the fight

I sat in the waiting room in the pediatric wing of the hospital, clutching a thin file of papers. My thick, leather-bound journal jammed into my purse, stuffed with a pen inside. I steadied my stainless travel coffee cup on my knee, trying to open the top. I knew we were going to wait forever, but my nerves were thin.The CDMHP (County Designated Mental Health Professional) was on his way to evaluate Rachel. We did not know exactly when he would arrive, but I wanted to make sure I was there when he did.

“She says she won’t admit herself,” Rachel’s counselor told me breathlessly, turning the corning into the waiting room. She had met with her just moments before. I knew why she didn’t want to go, and I didn’t blame her. But, I also knew what was at stake if she did not.

I marched to the end of the hallway, steeling myself for a negative reception from my daughter. She was laying in the hospital bed, propped up on a pillow, with the television on. The only thing nice about staying in the hospital all day is the nonstop televised entertainment.

“What’s going on?” I asked softly. “How are you feeling?” I didn’t want to tell her what her counselor had just told me.

“I’m okay,” she shrugged, her voice quiet and scratchy. The overdose had taken a toll. She was unable to stand for very long. Her throat was swollen and sore from the breathing tube. She still wasn’t eating very much.

Keeping my voice steady, I asked about whether she was feeling okay about going back to the hospital. I felt ragged, worried, and anxious. I wanted her to decide to go in, because I was prepared to wage a full-scale attack if she wasn’t. Getting the hospital to detain her involuntarily was even more complicated than getting her admitted voluntarily. The caveat was that if she decided to discharge, nothing would stop her from leaving. But, if she was admitted, it would be more likely she could get into long-term treatment. It was my only thread of hope that my daughter might be treated, maybe even recover.

Based on what I knew, that only meant keeping her alive that much longer, but that was worth the risk. She nodded, and looked sad. She asked me to text a friend of hers, to see if he could come visit her. I promised I would.

She ordered a salad and a strawberry milkshake and asked me to leave her alone for a while. I walked out of the room, feeling assured that she would go voluntarily. If the CDMHP recommended inpatient. If.


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