When Your Teen is Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital
It took four hours to admit my 15-year-old son, Bob, to the psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation. It had been a long stressful day since Bob told his therapist he almost killed himself the night before. She had made Bob sign a safety contract then released him to me. I tried to keep him busy and distracted, but by late afternoon he could fight no more. Bob asked me to take him to the hospital.
The admission process was painfully slow. Several people asked Bob the same, endless questions. Each time Bob answered them my heart clenched.
Finally, they gave him a gown and took him away.
My husband, Bill, and I returned to the hospital with some of Bob's belongings. It was 10:00 p.m. and I felt a small sense of relief. My son was alive and safe for now.
"Why are you crying?" I asked Bill. It had been a horrifying and hectic day, but sadness was not what I was feeling.
"I didn't realize how sick he is."
I did. Bob had showed signs of depression in second grade. He tried antidepressant medication in sixth grade, then was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At the beginning of ninth grade, I brought Bob to this exact hospital because he became violent, but he was not admitted.
Everything had been leading up to this moment. While my spouse had always been supportive, it took this hospitalization for him to fully understand. Our son has a serious mental illness and it was not going away.
Mental Hospitals Provide Safety and Structure for Patients
The next week was a blur. We were allowed to speak to our son on the phone for 10 minutes, twice a day. We could visit for two hours each evening.
Visiting our son felt like visiting a high security prison:
- Only immediate family members were allowed.
- No more than two visitors at a time were permitted.
- All visitors were searched.
- No outside food, unless earned was allowed.
- No candy or treats were permitted.
- No contraband (straws, staples, drawstrings) were allowed.
Each night we sat with Bob in a large, barren room. He was inattentive and sometimes hostile, mostly towards me. It was excruciating to sit with him.
Hospital Staff Guide Parents of Mentally Ill Children
We met with Dr. Clark mid-week. She blasted information, directions and statistics at us. She explained Bob would be at high risk for suicide after his release from the hospital. Therefore, she ordered eyes-on-supervision 24/7 for 30 days. There would be no electronics and no contact with Bob's girlfriend. She described suicide contagion. She told us 80% of marriages fail after a child's suicide.
As we left the meeting, we saw Bob exercising with a group in the visitation room. He looked like a zombie as he swayed back and forth, arms outstretched, eyes vacant.
My next door neighbor came over to help me make the house safe, a job I couldn't do alone. We started with the obvious harmful objects. Soon I became crazed suggesting every household item could be dangerous. My friend talked me down, but it wasn't easy.
Another friend came by over the weekend to help redecorate Bob's room. She skillfully displayed Bob's memorabilia on the walls. I arranged the many cards and gifts that arrived.
Bob was released after eight days inpatient. When we got to the house, he saw the balloons on the mailbox. We stopped to take pictures with his little sister. When he saw his room and all his personal items on display, he cried. Though the battle wasn't over, my son was home.
Halli, C. (2014, November 23). When Your Teen is Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2014/11/what-to-expect-when-your-teen-is-admitted-to-the-psychiatric-hospital
Author: Christina Halli
In general, they are a good resource for families of people with mental illness. My child is only 10, but in my professional life, I have seen how hard it is to connect adult children to their supportive parents. Doctors don't create discharge plans for people with mental illness the way they do for people who've been hospitalized for conditions like cancer or diabetes. Family supports are often happily utilized in those instances, but the stigma of mental illness can really limit how much individuals or providers will allow their family into the mental health recovery process. NAMI has done some work in making psychiatric hospitalizations less traumatic for individuals and their families. It's a hard path, but hopefully that link can provide some good places to start!
Whatever number you choose, I want you to make a phone call right now. Right now. Tell them what's going on with you. Then, show your folks this post you sent. Tell them again what you are thinking. I'd also like you to create and sign a safety contract that promises that you will not hurt yourself, but will seek help when feelings of overwhelm threaten to drown you. https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2017/08/create-safety-contract-for-teen-with-bipolar/
Lexi, life will get better. I promise. Both of my daughters have contemplated suicide and both tell me all the time how grateful they are that they didn't do it. There is help out there for you. Seek it. Or, write back here--I'll be watching for you. You are precious--take care of yourself.
