mental illness in the family

I’m with Crazy: A Love Story (Ep13) Interview with My Therapist Shattering Stigmas, Sharing Secrets

What a gift to be able to sit with my long-time therapist (and life saver) Lynn and ask her question I always wanted to know. All of what she said is gold. Here’s just a bit of what you’ll hear: “You know, what’s amazing to me is this is the first time I’ve ever had this kind of feedback from a former client. What I remember is… I didn’t know anybody drove you/ I remember you came into my door. It was late at night. You came into my door. You sat down. And when you started telling me what was going on in your life, just a little bit, I was awestruck by what you were doing and what had happened to you just a little bit. And the fact that you were walking and talking and laughing, had a wonderful sense of humor, and was such a beautiful person.”

So many times, I wanted Lynn to just tell me what to do. Here’s what she said about that: “Well, and one of the parts of therapy that’s one of the most important parts is to get the client to understand that they do know. It’s inside of them. And so therapists often don’t answer questions quite directly. They want to know how you feel about it. Because it’s your life and it’s your path that you’re taking. And the answers are inside of you. So any therapist that tells you how to live your life, any therapist that’s critical of what you are doing or aren’t doing, isn’t a real good therapist in my opinion. The answers have to come from within the patient, not from the therapist.”



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Hi, and welcome to Madness To Magic, and my podcast, I’m with Crazy: A Love Story. I’m your host, Paolina Milana, author of “The S Word”.

This show is for those of us who find ourselves surrounded by madness and wanting to find the magic within. We’re going to come together here as caregivers to those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Maybe it’s someone in the family we’ve been born into. Maybe it’s someone we love. Maybe it’s someone we work with. Maybe, even, it’s ourselves. Whether we’ve been thrust into this caregiver role or taken it on by choice, this podcast is where we’re going to share our stories and learn to realize the magic in all the madness we may have been experiencing. I promise you, it can be done. So let’s get to it.

Paolina Milana:                 So hi everybody. Welcome back. This is Paolina from Madness to Magic I’m With Crazy, A Love Story and today I am sincerely with someone that I truly love and who has really made such a difference in my life and in so many other people’s lives. Her name is Lynn Drost. She is a… Technically you’re called a clinical therapist? I always call her my shrink. That’s what I call her.

Lynn Drost:                         I’m a licensed clinical professional counselor.

Paolina Milana:                 Licensed clinical professional counselor. Aka god to me, little g. But Lynn is here. Thank you for joining me on this podcast.

Lynn Drost:                         It’s a pleasure.

Paolina Milana:                 Thank you.

Lynn Drost:                         It’s a pleasure to be here.

Paolina Milana:                 So Lynn is… I apologize to listeners because I am a bit tongue tied because she’s so important that I’m like “Okay. What’s the right question to ask her?” Which is so funny after what we were talking about earlier.

Lynn Drost:                         And Paolina knows there’s no right question.

Paolina Milana:                 There is no right question. Right. So for those of you who don’t know, there was a point in my life and I believe I was… My father died when I was 24 and my mother had schizophrenia, you all know that. When he died, my world just came crashing down. Two years after he died, I ended up having to commit my little sister because she too was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. And I felt trapped.

Paolina Milana:                 And so I went for years really keeping that stuff down inside. Eating myself to death while I was doing it. On the outside, I was a professional. I succeeded in the workplace. Nobody really would have known that much was going on, on the outside. Most of my friends hadn’t a clue what was really kind of happening. I had gotten to a point in my life where I had just… I didn’t see any longer a way out. And I thought to myself, I didn’t want to… This still sounds crazy when I say it. I thought to myself, not only do I want out for myself but being the people pleaser that I was, how unfair that I would take myself out and then what would happen to my mom and my sister.

