Last night very late I checked my email before bed and Jane had written that Fiona was unexpectedly discharged and released back to the Great School. I suspect that this is one of the crushing examples of how poorly as a society we handle mental health crisis. The typical criteria for admission in such instances is is the patient likely to harm themselves or others. Fiona had physically assaulted a peer and needed stitches because of putting her arm through the window. Yet she was not admitted. I am sure it was a shortage of beds, but it is no less scary. We are creating the situations that lead to the tragedies we all fear by not having a more comprehensive and accessible mental health support system.
The bright light in all this is the Great School. They have put 1:1 staffing with Fiona without using force or unusually punitive measures. There are obviously restrictions because at this point she has yet to show that she can remain calm and safe. Fiona herself does not know if she can do those things and that too grieves me. How frightening it has to be to know you are out of control and powerless to do anything about it. I have had other children lose control--I think we all have--but when brains and neurological systems are healthy, there are any number of tools that can help a child re-set. Even Chet, with his autism, while he will fixate and be upset, will crave the solitude of his room and just retreat until the world makes more sense to him.
Fiona called this afternoon and she and Jane talked briefly with my wife. K did a great job and told her she needed not to worry about any other day than right now. Just be safe for today and that was all she had to do. I know that this all had to be really hard for my wife; there is an underlying level of fear and other complex emotions that she feels surrounding Fiona. Yet in the clutch, she really put our daughter's feelings and emotional health in the forefront.
I tried to call when I got home from work but was unable to make contact. Until she is more stable, it requires a staff person being available and near to a phone to get Fiona. Fiona called me back about an hour later. She sounds a bit disconnected still. There is a flatness to her voice when she is in crisis that I could hear. I told her I loved her, that I was always here for her. I told her that on New Years Eve we all wrote a wish for the new year. KC's was to have more visits with her. She sounded more like herself after that and did speak with each of the kids.
I have emailed Jane a few dates that I can work a day visit for her this month. It would just be a few hours but we are all in agreement that she needs to see that no matter what happens, love does not go away. Family will not falter because of mistakes or illness. I will ask that staff stay physically closer this time than before and I think the visit should not be as long. But I think she needs us. If there can be an improvement in her voice and tone in a phone call, I hope that time being with us can further help her through this incident.
I have to say too that being able to write, and being able to read the comments of kind people has been a huge gift during a troubled time. There are times I curse technology (like when I spent 27 minutes today trying to get help to re-set our postage meter at work). There are also times when the gift of technology brings warm feelings and support and prayers, as it has recently. Thank you!