Think the worst. Drugs and alcohol I dispise and hate, but my daughter chooses to have it. I ask creator what do I do please show me and guide me. Protect her
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I'm so sorry for everything you've been through. Because there are so many aspects of your history and mental health, though, it makes it pretty complicated (still treatable, though). If you're at the place where you're seriously cutting and trying or overdose, it sounds like you should be in a hospital.
I've been on a hospital, although not the children's ward, but I have visited the children's ward and it's nicer than the adult one by quite a bit. :) It's just a place where you can be safe and get the help you need.
Years ago, I _swore_ I would _never_ go to one of those places. But, in the end, when I needed one, I needed one. And I can tell you that many people find the hospital a positive turning point in their treatment.
What I'm saying is, it doesn't have to be a scary place.
If you have multiple options for where to go, you might want to check them out ahead of time and pick the one that you want.
This doable. You can get better.
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager and "Breaking Bipolar" Author
Instead, I have had to take him to the hospital multiple times for cutting, drug abuse, suicide attempts, etc. I even had to give him CPR
to save his life once and that moment has changed me as a mother and as a person forever.I will never be the same person I was before that day.
You have been through so much and you are still so young. You do have a bright future, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Please do it. As a mother, I wish my son would have asked me. I would do anything for my children. I would help them any way I could. All they have to do is tell me. Talk to me. Ask me. Something other than hurting themselves.
You have already shown courage by coming here and asking for advice. I wish you the best and I want you to know that help is out there. It may take time, but the right person or place is there to get you the help you need.
Personally, I've been depressed since I was a child, suicidal on and off (much more in my late teen years and recently), and even slightly homicidal when I was young (fantasizing about killing my abusive parents and raising my siblings myself). I've also been very anxious since I was a child, but my mother always pushed it off as "puberty" and "mood swings". The depression manifested itself in random bouts of crying because I was just so sad but didn't know why, and those, too, were written off as puberty.
As I got older, I indulged in little self-harming behaviors before I even knew what self-harm was. Scratching at a spot in my skin until I bled, picking off freckles or moles, biting my arm.
When I was 18, I tried therapy. My therapist was a very cold person who would sit there with her computer and ask me these vague questions that made me super anxious and made my mind go completely blank, and then she'd get frustrated with me when I couldn't answer them. I dreaded going to therapy. Eventually I just stopped going altogether, but kept going to the psych LPN in the same office, who put me on so many different drugs that I don't even remember them all. None of them worked. I wasn't sleeping at night, I was working all the time and barely holding it together.
When I was 20, I moved out of my parents' house, expecting things to get better, but they didn't. One of my roommates became a moody, hostile, selfish pig, and the other was so stressed from putting up with him (they were together at the time) that she wasn't very nice either. (side note: we kicked him out and I am roommates with her to this day.)
I cried almost every night. I'd listen to comedy podcasts or watch movies in order to be able to fall asleep. I was stressed, didn't know how to handle my money, and kept having car trouble, not to mention I was working two awful jobs.
the previous fall, my best friend and the one person I felt I could really trust and belong with "broke up" with me. His reasoning didn't make sense and he didn't seem to care how this made me feel, at all.
Six months after I moved out, the pain was just too much for me. The loss of that friendship, my pain-filled childhood, my jobs, and my self-hatred. I started cutting.
I "quit" cutting a few months later, but a few months after that, I started doing it again. I "quit" again, then lo and behold, fell back into it, worse than ever. I was cutting in the bathroom just in order to get myself through the terrible work days. Or at home, in my tub, just so I could get to sleep.
I quit again, but have had a few relapses since. Today, sometimes it's hard to believe I was ever that low, but sometimes I still feel like I might end up back in that place.
I started seeing a new therapist, and she really helped me. I haven't seen her in a long time because I couldn't afford the copay or the gas to get to her office (40 minutes away, over an hour with traffic). But she helped while I was going to her. I'm more stable financially now, so I'm on the lookout for a therapist closer to home who can help me get back on track to healing.
Not all therapists are bad. If you have a bad experience, find another one. You deserve to get the help you need.
My oldest brother, two years younger than me, has schizophrenia; the second oldest has ADHD; the third, my only sister, has anorexia and depression and generalized anxiety disorder and has been hospitalized two or three times for it. She has more self-harm scars than I do, and it breaks my heart. The fourth has Down syndrome and the youngest has ADHD and possible autism. I love them all dearly but you have never met a family more fraught with chronic illness, mental or otherwise.
