The support I need

Sometimes life happens and you need to just sit and gaze into the darkness inside of you for awhile. You have to face it to keep fighting.

I can tell when I’m really stressed out. I can’t sleep and when I do it’s filled with nightmares. My stomach is on a burning and raging fire. I thought maybe I had an ulcer this time. Maybe I had finally reached the end of my rope. I gazed into the water at Kennebunk and cried. I didn’t know if I could continue holding on.

But somehow I’ve been fighting this battle my whole life and never once tried to take my own life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about it sometimes a lot.

When I told my mom I felt this way after she asked what I was thinking about, she told me she would try to give me the support I needed. When we got home from our trip my mom was on the war path. She tried to beat a lot of dead horses. She told people I was thinking of killing myself and they needed to help me which infuriated me because it wasn’t exactly true.

She told my brother Luke he needed to be there for me. My brother Luke walked away from my family almost a year ago. I invited his family over for Christmas last year. We even put the date on the calendar. Then after he found out about Arabella, they cancelled. It wasn’t about COVID because his whole family had it in November. He didn’t want his daughters to be exposed to my screwed up family especially when his wife Emily has the perfect family. Then the few times I did see him up north this summer I felt criticized and condemned by him.

Then my mom went and told my dad that I was ready to jump off the Kennebunk bridge. I am one step away from killing myself and he needs to step up and call me. My dad made every excuse in the book not to call me so my mom kicked him out of the house for a couple days until he finally called me. I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t know the only reason he called was to get back in my mom’s good grace. It was the first phone call I got from him in over 3 years.

Maybe my mom even told my Aunt Jan because I got a message from her that she was thinking of me. I could tell how much she was thinking of me when she told me I wasn’t welcome at the family reunion because of my vaccination status. I am about ready to tell everyone to piss off.

I told my mom that it meant nothing to have people reach out to me out of obligation, force, or manipulation. My personal problems are really none of their concern. I can take care of myself like I’ve been doing just fine my whole entire damned life. I told her she had no right to share things I’ve said in confidence with anyone else especially since I was trying to be open and honest with her about my grief over my daughter’s mental illness. I told her if I wanted to tell them I would’ve.

I don’t want to be too hard on my mom because I sincerely believe her intentions were to try to help me. But she is driving me crazier. I felt stressed out when my dad called not comforted. None of this is supportive to me, it’s stressful. Telling people I want to kill myself. Sheesh! She did buy me flowers though. There’s that.

This morning I asked my daughter Angel if she thought I was going to kill myself. She looked stunned and said no. Angel is really supportive. She is a good listener. That’s all I want my mom to do. I want her to listen. I don’t want her to try to control things in my best interests. I don’t want her to tell everyone a sob story about me to try to drum up support. That just makes me feel worse.

A couple days in Kennebunk, Maine

From Vermont we drove a couple hours to Kennebunk, Maine. I found our lodging last minute after our Airbnb cancelled on us. It ended up being our favorite place to stay. We stayed in the penthouse suite and the elevator took us to the luxurious top floor of a newer building.

Parking was tight in the little lot with the monster SUV. I directed Paul backwards into the spot planning to take our luggage out of the trunk before he pulled it all the way in. Arabella screamed at Paul saying she wanted to get the luggage out from the side door instead, that her plan made the most sense. She was angry again.

Despite that, we enjoyed most of our stay. Although the forecast said more rain, it was rather warm and sunny on Paul’s birthday. It only rained at night. A parade went through town the morning of his birthday. We went out for his birthday and we all ordered a whole lobster for the first time. Then we spent the day in Oak Orchard Beach. Arabella went to the arcade. We went to the few shops that were open. It was like a ghost town. There were signs that said you had to pay for parking but there wasn’t an attendant to pay. There was an amusement park full of closed rides. We did walk the beach for awhile but the water was much too cold to swim. Even the restrooms were closed for the season due to lack of staff to clean them. If we wanted a bathroom we had to stop and get a drink at the bar.

