Rawr!

This is going to be post one of two today. This one because I feel the need to share and release (hopefully finally) a huge negative. The next post will be much more positive.

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The pre-teens & teens in the homeschool group went stupid. They’re actions could have lead to someone’s death if not for one older smart child, as it is only a handful actually hurt themselves physically. Yet in the aftermath I feel like all the parents want to treat them with kid gloves. The only difference between them getting off the hook now and being in jail for child endangerment is merely 4 years difference in age. Yet the parents want to be ever so cautious in how they convey information life they are afraid of their own children. They really should be more afraid of the consequences of not getting through their thick skulls quickly.

Anyway, I had written the following as a speech I’d intended to deliver at our teen night. Nathan forbade me not wanting to loose friends. I however, went ahead and supplied it to parents via email, where I got exactly the typical response. “This might be too harsh for my baby, I should have the right to tell them how I see fit.” Well OK. I warned you, I gave you resources, I gave the opportunity for help. If your child hurts themselves further I’m off the hook. I did what I could.

…. So, for any other parent that might be dealing with something similar, feel free to share this with your child. That is if you’re not afraid of scaring sense into them. Hopefully since I’m dealing with a bunch of chicken whimps wanting to baby and coddle their children, this speech might help someone else. It’d be nice to know that someone somewhere cares enough about their kids to take swift, appropriately  intense action to wake theirs kids up before their brains completely shut down.

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Hi everyone, I’m going to keep this as short and to the point as I can. It has been brought to my attention by more than one person that there is unhealthy discussions and actions in our group regarding Depression, Suicide, and cutting. My goal here is to correct that and create a space where everyone understands and utilizes more healthy approaches to the topic.

Why me, why am I the one doing this? 5 reasons:

  1. I am outright angry, no livid, that this has been happening for months involving multiple children, and with total exclusion of adults. I’m livid because the premise that a handful of 12 to 14 year olds thought they had the skills to determine the level of safety of other children. That not only did they lie to parents, hide information, and create a clique of secrecy disguised as a family, but that their actions literally put children’s lives in danger. I’m especially livid because one of the most affected children was my own. Actions that my child and other children took were enough to get them locked in a hospital without rights for weeks, but this group of children essentially convinced each other that they had everything under control and were in no hurry to fill adults in. It is obvious from those actions that despite what they’ve told themselves and each other, they do not value or respect their lives as much as any of the parents do. It is also a blatant action of disrespect to all of the parents involved. So yes, I am extremely hurt and angered over this situation.

  2. I am a mandatory reporter. Most parents know what that means, but for the kids really quick: It means that if I suspect that someone has been neglected or harmed, by themselves or others in an abusive situation, I am legally required to take appropriate action and then report to the appropriate governing agency. Usually, I work with elderly, but even if I am exposed to a situation involving a minor (someone under the age of 18) I still have to act. That means: IF I am ever aware of a child that is hurt or has been hurt, regardless of the cause, or I am aware of a child threatening suicide: I am legally required to get that child immediate medical attention, and then follow up with Child Protective Services/DHS what facts I know and whether or not the parents were present and who the child’s parent are, and if they weren’t present why/who was left in charge of that minor. The process when no physical harm has happened is a bit more forgiving, and doesn’t necessarily require government involvement immediately. All medical, public transportation, and school related employees are mandatory reporters and I will go into legal ramifications of this more in a moment.

The rest of the reasons I am doing this are because I have struggled with Depression myself, I have a bit of hands on working knowledge, if you will.

  1. So: Being a mandatory reporter and also struggling with depression creates an interesting dichotomy. If I lose control of my mental faculties I am to immediately remove myself from contact with most individuals, especially minors, and I rely on my network of support including: my husband Nathan, close friends, and co-workers; to determine if my state of being is severe enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, or if other means can be used to bring things under control and return me to my right mind. This has happened as recently as the 2 days surrounding the eclipse, where I reacted to the combination of a piece of Casey’s breakfast pizza and not enough sleep or exercise, so badly that I smashed my precious phone, and scared the crap out of my kids and friends.

  2. That bring me to the fourth reason: my depression battle started at 12, the same age as many of the kids involved here. My parents wanted to brush it off as a phase, as maybe something health related (they did take me to doctors, but didn’t try very hard for a genuine diagnosis or solution), they tried to brush it off as being just overly sensitive to bullies, and they tried to make me snap out of it. Obviously, all of those were the wrong answers because now I exist in a world of understanding and determination to bring understanding to others.