Paolina Milana:                 So I had this plan that I was taking all three of us out. And through a very divine intervention of a mutual person that I knew peripherally, who just happened to see something in me that got her to call Lynn to see me, just put us on a path of really that saved my life. That kept me six feet above ground. The one thing… And I’ll stop talking. Everybody’s like “Hey, you have somebody important on. Why do you keep talking?”

Paolina Milana:                 But one thing I will say is, I remember coming to the door… Being driven by Margie was her name. Being driven by Margie to Lynn’s office. It was late night. And not really wanting to do it but people pleaser, I promised Margie that I would. I had a tick tock clock, like “Hey, I’m only going to give you 30 minutes and then I got a plan here. I got to go.”

Paolina Milana:                 And I remember you inviting me to sit in. I remember you saying to me, “So, Margie says that something’s going on. That you’re having a tough time.” And I remember Lynn’s voice sounded very… Like it does now. Just very soothing. Like there are little angels all over the place. I remember that, listening to that voice, and then those other voices in my head were like “You know what, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. You don’t need to tell this to somebody else. Just get out. Just get yourself out.”

Paolina Milana:                 And my response was “Nothing’s going on. Nothing’s going on. Nothing’s going on.” And Lynn caught me off guard because her response to me was “Okay. Tell me about nothing.” Do you remember that at all? You probably don’t. You’re like “I talk to a million people.” No.

Lynn Drost:                         You know, what’s amazing to me is this is the first time I’ve ever had this kind of feedback from a former client. What I remember is… I didn’t know anybody drove you/ I remember you came into my door. It was late at night. You came into my door. You sat down. And when you started telling me what was going on in your life, just a little bit, I was awestruck by what you were doing and what had happened to you just a little bit.

Lynn Drost:                         And the fact that you were walking and talking and laughing, had a wonderful sense of humor, and was such a beautiful person.

Paolina Milana:                 Wow. That’s the first time… No. That’s the first time that… And don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you have said things like that all throughout our decade plus together. But every other time it’s been in therapist, patient mode, right?

Lynn Drost:                         Right.

Paolina Milana:                 Or client mode. And this is first that I’ve heard like that that even at my darkest I… There was still something in there. Some spark.

Lynn Drost:                         Oh, there was such a light in you.

Paolina Milana:                 Well thank you.

Lynn Drost:                         You were working for the lighthouse I believe.

Paolina Milana:                 I think when I first saw you I was… Was I at the lighthouse or was I at the newspaper? I think I was still at the newspaper when I started.

Lynn Drost:                         You might have been.

Paolina Milana:                 Yes.

Lynn Drost:                         You might have been.

Paolina Milana:                 I’ve been with you so long.

Lynn Drost:                         Yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 I remember even when I… I think… I know I’m getting ahead of myself but when you divorced me… Like “No, Paolina, you don’t need me anymore.” Kind of thing. Really I was like “Why don’t you just move out to California with me? What’s wrong with you?”

Paolina Milana:                 But, okay. So that first time… And you are right. I do remember when I… I remember looking down and just rattling off stuff that was going on. And I remember looking up and I remember, I do remember the look on your face. Where it was one like “Holy shit.” kind of thing. Like okay, all right.

Paolina Milana:                 So here’s my question to you… Because, again, listeners don’t know this but clearly I was in such a bunny hole and you knew that, that you offered to see me. I don’t know if you remember this, but you saw me twice a week for months for no pay.

Lynn Drost:                         Right.

Paolina Milana:                 Who does that? Seriously. I have told more people that story. You are unique. And that’s a sad statement because of what you do.

Lynn Drost:                         It is. Considering we’re in a helping profession.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah. Right. Right. And so, I guess, first off, thank you.

Lynn Drost:                         Well, you’re welcome.

Paolina Milana:                 Seriously. Second, what made you think this person was worth doing that for? Worth taking a shot with? Instead of “Bye bye. Call me when you’re insurance kicks in.” What made you do that?

Lynn Drost:                         It’s not the way I work.

Paolina Milana:                 She’s not for free. We’re just saying that.

