December 13, 2017.
He is set for official discharge.
Our therapy session ended today with him telling us “I won’t be home long”.
I can’t argue with that. I have learned the hard way that there is literally nothing I can do to make him stay. So I answer from the newly created space in my brain “Okay. I hope you can enjoy your time while you are home.” His reply is silence and then a flash of words meant to cause me pain, “So you don’t want me to stay. You just want me to visit and then go back?”
Before I can react emotionally, the new place in my brain responds without hesitation “I bought you some new jeans and those soft long sleeve shirts you like. I put them in your dresser last night.”
Silence, then more silence. As I am about to speak before I should, he makes a half hearted attempt to encite again. “You just don’t care and you are done with me and I don’t want to come back at all.”
Your turn, your turn my brain screams. It’s your turn to respond. Literally out of nowhere comes the freakin song from Vanilla Ice, and all I hear in my brain is “Stop, collaborate, and listen.” People my mind has been worked hard in therapy the last two months. I started out the gate running and then this , this is what my brain gives me.
So, Vanilla Ice spoke to my son. “Listen (son) we need to work together during therapy and you ARE coming home so I will listen to whatever you need to tell me.”
I work for two months on 2-3 times weekly therapy and a disgraced rapper saves our therapy session.
We have received the phone call that lets us know that medicaid has decided that our son is “well enough” to come back.
He has not met a single therapy goal but has not tried to kill himself or anyone else in 3 weeks so he no longer requires residential treatment.
The insanity carousel just keeps going round and round and the same song keeps playing. It’s only rider knows how to get a never ending supply of tickets.
Sometimes he lets us ride with him for a week or two, but soon he is holding back his tickets and rides alone once again.
Our son is coming back, but he is not coming home. He will cycle through our house like a tornado and then disappear again and again. All we can do is batten down the hatches and pray that the tornado only harms our hearts and does not destroy itself.
Patience is learning that what will be cannot be controlled, only mitigated.
For the past 3 1/2 months everything revolved around our son. His therapist, psychologist, and psychiatric appointments. His self harm, crisis intervention teams, and hospitalizations. His hand crafted daily schedule, his medications, and his school.
Then in the last 3 weeks a flurry of decisions, hours of phone calls, piteous pleadings to any official who had the bad luck to answer the phone, anxious texts at all hours of the day, and fitful nightmare filled nights.
Then came the fast, intense feeling of peace. Which was quickly followed by the drop to your knees guilt.
Now there is just silence and an empty void. I had been parenting like I was on fire and now the fire is gone. Leaving behind a burned out shell, a blackened and charred ghost of the structure it was. Oh how I wish that fire could have destroyed the memories and events that have caused our family such pain. But our most intense memories cling to us no matter the devastation we survive.
Objects and tangible items were not lost in this blaze, but hope was.
Now I begin the tiresome process of finding new hope. I have done this many times before with our son. This time is different. The new hope I persue is so elusive and fleeting that I cannot hear its beckoning whispers or see its shadows of light. I have looked in the places where it was found in the past, but for now it is no where to be found.
It has been a week and a day since Garrett drove our son to Coastal Harbor Psychiatric Residential Treatment.
We had our first family therapy meeting last Wednesday and it didn’t go well.
The therapist asked our son why he was at Coastal Harbor and he responded with “I didn’t make my phone calls when I was in the hospital.”
I managed to stay silent while screaming on the inside.
Therapist- “You don’t get to a level 6 treatment center for not making phone calls. Why are you here?” (Our therapist actually used more “colorful” words but I didn’t want to post them online 🙂 ). Son- “I don’t know.” Therapist- “Try again.” Son- “I didn’t listen.” Therapist-“Listen? You know many many people have shared with me why you’re here. Now we’re going to listen to your parents share why you are here.”
We shared but I am pretty certain only the therapist “listened”.
Current stats of the past 2 years.
*15 months in Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities.
*5 months in Psychiatric Hospitalizations.
*4 months (spread out over the past 2 years) at home.
*13 Psychiatric Hospitalizations.
*4 Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities.
*6 different schools.
*17 interruptions in his schooling.
*13 different psychiatrists, each of them made medication changes.
*21 at-home intervention therapists.
*18 inpatient-Psychiatric therapists.
*7 case managers.
Tonight is our last night with our son for what will most likely be many months. Garrett will leave with him at 5:30 AM for the 4.5 hour drive to Coastal Harbor in Savannah GA. I have had 3 other nights like this in the past 2 years and they are like a funeral. Saying goodbye to the child I know now, for when he finally returns he is always different. Changed by time, people, and a life I will have no part in for months.
The grief is overwhelming and I try to sound happy and upbeat while making sure I tell him I love him so many times that it becomes a circulating mantra in our conversation.
I used to remind him to brush his teeth, change his underwear, put deodorant on, write in his journal, and listen to his doctors and staff.
Now I just tell him that I love him and will always be here waiting for him to choose life outside of the hospitals.
I tell him I can’t enable him anymore and that we will not visit him while he is at Coastal Harbor. I will not call him. He will need to call us. I remind him that words mean nothing to us anymore. That only actions can speak to us now. I will not allow him to promise or plead to us at Coastal Harbor. Days of good behavior will not be praised. They will be totaled into weeks and months to receive praise.
We love you but cannot live with you, only your actions can change that.
Make new choices, the old ones haven’t worked.
Good night and goodbye my beautiful and tragically broken son.
- 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…
- Measuring my time with my son.
- Hospitals where he can refuse to talk to us.
- Having to repeat what happened last night to 5 different case managers.
- Having the emergency room staff say, “Hey ________” when we walk in the door.
- Having the emergency room security staff say “I’m not gonna go over the protocols cause you like must have them memorized by now”.
- Crying in front of my other children before I can race away to hide.
- Having yet another family meeting to try to explain why their brother hurts himself and others.
- Having no control.
- Having a new job where no one knows our story and having to answer “I’m fine”.
- Losing hope.