Hi everyone. You may have noticed (or may not have, I don’t know) that I disappeared for the last two weeks. This is not like me, as I post almost every day usually, and I felt a bit bad about just dropping off the face of the earth, especially when I have said that this place is one of the things that brings me the most happiness. I had a family emergency, which I wasn’t originally going to go into detail about, but then I thought that I probably should. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I deal a lot with mental health issues, as do several family members. That is part of what happened, and I wanted to talk about it, not just because talking about these things brings more awareness and less stigma to the whole mental health discussion, but I also just really need some support and I’m not ashamed to just blatantly ask for it.
Also, this post will be discussing suicide and self-harm. If this is something that you can’t read about, then please skip the rest of this post and just know that things are better now.
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It started on Thursday, October 17th. Funny enough, it was right after I finished posting the two posts I shared on that day. I got a call from the guidance office of my daughter’s school, which for me is always scary. They said that I needed to come get her because they were essentially doing a suicide intervention and that their recommendation was that she needed to go to the hospital. To clarify – this was not a suicide attempt. She never got that far. One of her teachers found something that she had written and went and found her at lunch and talked her through it. She did not have a specific plan but did feel like she was a danger to herself, that she was not “safe.”
We are very lucky. She is fifteen years old, a freshman in high school, and goes to a school where they really take mental health seriously (this was not the case at her previous school). The teacher who found her writing immediately went and found her, asked her to go for a walk, and talked her through how she was feeling before bringing her to her counselor in the guidance office, who did the same thing. They looked out for her safety and then called me.
They recommended the hospital because of her previous history with suicidal ideation and self-harm. They hoped that she might get some more immediate counseling or help there. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but I did not expect the six hour ordeal that it turned out to be. This particular facility, in my opinion, does not know how to handle mental health issues for teenagers. We had to wait a very long time, which I did expect for the emergency room, but then after very little time actually spent with the “patient,” they made the decision that she should be involuntarily committed and, since they had no room for her there, she would have to be transported somewhere four hours away from us, escorted by security, and we could not go with her. They wouldn’t even tell me where she would be going.
After that bombshell, she was in a full blown panic attack and I begged them to let me just take her home. I promised that she would be under constant supervision and that we would follow up with her psychiatrist as soon as we could. According to the doctor, they had to get approval from the head of the psych department in order to do that. We had to wait over an hour not knowing whether or not she was going to be taken away, but they finally discharged her and let us go home. That night I was exhausted but couldn’t fall asleep. What if something happened? What if she woke up in the middle of the night and tried to hurt herself? Since this has started, I have probably only slept one or two hours a night which has not been good for my mental health either. Everything is harder to deal with when you’re tired.
She was out of school from October 18th to 29th. She just went back this Wednesday. I was very lucky that my job was sympathetic and allowed me to stay home with her so that we could talk, I could take her to doctor’s appointments, I could go by the school and pick up work that she missed and talk to her teachers. A big part of my daughter’s anxiety revolves around school, particularly math. I don’t remember if I mentioned this here, but she does have a learning disability around numbers and math is a major trigger for her. Once the anxiety starts ramping up, it spreads to every other class because she cannot focus. She is on medication, but so far, the medication hasn’t fully helped her deal with it. Once she starts the downward spiral, it gets out of control very fast.
She has told me that she wants to drop out, that she doesn’t think it’s possible to graduate from high school because she is “stupid.” The thing is – my kid is amazing. She is so creative. She is an artist and can draw almost anything. She is an amazing writer. She is good at and enjoys other subjects, like science. But because she can’t do algebra, she discounts all of her other good qualities. I mean, let’s be honest: how many people loved math class? Probably not too many, and the ones that did have become math teachers. Math is hardly ever anyone’s favorite class and many people struggle with it. It doesn’t help either that she keeps comparing herself to her stepbrother, who is extremely smart and constantly on the honor role. She doesn’t recognize that she has her own unique and beautiful talents.
So where are we now? Well, she’s back at school and I’m back at work. She is already feeling overwhelmed, but we are working on it. I am feeling overwhelmed, but I am working on it. I feel like I am sleepwalking, since I still haven’t really gotten a good night’s sleep in the past two weeks, but that’s what caffeine is for. We’re taking it one day at a time because that’s all we can do.
If you’ve read this far, then thank you. This was mostly just a way for me to vent and let all this out somewhere. Screaming into the void, if you will. I don’t usually get too serious on this blog – that’s not what it’s for. I blog about books and I love books, so I’m usually pretty bubbly and cheerful here. I like keeping things that way because writing blog posts helps pull me out of some of my darker moods. It’s part of why I do it. Today is serious, tomorrow I will be back to my usually bookish shenanigans, giggling about Sweet Valley High and getting excited about my next review. I appreciate all of you who read and subscribe to this blog – you guys are awesome.