hear her, you know, understand and accept the fact that we’re all human. And that, you know, we will always love her no matter what,

Athena  33:40

I mean, there’s a sense of relief, even though I know that rationally, you know, I know you don’t need me to be so amazing, even if accepting my own limitations. And my own humanity was really tough.

Cassie  33:52

But you did an amazing job. You really did. And I’m sorry, we didn’t recognize it earlier. You know, I’ve asked myself that many times. Like why didn’t we recognize it earlier? In

Dr. Monica Band  34:02

hindsight, of course, because that’s what we have today. What do you think prevented you from pushing on that a little bit more?

Cassie  34:09

I think I wanted her to be fine. I mean, I didn’t want my child to have mental illness, right? I didn’t want my child to have medications. I was scared of medications. I was scared of what a diagnosis of mental illness meant.

Dr. Monica Band  34:21

Where did those fears come from? I’m curious to know if there were some past experiences you had or even personal ones that contributed to some of those fears.

Cassie  34:29

I think that the fears came from the fact that I had worked with patients with mental illness. Now admittedly, it was serious mental illness. I’d worked with patients who lived with schizophrenia. I had worked with a lot of people living with depression. And I didn’t want her labeled. I was worried about medication and side effects. So I was really nervous about just going down that entire slippery slope and what all that meant.

Dr. Monica Band  34:58

I’m going to do Back in two with you, Athena and hearing some of your mom’s initial concerns about this reasons why maybe she didn’t take it upon herself to investigate, I think it’s a good intentioned space, and yet it delayed it, your ability to receive care sooner. How is that for you to hear your mom’s worries?

Athena  35:19

It’s tough, but it makes sense. I mean, I think I had some of the same fears to I didn’t want to think I had a problem. I didn’t want the stigma.

Dr. Monica Band  35:27

Yeah, to that end, like, I think that’s what I’m hearing from mom, I’m hearing like most of my regret or guilt comes from, maybe it’s those family narratives or me getting in my own way, sometimes is to not really push on getting you help earlier. Right. And then the other part is like, interestingly enough, I think you both have this in common. Asking for help is hard. And you yourself, were scared to tears to receive help. So you actually have things in common from my perspective?

Athena  36:00

No, I think that’s, that’s, that’s spot on. I mean, we were both scared of what that meant having anxiety and the social stigma around it. And it was just having it undiagnosed and untreated was so much worse, you know, oh,

Cassie  36:15

gosh, if I could tell any parents, I was so scared to have her on medications. And I was so scared of like, what kind of slippery slope we’d go down. And I got my daughter back. And it was like, why did we not do this sooner? It was just, you know, amazing.

Athena  36:31

Yeah, even so I also don’t want to like mitigate the effects of therapy too. With this, you know, a lot of the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques really worked extremely well for me, and that it was much easier to access the logical part of my brain, you know, it was a lot of, okay, when you’re feeling anxiety. Let’s try to be rational. Think about the pros and cons of the situation, let’s write them down. Let’s mentally get you back into a place of being able to recognize and sometimes it’s the recognizing that the anxiety has nothing to do with your situation around you just be like, Okay, I’m feeling this and just kind of watch it going by like a train, right? I think while the medication did a lot for making the anxiety, less extreme, when it happened, the therapy was actually what was necessary to get me better.

Dr. Monica Band  37:17

They complemented each other. And Mom, you said something earlier, too, about coming in with stigma around medication, and you wouldn’t, that’s not a unique story. There’s lots of folks who have stigma about starting or even what medication might do. What changed for you, and how has it changed?

Cassie  37:36

I think it’s education on my part, and earthiness part, right? You know, and I just wish that I had have maybe learned a little bit faster than what I did learn. And when I eventually started to learn about anxiety, and what anxiety was and how it worked.

Dr. Monica Band  37:51

Can I pause you right there, because I hear you using a lot of the language today of like, I wish I knew I could have known. You never actually said the word. But do you hold regret?

Cassie  38:04

Regrets a good word for it. It is Regret.

Dr. Monica Band  38:09

How are we making sense of all that regret?