We did walk around Kennebunk quite a bit as well. Even though we were in Kennebunk and Oak Orchard Beach on the weekend, most places were closed for the season in the end of September.

I would like to say our trip was going well, but it really wasn’t. I still wasn’t sleeping and awoke crying from nightmares. Arabella was up in the middle of the night making noise that also woke us up. She started sneaking out by herself at night while we were in Kennebunk. In her room I saw tons of junk food and a lighter sitting on her dresser. Then she told us she no longer wanted breast reduction surgery, she wanted back surgery.

I was so upset. What did I expect? I hoped her mental illness would take a vacation too. I worried that my mom was having a horrible time. I became jealous that she probably had more fun on the trip she took with my brother Luke and his family a couple months back.

There was a little park on the Main St. in Kennebunk next to the dam. I went under the bridge with my mom and Paul. I stayed until it got dark after everyone else left and cried. I just didn’t want to do this anymore. I was feeling depressed with everything that was happening with my daughter. She was acting hateful to all of us and I just wanted to have a fun memorable trip. I lost a lot of hope that everything was going to be alright. Maybe my expectations were too high.

The next morning Paul, my mom, and I went to breakfast while Arabella slept in. My mom confronted me asking what I was feeling and thinking the night before as I sat watching the water under the bridge. She said that I scared her. I told her I was overwhelmed with grief about my daughter so much so that at times I feel like I can’t go on. I’ve reached my breaking point and it is destroying me. Paul told her that more than anything I just needed her support.

Our first night, Vermont

The night before we left I had a dream that was too good to be true. So much so I considered it another nightmare. I dreamt my dad picked my son and I up in a van. My dad was loving and had a good conversation with Alex. In real life, my son hasn’t spoken to my dad in almost 2 years since discovering his crime. He never wants to see my dad again. In my dream, my dad dropped my son and I off at an apartment complex in a crime ridden ghetto. Instead of getting shot, a gangster gave me the shirt off his back for my trip. It was a fairytale dream that left me feeling sad.

I awoke early after the dream to finish packing. We had to leave early to drive to the airport a couple hours away. I had a hard time waking Arabella up and we ended up leaving later than I wanted to. I didn’t even check to see if she turned off her lights. We took my small car and couldn’t fit all our luggage in the trunk. My mom’s suitcase was wedged between my mom and daughter in the backseat.

The drive and check in at the airport was rather uneventful until we got on the plane. The pilot announced there was bad weather in Chicago and we would have a delay where we might have to deplane. We only had an hour to make our connecting flight. I could only hope that our connecting flight was delayed as well. Thankfully we were delayed less than we anticipated and our connecting flight was also delayed. But that also meant we would get to our destination later.

Although I wore pants and a sweatshirt, Arabella was hot. She decided to wear only a tank top and short shorts that were several sizes too small. Half of her large cleavage hung out and her cutting scars on her arms and legs were fully visible. She seemed to like the attention her appearance was receiving. I was rather embarrassed but she is 18 and not open to feedback.

We got to our destination at the Connecticut airport as the sun was starting to set. The car rental company said we could upgrade from a midsize car to a large SUV and considering our tight car ride to the airport and several hours of driving on our trip, we took it.

We were spending our first night in Vermont which was another hour and a half drive from the airport. It wasn’t easy to drive the huge SUV as dusk was nearing, an unfamiliar city in an unfamiliar vehicle. We wanted to find somewhere to eat as we neared the end of our drive for the evening. We wanted to eat something local to Vermont since we were only spending one night there. Arabella wanted to eat at the chain restaurant she worked at at home but no one else wanted to. We wanted to try something new so we kept driving. We ended up out in the middle of nowhere stopping at the only restaurant that looked open.

Arabella was angry because we didn’t stop where she wanted to eat. She also got angry because her dad said he would not buy her alcohol. She was pissy during the whole meal and only ordered dessert to eat. Afterwards, Paul talked to her alone and apologized that he did not stop to eat where she wanted as it was her vacation too. I didn’t think he needed to because he wasn’t out of line, she was. We both wanted everyone to get along, but that wasn’t going to happen.

