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Why We Need to Discuss My Preteen Daughter’s Hospitalizations

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Etched in my memory, is the sound of the heavy metal doors closing behind me as I left my nine-year-old in the mental health ward of the hospital for the first time. Words like psychosis, suicidal ideations, and delusional came into my world like a tidal wave, sweeping away any perceptions of normalcy.

I adopted my daughter when she was almost three. Although signs and symptoms were there, I didn’t have eyes to see them. Instead, her behaviors went either covered by grace or blamed on previous parenting. When she was diagnosed with autism at seven, awareness paved a path to wisdom and understanding.

By the time bi-polar was confirmed and schizophrenia was being considered, we had experienced multiple hospitalizations and the words that used to terrify me—psychosis, suicidal ideations, and delusions—were a part of my regular vocabulary. Isn’t it strange how those words, which seemed so foreign to me years ago, are now common and familiar? It isn’t until I say them in front of someone new and see their face register the shock my own used to, that I remember the words are still scary to so many.

I recently was mentioning to someone that my daughter may need to be hospitalized again as we try to make some major adjustments to her medications. I didn’t say it to shock them or gain sympathy. It is just a fact of our life. However, their face registered horror, as if it was the worst place in the world. What I have learned is some of the sweetest, most tender souls have graced those doors during their most desperate of times. I’ve also witnessed many doctors and nurses who choose to work in those environments because they have the compassion it takes to love on people the rest of the world throws aside. I’m not saying the facilities are perfect, but I believe the negative perception is based on fear of the unknown and the fear of ever having to need to know.

At times, my daughter requires the help mental health facilities can offer. She doesn’t fear or hate them; she knows they have helped her when everything felt like a struggle and she only wanted to “have a good day again.” They help her.

So, the next time I tell you my daughter is in psychosis, remember, it’s not to shock you, in fact, I’m hoping I can help “unshock” you. By speaking these words openly, I hope we can remove the shame and stigma of honest medical conditions and start the conversations that lead to awareness and cures.

Follow this journey on

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash

Originally published: October 29, 2017
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