Psychiatric Camp- Now open all year.

We are still searching for a PRTF placement for “Little Big Man”.
The hurricane Irma has made an difficult situation turn untenable there are no beds available in 2 of the 5 PRTFs because they are having to evacuate.
The only PRTF (Hillside) that had space available said that “His case is too acute for us to commit to his care.”

So Damian is “too acute” for Psychiatric residential treatment at Hillside.
But, he can come home from a Crisis Stabilization Unit. Apparently we are better equipped than a PRTF.

Garrett picked Damian up tonight out of a room with like 30 kids busy watching a projection screen movie. Damian’s got a bag of popcorn, a soda, and a huge cup of candy. He is covered in drawings with marker all over his arms and neck (flowers, rainbows, smiley faces, unicorns). He has been out of school with no classes for a week while at the CSU. He does not need to communicate with us and spends his days drawing or making art, and participating in group counseling “if he wants to”. His evenings are movies and popcorn and ice cream (if you don’t assault the staff).

My other kids meanwhile, have attended boring curriculum nights, gone to the dentist, had flu shots, gone to school, done daily chores and homework. Tonight they went for a bike ride, had apples for dessert, and read books before bed.

Hmmmm, wonder why he keeps going to the hospital.

Hello, how are you doing?

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These words should be stricken from the human greeting repertoire. No one really answers truthfully. The person asking does not really want to know the answer. Nor do they stop to ask the question. They usually speak the question while actively walking right by you.

No one wants you tell the truth that they had a crappy day because their son is in a mental hospital and has not talked to you in 7 days. That you make 8-10 phone calls a day to secure his placement in residential care where he will be away from you for 3-6 months. You can’t say, I really miss being a mom and had to make horrible choices to send my son away today. Choices that will save his life but will exclude him from his family again. Choices that will severely limit my parental rights and empower strangers to raise my child.

So let’s just stop people. Honestly I hating having to lie 10-20 times a day.

The Psychiatric Beauty Contest

We have just entered the Psychiatric Beauty Contest. We have put on our high heels, taped “the ladies” tight together and crammed ourselves into a dress two sizes too small.
We are in a contest to find a PRTF (youth residential care) placement for “Little Big Man”. There are only 5 such facilities in the whole state of Georgia. Let me say that again, 5 just 5. Those 5 PRTFs serve about 450 kids in total(But Georgia has 33 state prisons that house more than 53,000 inmates).

And so our Beauty Competition for PRTF space begins. Now according to all the glossy brochures and department guidelines, youth are taken on a 1st come, 1st serve basis. HA-that’s freaking hysterical. If you have 4-5 kids lined up for 1 PRTF slot who are you gonna pick… The 1st time suicide attempt and runaway who has never been medicated or given consistent therapy? The kid who refuses to talk and cuts himself? The kid who has been through 5 PRTFs in 2 years? The kid who seems to assault others for fun?

Now, none of the choices are great, but add in mitigating factors like..
1. Private Health Insurance pays more per kid than Medicaid.
2. Department of Family & Children Services can make or break your business based upon recommendations to the state on who should serve foster children in need of PRTF.
3. How many resources will we need to use for this kid (we are paid the same rate regardless of an individual kids intensity)?
4. Are parents or family involved (if they are, that’s more resources we need to use toward family and parent counseling)?

Now, who is getting that PRTF slot?

So, beautifully glossy photos of my family have been emailed with detailed explanations of how we believe in the PRTF we are applying for. How we have brought library book donations, staff Holiday gifts, and bountiful weekly staff snack baskets to PRTFs in the past. How we are a low maintenance, mental health educated, but humble family. Finally, I will have our CME call you, or IFI provider call you, and I will call you several times a day. All to ensure you (our chosen PRTF) understand how committed we are to winning this Psychiatric Beauty Contest.

If I knew…

I heard you today.  Your silence spoke so much.  Your one word answers.  Your tone flat and desperately unemotional.  I heard you today.