The rest of the car ride was very difficult. Paul drove trying to find our Airbnb. We were out in the middle of nowhere. It was pouring outside. The roads were winding and mountainous. For the rest of the ride, Arabella attacked Paul. She accused him of being a horrible father. She said he was abusive. She was angry that we never gave her an actual graduation gift like a stuffed animal although we said the trip was her gift and we were spending a lot of money to take her. She screamed at Paul while the rest of us sat in silence. I was angry at Arabella and worried about what the rest of the trip would be like. I felt sorry for Paul because he was bending over backwards trying to be nice to everyone and he was viciously attacked.

We got to our Airbnb which resembled an old haunted farmhouse. It was cool and damp. It poured all night and the rain ended just before we left. In the morning we found that we were between two rundown houses. It was strange at the house we rented because two of the bedrooms didn’t have curtains on the windows. The host was really nice though and said we could help ourselves to anything in the fridge or cupboards. We found some Vermont pancake mix and Paul ran to the store to buy maple syrup. He made us a nice breakfast in the morning then we were on our way.

The story unfolds

So now the story unfolds. It’s been over a month since Arabella has been home from residential. She was there for over two months.

She is now writing her own story in a book that will perhaps never be written. We did our best. Now here we will remain as a landing pad when her wings are broken from life as sometimes happens when a bird first leaves the nest.

We keep telling ourselves that everything will be okay. Even if it’s not, we will still walk through it together.

On the rough days we talk of Paul’s mom. She made a good life for herself. She didn’t have much. She didn’t have a high school diploma but was always able to find a job. She raised a child as a single parent when she was right around Arabella’s age. She struggled with mental health issues, but she had her mother to help her and later in life she married a good man. She had a house to live in.

If Martha could do it, then Arabella has a good chance to live life independently. In some ways, I think that Martha was happier than most people I know. Ignorance is bliss they say. I don’t even think she knew she was not very bright or that she was mentally ill.

Arabella is out in the world now. She is finding her way, even if it is not the path I would’ve chosen for her. She is not out of the woods, but she is doing so much better. She wants to live now. Crazy can be fun and exciting. Normal is boring anyway.

I am closing this series. It’s been very challenging to write about my daughter’s mental health struggles in only the way that personal painful pieces can be. But I feel like it’s been therapeutic for me as well.

From here on out I might get a little light and fluffy for awhile. I might post about my travels, wedding planning (yeah!), or go back to writing about the fortune cookies I’ve amassed. But I’m not going anywhere. I just need to lighten things up after talking about such serious personal topics.

I can be fun too, but you guys probably don’t know that about me.

From the beginning

Strangely enough after Arabella went to residential I got asked even more (rather unusual) questions by the therapist. What was your pregnancy, childbirth, and Arabella’s early infancy years like?

When I got pregnant with Arabella I had a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I was also babysitting 50 hours a week for the next door neighbor’s kid who was 3. She called me mom. The neighbors worked all the time then every weekend they dumped their kid off at grandma’s so they could party with friends. The mom was harsh and I thought she was rather verbally abusive. The dad wasn’t the greatest either. The whole situation disgusted me, but I felt rather envious too. I rarely got a break from my kids.

Right before I got pregnant, my brother Matt heard voices to tell him to attack my daughter Angel which he did at her 4th birthday party. After he hurt her, I set a boundary with my mom that Matt could not be around my children anymore. My mom pushed back against that boundary and tried to force Matt back into my kids life which caused a lot of stress. I lost all help when I pushed Matt away because my mom had to care for him and he wasn’t allowed around my kids. My MIL didn’t help much at all. She could barely handle the one kid she had. Even my husband had to work the day our daughter was born because he just started his business at the time. He was a one man show and he was the one that paid our bills.

