Twenty-four days ago, we had to pick up our Little Man from school at 10:00 in the morning. He was hiding under a desk in the office, shivering, and hallucinating that the lights were falling down on him. We had an emergency psychiatric appointment, repeated phone calls to our trauma therapist, and finally decided that, after five months of delaying, it was time to take LM to the hospital. My six year old was placed into a children’s psychiatric facility due to being an imminent danger to himself and others.
At first, the hospital seemed to think that LM was having a tantrum that I just couldn’t control. He’s just six, after all. We heard that over and over again in the first day or two. He’s so young, they said. The medications that I wanted to pursue were taken off the table (though I turned out right in the end) and we were reassured that the average stay is 3 days.
He stayed for 10.
We visited 3-4x each day. We spoke with therapists and doctors. We had alarming visits, where I had to call for help with my child, something that I’ve never done. I know what to do with my child. I know how to weather the storms of the day, to redirect the energy, to turn a three hour rage into a messy pile of giggles. We ate out, a lot, and went days without seeing our daughter much at all. We had IEP meetings and frantic emails, trying to determine where he would go when he was discharged since it was clear that his public school did not want him to return. We did this mostly on our own, with the help of a few close family members, because no one asks how your child is doing when they are having a break from reality. No one wants to hear about a six year old who is hallucinating. No one brings you dinners or offers to clean your house. (Well, except for my mom, who is, of course, amazing).
And then he was home. He was discharged with some improvement, but not as much as any of us would like. The dilemma is, of course, that he has reactive attachment disorder. Every day away from home was like cutting another one of the tiny threads that took months to build between us. So, he came home, somewhat ready. Relieved. We kept touring schools, fighting battles to get him the services he needs, and going to work, while also having a very fragile six year old at home every day. Our house is, understandably, a disaster. Our mental sanity not much better 😉 I’m glad. He needed that time with us. He needed the time to remind himself that this is home, this is family, and this is love. But it was hard. It was hard on all of us, individually, and together. It is hard to have your family’s life revolve around a very fragile little boy, as wonderful and sweet and charming as he is. It is hard to be wary of creating too much stress, of making the world too big, of pushing too hard too soon — while also knowing that you must push him some, for he has to grow and be challenged in the ways that we all must.
Today, though, he started school. It feels like we are moving forward, like the frenzy of our first hospitalization (and I don’t kid myself… It is unlikely to be our last, though I’d love to be surprised!) is finally over. I’m so grateful to the hospital. It was the most reassuring and supportive experience that I could have imagined for such a troubling time. (He’s six!) But it feels good to be moving past it. We can close the chapter of that book and begin to pick up the pieces and help our child keep on his journey towards wholeness.