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 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2014/11/what-to-expect-when-your-teen-is-admitted-to-the-psychiatric-hospital
Author: Christina Halli
Six months after the ex's departure, my older daughter 14yrs, who had been emotionally traumatized, told her school she attempted suicide. She was already being treated with psych med changes, and a psychologist in dealing with her mother's abandonment. But her PTSD, mood swings, desocialization etc eventually became diagnosed as bipolar.
She was hospitalized twice since and has recently been violent toward my other daughter 10yrs and myself on several occasions. We've had her to many family and private therapy sessions to deal with it. Despite med changes, two psychologists, a truncated school schedule, and constant love and support in the best home I could provide, she only gets worse.
Recently, my daughter in a low point, falsely accused me of physical and verbal abuse to the school psychologist. She said that I hit her with a pillow to coax her to get up and go to school yet it was she who became violent hitting and throwing things.
Well, the school reported it to cps, and now she's with an aunt, my ex's sister, who believed her outright without asking me, she herself, having come from an abusive father, but having had no contact with my children or myself for many months before this.
I have no prior mental or criminal history of any sort, have been a devoted father to my girls since birth, have been cleared by cps after their saying the investigation was unwarranted, but my daughter, who's now both mentally and physically looking worse than ever, is refusing to come home, still accusing me, I believe, for having dug herself a hole she can't get out of.
I am heartbroken, beyond lost, and frustrated in what to do. I found out she hasn't been back to school since, and when I saw her briefly, looks and sounds like hell...My 10yr old daughter and I, in our finally peaceful house, are getting on fine but are missing her so much. Living hell. Any thoughts or comments are welcome. I am at a total loss.
The hospital was deadly. I was admitted quite quickly to find out they didn't have a bed. So I sat in a waiting room type of deal with patients like me. It wasn't until 12:00 that they found a bed in a different hospital 2 hours away from where I lived. So there I was, getting sigNed in and registered. Then it took a couple hours for my to answer their questions. Finally at 6 o clock in the morning, when everyone was waking up, I went to bed as I got there extremely early. The food was horrid and the day dragged on and on. Wake up, do hygiene,eat breakfast, go to "class" which was reading on a third grade level, group therapy where we watched videos made that were made in the 90s, snack time, "class" again where we played with play-dough, lunch, process group therapy where we got in lots of fights and many people had to step out due to memories, "class" where we watched a movie, active therapy where we went outside for 20 minutes, shower, dinner, then free time after that. Lights out at nine. Phone calls, once a day, 10 minutes, before bedtime. It was prison.
Thank you for sharing your experience. Its sounds terrible not to be able to see your sick child in the hospital for a week. I think any parent would struggle in that situation. It took amazing strength and courage for you to get your child the help she needed at the time.
It sounds like you are in a lot of pain because you do not know how to help your child who is struggling with mental illness. This is common for many of us. It is so hard. I wonder if you can find support or respite for yourself when it becomes too much.
Thanks for your comment. Yes, we all have similar experiences, don't we? The emotions we feel as parents hospitalizing our mentally ill children are intense and need to be processed in a healthy way. I think sharing our stories and feelings helps.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree we as a society have a long way to go to help our teenagers struggling with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. I am hopeful that sharing my experience will help others.
My daughter is 16 and has tried to commit suicide twice (overdosing on her own mediation) She was in a rehab for 3 weeks.
She was asked to leave the house of her stepdads at the age of 14 due to her bad behaviour and the affect is was having on our little daughter. She hold me totally responsible for this and of course being a mom how could you not. She went to live with her dad and he had to leave town due to getting a job out of town. She wanted to go to boarding school. She is home schooled at this boarding school and her moods change often, one day happy next she wants to kill herself, swears at me over the phone. She under a psychiatrist and is on meds but she makes me cry al the time. Manipulates me and black mails me.
It sounds like your daughter has been extremely unwell. I'm glad to hear she has a psychiatrist helping her with treatment. I hear you saying her behavioral symptoms have affected your whole family. This is normal. Mental illness does affect the whole family and it can be horribly stressful. I hope you can do something for yourself to nurture your own feelings and emotions when you feel like parenting your daughter is wearing you down.
There were never balloons. Neighbors, friends, co-workers...none of these people ever helped my mom. They knew what was going on, but never offered anything but an expression of pity and a side of judgment.
I think if there had ever been balloons, if my release were treated as positive, shame would not have developed. Or, maybe there would have been a more healthy dialogue between my parents and I.
Thank you for putting out balloons. Thank you for treating your son like a deserving human.