I was worried when I found out I was having another girl. I would have been more worried if it was a boy though. My brother was fixated on hurting little girls. But if I had a boy I worried he would be schizophrenic/autistic like my brother. I didn’t tell anyone the gender because it was too painful. Either way invoked worry that robbed me of the joy of pregnancy.

Arabella was breech. They told me it didn’t matter because she was to be my 3rd C-section. I felt really sick after she was born and didn’t even want to nurse her because I had a reaction to the pain medicine. My mom stayed with the older kids overnight so I could have Arabella early in the morning. Then she dropped the kids off at the hospital right after Arabella was born because Matt had a dentist appointment. I scheduled my C-section so I would be in the hospital over the weekend when my husband didn’t have to work because we didn’t have anyone to watch the kids.

A week after my C-section I was home alone with all three kids. I remember being a zombie hopped up on pain medicine after sleepless nights. I’m not going to lie, it was hard. Thankfully the neighbors got divorced and I wasn’t babysitting anymore.

I was constantly stressed because I didn’t have the help I needed. I didn’t take very good care of myself. I sometimes wonder if I caused this with all the stress hormones constantly pumping through my body. I ended up getting mastitis twice. I was sick all the time. Right after Arabella was born my grandma had open heart surgery. I took on all the holidays since my grandma wasn’t able to.

I had a baby that cried constantly day and night. She refused to be comforted. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. She didn’t suck her thumb or fingers. She didn’t want to be held unless she was nursing. The only thing that she responded to was the infant rocker and having music constantly playing on repeat in her room at night on the CD player. When the CD would stop at the end and go back to the beginning, she would cry.

I took her to several doctors. Did she have an ear infection? That was the only reason my other kids would cry at that age. Was she autistic like my brother? Colic? (I suspect doctors tell parents that when they don’t know why your baby doesn’t stop crying). Big surprise, they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. I nursed her longer than the rest of my babies. When I weaned her, she took her tiny fists and beat them against my chest while screaming. My other kids didn’t do that. Everything seemed wrong but nothing was wrong. It took her over a year to finally sleep through the night.

The therapist thought that Arabella always had emotional dysregulation and that her condition was genetic. She didn’t experience any out of the norm trauma (death of a grandparent). She was a lot like my MIL who did experience trauma. Or did she? I don’t even know anymore. And if trauma caused her mental illness then how did it influence her genes to pass borderline on to her granddaughters? There is so much that I don’t understand yet, but I do know that Arabella’s infancy years were tough and apparently that is indicative of future problems.

Residential waiting list

We received the call that Arabella’s name came up on the waiting list for the DBT residential program for adolescent girls. We had less than a week to get everything together. She had to be there within a certain time period or she would lose her place. This was her last opportunity since they said she could not be there after turning 18. She was less than 3 months until 18 which meant by the time she came up on the waiting list again, she would be too old for the program.

She abruptly ended her time with the outpatient program that she was in for 2 months. I had to switch a dentist appointment around last minute. Thankfully they were able to sneak her in earlier with short notice. The residential program needed her dental records. We ended up getting all of the paperwork together and appointments done as soon as we possibly could. It was months of wait, wait, wait then boom hurry as fast as you could to get everything together. Plus I had to work with the insurance company which was pretty much a waste of my time. We ended up paying for everything out of pocket which wasn’t cheap. We emptied Arabella’s college fund. She wasn’t interested in college anyway. Without residential we honestly didn’t know if she would live that long anyway. This was our last ditch effort to save her life.

To make matters far more stressful, we also had a COVID scare within that time period. My daughter Angel’s boyfriend Dan tested positive then my daughter got sick with COVID as well. Once we found out he was sick, my daughter stayed with him at his parent’s house and didn’t come back home until she was better. It was a matter of life and death. If Arabella couldn’t go into the program because of a positive test I feared she would die. It was horrible and terrifying. FYI admitting your child into an inpatient, outpatient, or residential program is stressful and crappy as it is without the extra stress.

