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When Pink Turns Blue, What Do You Do? Part 3


Welcome back! Thank you for taking the time to continue on our journey with me. This part is about our experience with the mental health facilities, without naming them, that our son attended. It “ain’t” pretty! 

After his therapist’s leading, we voluntarily committed our 15-year-old into a pediatric behavioral health center an hour away from us. They stripped him and checked for any and all self-harm and did a quick evaluation. He was then moved to a one-room holding place. There were 10 chairs that turned into beds, a table for eating, and an area where they could meet with individual patients. That was it. Mind you, this was supposed to be a temporary placement until a bed, somewhere in our state, opened up.

Now the wait began. We were waiting for a bed to open so he could be sent to a facility to get the help he needed. Days passed, other patients got the beds. They were either more of a detriment to themselves or were there before him. 

For 10 days now, he had been forced to live in a one-room area, with NO privacy to even change clothes, watching others come and go while he sat, stuck. A bed opened up two hours away. All the facility had to do was transport him there. At this facility, they relied upon police escorts to transport patients. He had to be transported on a particular day and they would hold the bed until that evening. They called us and said that transport could not be found so they had to give up the bed. We asked if we could transport him and were told no, that was not allowed. I was LIVID! I have to admit, this mama bear went a little crazy on the place. I would do it all again to fight for him!

After those 10 days, with only being allowed to see him once a day because 1) he was an hour away and 2) my husband and I both worked full-time jobs, we began to call daily. We also attempted calling other places to see if there was room so we could move him. He was miserable and not receiving any help while in the temporary space. 

This was during his sophomore year of high school, so I brought his work for school but he was not in a state to be able to finish any of it, so we wound up postponing school and the principal worked with us later to complete his sophomore year. Our routine became work, visit, sleep, repeat. His sisters were left with family or only one of us went to visit. It was so exhausting, but that's what we do for our children and would...always.

We called his therapist to ask for assistance. Even the therapist could not believe our son had been there that long! He was upset as well. His words were, “If I had known that would be what happened, I never would have sent him there! That is unbelievable!” 

We called the facility and complained and requested a meeting with the management. Upon hearing our plight, they were apologetic (of course), offered to heavily discount the stay there, and promised they would pursue finding placement more fervently. I called daily to ensure that was happening. 

Within two days we had a facility that could place him...4 hours away. That meant I would not be able to see my son for however long they kept him as we could not make that trip daily. That would NOT do! That is my baby! So, I took FMLA (unpaid leave) and rented a house to stay in for the two weeks he was scheduled to be there. I put my life on hold to make sure his life was protected, and I would do it again...always. My job was very understanding and I was so very grateful for that. 

Now… a slight pause...while the hassle of time off work and travel expenses were troublesome, God gave me respite and grace. I must share that I got to spend those two weeks at the beach, which is where the facility was. If I had to be somewhere on my own for two weeks to protect my baby, this was a good place. Waking up to the sunrise over the ocean was a peaceful, restoring way to start each of these emotional days.

Okay...back to the story at hand. 

I was telephoned the morning of the transport and told he would be taken to the new facility right at that moment. It was 6:30 am in the morning and a four-hour drive. I left then too, so I could be there when he arrived. When I got there, he was in the waiting room, arriving just before me. Then...Mama Bear came out again. I found out he had been transported in an inmate transportation with an adult prisoner and only a gate between them, had not been given anything to eat, and was treated like an inmate as well. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!

Mama was HOT! I remained as calm as I could and got him something to eat promptly from the facility. I helped get him processed and met with the therapist he would be working with. This seemed like a better facility than where he was, and I knew he would be getting help, so I was already feeling better. I would deal with the way my son was transported at a later time, with my husband. And, we did. Rest assured! The first facility got quite a piece of our minds!

The mental health system is in need of an overhaul. I know we are not the only ones that have dealt with these realities. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was, because there are no words for the feelings. There were many nurses, doctors, therapists, etc. that told us they believe the system is broken and not on the side of the patient. That unnerves me. I pray that something is done to help.

Next time, I will share about the experience at this facility and how my heart began to change as I began to understand more about my son. See you again soon.

Have you had any similar experiences you'd like to share?


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