Lynn Drost:                         The way I work is I see people and I see what they have conquered and I see that they’re walking and talking and laughing and functioning. And in your particular case, you weren’t just down one bunny hole, you were down like four or five of them. And it was important to find your way out of those holes. And you couldn’t do that in one hour a week. You needed more than that. And I was privileged to leaf the way out of those holes.

Paolina Milana:                 Wow. Not sure which one of us was privileged. Pretty sure it was me. Well thank you. And then, so throughout it… And I just want to toss out some of the things that I remember because we’ve never had this kind of conversation I don’t think.

Lynn Drost:                         No, we haven’t.

Paolina Milana:                 And I don’t remember how many months, years, it was into it. I have no idea. What I do remember is the moment that for me everything just changed. The first time was the “tell me about nothing”, where I was like “Okay, wait. That’s not nothing.” Even in my own head, or in my dialogue. But the second time was, I was ranting and raving over I don’t even know what. And I don’t know… Usually you were super calm and just a safe place and this time, you kind of, you almost… I don’t want to say you jumped out of your chair, but you almost gave a little spring forward and you put down your pad… She always had this yellow pad. And you said, “Paolina, when are you going to stop wishing for a better past? Because you’re never going to get it.” And I was just like, “Oh my God. You’re right.”

Paolina Milana:                 It’s very difficult to stun me silent. I was silent. Do you remember that at all? Saying that?

Lynn Drost:                         I remember you going over and over and over all the horrible things that had happened. And what I realized is that you needed to move forward. And the only way you can move forward is by letting go a little bit of what had happened and start looking as to what could happen.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah. That was game changer for me. So thank you again. And I also remember there was another time that… And I won’t go over all the memories. That’ll be in a book that we put out.

Lynn Drost:                         Oh okay.

Paolina Milana:                 But I also remember, so when… And you too had your father pass and he was very important to you.

Lynn Drost:                         Which again, allowed me to relate more to you.

Paolina Milana:                 Ah, that’s interesting.

Lynn Drost:                         Because I had gone through that horror and that sadness.

Paolina Milana:                 What’s interesting though is it’s not like I learned that from you early on. What was very interesting about therapy for me was I was… And it’s comical because right now I have an avatar that’s me and it’s called ‘Powerlina’. And it has a little cape. And people have said, “Gosh, you’re so powerful. You’re so this. You’re so that.” And what was really difficult for me therapy wise were a couple things.

Paolina Milana:                 One, the fear that to tiptoe into this room meant I too was nuts or had the genes of mental illness. So there was all of that with it. And the second thing was I was supposed to be the strong one.

Lynn Drost:                         Yes.

Paolina Milana:                 The one to take care of it all. Right?

Lynn Drost:                         And the family, right?

Paolina Milana:                 Yes.

Lynn Drost:                         That was your role.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah. Totally. And to do this meant I couldn’t handle it on my own.

Lynn Drost:                         And you didn’t realize what courage it took and that it really meant you were strong. Walking in this… Anybody who walks in my door has a lot of strength. It’s not an easy thing to do.

Paolina Milana:                 Why do you think it’s not an easy thing to do? Why isn’t it like going to the doctor to get a bone that’s been broken repaired? What’s that all about?

Lynn Drost:                         I think there’s two things. I think, number one, we don’t like to expose who we really are. We like to keep up the game. We like to keep up the façade that we’re powerful and cool and strong and we can do it all. But I also think, and this isn’t an original idea either, I think that there is a certain stigma attached to any sort of mental illness. Even if it just means you need help with the grieving process. There’s a little stigma attached that you don’t want to reach out and ask somebody.

Lynn Drost:                         But mostly, I think it’s you don’t want to expose who you are. And that’s sad because by exposing who we are, that allows our hearts to touch. That allows us to really know each other. And to know that we’re not alone in the world.

