I cannot fathom losing one of my children. I cannot even consider what parents who lose a child go through during the grieving process, and for the rest of their lives. Yet, I feel as though I was close to losing one of my own children. Two weeks ago, my oldest daughter had homecoming. She went to the football game Friday, slept over at a friend’s house, and attended the dance the next evening. I picked her up from the dance, she looked so gorgeous. The next two days she spent in bed. I thought she had overdone it over the weekend when she spent Sunday in bed. When she stayed home from school on Monday, I knew something was wrong. She stayed in bed, complaining of exhaustion and joint pain. The pain is something chronic, we have spent years dealing with the issue. The exhaustion, I attributed to her hectic schedule. I did not give her a problem about staying home, but I did let her know Tuesday she would need to get back to school. She never made it there, because by Monday evening we were in the emergency room.
Late Monday afternoon my daughter came to me, crying, saying she needed help. I sent the other girls in the other room, and tried calming her down. She was inconsolable, but I could not understand why. I know we have been through a complete upheaval and trauma for the last 8 years, but I honestly thought we were all on the path to repair. She was crying, and hiding under her hair. She was rocking back and forth telling me the bad thoughts would not stop. I kept asking questions, calmly, trying to understand what was going on in that moment. Then she uttered the words, “I do not want to hurt myself, but I cannot control all the thoughts anymore.” At this moment I realized, my daughter literally was struggling for her life. She was battling thoughts in her mind that were telling her to kill herself. My child was battling suicidal thoughts. I struggled not to break down.
I sat there, shocked, scared, and struggling to keep talking to her without having a nervous breakdown. What do I do? I have to help her, I have to protect her, even if it is from herself. I tried to calm her down, and assess the situation. Could she be calmed enough to wait until the morning for help? She said no. Should we go to the emergency room? Is there somewhere else I should take her? Do I call 911, or take her myself? What do I tell the other two kids? My mind was swimming. She was alternating between complete silence, and borderline nervous breakdown. I told her I would take her to the emergency room if she felt she needed help right now, and it could not wait. She said yes. I made sure a friend could keep the other two kids, and we left for the emergency room.
I sat there filling out the papers, looking at my beautiful, tortured soul of a child. Her hair was greasy, but still borderline perfect. Her eyes were red from crying, but still captivating and deep. Her body was twitching and anxious, but still in peak, athletic condition. My daughter looked so together, and yet so broken. I wanted to trade places with her, I wanted to take away all her pain, and make sure she never hurts again. They took us back, and I watched as the nurse systematically removed all the long cords and sharp objects from the room. I watched my daughter as she began to realize why the nurse was removing items. I watched a bit of the reality set in, and I watched her face fall a little bit.
Blood work, urinalysis, and mental health interview done, and here we sit. The mental health professional sits us down to review our options. Inpatient treatment at the local mental health facility. Three-five days of treatment, possible medication, and therapy set up after discharge. Option two, partial inpatient, ten days of 8-3 in the mental health facility, but she would come home at the end of the day. Long duration, and more school missed, but she would come home every day. I looked at my daughter, and I let her know I would support whichever decision she wanted to try. She asked me what I thought she should do, so I told her, let’s talk through it together and decide. Ultimately, she decided to go with inpatient. It turned out to be 7 days, not 3-5.
The first two days I was a disaster. I cried, uncontrollably. Guilt, sadness, and fear took over my soul. I visited her as often as I could, almost every single day with little exception. She is home now, and seems much better. She is on antidepressants and antianxiety medication. She is also starting therapy, and back at school. I have dealt with depression throughout my life, as well as anxiety. I have never felt suicidal, but I see how it impacts a person. I see the struggle in her eyes. I will always be her biggest cheerleader, her greatest supporter. I will always be her champion.
Mental health issues are still taboo to a point in this society. My daughter was scared for her life, scared about losing control and hurting (or killing) herself. She came to me for help, she came to her mom to fix it. Watch for signs in your children, and other loved ones. Let them know it is okay to struggle and need help emotionally. Support your loved ones in their emotions. Give them the support they need, and do not be afraid to seek emergency help. Suicide is irreversible. Do not wait until it is too late.