A Journey Through Healing: PJ’s Virtual IOP Experience with Charlie Health – Week 2

Week 2: An Unexpected Descent

The second week with Charlie Health was an amalgam of trepidation and subtle triumphs. After a successful first week with Charlie Health’s virtual IOP, PJ, my spirited 12-year-old, was on a positive trajectory. But, as often is the case with journeys of healing and understanding, the road is seldom straight.

The Room of Silence

Charlie Health’s rules were clear and designed for confidentiality: No one else in the room. Headphones plugged. Yet, when I peeked into PJ’s room, the scene was different. There was PJ, very much present, but a glaring disconnect. The majority of the cohort had their cameras turned off. My son, as adaptive as ever, had followed suit.

Lost in Translation

I had imagined lively sessions with back-and-forths, with PJ finding his voice among peers. But it wasn’t to be. Day 1, my entry was met with his soft snores, the weight of his challenges momentarily forgotten in sleep. Day 2, it was clear from his body language: the engagement wasn’t there. It wasn’t just him. The entire group was eerily silent, except for the therapist leading the session.

PJ’s Perspective

When I asked PJ if he wanted to share anything about the nature of these group sessions, his description was an ‘artistic expression’ group with blend of tech glitches and content that didn’t resonate. The music was often distorted due to poor connectivity, and the rotating roster of group leaders left him feeling adrift in an ocean without a familiar lighthouse in sight. The most telling? “It’s always someone different, so they don’t care about me anyway.” My heart ached.

The pain was compounded by the realization that he felt these sessions, rather than being tailor-made for him, were generic and impersonal. The very medium that was supposed to bridge the gap between PJ and the outside world seemed to be widening it.

Week 2 with Charlie Health, therapist sitting across from teenage boy

Holding onto Hope

I found myself approaching the final day’s sessions with a blend of hope and anxiety. Admittedly, my ‘mom radar’ was on high alert. In between my work and chores, I’d sneak in, peering into his room like a curious weasel, ensuring PJ remained awake and present. And to my quiet relief, he was — albeit with his trusty Rubik’s Cube in hand, a testament to his need to fidget and find comfort.

The true marker of progress came at the culmination of his ninth-hour in therapy this week. In a move that’s become increasingly uncharacteristic, PJ made an unsolicited appearance in my room, greeting me with a simple “hi.” A small gesture, but its significance wasn’t lost on me. Eager for insights but wary of prying too much, I inquired about his day. “Decent,” he replied. That singular word, devoid of any negativity, felt like a balm to my weary heart. Given our tumultuous mornings and his previous resistance, “decent” was nothing short of a victory chant.

Curiosity piqued, I gently prodded if he’d like to share any highlights from the day’s sessions, especially since I was penning down our weekly experiences. PJ divulged that the day’s sessions involved actual discussions. When asked to elaborate, he mentioned his cohort uttered both short phrases and shared extended conversations, spread across all three sessions. This was a positive leap from the initial days of non-participation.

Navigating Ripples and Breakthroughs

I was reminded, yet again, of the complexities of teenage emotions and the sheer resilience they often harbor. PJ’s journey isn’t just about his struggles; it’s equally about his moments of growth, however incremental they might seem. This week taught me that patience, unwavering support, and allowing him the space to find his rhythm is crucial.

A Glimmer Amidst the Gloom

Amidst the shadows of Week 2, there were rays of hope. The surprising camaraderie between PJ and his big brother, the tentative steps towards social interactions, attending school every day this week, and the promise of a future where PJ feels seen and heard. As Week 3 beckons, I find myself oscillating between hope and trepidation. Will the upcoming individual and family therapy sessions be the turning point we so desperately seek?

In our ongoing narrative with Charlie Health, while the path is strewn with challenges, the sporadic glimmers of hope illuminate our way forward. As a mama bear, bearing witness to PJ’s small yet significant strides, I am cautiously optimistic. Here’s to many more ‘decent’ days, earnest “hi’s”, and the belief that every dark cloud, no matter how persistent, has a silver lining.

To All The Parents Out There

If you’re reading this, navigating similar paths, or have walked this journey before, know this: You’re not alone. Each week, each session is a step, whether forward or backward, it’s part of the dance. And as we brace ourselves for the next leg of PJ’s journey, we hold onto the hope that this dance leads to a place of understanding, acceptance, and above all, healing.

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