Anyway, the reason I found this article is I'm writing a book in which one of my main characters goes into treatment for anorexia, and I have a few questions I'm trying to get answered, but there are no stories from the actual teenagers, online. None that pop up with a Google search, anyway. Right now, I just need to know if an underage inpatient can refuse medication. If they won't stop crying for hours, can they refuse a pill or an IV to help them sleep? Does anyone know?
My 12 year old son was admitted twice now (currently he is in a mental hospital) for suicidial thoughts, self harm and, this time, attempted suicide. The first time he was admitted he was not on any meds. This time they have taken him off Zoloft and are considering bipolar as a possible diagnosis. He was already diagnosed with moderate depression and anxiety.
So, to answer your question, being on the meds is not the cause or reason for the issues or the hospitalization. My son has a therapist and a psychiatrist as well.
It is a very hard thing to deal with as a parent, especially when your child is so young. But we cannot stop trying to help. Sometimes the medications are hard to get right and this is a problem. But knowing my son wants to kill himself is so heavy and so painful as his mother.
In 1st grade, he tried to start the school on fire. He was obsessed with fire. He was harming animals and constantly acting out against me, his brother and father. When he did something wrong, my now x-husband, would take things away that he liked and when that didn't work, he would use the belt on him. I told my x that he needed help. I got him in to see countless therapists, but that didn't work either. My son just wouldn't open up. I thought he needed medication, but his father was extremely anti-meds.
When my son was caught on social media with a picture he had taken of himself snorting pills, my x said he couldn't handle it and sent him to live with me.
He skipped school, was suspended countless times again, and began self harming again and tried to commit suicide.
I got him into short term and he was put on medication. He has been to short term 6 times and is now in long term finally.
We have tried several different combinations of medications, but nothing seems to work right yet. He has seen more therapists and also a psychiatrist.He did so much before he finally was put on meds. That was my last hope, or so I thought. I'm not saying medication is the only answer. I know my son needs meds, therapy and many other things. He is bi-polar, has ADHD, is SMD, has severe depression and anxiety and the list goes on.
I'm just doing the best with what I've been dealt with. I'm here looking for help and advice too. But I KNOW that medication did not cause my son's problems. He was put on medication because of his problems. They are a last resort other than hospitalization.
We, as parents, would do anything to help our children. Normally we start with therapy.
Do you have a child with similar issues? Think about that before you judge. It doesn't sound like you have been through anything that these other parent's have been through. You don't have any sort of grasp on what we are going through or what we are trying to do to help our children.
Entering there was just as depressing as being at home. The 'max security' atmosphere felt suffocating and, though I'm not really rebellious, I was very tempted to run. I could have nothing at all on my person. I could not be visited. Me and about seven other teens with problems sat in a room while different adults came in to have 'discussions'.
I know now it was group therapy. I don't know if it was because of my mental state or the people that I hated it so much. For three hours, every day, I sat in a room while different people blasted the importance of a positive attitude and expected participation. Then lunch, then another hour and a half of that, or exercise, and then I had to talk with a woman. She introduced herself as Nicki, but whether she was a counselor, a therapist, or something else she never said.
Only that, for about half an hour towards the end of my day, she expressed her disappointment in my not having participated and not showing I was better and not caring more about life and having given up and - her words, not mine - "choosing to be miserable". I was depressed, bi-polar depression, granted, but still depressed. I had a hard enough time not breaking down into tears around the other teens there. I cried in her too-hot office a lot.
During this time, my mom and I argued a lot. One-sided arguments, because she was upset I didn't want to live and I wouldn't tell her I suddenly changed my mind and was pumped about life.
I really didn't want to go there. I understand that some see it as necessary - maybe it was. But after Nicki looked me in the eye and accused me of self-harm (the rest of the building was freezing - I had the gall to wear a sweatshirt like everyone else) I didn't care what it would take to get me out.
I lied on the morning sheets I filled out. Oh, of course I didn't have suicidal thoughts! Oh, of course I had goals! Oh, of course I had never cut before! (She wouldn't have seen anything if I had taken off my sweatshirt.)
And, thankfully, after a solid week, I was discharged.
Next was therapy and psychologist visits. Marginally less painful than what I had just sat through. I was given hotline numbers (as if I would use them) for when I wanted to kill myself or wanted to self-harm. Those papers ended up in the trash as soon as I came home. When filling out paperwork, and answering the yes or no questions my mom asked as she went down the list, one of them was, naturally, 'Do you self-harm or have you in the last six months?' I told her yes, even though I was terrified to tell the truth. She was quiet, and then told me: "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," and asked the next question.
