Diagnosis

Feels like an eternity since I actually sat down and put my thoughts and feelings into words. That’s not to say that I haven’t had some amazing ideas that I know my followers would love…….however, this is about my baby girl.

At some point over the last few months, seeing my girl continuing to struggle it was decided she should undergo testing to determine what is going on. We were fortunate that she agreed to the testing and fortunate to have a very experienced psychologist administer the tests. The tests were conducted over three days. They were a combination of IQ and cognitive tests, as well as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and personality tests.

On 9/30/19, we met with the doctor to find out what the testing showed. I’m honestly not sure what I expected, but I didn’t expect to be told my girl has Borderline Personality Disorder. As the doctor began to explain what BPD is and what the key factors in this disorder are; it was like she was explaining the lat 10 years of my daughters life. It’s not that only one or two factors sounded “right” – they all sounded “right”. As the doctor continued to explain the disorder, I could feel my girl silently sobbing beside me. I keep trying to imagine what she felt hearing the results.

The doctor recommended a very specific type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). And explained the reason all the other therapy and medications my girl has tried over the lat 10 years hasn’t worked is because the therapies were not specific to the disorder. The medications did nothing at all. This is a biological disorder.

We left the office with the name of a very well respected psychologist who is skilled in DBT. The psychologist isn’t taking new patients, but gave the name of another psychologist who also does DBT, who also isn’t taking new patients. But from that psychologist we received the name of two other psychologists, neither of which treat BPD. Within a few days I had a list of doctors/groups that I called with no luck. Either new patients were not being accepted or they did not treat BPD patients. I reached out to the psychologist who did the testing. How can we have a 30 minute meeting advising our daughter of this diagnosis and be sent away with nothing to really help her? The testing doctor then provided the name of a group that treats BPD patients. It has to be to good to be true, right? Right. The group is a two hour drive, one way. I still called, explained the situation to the intake person. She took all the information and called me back with an appointment time the following week.

I drove my daughter to the appointment. Yes, she is 19. Yes, she is considered to be an adult. But I really don’t give a shit because the last 10 years has sucked and she will always know that I will be supportive of her. She met with the psychologist alone first and then toward the end of the appointment I was called in so I could hear the recommended treatment. I could tell as soon as I entered the room that my girl was comfortable with this therapist. She was asking questions, talking and seemed more at ease. Th treatment would be two days a week. One day is a two hour session that is basically like a classroom setting to learn new skills and coping mechanisms. The other day is a one hour private therapy session. Included with the treatment is phone check-ins with the therapist. The therapist was concerned because of the distance between our home and the facility. It is also a huge concern of mine. Yes, my daughter can drive. But after a two hour drive to get to the facility, a two hour session, and another two hour drive home – I just don’t feel good about it. She will be mentally exhausted after the therapy and I don’t think driving on highways and expressways would be a smart situation to put her in. I am still exploring a drive service and trying to figure out how that would be paid for……………

I asked the therapist if there were any other facilities closer to our home that have a similar type program for DBT. Nope. They are the only one in the state and actually have patients from nearby states due to the success of their treatment plan.

Seemed like things were finally falling into place. One little hurdle, my daughter has to agree to the treatment. She has to agree to go and commit to a year of intensive treatment. She hasn’t agreed to it. She is in denial. She is tired. She doesn’t know if she has anymore fight left in her. She doesn’t think her life is worth it. She doesn’t want to have to fight her brain every single day to try and live a normal life.

Borderline Personality Disorder is very hard to understand. I have been reading only things recommended by the therapists we have been dealing with. I feel the following is an extremely accurate explanation. I am probably going to be sued for using this – but you can’t get blood from a stone.