Paolina Milana:                 Wow. Wow. And I speak from personal experience plus the people, my friends, who have benefited as well from coming to you. If you do just try and come and talk to someone, the world opens up for you. And it does, it totally not only opens up but it does make you stronger and you always feel like you have an ally. I never, ever… Even after you yelled at me about “When are you going to…!” I never felt anything other than safety here, no matter what I shared. And there were things that I shared that, I have a dark side as well, right? That I attribute to no one else, but me. And I was not made to feel evil. If you find the right shrink, right? Or whatever… Therapist. I’m like shrink is the wrong… People are like “Don’t call them shrinks.” But I love the name shrink.

Lynn Drost:                         I like shrink!

Paolina Milana:                 I do too. Okay. I’m glad you’re not offended. I don’t know today anymore what I offend with what I say.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay, what I was going to ask you was… Oh, the other thing that I was going to say that I do remember clearly. It was very difficult with my father and I, having lost him. And I remember there was an opportunity, there was a famous medium who was coming, and there was an opportunity to get an audience with him. And I remember coming to you and just saying that I was thinking of doing this. And while you never… Every decision was mine, you know what I mean? I valued your opinion. You never poo pood. You never were like “Yeah, yeah.” That kind of thing.

Paolina Milana:                 But on this one, it was clever what you asked because you were like “Well, what is it that you would want…” You said something like “What is it that you would want to hear from your father?” And I said something like “Oh that he loved. That I was on the right path. That I was…” And you said something like “Yeah. Hasn’t he already said that?” Or “Don’t you already know that?” It was a weird way the way you phrased it. And I was like “Wait just a minute, I do know that. I don’t need somebody else to tell me that.”

Paolina Milana:                 And I wonder how many people, especially in today’s social society, how many people think that what somebody else think or says is so much more important than themselves, right, and their own value. And you working with them to help them see that. That’s got to be a core issue that…

Lynn Drost:                         Well, and one of the parts of therapy that’s one of the most important parts is to get the client to understand that they do know. It’s inside of them. And so therapists often don’t answer questions quite directly. They want to know how you feel about it. Because it’s your life and it’s your path that you’re taking. And the answers are inside of you.

Paolina Milana:                 Definitely.

Lynn Drost:                         So any therapist that tells you how to live your life. Any therapist that’s critical of what you are doing or aren’t doing, isn’t a real good therapist in my opinion. The answers have to come from within the patient, not from the therapist.

Paolina Milana:                 So, to be honest, when I first started out, I just wanted you to tell me what to do. I was literally like “Are you fucking kidding me? I’m asking you what should I do?” And it didn’t come.

Lynn Drost:                         You mean I have to do some work?

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, right. Hindsight 20/20, it wouldn’t have mattered if you had said to do something, until I was ready.

Lynn Drost:                         Exactly. Exactly.

Paolina Milana:                 Right? Until it was… Yeah. Because I do remember when you were… There was a point when I had an opportunity to escape. And by escape, i mean move to LA, which I had always kind of had in my mind. Not that I knew how I was going to do it, but I just felt like I was to go. And I remember when that opportunity came and I told you about it and there were all sorts of complications. Because being in that caregiver role, I knew I’d have to let that go, right? And while part of me rejoiced in that possibility, the other part of me knew that they wouldn’t be cared for as well if I wasn’t here, right?

Paolina Milana:                 And I just… That was maybe one of the few times that you, again, were like “Go. Go now.” You just… And you made it, I don’t know. You made it okay to put myself first. And that’s a tough think too for caregivers. And this whole podcast, those listening, they’re not the ones necessarily with a diagnosed mental illness, right? They’re probably struggling with some of it themselves, but partly they’re struggling with it because they are caregivers to people who really are at risk or in jeopardy.

Lynn Drost:                         Absolutely. Right.

Paolina Milana:                 And I think that it is a huge issue that is swept under the rug of services for the caregiver.