They ask questions such as how many suicide attempts have you made and when was the last one. My daughter answered that many times she cut herself so deeply that she was hoping not to wake up in the morning. They ask so many disturbing personal questions that no parent wants to hear the answer to. I suffered greatly the first time I saw the cutting on her arm. I had nightmares for days when I could sleep that is. It was very traumatic for me.

Thankfully Arabella’s COVID test came back negative and we all remained healthy at our house. I do think that the residential program has helped Arabella tremendously learn the skills that are needed to live a healthy and productive emotionally regulated life. We, as her parents, worked very closely with her therapist and the psychiatrist. We received a DBT parent workbook and listened to podcasts. It didn’t cure her. She is still taking plenty of medications. It was a very rewarding experience except for the cost. But as the saying goes…you get what you pay for.

Arabella was in the residential program for a little over 2 months. I’ve noticed a lot of improvements since she got back. It was worth it to give her a second chance at life. Now it is up to her what happens next. We did everything we could.

Waiting in the uncertainty

One day Arabella handed me a baggie full of pills. Inside was a month’s supply of sleeping pills. I didn’t understand. How did this happen when I watched her take her medication every morning and every night? I couldn’t imagine it would be that easy to stockpile pills while under supervision.

She gave me the pills because she said she was no longer planning on using them to kill herself. She said she was surprised that I never found them after outpatient said I should search her room. I also remember the late night text from Jordan’s mom saying that she had pills and was planning on using them.

Arabella said that on some nights she wouldn’t take her sleeping pills but instead would drink energy drinks so she could stay up all night. That is what she did to finish high school. I don’t understand why she would even want to do that. At the time she seemed rather manic and didn’t feel the need for sleep. But she didn’t feel like killing herself either. I would almost prefer mania to suicidal depression.

But was she really bipolar then? She told the doctor she couldn’t sleep at night even with the sleeping pills. But she didn’t tell him that she wasn’t always taking them.

I’m glad she handed over the sleeping pills. I finally felt some peace after hearing that my daughter was going to OD on pills but never being able to find anything.

The hard part was that her psychiatrist thought she could be bipolar but said he was retiring and just left us. He never put her on medication that would manage bipolar. At residential, they didn’t think she was bipolar. At home right now, she seems manic.

Over the past year, my daughter has had 6 different possible psychiatric diagnoses. It seems to me that the experts don’t agree. She still needs my help to manage her medications because she is not taking them properly. I still don’t have the answers that I need. I’m not sure what the future holds as far as her care goes. She is having a hard time finding a job because it is obvious that she has some serious mental health issues if you have a conversation with her. I don’t know where to turn.

But as for now, she gave me the pills back. She seems manic which presents itself with other safety concerns. At least she isn’t suicidal at the moment.

But now what? She wants me to butt out because she is an adult now. I can’t in good conscience walk away. I really would like her to have psychological testing for a firm diagnosis. The jury is still out whether or not she is going to be able to live independently and take care of herself someday. The uncertainty and lack of control over the situation is hard to deal with. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see and hope she doesn’t do something to destroy herself in the meantime.

A gasp of fresh air

The day Arabella left us to move in with Jordan’s family is the day I started planning a vacation. Not only did all my vacation plans for 2020 fall through but I lost my daughter as well. She started calling another woman her mom. It didn’t matter what I said or did, I felt like my daughter hated me. On rare occasion, I was the best mom in the world but it had nothing to do with any effort on my part. Again, what I did or didn’t do didn’t seem to make a difference in how she felt about me.

It was hard to handle and I felt very depressed. So I started planning a trip. At that point, I didn’t even care if I had to cancel it. It was the planning and thinking about it that was the most therapeutic at the time because it allowed me to focus on something other than my problems. I had something on the calendar to look forward to. Besides my daughter was gone and I wasn’t sure if she was going to be coming back.

