Sunday, March 01, 2009

Moving Forward...

Moving forward.

I've been working on that this year. Come through a lot these past several months since leaving Minneapolis/St. Paul. I made so many mistakes and have experienced the guilt that goes along with those mistakes. Huge lesson for me in humility.

It's true I had never really intended to live in Lincoln. Wound up here with my kids. Struggled to survive every single day since arriving here.

I thought I had accomplished something by starting to work full-time. That was short-lived. Not long after I started the new job, my youngest son began to unravel. I had just gotten to work that morning after getting everyone off to school. About mid-morning, the school called me and told me to get there as soon as possible. It was an emergency. My son was threatening to kill himself.

I had no car at the time. It hit me so hard that I could hardly stand or think. What was I supposed to do, run over there! I told my supervisor and he recommended that I talk to one of the women upstairs, which I did. Jacinda agreed to drive me to the school.

When I got there, the assistant principal led me upstairs where they had my son. He was being held in a small room with no furniture, windows, or anything. Only bare walls and carpet. He was lying on the floor. Holding his neck with his hands. Every so often he would squeeze himself really good and I could see his fingers turn white.

What had I done wrong? That's all I could think. What am I supposed to do? All I could do was sit down beside him and ask him what was going on. Then I took him into my lap and held him tightly. After a while, he relaxed into my arms and just hung onto me.

I cried as I held him and I kept telling him that I loved him over and over.

The assistant principal asked to talk to me. She said that she had called the children's psychiatric unit and that they were prepared to take my son in for observation. Since he had been saying to everyone how he wanted to hurt himself and had been hitting his head against everything and choking himself, they thought it would be the best thing for me to do.

What was I to do?

I felt totally helpless with no where to turn. So I made several calls. Made arrangements for my other three children. Called my brother, Tony to pick them up after the youth program. And, then I rode with my son the hospital.

We went through a lengthy process of filling out papers. There was a police interview and then an interview with a social worker. I was filling so numb. My son clung to me the whole time. We both just sat in shock holding each other.

Once he was admitted the police then escorted us to the psychiatric unit. Everyone in there was extremely polite and scrutinized me from head to toe. My every move was recorded no doubt. It was so terrifying.

They checked my son into his room. Went over all his belongings and then interviewed me about what led up to his breakdown.

Yes, I thought, that is exactly what has happened. He's had a breakdown and I was unable to prevent it.

My son liked his room immediately. He liked that he had all sorts of toys to play with, especially legos. He liked that he had a TV to himself. His own little bed and his very own bathroom. He seemed to just relax.

When it was time for me to leave. I didn't want to go. How could I leave me son in such a place? The nurses and their assistants more or less pushed me out the doors. So there I stood in the lobby of this hospital. Not knowing which direction to go. In shock. Where were the nurses, psychiatrists, and social workers for me?

When I got out onto the street, the feeling was even worse. What the hell was I supposed to do? I didn't have a ride to go anywhere, so I made my way over to the grocery store. If nothing else, I would just buy a sandwich from the refrigerated section and find a place to sit down.

My friend Nancy called me at that moment. So I poured my heart out to her. She was so supportive and helped me to calm down. Then I called Christopher. He, too, was extremely supportive, even though he was over in New York. Still just to hear his voice was a relief.

I didn't get a sandwich but wound up with some chicken instead. Then I returned to the hospital to find a lounge area where I could sit and think for awhile.

I only knew that I did what I had to do. Not what I wanted to do. I would much rather have had my son with me at that very moment instead of having him in the hospital. What did I do wrong?

Life had been quite rough for us over the years. We saw the break up of our home. We went in separate directions for a time, when my kids went with their dad for a time. We came back together so that we could start over. Rebuild.

So how did it get this bad? I didn't see it coming. Yet, I realized that I had seen this coming. But I had no idea how to prevent it. What was I supposed to do?

I sat in the hospital lounge for an hour or more and then returned to the psych unit for visiting hours. Then I stayed with my son for three more hours. We just held each other and breathed.

Again, when visiting hours were over, I was ushered out. This time, it didn't seem so traumatic but still the feeling that I was abandoning my son was overwhelming. I went downstairs and waited in the lobby for my brother to pick me up. When he did, my three other children were in there and we returned to the family shelter where we were living for a few months.

After my brother dropped us off. I took my children up to our room and got them settled. They had all their snacks and were quite content to just sit back and relax. So I went downstairs to talk to one of the staff members on duty. She was my counselor for the evening.

There's nothing like having someone there just to hear your crying. She listened carefully and was very sympathetic. Prepared to do anything that was called for. All I wanted was to be comforted. When I felt better, she asked if it would be alright to say a prayer for me. I told her that I respected all prayers and that I would appreciate it.

When I returned to my room. I looked at my other children. They asked me what happened, so I explained to them that their brother was in the hospital and that he would be there for several more days. Then we smudged off and went to bed.

In the following days, we fell into a routine. Kids went to school and I took this time to reflect. Then we went to visit my son in the evenings. My brother picked us up each evening after visiting hours. Then we'd return to our room and start over again.

I felt that my faith was being tested to the limit.

The day came when it was determined that my son could be released from the hospital. And as we left that day. He looked up at me and said "Mom, I don't want to go back there again! I just want to be with you!"

How do we shield our children's fragile minds from the onslaught of challenges that threaten to swallow us mind, body, and soul? All I could do was pray.

This traumatic experience has definitely left me on edge. I have not worked since this happened and am not so willing to just accept any position, especially if it would require long hours away from my kids. Just not willing to go there...

Moving forward can be a challenge. We can make it as difficult or as easy as we would like it to be, so I've been told.

Me, I'd just prefer it to be easier for a change. I want to be happy as much as the next person.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My wife and I feel your pain. Our son, Sean, has had the same experiences as your son. He has threatened to kill himself and spent 2 weeks at the Children's Mental Health Clinic at Horsham and another 3 days at Friend's Hospital in Philadelphia (which is a torture chamber). It took us months to determine the cause of his depression (his poor relationship with his father and nagging grandparents). Sean cried like a baby when we would come to see him at the hospital and would then have to leave. He'd beg us to take him with us. Leaving him behind was the hardest thing we ever had to do. Sean is on medication and is doing better but he still has traumatic nightmares about the mental hospital. Only time can heal those wounds.