The moment had come. They psych ward doors had opened, swallowing us into the unknown, shutting tightly and unnervingly behind us.
Once again, my daughter was given scrubs and non-skid socks to wear until I could return with “approved” clothes for her. I was grieved that she had no personal items to comfort her in this most frightening of places. (Shoestrings, drawstrings, belts, and other such items were strictly forbidden in the locked ward populated by adolescents who might use anything they could find to harm themselves or others.)
(Photo Source: Google Images)
It was around midnight after a very long day. I honestly don’t remember much except being in a small, dark room where the clothes of the adolescent residents were kept folded and stacked on shelves.
As I look back on that time, I’m surprised at the details I simply cannot recall. The emotion of the moment … that returns to me in a heartbeat, and even now I weep as my body responds to the memory of all that I felt in those difficult hours. I can feel it in an instant.
I left my daughter. I left her there. I left her in a psych ward on lockdown. I left her there because she was suicidal. I left her there because I could not keep her safe. I left her there because I loved her. I left her there with a trail of my tears and much of my heart.
Upon returning home, I sent an email out to my trusted group of friends, those I’d been sharing the journey with on many a late night when I was unable to sleep or bring any order to my world or mind.
I so missed the strong support of my husband. It had been less than two years since we’d watched him be removed from life support and take his last breath. How desperately I ached for his wisdom and comfort.
And so, my small but trusted band of friends had ‘listened’ faithfully as I’d regularly poured my heart out to them via email, lamenting my daughter’s depression, self harm, truancy, constant talk of blood and death, and all the other dark details that had been filling our lives for a number of months.
(Photo Source: Google Images)
There had been a few quick calls and texts to them during the daylight hours as we’d moved through the mental health crisis that had landed us in the emergency room. The following is part of the update message I sent to My Group after admitting my daughter to the psych ward for the first time. It’s a bit disjointed, though I tried to edit it to make it easier to follow.
It was sent on February 19, 2008 at 1:31 a.m.
* * * * *
I am just home from a very long night during which C was hospitalized for her own safety. C’s dad came over to talk with her. He was very reluctant to admit her, but I am quite convinced it was the only safe option.
I did call 911 because C made it very clear that she would fight us if we tried to take her to the hospital. So between the two squad cars, paramedics and ambulance, she went rather peacefully if not tearfully. My heart just aches for her.
I had asked C earlier in the afternoon to rate her likelihood of suicide on a scale of 10 and she nearly yelled “10!” at me; I asked if she thought she actually would act on it and she said of course if everyone would just leave her alone (she used much more colorful language). That was when it became glaringly apparent that she really needed to be admitted.
She had threatened to run away over the weekend and she and I even had a tussle in the driveway as she fell into a heap yelling about how much she hated me, much to the confusion of the man watching us from across the street.
We went to Children’s Hospital emergency room by ambulance about 6 p.m. Monday, and they had no empty beds so she was transported to [a freestanding behavioral center].
The supervisor I spoke with tonight said there is a decent likelihood she will be there more than 72 hours as there will likely be med changes they will have to monitor, but they don’t generally keep someone longer than 5 days. He did tell me that last week they had 3 adolescents and in the past 24 – 36 hours they have admitted 15. Wow.
Poor C may just be getting to sleep now (if she is lucky) and their days start at 6:15 and go until 9 or 10 at night. When I said goodbye to her tonight she actually let me give her a kiss on the cheek and a good, long hug (which felt so good; I’ve really missed that).
I cannot describe to you her state of mind earlier today and over the past 4 days. It’s been as if another person is living in her body, and this week I have been the trigger that has really set her off. She told me, among many disturbing things, that she’s sick of people saying they love her and care about her and it just makes her want to kill herself when she hears it.
But she told me she loved me tonight so I felt free to return the favor. I did tell her as I was leaving that she was going to be okay there and she agreed and said, “I know”, but in her real voice, not the unknown person she has been. I think maybe, at least tonight, she might have even felt safer there than she did at home.
I spent about a half hour talking with the supervisor before I left and I feel like they are on top of things with the kids in their care; he even addressed issues before I had a chance to voice my concern about them.
This will, of course, take C way out of her comfort zone; that’s not a bad thing but I sure would appreciate your prayers for her. I just want to scoop her up and cradle her in my arms and bring her home ~ which would defeat the purpose of everything we went out on a limb for today, but it just really hurt to see her like that.
Perhaps now that she is there the fear and anxiety of the unknown, and the threat of hospitalization (vs. the reality) will melt away and she can actually get to a safe place. I know this may not be the last time we have to do this; I hope so, but I won’t be surprised if it isn’t. There are so very many things going on concerning her treatment and the more people involved the more “options” are offered or brought up.
I feel very helpless to protect her, but I felt even more helpless when she was at home. Now I believe she is in a safe place where she cannot hurt herself, and she can get some ongoing help, even if only for a few days. I know it’s a long road ahead. But I think I can get a few good nights worth of sleep, and I look forward to that.
K (sister, age 14) and J (brother, age 18) are both very upset. I communicated with J several times by phone tonight and he was in tears. K was here when all the uniforms and official vehicles arrived and that was very scary for her. She was able to go to the hospital and see C before they moved her to another facility. I think that was good for both of them.
(My stepdaughter) went in to see her also and of course C apologized for the colorful tirade she let fly against her this afternoon. As usual probably more details than you wanted, but as always I appreciate your prayers and concern.
C has not been able to tolerate any concern from others lately, and I don’t know if/how long that will continue. But thanks for loving her with your prayers, even if it is from afar.
© Monica Simpson and Help To Hope, 2013