But she did come back home and burnt the bridge with Jordan’s family. After her most recent diagnosis I battled with myself about whether or not to go. My mom wasn’t going to help by staying at our house because she was terrified of COVID. My oldest daughter didn’t really want the responsibility either although she was already living at home. I felt guilty for wanting to get away.

I also felt like I was suffocating. Taking care of a suicidal teen with serious mental health issues was burning me out. I thought if I didn’t get away I would be sitting in a padded room myself or worse. At times it was so painful and grueling that I really didn’t want to live anymore myself. I wasn’t taking care of myself. The stress was so high that it seemed like all my husband and I did was fight and blame ourselves and each other for the problems we were having with our daughter. I seriously thought if I didn’t get a break and take care of myself and our marriage that I would not be able to handle it anymore.

We offered to pay for our oldest daughter’s therapy if she would keep an eye on things. I wish I was kidding. Plus my best friend was willing to do whatever it took to help if needed. We were not flying out of the country and were accessible by phone 24/7. So we went. Thankfully Arabella managed to get herself up for outpatient, took her pills, and didn’t have any emergencies while we were gone. Oddly enough, it was my other two adult children (Angel and Alex) that fought. Their relationship has been strained ever since. Sometimes you just can’t win.

But it was wonderful to get away. It was a breath of fresh air before the drowning started yet again.

New diagnosis

I was very concerned about the things that were happening with Arabella.

On New Year’s Eve, she made a strange comment when we had some friends over. She told everyone that her dad was walking on the ceiling and laughed about it. No one else laughed. They glanced at me and looked at her as if she was crazy. Was she on something? Was she delusional? Was she just trying to get attention?

She said strange things before like the time she said that Jordan’s mom was her mom and I wasn’t. She said other things that weren’t true. At times I could classify her as delusional or paranoid.

Then there were other things like the eating of non food items such as plastic forks. The binge eating and weight gain. The extreme fluctuations between us being evil and the world’s best parents. She fluctuated that same way with herself. Sometimes she saw herself as fat and ugly. Then at other times she wanted to be a stripper and show the world how gorgeous she was. Sometimes she was gay and other days maybe straight.

Then there was the impulsivity. Money in her hands was money spent. The shoplifting. The need to be more extreme than everyone else. The cutting, the suicide attempts. All her relationships were turbulent.

She had unusual emotional reactions, laughing instead of crying upon the loss of friendships that once meant everything to her. She seemed almost manic. She had a hard time sleeping at night even with the sleeping pills. I wanted to tell the doctor that all of this happened within a month’s time. Perhaps her medication was off.

Arabella was in rare form when I picked her up from outpatient to take her to her psychiatrist appointment. She was bouncing off the walls. A combination of caffeine, candy, and mania perhaps? She couldn’t keep a constant thought. She talked about the heating ducts in the office. Things people really don’t care about. She was talking a million miles a minute and I was feeling frustrated. In my mind she was acting pretty crazy and I wanted her to stop. But did I? It was the perfect place to act like this. Every time before this visit, she was quiet and depressed. She couldn’t sit still. She told the psychiatrist that she had crackhead energy.

I explained to the psychiatrist everything I’ve been trying to explain to you. Something was really wrong with my daughter. He got it. He said it was obvious to him that my daughter had more than a case of depression. He said she had disordered mood, thoughts, and personality. He thought she had Schizoaffective disorder with Bipolar 2 along with Borderline Personality Disorder. I didn’t see it coming, really I didn’t.

Then he said that he was retiring. He didn’t have a replacement. He didn’t want to change her medication which was a mess and not even adequate for her new diagnosis. We would have to wait for residential to figure that out. He pretty much said good-bye and good luck.

I was heartbroken. I cried the whole ride home. How did I not see this coming? Schizophrenia?? My brother is schizophrenic. He hears voices.

I grieved for a long time. All my hopes and dreams for a normal life for her were dashed. I wasn’t even sure she would graduate from high school at that point. Remember when she was an honor student? I couldn’t stand to hear about the bright futures of other kids her age. Your daughter is going to college for physics. I’m spending my daughter’s college money for psychiatric care. Yup, hope she doesn’t kill herself.

