We left home for the ER around 7:45 Tuesday evening. I packed a bag for Princess- a few changes of clothes (no drawstrings, hoods, scarves, belts or jewelry), a few books, some toiletries (not her hair pick, no bar soap). I brought my knitting and a magazine to read.
By now I know the answers the nurses and doctors need to hear. I rattled off the history of the previous visits and hospitalizations. I identified her current and previous medications, by name, dosage and treatment schedule. The terminology is almost second nature now- she is not in active crisis, but is unable to ensure that she is fully capable of maintaining her own safety at home.
The bipolar tendencies were first diagnosed in September, and her brother’s mood disorder (the ever popular “NOS,” which in layman’s terms means “your kid’s brand of crazy doesn’t fit the current DSM definition”) was diagnosed about 20 months ago. There is no diagnosed history from parents or previous generations.
Note that I don’t say there is no mental illness in the parents or previous generations; I firmly believe that there has to be something on both sides that we just don’t have on paper. I can’t accept that I ended up with two children with such significant mood disorders just by the luck of the draw.
The transport to the psychiatric hospital came at 7:30 on Wednesday. We were ready to leave. 24 hours of hospital food and sleeping on a the chair that pulls out to a cot took its toll. I survived the 35 minute drive, as I followed the ambulance, without significant incident. The blowout I got during that same drive in September remained in the back of my mind. We got her checked in without any snags. A couple of the nurses recognized her name when the paperwork was handed to them. They checked her bag, noting that everything was acceptable (I learn from experience). She hugged me goodbye and asked if I was coming to visit every day. I promised that we would try to visit, and would call if we could not be there in person.
No one cried.
I feel numb and empty.
The experts tell me what to do, I do those things, and yet we are not able to help her. I have come to believe that she needs a specialized school situation, one which provides the cognitive behavioral therapy that she needs to combat the irrational thoughts before they become emotional actions. The medication is not enough.
But the specialized school will require many, many hoops to be jumped through. I am in the process of the educational evaluation that has the potential to put her in this type of school without me needing to go bankrupt. But I am scared to admit to my husband or my parents or my friends or the current school that the special school is what I really want for Princess. They fear a stigma, or an inability to re-assimilate to the life we’d planned for her (e.g., attendance at the private school at which her dad is the band director). I fear that the adjustment to a new group of students and a new school will be more anxiety-provoking than returning to her current situation, although she reverts to the harmful behaviors when she is back at school for more than a few weeks.
The more I research and the more I learn, the less I really know about any of this.