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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A sister's perspective on mental illness...

I want to forget, I want to remember.
I feel useless, frustrated, angry.
I feel sad, guilty, relieved.
I want to escape, to not feel like I’m suffocating.

Emotions like poison spread throughout my body.
Lock them up and don’t let anyone see.

We all fear death
But really life
Is much more terrifying.

Latest update:
Our son comes home from the hospital tomorrow...not because he's better but because the insurance has run out for the hospital and there are still no beds available in a CBAT unit. We're scrambling to put a transition plan in place but it's a less than optimal situation. He's been home for 4 hour visits the past two evenings...based on how those visits have gone, we're all concerned that not much has changed. Keep us in your thoughts; we need all the positive energy we can get right now.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The latest news

Our boy is still hospitalized and that's still best for everyone. He continues to be all over the map with his moods, sometimes angry and aggressive, other times weepy and depressed, and once in a while even calm and (seemingly) relaxed. He's had a tough time regulating himself even in the unit; he told staff members last week that the other patients are so annoying to him that he wants to stab them. He says he doesn't feel in control of his emotions...he says he would choose to be happy if he could...but he can't.

I'm still fighting with the insurance company to cover his inpatient stay. They did finally approve a transfer to a CBAT unit but unfortunately, there weren't any beds available last week. We have hopes for an opening tomorrow or Tuesday. In the meantime, the insurance doesn't want to pay for him to stay in his current inpatient placement because of the cost. The hospital has agreed to accept the lower CBAT rate until a bed opens up somewhere. We're still waiting to hear if the insurance will accept that offer...again, seems like a no brainer but what do I know? Tomorrow is Monday and I'll start the battle again in my new role as mental health advocate. It seems to be all that I can do for our son right now.

Our boy is a broken child. It's true that we didn't do the breaking but that doesn't lessen his pain or ours. My mother's heart bleeds for him even though he's not mine by birth. For the past 6 years, he has been my boy; I've loved him and cared for him...but it hasn't been enough. I wonder if what I have to offer my boy will ever be enough to fill the emptiness inside him. I read somewhere once that loving a child of trauma is like trying to fill a bathtub that has no stopper...everything you give runs out as quickly as you pour it in. Does anyone know where we can get an emotional drain plug?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I spoke too soon...

The hope that I had for a return to "normal" life didn't last long. Our son did manage to finish up his time in a partial hospitalization program and return to school for a half day...but I guess the weekend was too much for him. He almost immediately broke house rules, threatened us all, and became more and more aggressive. I have to think he couldn't face returning to the "real world" where the pressures are just too great for him right now.

My boy is back in the hospital. He needs more help, for his own safety and for ours. The doctors and mental health professionals all agree...but the insurance company doesn't. I spent 11 hours in the ER with him on Monday; most of that time was spent with the psychiatric triage team arguing for inpatient placement, receiving denial after denial for payment, and working their way through the appeal process with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. We finally got approval for 2 days of inpatient care and are now fighting for a placement in a Community Based Acute Treatment(CBAT)unit.

A CBAT would give our boy a place to stay where he (and the rest of us) would be safe while he is further evaluated, provided therapy, and stabilized on medications. A CBAT costs a lot less than regular inpatient care so that seems like a no brainer for the insurance but so far, they're refusing to approve it. Their solution is to return our son home to us...so he can go back to school, return to his normal life, go to outpatient therapy once a week. Sure, that will work...until the next time he goes into a rage and we're all at risk again.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Home again...

Our boy is back where he belongs...life is slowly returning to whatever passes as normal around here...and the leftovers are once again disappearing from the fridge. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of his life...so cliche...but it holds hope for change. Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shameless begging

Remember Kate, the little girl who wanted a sister...and brothers...and who inspired this blog? She's a big girl now, a junior in high school who is 16 1/2 years old. She got the siblings she dreamed of via our 3 adoptions. She got the chance to experience a different culture on our multiple trips to Kazakhstan. In fact, you could say she was a tiny little ambassador on that first trip to KZ...at age 8, she could charm even the sternest Kazakhs and Russians we encountered, always getting a smile. We used to send her to the hotel desk for our breakfast tickets or room key...the clerk was always rude to us as foreigners but never to the cutie who could barely reach the counter. By the end of our 3 week stay, even we were getting smiles.