“Beneath the clinical nomenclature lies the anguish experienced by borderlines and their families and friends. For the borderline, much of life is a relentless emotional roller coaster with no apparent destination. For those living with, loving, or treating the borderline, the trip can seem just as wild, hopeless, and frustrating. Jennifer and millions of other borderlines are provoked to rage uncontrollably against the people they love most. They feel helpless and empty, with an identity splintered by severe emotional contradictions. Mood changes come swiftly, explosively, carrying the borderline from the heights of joy to the depths of depression. Filled with anger one hour, calm the next, he often has little inkling about why he was driven to such wrath. Afterward, the inability to understand the origins of the episode brings on more self-hate and depression. A borderline suffers a kind of “emotional hemophilia”; she lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate her spurts of feeling. Prick the delicate “skin” of a borderline and she will emotionally bleed to death. Sustained periods of contentment are foreign to the borderline. Chronic emptiness depletes him until he is forced to do anything to escape. In the grip of these lows, the borderline is prone to a myriad of impulsive, self-destructive acts—drug and alcohol binges, eating marathons, anorexic fasts, bulimic purges, gambling forays, shopping sprees, sexual promiscuity, and self-mutilation. He may attempt suicide, often not with the intent to die but to feel something, to confirm he is alive. “I hate the way I feel,” confesses one borderline. “When I think about suicide, it seems so tempting, so inviting. Sometimes it’s the only thing I relate to. It is difficult not to want to hurt myself. It’s like, if I hurt myself, the fear and pain will go away.” Central to the borderline syndrome is the lack of a core sense of identity. When describing themselves, borderlines typically paint a confused or contradictory self-portrait, in contrast to other patients who generally have a much clearer sense of who they are. To overcome their indistinct and mostly negative self-image, borderlines, like actors, are constantly searching for “good roles,” complete “characters” they can use to fill their identity void. So they often adapt like chameleons to the environment, situation, or companions of the moment, much like the title character in Woody Allen’s film Zelig, who literally assumes the personality, identity, and appearance of people around him. The lure of ecstatic experiences, whether attained through sex, drugs, or other means, is sometimes overwhelming for the borderline. In ecstasy, he can return to a primal world where the self and the external world merge—a form of second infancy. During periods of intense loneliness and emptiness, the borderline will go on drug binges, bouts with alcohol, or sexual escapades (with one or several partners), sometimes lasting days at a time. It is as if when the struggle to find identity becomes intolerable, the solution is either to lose identity altogether or to achieve a semblance of self through pain or numbness.”

Kreisman MD, Jerold J.. I Hate You–Don’t Leave Me (pp. 11-13). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Another Journey Begins…

February 26, 2019, a day I will forever remember. It started as any other day. Mid-morning while at work I received an e-mail from my husband telling me to call my daughter ASAP.  Thanks to AT&T, I have no cell phone service in my building.  I called her and found her to be in hysterics. The mental breakdown that I was always hoping would never happen, happened. She was crying, talking, yelling. It was horrible. She told me she didn’t want to do life anymore. She was over everything. She knew she wasn’t doing her best work at school, she had no creativity, had lost her passion and the boyfriend was also mentioned. 

We agreed she would drive home from her school apartment and we would deal with whatever was happening when she got home. I’m sure someone will give me grief for letting her drive. However, I do know my child and knew her waiting for me to get to her (about a 1 1/2 hours drive) would have been far worse than her driving to me. Trust me on this one.

I left work, got home and started making calls. About one month prior I had started researching inpatient facilities for depression and anxiety. I knew with what we had experienced over Christmas, my daughter needed more than just a monthly therapy appointment. I contacted an organization that was helping me with this search and since this was a situation that demanded immediate action, I was directed to a local behavioral health center. I called and made an appointment for my daughter to be seen when she got home. My husband got home before my daughter and when she walked in the door, we basically walked right back out and into the car. My girl had voiced the fact she knew she needed help.