Cassie  38:12

Like I said, you know, I kind of look towards the future. So I can’t go back and I can’t change anything. I don’t have a time machine. Wish I did. have it figured out time travel, let me know when you do. I’ll let you know what I do. But you know, what we can do in the future is try to understand a little bit better. So you know, you learn from your kids, they are probably your best teachers. And I learned that it’s okay for me not to have a stiff upper lip. It’s okay for me to say, Yeah, I’m feeling kind of crappy today. And I think I’ve also learned that my reality is not everybody else’s reality. And there’s a lot of different realities out there based on the fact that we got a lot of diversity not only in the outside of our bodies, but the inside of our bodies and how we’re wired, how we think how we experience the world, what information we’re processing. And that’s probably one of the greatest gifts of being a parent is you actually begin to get to experience the world through other people’s eyes, as opposed to just yours. And it’s, it’s an amazing experience. And so I’ve been really lucky. Thank you.

Dr. Monica Band  39:18

I love that reflection. You know, we start at the top of our time with you asking a question to your mom, a few actually about, why did it take so long the difference in the way LD was treated versus anxiety and why it was hard for mom to come to terms with and then also help you get the help you needed. Do you feel like your question was answered?

Athena  39:41

I think they were you know, I mean, I think this was a useful reflection of something that was really challenging, and I think this was an important conversation to have.

Dr. Monica Band  39:52

Yeah, thank you. So let’s talk a little bit about the future. What are our hope For the future, for both of you your relationships individually?

Athena  40:04

I mean, my hope is that I still managed to like, be in like the state that I’m in where I’ve gotten this under control. But I’m not really worried about slipping backwards, because I’ve got so many more tools now. And I’ve got so much hindsight that like, I know how to reach out and get help if I need it. And that’s something that’s really powerful. I’m also with my mom, you know, I just, I never want to go back to that state, again, of feeling like we’re having so much miscommunication and so much lack of understanding. So I’m really glad I’m no longer spiraling.

Cassie  40:40

I’m also glad that we’re able to see the world a little bit more through your eyes than we were able to that I was able to see it before. And I I appreciate that I really do.

Dr. Monica Band  40:51

At this point, you know, what might you need for mom, presently in the future?

Athena  40:57

I mean, I just I want you to know that you shouldn’t feel any guilt or want to go back. I mean, yeah, of course, we’d want to go back and change things, but like, it wasn’t your fault. You know, wasn’t my fault either. And remember that I love you. And I’m really grateful for all you’ve done for me. We love you, too. You are just one of the brightest things that have ever happened in our lives is to have you in it.

Dr. Monica Band  41:25

Today’s conversation was just as much about Athena’s healing and acceptance as it was about Cassie’s. For too long, Athena’s anxiety got in the way of learning, loving herself and getting help. It plagued her with negative thoughts and made her constantly compare herself to others. But little by little, she’s showing herself more compassion, and things. To Athena’s experience, Cassie is now able to talk about mental health more openly. She’s learning that not everybody’s reality is the same as hers. It may sound obvious, but many of us prevent ourselves from supporting someone. Because we convince ourselves that we can’t relate, we can look to something called radical acceptance for some strategies. radical acceptance doesn’t mean you’re giving up or being passive about a situation. Instead, it’s about getting to a place of accepting the limitations of your own experiences, and not letting those dictate how you relate to others or the world around you. radical acceptance helps us focus on responding to the things we can control. And it’s a powerful shift in mindset. Thank you to Athena and Cassie for showing up in such an honest way. See you next week. This is I need to ask you something and I am your host, Dr. Monica Band. Next time on I need to ask you something.

CREDITS  43:23

There’s more I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content. There’s so many things we talk about and we’re barely scratching the surface. Tune in to learn more about what it means to be a perfectionist, to be conflict avoidant. And how to ask for help. I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING is a Lemonada Media original. I’m Dr. Monica Band, the host of this show and a consultant with the Jed foundation. Crystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer, and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and Original Music by Bobby Woody, additional mixing by Ivan Kuraev. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson and the members of our youth focus group. Maria Perry, […] Erica Familia, Kofi Green and Cloud Ben. Jackie Danziger is our VP of narrative content. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This show was created in partnership with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. This series is presented by HOPE Lab with, Stupski Foundation and Lumina Foundation. Visit I needtoaskyousomething.org or use the link in the show notes for resources related to today’s episode. Follow I need to ask you something wherever you get your podcasts or listen at free on Amazon music with your Prime membership

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