Well, now Kate has a chance to take her ambassadorial talents to foreign lands once more! She's been invited to participate in the People to People Student Ambassador Program, traveling on a trip to Spain, France, and Italy for 3 weeks this summer. She's thrilled to have this opportunity and we're thrilled for her...but it's expensive. From the time she got the invitation, we told her she'd have to help raise the money if she really wanted to go. (With 5 teenagers at home and college just around the corner, Mom and Dad don't exactly have an excess of discretionary income!) We've been chipping in what we can; family and friends have been helping as well. (A big thanks to all of you who have made donations!)

At the same time, our girl is also fundraising her heart out. She wrapped gifts for donations at the holidays and has offered her services as a babysitter. She sold Valentine's candy last month, and is currently making cell phone charms to sell at her school. She is planning a yard sale and is collecting bottles and cans to redeem for cash. Our hallway is currently filled with ink toner cartridges that she's trying to recycle for cash as well...every little bit helps, right?

Well, here's where the shameless begging comes in...because in spite of all her efforts, Kate still has quite a way to go before she can board that plane in July. If any of you would like to help Kate realize her goal, we would all be very grateful.

Kate is willing to work and/or create for you!!!

She is willing to do chores, babysit, bake you cookies, or make you your very own cell phone charm. Just let us know what you need done by emailing me at Alphamama64@gmail.com or leaving a comment here on the blog.

Donations for Kate's services can be made directly to her People to People Student Ambassador account.

Here's how:

Log on to payment.peopletopeople.com
Enter Kate's last name and the Delegate ID# shown below

Donate whichever dollar amount you wish...and don't forget to tell us what you'd like Kate to do in return, whether it's walk your dog or send you postcards from the trip!

Name: Kate Schoelles
Delegate ID#: 10147881

My Kate doesn't know I'm posting this request. She wants to do this on her own and I'm so proud of her efforts...but a little help from Mom in promoting her fundraising and spreading the word doesn't count as meddling, right? I'd love for my girl to have this opportunity. Thank you!

To find out more about People to People Ambassador Programs visit www.peopletopeople.com

Friday, March 2, 2012

Letter to my son...

I hate your trauma
And the people that caused you
To be so damaged
But I don’t hate you.

I hate your demons
And your rages
And your threats
And your violence
But I don’t hate you.

I hate the pure venom that pours out of you at times,
A hot river of pain that rises up,
Washing over all of us,
Threatening to drown us all…
But I don’t hate you.

I hate that nothing seems to ease your pain
And that I can’t seem to find a way to help you
I hate feeling like I’m failing you, my son,
But I don’t hate you.

I hate what adolescence has done to you,
Puberty is hard for anyone…
But for you, I think it’s worse.
Did I mention I hate your demons?

I hate that your PTSD rips at your soul,
Shaking your world at its foundation,
Making you believe that we will throw you away
“…like trash”…that’s what you said.
I hate that you believe we could ever do that
But I don’t hate you.

You’re not the first teen to be sure he hates his parents
You’re not the first teen to be sure his parents are unfair
You’re not the first teen to think Mom and Dad like the other kids best
You’re not even the first teen to be depressed or angry or violent
You’re surely not the first teen to try to push his family away

But for you, it’s not that simple, is it?
For you, teenage angst is much more complicated…
Because you’ve already suffered a long line of abandonment in your young life.
Why wouldn’t we bail on you now that you’re an unruly teenager?
Why wouldn’t we bail on you when it’s now your job to grow away from us?

Your questions and hormones and memories and inner conflicts are all at war.
You’ve felt insecure and powerless and depressed…and very angry.
I know you tried to build a wall around you to contain the pain and rage inside you.
It was scary to see the crack in your defenses, to see your frustration growing.
I hated that I couldn’t find a way to help you
But I’ve never hated you.

I hate that this week, the dam burst and you lost control.
I hate that none of us were safe for a while.
I hate that in the end, the only help I could give you was found in a hospital
But I don’t hate you.

I hate that you’re not sleeping in your own bed.
A piece of my heart is missing
And will be until you’re home again.
I hate that there are only 6 plates at the dinner table
And no one is eating up the leftovers in the fridge.

I hate that we needed to take this step to get you the help you need
But I’d do it again and stand by your side through it all.
There won’t be any deal breakers here…
Not even for your teenage self
Because I love you, my son…