I remembered the last play she was in. I cried not knowing it would be the last time everything seemed fine. I cried thinking about the last dance she went to where she wore a pretty sleeveless dress before she started cutting her arms.

I grieved for what was that will nevermore be. It was painful that somehow I could’ve caused this. Bad genetics, nary a sane soul on both sides. I was riddled with shame and guilt. I couldn’t understand why my daughter hated me. I was doing everything I could to help her. I couldn’t stand seeing other normal families doing normal things. I resented them. I envied them for what I didn’t have. I would give away everything I had just to have that one thing, normal.

My mom was very comforting at the time. She experienced a lot of the same feelings with my brother Matt.

Now I just had to wait. My life was in limbo in a chaotic holding pattern until residential, if she could make it until then.

It’s not summer camp

Sometimes the friends you meet at the psychiatric hospital are not the best kind of friends to have. It’s not summer camp, you know.

But it was hard because Arabella missed so much school due to mental health issues that she needed to finish her education online. This meant that she had to drop out of the play she had a part in. She had to drop her extracurricular activities. She also lost the comradery with her friends from not attending school in person and being involved like she used to be.

She started hanging out with kids from the hospital. Some of them came from rough backgrounds. I know this because one girl was living in the homeless shelter and another at the domestic violence shelter. Another girl that she developed a friendship with made a serious suicide attempt right after Arabella visited her at her house. It really shook Arabella up because she was the last person to see her until she was found and the rescue squad came. Let’s put it this way, friendships formed in the psychiatric ward do not foster healthy relationships. But my daughter wasn’t healthy either and needed friends.

There was this one girl that was especially a bad apple and I will call her Ashlynn. She was into shoplifting and smoking. She pulled my daughter into it with her. I say this because my daughter did not do these things before she met Ashlynn. I do understand that my daughter is responsible for her behavior, but she is also easily influenced due to her fear of abandonment and own impulsiveness. Arabella decided to shoplift Christmas gifts for her old friend group. When her old friend group found out about the shoplifting, they had an intervention with my daughter and almost every one of her friends cut her out of their lives. I had no idea any of this was happening at the time.

What I do know and what I was able to piece together later was that Arabella came home very depressed from the intervention with her friends. She told me she was afraid that her friends were going to abandon her. It was not uncommon for her to feel this way whether it was a legitimate concern or not. I told her she should try some of her strategies on her list she made at the hospital to help her feel better when she was depressed. She decided to take a shower and listen to some music.

Afterwards, Arabella had a really good conversation with Angel and I. I thought maybe Arabella was feeling better. She seemed to be doing well. Maybe her strategies worked. I let my guard down. Big mistake.

After our conversation, Arabella went into her room and created a noose with one of her dresses in the closet. But she decided not to go through with it and called the crisis center instead. I had no idea what was going on until I talked to one of the people at the crisis center. It was terribly shocking. I thought she was doing better. My daughter wanted to go back to the hospital, but it was the weekend and my daughter was scheduled to start her outpatient program on Monday.

I opted instead to have the crisis center call her and myself several times a day to see how she was doing. I didn’t want her to lose her place at outpatient which took a month to set up to have her go back to the hospital which didn’t do as much to help her long term like I thought outpatient would. I set up new boundaries for her as well such as she could stay in her room by herself but needed to keep the door open at all times.

She was feeling better the next day and wanted to drive to her friend’s house but I said no. I didn’t want to let her use my car if she was feeling suicidal in any way. Obviously I couldn’t really tell or believe she was feeling better after the night before. But I also felt like I was punishing her for something she didn’t do wrong. Do I take away privileges for her doing the right thing by reaching out for help? That is something I always struggle with. I told her she could visit with a friend but she would have to come here and find her own ride.

We made it through but I’ve never been more afraid in my life having a mentally ill, impulsive, suicidal daughter that once only spent a whole week just at summer camp.