Lauren slammed her head against the tiled bathroom wall. Lauren stop that I yelled, trying to hold her still. The sound of a bowling ball hitting the floor sent chills up my spine. Jared was sitting on Lauren’s hospital bed. I look up at him with a look of what am I suppose to do. Lauren took a swing at me. Don’t you dare I say to her in a sharp tone. She backs off. She looks at me with big brown sad eyes. Mommy, don’t leave me, I love you. I don’t want to stay here. Tears are streaming down my face, soaking my shirt. I can’t stop the crying. My gut aches for our first born child, she was not given any say in the matter, she was born with a mental health disease. She is trapped in her body trying to figure out her emotions.
Lauren takes a cap off the shampoo bottle. What is she going to do? She starts to viciously rub it against her hand. Honey, stop! She continues and I can’t get the cap out of her hand. Go away I hate you. I look at Jared and see the sadness and anger in his eyes. Lauren is in full throttle of one of her many “meltdowns” as we call them.
The nurse comes in, Kari can we get some of the paperwork done for Lauren’s admission. No! Lauren starts screaming and crying. I don’t want to stay, mommy don’t leave me. I am able to take the cap from her tightly clenched fist. I hand it to the nurse as I walk out of Lauren’s room. Lauren follows me, Jared and the nurse follow behind her. The other adolescents are getting ready for bed. This place is always busy I think to myself, sad that so many kids have to endure the grips of mental health. The nurse puts us in a small conference room. It feels hot in this small room, and with all the doors locked I feel like I’m in jail. This is Lauren’s 9th admission to the mental health unit, so fortunately I am privy as to what I need to do for the admission process.
Lauren continues to rant, cry, and holler. I look around and I see the staff moving around, like lions getting ready to attack their prey. I think we need to remove Lauren from the room, a stern, not very compassionate nurse says to me. Even I’m afraid of these people I think to myself. I continue to cry. I hate this, why cant we be at home watching TV and eating popcorn. I am so angry at what hand I was dealt. A guard cop shows up at the door. Man, here we go. I put my head down on the table crying harder. No, I’m not leaving, asshole, you cant take me, stop you’re hurting me, mommy please I want to stay with you. I look deep into Lauren’s eyes and see this child that is suffering and in anguish. All I can do is sit and wait for them to take her out of the conference room. I know that is what needs to be done. I sob, I’m a terrible mom, why am I doing this? I want to take her home and put her to bed and sit and rub her back, I tell Jared as I sob. I know she would be safe then. I can keep her safe, I pleaded. Jared looks at me with big eyes, are you crazy, we can not handle her at home Kari, get real! Jared is in a very different place than I’m in. You are not bringing her home, she can’t come home. Deep down in my gut I know that. She is not safe, we are not safe, Nikki and Megan are not safe.
My gut twists and turns, my head is spinning and I feel so out of control. I feel like I’m in a movie watching somebody else’s life. Where did I go wrong? I had to have done something to cause this, I thought as I rubbed my temples. We continue to fill out the paperwork. One would think they would keep this information on file and I could sign it stating that nothing has changed in 6 months, since she has been admitted in that time frame. There are about 15 pages to fill out. I am frustrated because they want all this information like; how does your child learn best or what are 3 positive things about you child that will help us get to know her better. I don’t think anyone reads this crap, at least they haven’t in the last 8 admissions. I wonder if I put a random stupid answer if they would notice. So I wrote down, she learns best while wearing yellow rubber boots. I laugh out loud, Huh, well see if they notice. No one noticed.
I sat slumped in my chair thinking with a damp kleenex in my hand, I know admissions to this hospital is a means to keep her safe. Really, it’s a glorified babysitter. For the 1st few admissions I was hopeful that they would figure things out. We needed and wanted help. I was so naive, it doesn’t work that way. I was crushed when I had that realization. I finished filling out the papers. Jared and I signed what we needed to sign. I am not watching that admissions video again I said snotty, like it was their fault she was here. I could see Lauren walking back and forth in front of the door. Pacing like an animal wanting to get out of the cage. I felt like I was going to throw up. I was so pissed and sad at the same time. I don’t want to have to put her through this again, I said to Jared. I know he said, and took my hand. We walked out onto the big open unit. There were about 16 rooms that lined the perimeter of the adolescents ward. Kids 13-18, that for some reason required hospitalization for mental health. The kids were all in their rooms, standing in their doorways. From past hospitalizations I’ve learned that if it is room time, you are not to come out of your room or there will be consequences. They stood and stared at us. I wanted to give each and everyone one of them a hug and tell them it will be okay. That they are not at fault for whatever mental health issue they were blessed with.
Lauren was holding on to me for dear life. Lauren is 5’9” and 200 lbs. She is not a little girl anymore, she was 16 and growing onto a mature adult women. Lauren ,daddy and I need to leave now. You will be okay, we will come back tomorrow. I have said these words countless times. No please don’t leave, I love you, Ill be good I promise. My heart hurt, like it was manually being suffocated and ripped out of my body. What kills me is she was not being naughty. She was being admitted because she tried to kill herself, she cut up her arm so badly. I wanted to take this burden so badly from her, she is so mentally unstable that dying to her is the only answer. “Lauren wanting to die is not being naughty I whispered. I could hardly speak these words to her. I was trying to hold it together but I was failing. I could not forms words, my mouth was dry, I felt like a freshman trying to give a speech to the whole school. I gotta go honey, I managed to get out. No mommy! The guard and a larger male nurse came and took hold of Lauren’s arms and pulled her away from me. I lost all feeling in my body. Every piece of tissue in my body hurt. I was crying out loud like a toddler. Stop fighting us Lauren or well put you in the chair, the big man said sternly. The chair is something they use and then they restrain your hands so you cannot move .That was it, I lost it. I wanted my kid back. No, I cant leave, they are going to hurt her. Before I could move towards her, I was picked up by a staff member and my husband, I was taken outside the locked unit. As the door clicked shut I could hear my baby screaming no don’t do that, you’re hurting me, mommy help me. I was sobbing as hard as I have ever sobbed in my life. I was broken. Broken into many pieces. God ,why, I said out loud. I cried and cried, until my stomach hurt and my head was pounding. I walked in the door and went to my room, straight into my closet. Lying on the floor in the dark, I curled into a fetal position. Someday she will be safe and happy. She won’t be trapped anywhere. She will be safe with no mental health issues, happy and laughing, having fun with no worries in the world. Not the world we know of, but the world we wait for. A kingdom promised to us, far away.
Worry can be a daily fight. However, we can retrain our brains to pour out the anxious thoughts and fears to God.