  3. That brings me to the 5th reason: Clinical Depression with suicidal thoughts is a very serious medical condition that can cause permanent irreparable damage and death, which you can’t take back. There is a difference between depression the emotion that passes after a short period, and the disease that attacks the brain and leaves people incapable of realizing they even need help, let alone who is the most effective source of help. For instance: Let’s talk about the time when I was 12 and thought about blowing out the pilot light on my parents gas stove and sitting with my head in the oven until I asphyxiated. It’s a good thing they never left home that day because they would have returned to a dead child at best and their house having exploded at worst. Or one of several times I’ve locked myself in bathrooms with a bottle of advil more likely to permanently damage my liver and heart than actually kill me. Or 3 years ago when Ian had just been born and I started driving my van toward a pylon at 90 miles an hour. You name it I’ve thought about it, and fortunately every time I have walked away because a tiny voice somewhere in the back of my mind told me it would hurt too much or that I might fail and that was worse. Those are bigger fears for me than death itself. In the end that self-protection mechanism is what has kept me alive for 22 years, but now I have tools that help make sure it will keep doing so.

SO, this is serious, and I am one of the best people to help you understand why. First I’ll start with legalities, then resulting cost issues, then I’ll talk about options and how it can be fixed.

Legal bits:

Minors age 12 to 18, in the state of Missouri, becomes a grey area because a minor in that age range can be left alone, but if they cause physical harm to themselves or others, the parents are going to be investigated anyway. It is presumed that the parent or legal guardian should have known their child was having trouble, and thus why would they leave them alone.

Another issue to consider, if a child does physical harm to themselves (cutting) or threatens suicide and a legal adult (anyone over the age of 18) is aware, and doesn’t take that child to the hospital or a doctor’s office; that legal adult can be charged with child endangerment and neglect and that can result in jail time. So, under that law, we adults all have a legal responsibility to take cutting and threats or thoughts of suicide very seriously, regardless of the context they are done in, if nothing more than for self preservation.

Does anyone know what happens to a cutter or suicidal minor in the state of Missouri?

If an adult seeks medical care for a child in that situation (which we’ve already discussed is legally required), that child is often admitted to the nearest hospital for up to 2 weeks for observation, diagnosis/classification, medication, therapy, and if needed restraint and 24 hour direct supervision. IF, that child is deemed safe enough to be relinquished to parental care, it might be less, but honestly everyone I’ve known to experience that, ended up with the whole 2 weeks. Usually, the excuse being that the doctors need to see if the medication will work. Translation here being: medications are an educated guessing game, and depending on your physiology some of them might not work, and some may make matters worse. Plus, usually depression medications don’t show full effect for 2 to 4 weeks, so the 2 weeks is really just a good start.

(The exception to this is if the child is taken directly to a psychologist or qualified therapist and the professional deems that the child is safe enough to remain in parental care and supervision while medications are tried.)

If a child is taken to the ER because of cutting and the damage was severe/life threatening, padded arm cuffs can be used as a restraint to attach the child to the hospital bed and prevent further self-harm. If that child proceeds to kick at medical staff or the assigned guardian-supervisor padded leg cuffs can be used as well. Does anyone like the idea of any of these children being strapped to a hospital bed for 2 weeks?

Now, that’s just what they can do, the medical force that is allowed to prevent a child from taking their own life.

What does that cost; in terms everyone understands?

A week of hospitalization care runs on average about $30,000. Nathan and I have both experienced this directly due to non-mental health issues. That is the cost of simply being in the hospital setting, receiving nursing care, having medications dosed, and being fed.

So 2 weeks would be $60,000, assuming that you don’t end up being restrained or having 24 hour supervision, those would cost extra.

So, what is $60,000.00?

(name) that would buy your mom’s boat.

(name) that could also buy a Tesela car.

(name) that could also by 30 of the beater cars like I drive.

(name), I could buy a tiny house and 2 acres of property for that.

(name), it means most average homes could convert to full solar power and have about $25grand left.

It could buy our homeschool group a computer classroom.

It could buy a permanent in-ground pool installed in your yard.

Do I need more examples, do you get it?

Why am I going on about the cost? How many parents know for certain that their insurance covers mental health hospitalization?