Lynn Drost:                         Absolutely. And there’s a lot in literature now about that. About burnout in caregivers, what they call it. And how caregivers don’t take care of themselves. Instead they take care of everybody else. And they have no life other than being a caregiver. And in part, I think it’s a false sense of ego that you said nobody else could do it as well as you could. And while I would agree with that because I know you and I know what a good job you did do, I would also say that you have to live your own life. And that everybody who loved you would want you to do that.

Lynn Drost:                         In fact, when you said I… I forgot that I actually told you you had to go. But I’m surprised I wasn’t jumping up and down with pom poms cheering you on and getting a plane ticket for you because this just seemed so important that you get away. And it was the best decision you made.

Paolina Milana:                 It was the best decision.

Lynn Drost:                         But scary. And you did it well in that you put the right pieces in place so that you could go and people were safe.

Paolina Milana:                 Right. Right. Well, you know what was interesting? I mean at that time my sister needed a place to live. That piece presented itself. And then because I didn’t know anybody out there, I didn’t have anybody or where to stay-

Lynn Drost:                         Right.

Paolina Milana:                 It just materialized a person to live with them for free as a caregiver, weirdly enough, right?

Lynn Drost:                         Perfect.

Paolina Milana:                 Right. So that worked out. What I remember too… And I’ll share it here just because it’s kind of a tie in. When I was out there, there were… Nothing that I thought was going to happen happened, right? And at one point I just, I was like “What the fuck? What happened? This is not my life.” At lease that I knew and I was good at and I felt value and purpose, right? And of all the strange things, I called home. And while normally I would’ve talked to my father, he was dead. And I talked to my mother. And I had forgotten that my mother left Sicily not knowing anyone other than her brother, who forced her to come, right?

Lynn Drost:                         Right. Yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 She had lost her parents. She came to America… I mean, granted, because she was a seamstress and she had a job with Poochie, but she came and she hated… She said on the phone to me “Oh Paola, when I came to America, I hated everything. I remember sitting in the window of our apartment and we had no furniture, no nothing, and all I could think was ‘this is what I came here for?’ What?” And she said, “But it’s just the first little bit. And then little by little…” And she… I was so surprised.

Lynn Drost:                         Isn’t that remarkable that those words came from your mother?

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah. From my mother. She didn’t say “Come on back.”

Lynn Drost:                         Right.

Paolina Milana:                 She didn’t say… That really opened my eyes of it’s my assumption of what someone else may want for me, right? Or what I perceive is their own selfishness, right? And it’s like what you said, there’s a perceived… Like it’s ego. Do you know what I mean? And here, I don’t know, just out of a fluke that that happened. That really… That surprised me. And I feel like more and more caregivers, if they had open conversations with the people they’re giving care to, those people I can’t imagine love being cared for hand and foot, right?

Lynn Drost:                         Well in your case, especially, with your mom and what she experienced in her life, you actually gave her a gift by flying on your own. It was as though she… Everything she had wanted to do, you could do. So she gave you not only her permission, but she gave you her stamp of approval that you were doing exactly the right thing. And then she was being sympathetic and comforting. I didn’t know that.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah.

Lynn Drost:                         That’s wonderful.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, it was pretty fascinating. And then a second… I call them magical now. I’m trying to get away from weird. But then I had written a screenplay. It got noticed. It won an award. It was going to be made by USA network back then. I don’t even know if they’re on still. But then 9/11 hit. Just a bunch of stuff happened. And I remember, again, thinking “Are you fuck-?” Every little climb and then you get knocked down, right? And I was on my way back for a visit to Chicago, and I was thinking to myself “I think I should just go home now.” Because I had been here a while. Do you know what I mean? And my limit with my sister was coming up, right? She had a deadline of when I needed to come back.

