Learning to Self-Advocate

It’s been a really long day and I’m calling it a night but before I do, I want to shine a spotlight on Gavin for a few minutes. Gavin had a big day today, and I want to recognize some significant accomplishments.

I will not go into much detail here because I want to record a podcast episode about this later.

Gavin had two appointments today. The first was at the Cleveland Clinic. Gavin’s been dealing with depression, and we were meeting with his doctor to discuss the possibility of starting him on an anti-depressant. I’ve never been a massive fan of medication, despite all the meds Gavin’s been on. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes medication is a necessity to improve quality of life. The proper medication used correctly and for the right reasons can dramatically improve someone’s life.

Other times, what’s required are lifestyle changes. In Gavin’s case, in particular, his depression is mainly situational. Improving his situation will go a long way toward helping him feel better. He’s had a rough life and has been relatively isolated because of his health issues, and COVID worsened that. Helping him to pursue his adult life, make new friends, find employment, and gain independence is going to profoundly change his life for the better.

When we met with his doctor at the Cleveland Clinic and discussed the possibility of adding an antidepressant, there was concern about doing so. They felt that Gavin needed to be seen by psychiatry for a complete reevaluation. The first reason for this is because there is some question about the accuracy of his current diagnoses and the second reason is because of past reactions to antidepressant medications.

For example, Gavin’s an officially diagnosed schizophrenic. However, he’s been completely off his meds for over three years and has no problems. He’s doing better than he ever has before. That shouldn’t be happening if the diagnosis was correct. That’s just one example. Another would be that the last time he was on an antidepressant, he went manic, and we don’t want that.

Anyway, his doctor was going to consult with psychiatry and get back to us. When we got home, there was a discussion about this, and we decided that it might be best to hold off on starting meds because his life is improving rapidly. Giving him some time to adjust to all the positive changes might be the best approach, and if after his reevaluation with psychiatry, it were decided he still needed help, then meds it is.

Ultimately, it was decided to hold off on beginning any medications because his mental health history is so complicated.

The current plan is to have Gavin completely re-evaluated by the Cleveland Clinic and establish a new baseline. I suspect several of his current diagnoses will drop off, and we’ll better understand what we can do to better support him.

Until then, we’re going to continue working on lifestyle changes that can help him better manage his life. He has tons of support, and he’s gaining more independence.

The reason I want to share this is because Gavin is learning to self-advocate for the first time. When we were at the appointment, the doctors focused on what Gavin had to say. Gavin tends to struggle with answering questions during appointments like this, but he answered the doctor’s questions best and spoke up for himself. Usually, this would be my job but not so much anymore, and that’s also a topic for a future podcast.

Bottomline, he did a fantastic job advocating for himself, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Our next appointment was related to OOD (Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities). Gavin had his job training intake today at Goodwill. We were there for almost two hours, and Gavin advocated for himself again. He did a great job, and the appointment went well. They were very patient and worked with him as he tried to answer their questions.

For twenty years, I’ve been his voice and his advocate. Learning to take a step back and letting him do these things on his own isn’t easy, but at the same time, it’s also pretty impressive. I never thought I would be in this situation, and it’s a whole new journey for me, as well as for Gavin.

I’ll talk in more detail about all of these things later. Tonight, I just wanted to write this all down and share it with all of you while it was fresh in my head.

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Great job Gavin. He has grown up so much since I’ve last read your blog.

I agree positive changes can scary but so worth it in the end.