Sadly, the state of our current medical system dictates that even though all of this is legal reality, mental health is rarely covered. At best policies will cover a certain percentage or up to a certain dollar amount, but most policies don’t cover any mental health costs, except medications. I know that my policy won’t even cover most mental health prescriptions. That means if your minor ends up in the hospital you will be left holding a really big bill.

That’s not a very good option.

So, then what other options are there?

First, children can be honest with their parents, and if they are genuinely struggling, their parents can help them find a much less costly solution. The longer you avoid talking about real problems you are facing, the less likely you will come out the other side in a positive manner, and the more likely you will end up strapped to a bed or worse: dead.

There are a variety of therapy options including talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and even as extreme as shock therapy, which is still used, because in extreme cases it does work. Even low income solutions exist. The important thing is to get yourself to a qualified professional and list what you have tried, and let them know you are willing to try. Many professionals are willing to work with you, and can do a variety of therapies, before launching into attempting medications, if you start early before you’re in dire straights.

Last fall my co-workers let me know that my symptoms had gotten out of control and they connected me with the free/reduced clinic. (I’m pointing out here that it took multiple adults outside of myself to acknowledge that.) I filed income paperwork and they assigned me a supervised Grad student and medical doctor. My solution came in the form of a book (“The Depression Cure” by Dr. Ilardi) combined with cognitive behavioural therapy, and hypothyroid medication adjustments. Therapy was once a week for 14 weeks at no cost to me, there were 2 doctor visits at $10 each, and lab work for $20.00. (that clinic does not take minors, but there are still options available through other clinics.)

You see my particular brew of Clinical Depression is literally inflammation in the brain and thyroid damage because of food allergies bumping up against my hormones. My brain literally swells too big for the space it has, and my thyroid has been damaged so badly it is sluggish on a good day. I knew about the thyroid damage prior to therapy, and I knew that I had tried several things that helped to a degree, but no single one of them solved my problems entirely. The doctor helped me adjust medications which had actually gone too high, so that my thyroid symptoms backed off. Then the therapist worked with me to correct my mental patterns and fit all of my puzzle pieces together into something that when it’s maintained I feel great. If I keep everything together I have absolutely no symptoms of depression. But that’s the hard part, and it’s why I have a support team of my husband, friends and co-workers.

I keep myself sane by:

– watching what I eat, to do my best to avoid the food triggers that caused the inflammation and damage

-Getting enough sunlight, or artificial sunlight, to stimulate serotonin production, and brain function to help with mood issues

-getting enough sleep to encourage my body to heal existing damage, and allow inflammation to subside

-getting enough exercise for it’s anti-inflammatory properties as well as it’s body mending abilities

– and I take a whole bunch of pills that control thyroid function, that help fight the inflammation, that help balance my hormones, and finally that provide the necessary nutritional building blocks to repair damage and allow for better healthier brain function

All of this is the result of 22 years of trial and error, with the book filling in the blanks that I couldn’t figure out, and a therapist to guide me, and friends and family to support me.

Your kids could avoid at least some of that. If they really are struggling and you really take it seriously and work diligently with them, they could avoid any damage to their body and live happy lives. All at the cost of a $14 book and a couple of cheap supplements and better food and lifestyle choices.

However, that means that kids; you have to suck it up and start talking to your parents again. They are your parents, and they’ve stuck with you this long, it’s likely they will stick with you as long as they live, even if you frustrate them or anger them, they will still care about you. Besides:

  1. If your parents didn’t care they wouldn’t get angry over anything, and they especially wouldn’t support you daily or provide any one of the fun things they already  do.

  2. You’ll have to talk to adults in general, but especially your parents, your entire life.

  3. Having your parents get mad is better than ending up in a hospital strapped to a bed.

  4. The perceived trouble is always proportional to the severity of the problem and the amount of lies you told. The worse you allow something to get, the worse things can be, so the goal should be admit things more quickly for minimal impact- RIGHT!

It also means you need to cooperate, and when you are given information, do your best to work with that information and give it a solid chance to try and enable improvement. Nothing can help if you just look at a paper and set it aside, if you call everything pointless and stupid then you will be guaranteed to get the same results you already have.

It is really up to you if you want to get better, and I can tell you for certain that you can. Yet, if you don’t believe me, read the book. It’s called the Depression Cure for a reason, it works for over 90% of people struggling to stay alive.

Finally, the funniest man in America, Robin Williams, killed himself because of Depression. Depression is no joke.

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