Once at the facility, we were taken in to an in-take room. My daughter’s vitals were taken and some general questions were asked. This entire time my girl was sobbing. It was then time to sit down with an in-take specialist. Only two people were allowed. Of course my girl chose me and poor dad had to wait in the waiting area. There was about an hour of questions, which she answered very honestly. This was the first time she really told the truth about her self-harming to anyone in the therapy field. It was like a stab to my heart when she told him she now used scissors to make the cuts. There was a time when it was razor blades. He asked to see her arm and this was the first time I saw the “new” cuts. I’m not sure how I didn’t throw up. Yes, I have seen far worse self-harm pictures on-line. But seeing it on my girl was beyond words. There was one that was about four inches long and about .5 inches deep.  She was also very open and honest with her thoughts of “not wanting to be here”.  She no longer wanted to be alive as the person she currently was.  She wants to live as the person she hopes to be.

After all the questions were answered, the in-take specialist took the answers to the psychiatrist to see what is recommended.  I knew what the answer was going to be, but I don’t think my girl did.  He came back in the room with papers to sign.  The first being a 201 commitment paper.  He was very clear with what it was and what she was signing.  Since she was 18, she is now in control.  She willingly signed the paper.  As the in-take specialist was explaining more about other papers that needed to be signed, the realization that she would not be coming home with me hit her hard.  We talked for probably 30 minutes about why this needed to happen and that at this point it was going to happen.  She was begging me to get her out and not make her stay.  At one point I asked if I could go get my husband.  I left the room and went into the waiting area with the in-take guy.  I knew when I walked out I would not be going back in.  We talked about what to do at this point and I told the guy there was no way I could go back in or it would just get worse.  We then left.  We left our girl at that place.  She was alone, scared, confused, hurt and now I left her.  The first phone call came about 35 minutes later.  She couldn’t understand why we would just leave, how could we do that, she can’t stay there, she needs to get out, I need to get her out.  I think she ended up hanging up on me.  That was the first of six calls that night.  Each one was the same.  The guilt was insane at this point.  Wow.  Not knowing what she was doing was the absolute worst for me, and the fact I was sure she would hate me and never talk to me again.   

To make that evening even better, I got a Facebook message from “the boy” telling me he has been trying to call Hannah and can’t get her and she told him she was coming home to get help.  After about an hour I replied “she is safe”.  Then I got another message asking  me to give him the facility information so he can arrange to visit her.  My response “no visitors”.  His response “is that the facility rule or your rule”.  Seriously, dickhead?  You are going to throw attitude to me?  What the fuck?  I replied “facility”.  The next day the boy messaged asking for a number to call her.  I never responded to that one.  I can only assume that I hurt his feelings because I later received this message “I really appreciate your consideration you aren’t the only person who has an emotional attachment to her and is pained by what she is going through but I know my place now don’t worry sorry to bother”  and yes it was just like that, no punctuation.  Did I want to respond?  Oh, I wanted to respond.  I wanted to ask the concerned boy about the violent fights my daughters neighbors reported to the rental agency.  I wanted an explanation for the odd bruises on her body.  I wanted to know how many other diseases he was sharing with my daughter.  I wanted to know why if he was so concerned did he not tell me about the cuts on her?  I wanted to know why my girl suddenly was 30 pounds lighter if he was so fucking concerned about her.  I wanted to tell him to get the fuck out of her life.  However, I knew that would only make matters worse.  So I said nothing.

On day 2 of my daughter’s commitment she called me every few hours.  The morning calls were much of the same.  She wanted to leave, didn’t want to be there, etc. By the afternoon she had perhaps adjusted to being there and asked if we were going to visit her.  Visiting is allowed every day from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM.  Yes, I lied to the boy.  I told her I would love to visit her.  My husband (her dad!), her youngest brother, his fiance and me all went for a visit.  It was awkward at first.  We talked about her day, what the schedule was like, what the food was like, etc.  She did admit that she did like the group therapy and realized there were other people who had feelings like hers and there were people that were much worse. At the end of the visit she asked that we not visit her the following day.  She said it was too hard to imagine what we were doing when we left without her.  We followed her wishes and did not visit on day 3.  However, we talked quite a bit on the phone throughout the day.  I also talked to the social worker assigned to her.  It was helpful to be able to give the social worker some input from my point of view. She felt very confident that my girl would be released on day 4 and set up a family meeting for 1:30 PM on day 4.

