Sixteen years ago, Jack was falling apart. He was struggling in school and becoming increasingly withdrawn. He was stumbling to find words and getting lost with any simple task. April of that year we finally received a diagnosis and our lives changed forever.
The remainder of that year – and several years following — was a blur of hospitals and doctors and blood work and scans. It was also a time of fear and guilt and frustration and anger and sadness.
When we finally got our heads above water, I swore to myself that moving forward I would do whatever I could to help other families who were fighting similar battles. Our family started making Boxes of Fun for children on the BMT floor at Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian. We started hosting bone marrow registry drives. I started sharing our story on our blog, in online publications and eventually got a memoir, Smiles and Duct Tape, published. I became more active in the ALD community and the special needs community in NJ.
In the fall of 2020 (like so many of us during COVID), I felt like I needed a change. I was sitting with one of Jack’s other mothers telling her that I wanted to start a new chapter but not sure what to do next. She asked me what brought me joy. I answered quickly helping other families like ours. She asked me if I could do anything to help, what would I do. Being a therapist seemed like the answer–but what about the money, the time, my age?
Thanks to the support of my family and friends, I didn’t listen to the doubts. I dove in and by January 2021, I was working on my MA in Mental Health Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness at NYU. My goal of working with special families has never wavered, but I did find that I also loved working with children, adolescents, and adults who were struggling with a broad range of issues.
Helping people who are working through life challenges to reach a place of acceptance and to discover new, empowered perspectives—that may be the best way to describe my strengths as a therapist.
I graduated with my MA in September and survived NJ’s paperwork (I am pretty sure the paperwork alone is a test of how devoted you are to being a therapist). I’m now FINALLY pleased to announce that I’ve started with a wonderful practice.
Thank you to everyone who helped me reach this new chapter — particularly Monica who helped me define my goal, Mymom who supported me and reminded me that you are never too old to make changes, my friends who are my constant cheerleaders, Dan and Anna who were my editors and rarely rolled their eyes as I talked about theories, and Jack who is the best supporter, motivator and a darn good therapist himself!