Paolina Milana:                 And I was on that plane and my seat was near an elderly gentleman, and elderly woman and their clearly disabled daughter. And I sat next to the old man and I started listening, and they were speaking Sicilian. And I kind of turned and I just started talking the little Sicilian that I do remember because we taught Italian. And then I started speaking Italian. He knew Italian. And we just kind of shared what he was doing, what I was doing. And he said to me, I told him that I was thinking I should just… I didn’t know what I was doing anymore and whatever. And his response to me was “So, you know…” It was so my father. “So, don’t go back home yet. Keep trying. Keep trying. Look at it. Have fun with it. Et cetera. And if it doesn’t happen, you always have home that you could go to.” Right?

Paolina Milana:                 But the strangest part was we’re getting off the plane and he takes out of his pocket this prayer card. Now my father every morning would pray to this saint that’s pretty obscure. Padre Leopoldo, I think his name was. Or padre… Yep. Padre Leopoldo Pio or something. I don’t know. He had the stigmata and stuff. And this old man pulled out the very same prayer card.

Lynn Drost:                         Oh my goodness.

Paolina Milana:                 And said “You take this. You keep this with you.” And it was really, really weird.

Lynn Drost:                         Could there have been a bigger message?

Paolina Milana:                 Right. Exactly. Yeah. So anyway. Enough about me and my magic. All right, so Lynn, so I am going to ask you this question because A, being a people pleaser, being a caregiver, being the one who why can’t I get it already, being in therapy for… Well it was over a decade.

Lynn Drost:                         Wow. Yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 Whether or not you realize, yeah.

Lynn Drost:                         Yeah.

Paolina Milana:                 At any point, were you like “This kid is never going to get it.” Do you ever think to yourself… And maybe it’s a terrible question to ask a therapist. But do you ever think to yourself “This hopeless. This ain’t going to happen”?

Lynn Drost:                         Certainly not with you I never felt that way.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay.

Lynn Drost:                         With you, it was like you were bringing me on the journey and it was so much fun. And you were never down the rabbit hole so far that you lost your humor and your excitement and you joy. Ever. You might have been away from therapy, but during therapy you were always really energetic and anxious to move ahead.

Lynn Drost:                         There are… And I think every therapist would agree with this. There are certain people that you can’t work with. There’s one or two types of people that I have a difficult time working with. But I usually know that after three or four sessions. And it’s not that I’m frustrated with them, I just know that with their particular problem, I can’t work with them. And so then I refer them to somebody else.

Lynn Drost:                         But I’ve never had that with a long term client. Again, I see the resiliency. It lifts me up. I see their struggle and then I see them come through it. And it makes me feel as though if they can do it, I can do it. And everybody else can do it too.

Paolina Milana:                 Wow. Wow. That boosted me up as well. And, okay… Sorry. One more question that I’m thinking about here. So, when I became a caregiver, it was around the age of ten. And I now am a CASA, court appointed special advocate.

Lynn Drost:                         I’ve seen that.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah.

Lynn Drost:                         That’s wonderful.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah. You know what, it’s teaching me a heck of a lot. From certain words that are in today and I should be saying[crosstalk 00:29:51].

Lynn Drost:                         Some you shouldn’t.

Paolina Milana:                 Right. Music that I ought to know by now. To don’t drive too slowly in the middle of the projects because they’ll think you’re a drive by. Yeah. She’s wicked smart. She struggles because she is hovering… Or she’s balancing having been an adult, because she had to be caregiver, right, to siblings and stuff. But then the child, right, and following the rules. Even though the rules don’t make that much sense, right?

Paolina Milana:                 So it is. It’s a huge challenge for this kid. And part of my kind of focus has been on caregiver kids. Because, and we’ve kind of talked about this before, kids who have to become the caregivers, they’re in a really terrible spot.

Lynn Drost:                         They lose their childhood, basically.

Paolina Milana:                 Right. And if they come to you and say something, I believe you had said that the laws are still that you have to get the parents permission to even continue therapy. Is that true or is that like…

Lynn Drost:                         The parents have the right to say yes or no. And the parents also usually are the ones paying the bills. And so anytime you’re working with a child, you walk a tight rope between pleasing the parent and taking good care of the child. And sometimes it’s not the same thing.

