View From a Mom

I Didn’t Know

It started with small things. My daughter would take a nail clipper and pick at her skin. I didn’t know that was considered cutting. She was a sweet girl but from the time she was young, occasionally she seemed so negative. I didn’t know that was considered depression. We had her in different forms of therapy since she was seven, but she seemed to be spending more and more time having dark thoughts. On the way to the psychiatrist appointments, she used to wish we would have a car accident. I didn’t know that was considered suicidal ideation. Around the time of finals week, she would have a headache and took 6 Tylenols. I didn’t know that was considered an overdose.

 

I would drive her to school and we’d have to go around the block several times and she’d still refuse to get out of the car. She’d beg me to allow her to stay home and have a mental health day. I would force her to go to school crying while I drove to work crying so hard I could hardly see.

 

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The Emergency Room

She was in therapy and meeting with a psychiatrist but we weren’t sure how honest she was with anyone especially herself. My sister – who is a social worker – advised me that the next time she refused to get out of the car, I should drive to the emergency room to get her evaluated. If she’s doing it for attention, she might be overwhelmed by the process and see that the next step is hospitalization; if she’s really ill, the doctor will help me know the next step is hospitalization.

 

Most of the times I drove her to school was on Fridays because I was off from work. I knew the evaluation would take hours and I didn’t want to take her to the emergency room because of Shabbat. My husband usually took her to school on other days when she missed the bus. One Thursday in February, she missed the bus and my husband couldn’t drive her so I did. When we got to school, she refused to get out. We drove around the block twice and she still refused. So then I decided I was going to take her to the ER. We were at Cohen Children’s Medical Center for about six hours. They told me she has plans for the future which is usually a good sign, but I needed to watch her and bring her to the ER again without hesitation if I am ever concerned. She was cleared to go back to school but would not get out of the car when I brought her to school to finish the day. Her school social worker told me it was a long day and I should just take her home.

 

 

A Call For Help

The next few days my daughter had no problem getting on the bus. She woke up early, did her makeup and looked great. I was happy that the trip to the ER worked. On the Wednesday following our visit to the ER, I received a phone call from the school social worker that I needed to come immediately. I sat in the social worker’s office with a bunch of staff members from the counseling department who told me my daughter walked into the school social worker and showed the social worker her suicide plan written out in complete detail. My daughter told the social worker although she felt she had no alternative, a piece of her felt she didn’t want to hurt her family.

 

 

Now I Know

The counseling department offered to either call an ambulance or accompany me to the hospital. Since we were just there the week before I told them I felt I could take her myself. I hugged my daughter and reminded her that I love her more than she’d ever know and we headed to the ER again. That was the first of nine hospitalizations. We have been to the emergency room over 30 times. It didn’t get any less painful each time we went. But I Know that similarly to a child with cancer or any other possibly fatal illness, I don’t love her any less with each trip to the ER. I will do anything to help my daughter survive.

 

 

 

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Sheri F

Sheri is a mother of five, who is grateful that her daughter reached out for help.

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