The following transcript is from a mother who attended Now I See A Person Institute (NISAPI). She wanted to share a part of her story today as she wants other parents to know that there is hopeful practice out there and alternatives to hospitalizations for children that are experiencing actively suicidal thoughts. She shares her painful memories from her daughter being hospitalized and the renewed hope she found when people started using hopeful language and treating her daughter as a person with experiences, stories, ambition, hopes and dreams.
Mother: Thank you for the invitation to speak today. I was experiencing really difficult times along with my family, regarding my daughter who was suffering with emotional mental health. Our story is pretty extensive. It started quite a while a go we lost our oldest daughter to suicide in 2015 and my daughter who I am referring to is currently is her younger sister. I think the loss of my oldest daughter to suicide I believe set off emotional and mental events of the younger sister. Basically we were at the end of our ability to find solutions to our second daughters’ emotional breakdown. At NISAPI I found just through looking and I believe it was Devine help. Our daughter had gotten to the point where she was actively telling us that she was going to take her life. We went down conventional roads, which was available to us like hospitalization. We didn’t want to to go down those roads but we were so afraid of what could happen we took what was on offer and available at the time. Our daughter came back to live with us when she was a young adult after being away teaching in another country. She had a few traumatic events. She is a very competent teacher and musician. She came home to live with us after teaching. We were ecstatic to have her. We had a wonderful Christmas and new year gathering with family and a couple of days after they left our daughter just broke down. It was a whirlwind of events. Not unrelated too the whirlwind of events of our first daughter in 2015.
I guess that is where I start. There is just so much. I want to be helpful I do know of parents walking through similar situations. This is to keep hope alive in their hearts as I know that this type of difficulties and challenges have solutions they do exist.
Emma Mackintosh: What do you feel brought you hope as a family at that time that you as a mother and family were feeling vulnerable?
I found NISAPI through another organisation and I reached out to Dr. Swim and told our extended story and found her and found the other people including you associated with NISAPI to be welcoming and using different language in terms of our daughter. Using language that greeted her as a wonderful normal person that she was and her behaviour or even her temporary loss of emotional strength and mental strength and confusion was related to things she had walked through as opposed to labelling her as bi polar or schizophrenic or any of other labels put on people that are experiencing some disconnection to their emotional standing I guess. You talked to her and I was amazed at just how talking to her changed things. Just speaking to her as a person and getting to know her and understanding her story and where she came from. It did take time and it was an endeavour or immense patience and our part as well and our daughter’s part. We all felt that we had a family that we could express anything and everything to. Our story is so unusual with the ricochet events from the time of the loss of our first daughter until current times. We needed to in a place and with people that we could talk to and take that in and talk to us. So just being able to talk to people at your organization made all the difference that was all it took. As the hospital she was at just kept throwing medications at her. I mean all kinds of medication. This year she was hospitalized three times and I am very rich in the belief or view this as being over medicated, not treated as a person and lumped in a category at a hospital and made to think through all these medications that a lot of these medications weaken your mind and you don’t know who you are. They make you loose yourself. I saw it. It was just an incredibly difficult time. Everyday we were on pins and needles. I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t find Dr. Swim and David and Emma. I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t you to talk to. You were a godsend. We started to see little changes. Even when I think about it today it is very internally difficult and painful thinking of my daughter being in hospital. I wasn’t allowed to visit due to covid. I would just take packages and take them what was deemed as healthy food as the hospital didn’t have healthy food. I would leave the food packages at the desk. I would speak to her on the phone as much as I could. She was in and out of herself as she was heavily medicated.
The second hospitalization I believe was due to the medications that they were just experimenting with and when you looked up the side effects, which I do, it was overwhelming. They basically admitted that they were experimenting. To see a young healthy person, physically healthy, debilitated in that way and in that state it is just more than I can describe. I was very diligent in speaking with doctors and the Social Worker, there was very little hope given there were categories given and there was long term prognosis given that were very dark and didn’t even account for her being to have a positive future or a normal life and that was assumed not possible.
Emma Mackintosh: Was this the turning point for you to seek out something different out?
Mother: The whole time I was seeking something out. I was constantly researching until I found your group. I was being pressured to which is old fashioned language but it’s used where we are – “to commit” my daughter into hospital which would relieve of us of any rights of our own daughter in decision-making. I refused. When she went into hospital for the third time due to this mis-medication as switching and upping and mixing. I refused to continue and I said, “We will take her the way she is”.
There is fear in so many ways and family fear that she would do something to herself or hurt anyone else. We didn’t know because we were in such we didn’t know what. I was sick we couldn’t sleep the three times she was in hospital I didn’t sleep. It caused such ripple effects in the whole family. We were in such stress. I could not sleep the three times she was in hospital we were in such stress collective stress. We sent our youngest daughter to be with family members for the weeks this consumed because it was so difficult. We were determined both my husband and I. We were determined to take care of our child. We talked to you guys it was so hopeful from the very beginning.
That was really were hope really turned on. We talked about you guys all the time. You took hours at different times of the day to check in and talk to our daughter. We could see small changes happen and hope rising. We could see it in her behavior. There were many threats of not continuing her life from her. It was almost a daily practice and every time when I got overwhelmed with that kind of talk I would call and talk to Dr Swim and you would take the time to just talk to our daughter and it changed things. It was a slow building up to this person’s personality. You would take the time and it was there was a slow builds up to their personality.
Emma Mackintosh: What is life like for you as a family just now?
Mother: Life has improved tremendously our daughter is now in a prerequisite program for nursing. She wants to become a nurse and even though she has another degree in another area. That is what is in her heart and we believe that she is going to do this. She is getting really good grades. She is doing better than some of her colleagues. She is very humble about it and doesn’t let anyone know. Her hope in life and her ability to look forward to life with excitement and joy is now in place. We are able to do things together. She communicates with us freely and she is happy to be where she is. That was an issue for a long time. She is interacting with her former classmates and she has attended reunions. She has gone from withdrawn not wanting to see anyone and now this has gone. What we would normally call depression has lifted in so many ways. It is a daily walk it is not perfect but it is really good and I like the word good. It gave us excitement again for today and also for what will come.
We just live in a state of gratitude really with talk therapy alone just engaging with her, just listening to her and treating her as a person. It has changed her whole outlook and all the difficult deep trauma that she experienced seems to be lifting. It doesn’t mean that we don’t address something that has happened in the past we accept those things that have happened and we live, really live in the present. NISAPI I think has given us the ability to live in gratitude really as we are so thankful for every moment of every day even when it is difficult. We know where we came from. If anyone has the means of supporting your organization and I know this is not why you talking to me. I think they should. I know you are not doing this to do that. You are saving lives. I am experiencing a life saved by the ways you do it. I haven’t seen that in other mental health organizations currently. There is not what you do anywhere that I have access to currently. You are an angel organization. You have maintained a relationship with my daughter. She knows she can reach out to you and it is a beautiful thing. You reach out to her and it might be boring to say how grateful we are. I am overwhelmed with that gratitude.