I was still depressed. I was still suicidal. I still cut. These things didn't change until I was medicated for bipolar. Even now, I struggle with being very flippant about life and suicide. I lost my appetite during that time period, and never gained it back. My mom's frustration with how little I eat is something I deal with on a near-daily basis, though my weight and BMI fall within normal categories.
That was last year, now. I hated it. This, and one other experience, has given me a strong dislike and distrust of therapists and counselors. I do still cut, but I managed to get out of having to go to therapy. I wouldn't tell my mom again, ever. Especially not after she told me she thought I was anorexic. My sister found out, and I do feel guilty for having promised her I wouldn't cut and then, well, cutting.
I admire troopers, who can keep going. But after my experience with hospitalization, and already disinclined to be talked out of harming myself, I would never be one to call 9-1-1 or walk into the ER and tell them, Hey, I slice myself open, don't eat, and want to die.
My name is Natasha. I have bipolar disorder, write "Breaking "Bipolar" here and am the blog manager.
I'm not sure what to say to you. I guess what you need to know is that I've been through something similar to what you've been through. At 15 it's very hard to deal with any kind of mental illness because you're not an adult and can't make your own decisions yet. Nevertheless, professionals can still be very, very valuable. Believe me, treatment is what you need in your situation.
Don't run away from therapy. Therapy is there to help you understand what's happening and give you tools to cope with it. You cannot live a successful life without these coping tools.
As for your stint in the hospital? Well, hopefully you won't need that again, but remember -- your life is worth far more than a hospital visit.
I know you said you'd never use a helpline, but you should. You can be anonymous and they _will_listen_ to what you're going through. You don't have to call them about cutting, per se, you can call them about whatever you need to talk about.
Please don't turn your back on all that help that is being offered to you. You need it.
Here is a link to our hotlines and resources page, in case you change your mind: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager
I'm sorry this person is in this situation. What I recommend is seeing if you can get a professional advocate or support person to get involved. See organizations NAMI or DBSA or another local mental health organization for help with this. (Just Google those groups to find out what is near you.)
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager
I'm so sorry to hear that you're experiencing that. I do know what it's like to be depressed at 13 years old. I was that way too.
Please, please, please, don't hurt yourself. Please reach out for help (it sounds like you want this). Please contact a helpline: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
If you feel like you're in danger of hurting yourself and even a helpline isn't enough, call 9-1-1 or walk into an Emergency Room. That is what they are there for. This may help your parents understand how serious the situation is.
You can also talk to your school counselor about what is happening and they may be able to help you approach your parents as well.
Don't give up. Keep telling people you trust until someone helps you. You deserve help and you can get better.
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager (and bipolar)
that was along the lines of 'I don't want to live anymore'
who got worried and then called my parents who took me
to the hospital, I was temporarily admitted as they
assessed me and asked the same questions over and over
again. I lied and got released. I do regret it now but
I can't handle the shame.
There was a point over the summer where I couldn't take
it anymore and I called one of my family members, not
immediate, and asked them to take me to town. They
didn't understand why I asked and this happened
for the next week or so. Probably spent 3 nights
at their place. Parents sure were angry about it,
they didn't understand(and searched my room.)
I regret lying, as I had a chance to get some help
but I hate the shame and stigma around it. That is
what stopped me. I just want the pain to stop.
It is also getting bad again and I just want it
all to go away. I don't know what to do anymore.
I tried to find you on FB, but couldn't. Don't know if you are still on there. My teen is transgender (female body, male otherwise), since infancy I've notice I was raising a boy. His first time in a hospital was age 11, been 4 times all short term. Now Jace is 17 and feels he needs to go long term and I'm hoping we can find a good place for him. It's so difficult watching him go thru this and I can't relate at all. His dad is BiPolar, skitsofrenic, OCD and paranoid. He checked himself into a hospital in his late 20's for four years (we had been married for 6 years by that point) because he heard voice telling him scary things. Anyway, wondering & hoping if my baby will ever live a happy or somewhat normal life.
I'm sorry to hear that you're in that position. Help is so important. I recommend you talk to a professional (like your doctor) or call a helpline to get additional help with your parents. See our page of resources and hotlines here: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager