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What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons (Chapter 2)

The police had already arrived with Sunshine when my husband and I made it to the hospital. I was taken back to see her as my husband filled out admissions paperwork.

When I was brought back to be with Sunshine I thanked the police officer for his help and asked how she was on the way.

He quickly replied that she was great and walked away shaking his head.

Next came the nurse, bringing Sunshine something to eat.

“She has food allergies.” I said as quickly and as kindly as possible.

“I know. She told me.” That was all the nurse said and walked away shaking her head.


This was exactly what I feared most.

No one believed me.

Sunshine was acting like a perfect angel. And I was the crazy parent. I was already being judged harshly for seeking help for our family.

My husband came in at that moment. I asked where Sunshine’s therapist was as she had also followed us to the hospital.

They weren’t letting her come back.

“Go get her now! Do whatever you need to do. I NEED her back here with me.”

There was a cross between panic and anger in my voice. I couldn’t do this alone.

Already the story of what you don’t want to happen when your child is in the ER for mental health reasons was unfolding.

What You Don't Wnat to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons

Sunshine’s therapist did join me shortly thereafter. My husband had to go to work and we knew it was going to be a long night.

And it was, but nothing happened as I thought it would

Just the Beginning

We changed rooms three times. The last time being at 10 PM right after Sunshine had finally settled down. Only the first room was set up for those with mental health issues who were a danger to themselves or others. Talk about making a difficult situation worse!

I thought we would at least meet with a doctor or something, but that wasn’t the case. A nurse practitioner spoke with us for less than two minutes and then I was asked to skype with a psychiatric on call nurse.

She looked at Sunshine for less than 30 seconds and then asked me a couple of questions. From there she said she would seek voluntary placement at an inpatient psychiatric facility for children.

After that we were literally left alone, shut up in a corner room as if we didn’t exist.

I asked about dinner for Sunshine.

“Sorry, the cafeteria is already closed.”

I asked if someone could watch Sunshine so I could make a phone call. Sunshine doesn’t let me talk on the phone. I needed to figure out what was going on with my other three children who had been shipped off with friends and neighbors.

With a look of disgust the nurse said she would try to find someone. A security guard eventually came in.

While I was on the phone, Sunshine pushed the code button sending the ER into a frenzy.

Sunshine takes her medications every evening at 8:30 PM. At 6 PM I mentioned this to nurses. It was at 9 PM that they informed me they didn’t have her medications and could not get them. We would have to have them brought in from home.

I wanted to cry.

So this is what it’s like when a parent seeks help for their child with mental health issues.

We remained in the ER for about 36 hours. While there, nurses brought Sunshine food she was allergic to. They showered her with gifts of stuffed animals, bubbles, balloons, and more. That’s on top of the unlimited TV time.

Sunshine thought she was on a vacation where everyone catered to her.

Meanwhile I couldn’t leave her room to go to the bathroom, get food or drink for myself, or do anything. Sunshine was my problem and everyone in the ER made that very clear.

I wasn’t sure if I should keep her as calm as possible or let her loose on hospital staff. As I spoke with other community resources, they said to keep her calm, as it wouldn’t speed up the process of finding a bed for her. None were to be had.

And that’s how it went. My husband switched off with me as he had the next day off. But still we made no progress. He petitioned the magistrate for involuntary placement, in hopes that we could speed up the process of getting help. The magistrate granted the petition, but then it just went downhill again.

More Defeat

Instead of a police officer simply standing outside of the door when the petition was granted, the captain of the police department along with an officer came and spoke to my husband. They were not on board with this.

Their concern being how traumatic it would be for Sunshine to be transported in a police vehicle to whichever hospital was selected for her placement.

As my husband explained behaviors, the police officers just shook their heads.

To be the parent that no one believes is terrifying, especially as you try to protect your other children.

In the end the woman screening Sunshine decided to deny involuntary placement for two reasons.

1. The transport to whichever facility was selected would be too traumatic for such a young child.

2. She was worried about Sunshine being safe in the state facility if that was the only option, as they’re required to take her.

My husband was literally handed discharge papers as Sunshine was beating him up.

We were furious and felt so broken.

What Now?

As we left the hospital Sunshine accelerated again. We had to wait for 30 minutes in the parking lot before leaving because she wasn’t safe.

Other mental health professionals had told us to take her to another ER if things didn’t work here.

My husband and I literally parked at a gas station for another 30 minutes to figure out a plan.

That’s when we decided if nothing else, we needed sleep and we knew Sunshine would sleep through the night with all of her medications.

After a police transport, 36 hours in an ER, and no progress made, we brought Sunshine home.

No one would help us.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.

Call the Police! What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons What Should Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons Check-in-at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital My Daughter is inpatient at a Children's Psych Ward Our First Family Session in a Psych Ward Nine Days This Was Not Okay Miracles What Family Life Looks Like After a Mental Health Crisis is Over To Be a Mother of a Young Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder Special Needs Support and Resources
When You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons

1 comment:

  1. You are both very strong people. I can't imagine what it must be like to go through this and to share it. Stay strong x