Paolina Milana:                 Right.

Lynn Drost:                         So, it is difficult.

Paolina Milana:                 And so for kids out there, specifically kids who are caregivers and who are afraid to say something. I mean, I know when we were growing up, we knew that if we said something, right, we could end up in a place worse than where we were. Our parents could be in trouble, right?

Lynn Drost:                         Exactly.

Paolina Milana:                 And yet there were times when we just wished somebody would blow the whistle, right? So for kids, what words of wisdom do you have for them? What should they really do if they find themselves in this boat?

Lynn Drost:                         Well, are you talking about a situation that could be dangerous to them, physically?

Paolina Milana:                 Well, you know what, yes but a kid doesn’t really even realize that and it’s their parent, right? So my CASA kid, not to divulge much, but this parent… Well, I won’t even talk about hers. My own father, who I adored, once lost his temper to a level that I ended up almost dead. Never touched me again, but would I have turned him in? No. Do you know what I’m saying? And so it’s like but where do you go when, yeah, maybe you could be hurt, right? But all you want is somebody to listen to you. Somebody to help you. But not necessarily report you. Is that even possible? And I get, you’re trying to keep the kid safe, right? So you have to use your best judgment.

Lynn Drost:                         Yeah. And it is, it’s a real huge judgment call. Because exactly what you’re saying is right. A child walks in this room and by child, anybody under the age of 18.

Paolina Milana:                 Oh wow.

Lynn Drost:                         And if they are in fact being severely abused, you’re mandated by law to report that. But, there’s a lot of gray area and as a counselor you have to assess the situation and determine was this a one time thing? Does the child have broken bones? Does the child have bruises? Is this happening every single time they come in? How is it presented? Is it presented that the child wants to get out of the house?

Lynn Drost:                         And, oddly enough, most kids will tell you “I got to get away from here.” You can also tell by their demeanor and how they’re… If they’re sitting in the corner, they won’t talk, they won’t do anything and they’ve got black and blue marks all over them. Clearly that needs intervention more than an hour of psychotherapy a week can be. In your particular case, number one, I wouldn’t have found out about that until you were a grown up.

Paolina Milana:                 Exactly.

Lynn Drost:                         So we were cool.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah.

Lynn Drost:                         But had you come in at the age of say 12 or 13 and said that to me, we would have talked about it. And that’s how I would approach a child. I would talk to them about it and ask them what you need me to do for you.

Paolina Milana:                 Right.

Lynn Drost:                         And if they tell me I need a safe place. I just need you to talk me through this and I need to know what I can do, then we would talk about that.

Paolina Milana:                 Okay. All right.

Lynn Drost:                         Would I call DCFS right away? No. As a matter of fact, I’ve made calls to DCFS and what they’ll tell me is they’re overworked.

Paolina Milana:                 Yeah, they are.

Lynn Drost:                         They’re busy. And they can’t send somebody out to investigate every case.

Paolina Milana:                 Right.

Lynn Drost:                         So you have to be pretty well documented and pretty sure that this is a sever case where the child could be permanently injured or even killed before… And at that point, you call the police.

Paolina Milana:                 Right. Right. Okay. You know what, you don’t know what you don’t know, right? And what I have found fascinating is when caregiver me was looking for something to give back, right, and I took on this CASA thing, what is fascinating is I walked in sort of… This is terrible. This is the ego again. I walked in sort of like well I’m going to be this kids white knight and I’m going to [inaudible 00:36:18]. And I have sat through more court cases of families, not just hers. I have seen things that have had me scratching my head, but also have had me realizing there is no black and white.

Lynn Drost:                         No.

Paolina Milana:                 No. And there’s, like you said, everybody’s even taxed. Even the caseworker who I work with most closely, she’s killing herself. And this is one of like 35 cases she has.

Lynn Drost:                         Right.

