Five years ago yesterday my husband and I walked out of a building where we left our son in which others would care for him. We weren’t safe with him in the home. Scarier to realize is that he wasn’t safe under our care. He could have easily hung himself from the frame of his loft bed at any given time even though we had him on our own suicide watch.
One month prior to commitment
He wanted to die. He wanted us to kill him. He wanted to kill himself. Those were dark, dark times in our home. We’d come off the high four months earlier of our daughter’s successful kidney transplant and spent some time at our beloved vacation spot during the holidays just a month prior. It was on that trip, when all was quiet and stable that our son started to spiral. I reason it’s when he felt safe enough to let the pain from the pervious several sick years and (unknown at the time) surgery in which he was awake to seep through the protective layer he had when he was in survival mode all of those years.
Gage was 10-years-old. He’d suffered his fair share of unfairness and had come through his own successful kidney transplant a year and a half prior, only to find himself in debilitating clinical depression and suicidal. We’d tried everything to help him. Three therapists, reducing pressure at school by changing his schedule and amount of work required and we pulled him out of all non-essential classes and we reduced any stress at home we could.
Nine months post treatment
At the time we had a psychiatrist who was too conservative. My biggest and only regret in being his caregiver was staying with her too long. My son was wrapping ropes around his neck and she was saying, “Hide the knives, never leave him alone. You do not want to commit him, a place like that is no place for him.” We heard those words for five months by the time it was clear he needed more help than we could provide.
We knew when we couldn’t love him out of wanting to kill himself.
An urgent call from school, tears from his educators who weren’t sure what to do, a boy pacing around in an empty room with a glazed over look on his face. He had no words to say to us as we walked in to try to calm him. He crawled in a tiny locker to shut out the world. We cajoled him out of the locker enough to talk to him and let him try to tell us something, anything. Within seconds of him communicating death and destruction, I knew. I knew we had to bring him to a psych hospital.
“Game over. We have to take him.”
My husband looked horrified and with tears in his eyes and mine he said, “I know.” I don’t know how we got him into my husband’s car not fighting. Perhaps deep down, he knew, too.
It was the worst day of my parenting life having to leave him there. It also happens to be the day that represents hope for our son because it was then that his treatment took a positive turn. We had met the one doctor who wasn’t afraid of using meds on an organ transplant recipient. He stated his basic, simple philosophy is to “Help Gage be more functional in the world. If there are meds to help with that goal, we will find them.”
A year an a half post treatment
He did. Within a couple of weeks the glimmers of the old Gage were emerging. A laugh here, a smile there. Within a couple of months, he was joking and engaged in conversations again. For months I was caught off guard most days because I forgot what it was like for him to be happy and full of hope.
The thing about mental health treatment that makes it difficult is you never know what is going to work. You have to chip away at the barriers and hopefully find what works for you, your temperament, conditions and chemical make up. The before and after treatment pictures of Gage are both heartbreaking and breathtaking.
Today, five years post treatment
Five years out and dare I say, things look pretty good for Gage. They look exceptionally good if he continues to know and understand that medication helps him. We are eternally grateful for the horrific things that led us to commit him because, if not for that, we would have never met the doctor that wasn’t afraid of a complicated case and change the course of his care.
If you’re not with the right care team for anything medically or mentally related, switch. Do not wait. Never give up on finding help. It’s out there.
Note: To support the site we make money on some products, product categories and services that we talk about on this website through affiliate relationships with the merchants in question. We get a small commission on sales of those products.That in no way affects our opinions of those products and services.