When denial is doing harm than good

Dani is a young wife and mom, married to an overseas contract worker. She has a five year old daughter named Katie. Both of them are living in a small apartment with her parents and Katie’s nanny. She is a driven career woman taking further studies while being a good mom and wife. She always has time for everything and everybody including her friends. She is always present on Katie’s school activities. She and her husband communicate daily. She never forgets to prepare for special occasions. She regularly updates her wardrobe, hairstyle, and never fails to pamper herself from head to toe to feel and look pretty. She is always on time, wants to be on top of everything, and aims to be perfect in the eyes of people.

Dani’s desire to have a perfect image of herself extends to Katie. Then she is noticing that as years pass, Katie is becoming delayed in reading and understanding concepts in school.

As advised by the teachers, Dani sought the help of a developmental pediatrician to better understand what’s happening to Katie.

Unfortunately, Katie was diagnosed with learning disability. Dani’s dream for Katie started to crumble. This made Dani an angry mom due to frustration and denial of Katie’s situation.

Dani continues to do what she’s doing except for being a good mom to Katie. She refuses to attend to school functions, depends on a tutor to teach Katie, spends more time with her friends rather than Katie, fights often with her husband when being told that she is in denial of Katie’s current situation and must move on, and seldom speaks about Katie with her friends and loved ones. She refuses to transfer Katie to a special school because for her, Katie has to study in a regular school because she has no problem and no one should know that she has special needs.

Dani’s refusal of getting help from professionals and giving less affection to Katie made the kid’s condition worse. Due to not spending time to check Katie, the kid becomes detached to everybody especially to her and even to her dad because she feels that all that’s happening in her family and herself are her fault.

Denial, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is refusal to admit the truth or reality of something (such as a statement or charge). In psychology, it is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.

 A person is "in denial" when he's refusing to admit the truth or reality of something unpleasant.
A person is “in denial” when he’s refusing to admit the truth or reality of something unpleasant.

When a person is in denial, he won’t acknowledge a difficult situation and try not to face the facts of a problem, and even downgrade possible consequences of the matter.

When is denial bad?

The strength of denial to people differs. Some individuals experience less defensiveness or the feeling becomes stronger at times.

Dani obviously feels stuck in the situation. If she could only listen to her husband, she must have been able to open her heart and mind and accept Katie’s situation.

According to mayoclinic.org,  the following strategies might help to free Dani of her denial.

– She must honestly examine what she fears.
– She must think about the potential negative consequences of not taking action to her situation.
– She must allow herself to express her fears and emotions.
– She should try to identify irrational beliefs about her situation.
– She is encouraged to journal about her experience.
– She should take courage to open up to a trusted friend or loved one.
– She must start participating in a support group.

If the above-mentioned strategies won’t work on her own to make progress., talking to a mental health provider should be considered to find ways to cope up with the situation rather than pretending that it doesn’t exist at all and still being stuck in the situation.


When is denial good?

Like what happened to Dani when she was faced with reality that Katie should need professional help and be transferred to a special school, it was overwhelming for her. It was fine for her not to get immediately involved in the situation, spend some time to think about what happened, and figure out the next step to adapt to a new situation. Being in denial gives her mind the means to unconsciously absorb and digest distressing situation at a pace that won’t send her into a psychological sinkage. If only she could realize that denial should not last longer and it won’t change reality, she could have helped herself especially Katie.

SJ Valdez

Dreamer, Doer, Self-proclaimed Adviser... Simply a MOM!