Paolina Milana:                 I only have this one kid and she’s killing me. I say that lovingly. But yeah, I, well, okay.

Lynn Drost:                         But you’re question was what is the kid supposed to do?

Paolina Milana:                 What is a kid supposed to do?

Lynn Drost:                         And is the kid supposed to be afraid that if they tell their counselor that their dad is hitting them or their mom is hitting them, will they be right away taken out of the home? And most children, that’s the last thing they want to have happen to them.

Paolina Milana:                 Correct. Right.

Lynn Drost:                         So, there again, that’s the gray area. Where the therapist really has to assess the risk to the kid and see just how bad it really is. It’s not long ago that parents did spank their children. Lock them in their room for a night.

Paolina Milana:                 Right.

Lynn Drost:                         Did things like that that we would now consider to be abusive. But it, in fact, did not kill the kids.

Paolina Milana:                 Right.

Lynn Drost:                         So you have to kind of balance it out.

Paolina Milana:                 Right. That’s a good point, actually.

Lynn Drost:                         And for somebody who’s working with a child like that, the other thing we do as therapists and certainly as somebody who’s working with a child, as you are, is you seek supervision. So that you spread the risk. You talk to somebody else about it and see what their thoughts are ans their advice is.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s a good point.

Lynn Drost:                         So that you have documentation that you’ve done that-

Paolina Milana:                 Right.

Lynn Drost:                         And you have another opinion on it.

Paolina Milana:                 That’s a really good point, yeah. Why go things alone?

Lynn Drost:                         Exactly.

Paolina Milana:                 I mean, really. Right. Okay. So for this podcast, because as much as I could talk to you forever, and I’m sure our listeners are like “No, talk to her more.” So any kind of words that you might want to share with a listening audience that is primarily caregivers of others who have some mental illness or mental health issues, that you just might want to put out there for them. Food for thought kind of thing. Or last parting words.

Lynn Drost:                         Well first of all, you’re angels. People who are working with other people, taking care of them, whether you’re taking care of older people or younger people or in between people, you’re angels. And it’s a hard, hard thing. And the most important thing, and anybody will tell you this, is to take care of yourself first. To seek outside counsel. To seek spa days. To have a glass of wine once in a while maybe.

Paolina Milana:                 Got that covered.

Lynn Drost:                         To take care of yourself. Because if you don’t, you will… They call it now compassion fatigue rather then burnout. So you will have compassion fatigue and not be able to function as well as you should be. So as a caregiver of anybody, you need to take care of yourself and realize that that’s actually taking care of the other person.

Paolina Milana:                 Wow. Very, very true. I never heard of that compassion…

Lynn Drost:                         Fatigue.

Paolina Milana:                 Fatigue. Wow. Okay. Well, lady, thank you, thank you, thank you. This won’t be the only time I hope.

Lynn Drost:                         It’s a pleasure.

Paolina Milana:                 But you are just… You are an angel. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. And I wish that everyone listening who needed their own Lynn, had their own Lynn. So figure our how to clone yourself. Or maybe somewhere in this podcast we will post where Lynn is, her office, if you are in the Illinois area. But anyway. But with that, anyone who has… This podcast has resonated with them, who has comments to share or your own story to share, please do so below. We’d love to hear from you. Thank so much. And until we meet again.

Lynn Drost:                         Bye bye.

Paolina Milana:                 Thanks so much for listening to Madness to Magic and my podcast, I’m With Crazy, A Love Story. I believe we’re all here for a purpose, and I know that this is part of mine. Please share this with anyone you think might benefit or might even have a story of their own to share. You also can visit me at or check out more of my stories including info on my book, The S Word, at I hope to hear from you and to join forces with what I consider a unique caregiver tribe as we all learn to embrace all of ourselves, to have compassion for others and to come into our full power by the grace that is both madness and magic. Until we meet again, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite mantras. Be bold and mighty forces shall come to your aid. Thank you.

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