As my husband and I were pulling into the facility parking lot for the meeting, my phone starts exploding.  The boy has now messaged my two sons (her brothers) and their respective girlfriend/fiance.  The message was something about how concerned he was and he isn’t getting any help or response from “her mother”.  The girls were the ones texting me at this point and I told them both to ignore him and that anything they said would be twisted and he would just throw it in Hannah’s face the minute she had her cell phone in her hand.  

We had the  meeting and were thrilled with what the social worker told us.  The behavioral group felt Hannah would be much better suited for intensive out-patient therapy and that was set up for her.  And out the door we went (yes there was other stuff regarding medication, etc).  The minute we got in the car she wanted her phone.  Before I handed it to her I showed her the exchange between me and the boy, just so she knew exactly what I said.  She calls him from the back seat, my blood is boiling.  Of course we can only hear her side of the conversation.  I’m not sure how many times she apologized to him.  Again, I am seeing red.  She eventually hangs up and my only comment (right or wrong) was “you just got out of in-patient treatment and he is making you feel guilty and you have to apologize to him?”  And that is all I said.  Now, unbeknownst to me throughout the afternoon the boy and the brothers are messaging and it got UGLY.  Very ugly.  The boy threatened to kill my oldest and make sure his daughter grows up without a dad, just like him.  This is the caliber of person we are dealing with.  OMG – that night was just horrid.  Even though she knew what was said in the messages, she still begged the boy to stay with her.  All the alarms are going off in my head and the last thing I can do is scream at her that he is manipulating her, using her and abusing her.  At this time I was also very disappointed in my sons.  I know they love their sister.  I know they were doing what they felt was best for her and protecting her and I appreciate that.  I did not appreciate them then turning their backs on her because they felt she was choosing the boy over them.  She is messed up in the head, just got out of the psych ward and is so confused about life she can’t see straight.  She needed their support.  Stop and think about it before you judge…………

It’s now been almost two weeks since she was in the hospital.  We are learing to live with a new normal.  She has been given a leave of absence from school.  She will have five months to complete her final portfolio and have it judged.  That is a huge stressor to cross off the list.  Today, she returned the boys property (the usual t-shirts, sweatshirts).  I can’t say they are officially over, but we are moving in the correct direction.  I will occasionally send my girl links regarding domestic abuse, how it starts, what it looks like and I think she is finally admitting to herself that she was in a bad relationship. This boy treated her how she feels she should have been treated.  She isn’t worthy of a nice guy because she is a piece of shit – her words, not mine.  Therapy starts in two weeks (yes, the mental health system is amazingly fast), but in the meantime she is speaking with a life coach twice a week.  I never thought much of the life coach crap – my opinion has now changed.  My girl is learning to deal with and control her anxiety.  She is relating to her life coach and enjoys every session.  I think my girl reached her rock bottom.  Now we do all we can to build her back up, support and love her the way she deserves.

A Heavy Heart

My heart is heavy today. Isn’t it odd that some days can be relatively “normal” and others make you feel beat down and just plain sad?

I wonder, on days like this, if I dealt with the thoughts and feelings that my daughter deals with every minute of everyday – would all my days feel this bad?

I can tell by talking to my girl that she is very depressed. She promises me she is taking her meds. She promises me she will reach out if she needs help. She promises me there are people at school and around her she can rely on. She promises me.

Some days I am able to put everything into a demented type of perspective. Today, I am not. My every thought swirls around my girl in some way. Today, I wonder if I will need to plan her funeral.

My heart is heavy.