I recently wrote a post on mental health in America, which to date, is at a national crisis level. There are so many people walking around who are mentally ill and yet have no support or insurance to help them. We hear about these people in the news after they have committed a horrible crime. Then there are the one’s who had caring family members who decided to take matters into their own hands and forced treatment before things got so bad they either hurt themselves or worse, others.
No matter what some people may think of us, I believe we are in that circle of caring families. After struggling for four long years with a step son who is autistic, was suffering from PTSD and ADHD with ODD, we decided to take a step where some may say was cruel but in fact, may have saved his life. My step son was carrying around so much anger within him, he was unable to function in the real world. Oh, he tried, but always failed miserably. And even though we were in family therapy on a weekly basis, had him on a special diet, as well as a special school plan, we were failing him.
Unable to communicate his needs to us or his therapist, we witnessed countless meltdowns, screaming matches, destruction of property, stealing, and lying from him almost on a daily basis. What a disservice to him as well as us as a family unit. His psychiatrist put him on an ADHD drug, which worked on his ability to focus better in school but did nothing for his mood swings. His behavior became more and more aggressive to the point where we feared for our lives. During one of his many meltdowns, which lasted for hours, my husband finally called the police. We were unable to calm him down or talk to him and it was a last resort.
The police came to our house, spoke to us and decided to take him down to a mental hospital for 72 hours. After speaking at length, my husband and I decided the help he was supposedly getting just wasn’t working and we needed to take a more drastic approach to his mental illness. We called our insurance and luckily there was one residential mental hospital two hours away from us where we could send him. However, even though they would cover most of his costs, the co pay was $900 per month. A steep price to pay in order to get your child the help they needed.
Per our tax attorney, since he had an inheritance from his mother and grandfather, we were told we could use this money as it was for his health and well being. We contacted his trustee who balked at this but relented in reimbursing us. They told us his money was “for his future” and frankly, we came back with, “if he doesn’t get this help now, he won’t have a future.” Really? Now since we have never received a copy of this said trust, we have no idea how much money he has, and we have since contacted a trust lawyer who has told us we have every right to get a copy of the trust since my husband is his guardian. Her giving us a hard time about reimbursing us for these expenses only adds to our stress in this situation. We never asked for dime of reimbursement the last four years he has been in treatment, but with the added expenses and us living on a fixed income, has made it a hardship on us. The part that really frustrated me was when she stated, “well, you guys are taking all these trips.” Excuse me? A vacation we had planned a year ago is “taking all these trips?” What? We aren’t allowed to take a vacation? Or does she think we are using his money for ourselves? We have supplied every receipt to her and nothing says we are spending this money on ourselves.
It took my step son five months in the residential hospital to finally work through most of his anger issues. We had weekly family therapy sessions where we had to drive over 200 miles for a one hour session. Never have we asked to be reimbursed for our time or our gas money. His new psychiatrist changed up his meds until they found the ones that are working for him. As his therapist told us, this is just an aid but he needs to do the work in order to control his anger. It wasn’t until the last month and half where we actually saw a visible difference in his attitude. He stopped screaming at the staff, stopped fighting with his peers, became more accountable of his actions. Huge improvement!
He was released from the hospital this week and we decided to put him in a residential home so he could continue to get the help he needs. We had to pay for first and last month’s rent and again, his trustee is balking about reimbursing us. Our insurance does not pay for his stay here which rings in at $5,000 per month however, he will continue to get daily therapy, he will learn how to live on his own so he can finally be independent. He has his own room. He can have his bike so he can get from point A to point B if he wants. They will school him and he will have house rules to follow. We met everyone yesterday and they all are extremely nice, including the other kids in the house. My step son has grown several inches and gained a few pounds. While he was at the hospital, we had to purchase 3 different size clothing for him. When we left him, he was cooking dinner for all the other kids. He gave us a list of things he wants us to bring him which we will on Sunday. His last request was for me to bring him my recipes! He loves my cooking.
The decision to put him in the hospital was a hard one but it was the best one. We are seeing that now. He is a changed person, a nice person. His face is more relaxed because he worked through his anger, he no longer is suffering from PTSD because he worked through the death of his mother as well as his grandfather to whom he was very close. We were worried it would take years because of his autism but as I told my husband, “I think he finally got it.” He seems excited about his new adventure, his future, and we are excited for him.
We have to thank the staff at Cedar Springs Hospital as well as his psychiatrist and his therapist. God knows the work they put in to help him has really paid off. He was an angry kid who never wanted to share how he was feeling. He did many things for attention, most were not good but it didn’t matter, he just wanted attention. For years, he was exhibiting behavior that was screaming to be recognized and yet, my husband nor his late wife or myself for that matter, were able to see it. It took a Middle School principal to see that he had been misdiagnosed by a popular health insurance (Kaiser) and that we needed to take it a step further.
He finally has a promising future. He still has a long way to go but he is at least on the right path. I feel for the families who can’t afford to do this for their children. He is lucky he has a little nest egg to be able to insure he does have a future. I’m sure both his mother and his grandfather would approve.