I saw you today.  Your face twisting in frustration as your hands constantly rubbed your eyes and face.  Your body slumped in feigned disdain. That little whisp of peach fuzz above your lip that has darkened like your mind. I saw you today.

I felt your anger, pain, and void today.  Deep in my heart.  I felt your questions, your unknown future.  I felt your hopeless mind-numbing circle of survival.  I felt lost today.

I tasted the tears that you do not cry.  The tears you may not have.

I don’t know you today.  I know you are my son but I don’t know who you are. I know I love you but I don’t know what that means to you.  I don’t know if you can love or will love.  I don’t know if you will love or not.  You could fill an ocean of tears with what I don’t know.

I am still here.

 

 

Patterns run deep

On day 8 of being out of the hospital “Little Big Man” has been readmitted again.

The details are the same as they have always been. Self harm, running away from school, refusing his meds, suicidal threats.

He is at the ViewPoint Crisis Stabilization Unit.

We have again had to make the hard choice of applying for Psychiatric Residential Care (PRTF).

 

Home

After 12 days at Willowbrooke Psychiatric Hospital “Little Big Man” was discharged today.  He had a quiet  afternoon at home. At around 7:30 tonight he asked to talk with us and apologized. We reviewed the house rules and let it go after that. We will leave further discussions for when the IFI team is here. He will be going to school tomorrow and has a safety meeting with Garrett and the school psychologist to redo his safety plan for at school.

The happy prison

“Little Big Man”s discharge was postponed from today until Friday.  He is refusing to speak to us even in therapy.  He is doing frustratingly well at the hospital but refuses to work with us.  Happy in his little prison, free from school or having to face reality.  How on earth do we compete with that?

71 days

  • It is with a heavy soul that I share that “Little Big Man” was admitted to Willow brook Psychiatric Hospital last night.  He has been struggling so much since I went back to work.  His first 2 days at school were good, but when I came home later than usual on Tuesday he was already in fighting mode.  Nothing could stop it, no distraction proved effective, he was gone.  We had avoided the hospital several times in the past 10 days but not this time.

All we can do now is pray that he does not choose to repeat his usual cycle.  He has not in the past 2 years stayed at home for more than 10 days after a   hospitalization.   His records of staying home only occurred after he was released from a residential facility not the hospital.  One hospitalization leads quickly to another, then another, then another which leads straight to residential care.

We are expecting a discharge date of Sunday or Monday.  The countdown will reset when he comes home.

Things I hate today…

  1.  Measuring my time with my son.
  2.   Hospitals where he can refuse to talk to us.
  3.  Having to repeat what happened last night to 5 different case managers.
  4. Having the emergency room staff say, “Hey ________” when we walk in the door.
  5. Having the emergency room security staff say “I’m not gonna go over the protocols cause you like must have them memorized by now”.
  6. Crying in front of my other children before I can race away to hide.
  7. Having yet another family meeting to try to explain why their brother hurts himself and others.
  8. Having no control.
  9. Having a new job where no one knows our story and having to answer “I’m fine”.
  10. Losing hope.

A puppy & praise

Today was rough and the crisis team was at our house from 3-6pm.  Nothing could stop the stream of anger that Damian was aiming at anyone near him.  I arrived home from work at 5:00 to an exhausted crisis team and husband who was beyond done.  I tried to distract, disrupt, and soothe for 45 minutes before leaving the room in tears and frustration.

I stepped outside to sit on the porch.  I looked up and saw our beautiful neighborhood with children playing and neighbors talking and for 1 quick second the jealousy rose to the surface like hot pain.  Then I got up and told the crisis team to carry Damian outside if they had to.

One of my most supportive neighbors has a new puppy and I asked if we could borrow her puppy for some love time with Damian.  I told Damian to come with me now and he begrudging went.  With the puppy in his arms this sweet woman went on to praise Damian for calming the puppy down with his gentle petting.  She continued to praise him the whole time and called out praise to him even as we were walking home.  She didn’t question or ask why, she just knew she just acted.  She and that puppy just ended a 3 hour crisis.  The village is strong and we are so blessed.  Thank you neighbor!