“Mom” she whispered into the phone “I’m leaving school. God told me to leave.”
I could feel an immediate adrenaline rush and pure panic. “Wait! Don’t move.”
That was the longest 15 minute ride in my life. Everything was a blur. We knew she had been struggling with anxiety and had become very combative, but this was something I didn’t know how to handle. She listened to me and hadn’t moved from the attendance office. I took her straight to the emergency room.
She received excellent care full of empathy and love. They ran some tests and took her to do some scans. They brought her back in and we waited. Entering the room they quickly let us know that everything looked good. Whew. What we heard next, however, would feel like a punch in the gut. “There isn’t anything else we can do here for you, so we’ll release her. You can take her home!”
Take her home?! I had to lean over multiple times on the drive there to keep her from exiting the car while it was moving. Take her home?! She left school because GOD told her to leave. Take her home?! “Yes. Funding was cut for psychiatric services in hospitals. There is nothing we can do for you here.”
“Well where do we go? Where do I take her?” I was angry, exhausted, panicked… I know I begged and pleaded and said other things in an effort to try to explain why I couldn’t possibly take her home. After listening to me for a few minutes the Dr, replied, “I’m on your side.” Then left.
Brief meeting with the social worker that he recommended (and I mean brief – 2 min brief) and she said, “Yeah, there isn’t anything that I can do.”
Recently I read that an ER had been opened nearby specifically for mental illness. Nearly 1 in 8 ER visits stem from mental illness or substance abuse according to an article by Kaiser Health News. In this article, it also explains how these new ER facilities dedicated to mental illness and substance abuse will help families or individuals in crisis mode by helping to stabilize and treat those with mental illness.
This ER visit wasn’t our only ER visit. It also wasn’t our only attempt at getting her help. It took months and months of exhausing and sometimes begging with someone on the phone at whatever hospital we were calling that hour.
If someone you know is in crisis or struggling to care for a child with a mental illness and you think that I can help them, please connect us. Being chosen to be the mom of a serious mentally ill child is not for the weak. It’s also not meant to be navigated alone.