Silent Echos

Crying a dozen tears,
collecting puddles along the way
Anguished over lost years
Waking to the same, each day

Feeling trapped, paralyzed with fear
Heavy chains pulled tight
Is there no one to really hear?
I toss and turn throughout the night

A body that won’t comply
An overwhelmed and angry mind
Struggling with the thought of goodbye
Will there be a rainbow that I find?
Or am I lost, lost, only to be left behind… DM 7/5/21

The Next School Shooter

Several years ago, a mother in my state wrote an anonymous post about her child being the next school shooter. It took a post like that for a doctor in another state to reach out and help her child. Yet no change took place in Idaho. Our mental health system here is a broken wreck, we know it, they know it, but no one is doing anything about it. It’s been years, yet here we are with the same broken system. A young girl, a 6th grader became the next school shooter. Thankfully for her, no one died. I sit here wondering what help she will truly be given and what changes won’t take place because of it.

I sit here and wonder if my child will be next.

Did you know the state of Idaho does not have ONE anger management class or sessions for our youth? Not one, so they say. My child has actually reached out and asked for help with this anger that comes out of nowhere and rages out of control. He hates it, we hate it, but how do you control it? How do you stop it from unleashing in the first place? Doctors want to throw anti-psychotic after anti-psychotic at them but it does NOTHING to help the child. My child doesn’t do well on meds. Period. We’ve tried so many of there damn drugs but not one has helped. He lives with extreme over the top anxiety and panic attacks and nothing has touched it. It took YEARS to even try a fast acting anxiety med in the first place because they were too concerned with addiction than helping my child.

So my child suffered for so long without help that it’s become out of control and beyond where it needs to be due to lack of help in the beginning when we needed it most. Addiction is more concerning to them than the actual wellbeing of your child NOW. Off label meds are used more often than medications meant for the issue to begin with.

One of the biggest issues with long term drugs is that it can weeks to months to be effective. So they trial a med, fight off the side effects, only to have it be ineffective or cause more problems only to finally stop it and trial another, and another and another, to no avail. At some point the child will refuse meds. And then rage at the worthless system he finds himself under.

The state of Idaho has no real respite for older kids. I am just now learning of one on the east side of our state yet no one had mentioned it to me before. Why don’t we have one in the most populated area of our state? There are plenty of respite ideas for those with young kids but not a damn true respite for our older teens that benefit both the child and the parents. So the government contracted with the Hay’s house. A local shelter in Boise that takes kids. Apparently, paying good money from the government of Idaho to the Hay’s house to provide the needed respite for our kids in the system. Guess what? They denied my kid.

After taking weeks to even try and get someone to call me back and then go through the application process and set up a tour. I simply got a phone call telling me they don’t take kids with autism. They also don’t take kids with health issues even though my son doesn’t have any needed equipment or really any special care beyond, let him rest if he needs to and don’t require physical activity if he’s hurting. So why are they getting funds from the government, likely from us tax payers to provide a service, ON PAPER, that they are refusing to provide? It’s funny and ironic that the court order in my kids case simply says, “keep seeking respite…” Yup, we’ll keep seeking but never find.

And they wonder why kids finally explode. They wonder why suicide rates are high and ever climbing. They wonder why kids take their aggression out as a school shooter. I wonder what help the poor girl didn’t get and how long they battled the system trying to find it before she finally snapped. So what change did this incident bring about? Likely not a damn thing.

Respite for teens should provide a safe place for teens to have both enjoyment and a break from their families while providing a break to the parents as well. If one is suffering, the other will too. So if a kid goes to a place like Hay’s house and can’t even keep his phone or certain personal affects while there, please explain how that is not much different from detention? So even if he did get accepted, I can only imagine the anxiety in the back of my mind worrying about how frustrated my kid would be not having access to his basic personal affects while supposedly getting a break from the household… I honestly don’t think that would provide a real sense of relief, ie, respite. But it would be better than nothing…. until we can one day get real services and respite for our teens. If it’s not too late.

I’m so disgruntled by our system, our state, our health care. They are admittedly reactive and not preventative. But even their reactive measures are subpar, always shoving a square peg into a round hole and not getting results while continuing to try.

I would love to start a non profit and create a teen respite center in our state. A center with input from the very teens who would utilize it. But how do I do that? I’m just a disabled mom with ideas, a lack of education in that area, and very little energy to walk on my two legs. But we need it. We need it desperately as do thousands of other kids in our state who are suffering like my kid is just like the parents who struggle and need that break but are too afraid to ask for help or have asked but haven’t been heard. My ideas are endless on this program I’d like to create.

I’d also like to fix the broken juvenile justice/mental health system in our state. A REAL solution that would benefit our children that really does look a lot like common sense but our system is stagnant, apparently slow to change and how does one be the voice of change? I HAVE A SOLUTION!! But my voice travels out and fades away and doesn’t reach the ears of those who might actually be willing to make a difference. How can I be heard? How can I share my ideas that would help our kids in at least two areas where our state has failed? I need legs. I need someone to be those legs to reach the people necessary and then convince them to simply start by listening. Listen to my proposal and lets start working on solutions rather than wait till something even more drastic takes place that finally gets someone’s attention.

Will my kid be next?

I Understand..

There are so many issues that divide our society. From my own personal journey, I can truly understand both sides of many issues. There really is no black or white but various shades of gray that make up our feelings and frustrations due to our experiences in life. Those stuck on either side of the black/white issue, simply have not experienced or walked in our shoes. They are blinded by their own journeys in life. That does not make them wrong, it makes them simply ignorant of the experiences of others and unable to see how others got to the place in which they view their side of things.

Broken

Lost.. drowning. Chewed up. Spit out. Unheard.

Not all voices sound the same.

If I tell you I’m struggling, imagine it 100 times worse. If I get denied the services I requested, I must not be screaming loud enough. Not all voices sound the same. Listen to the ones who speak quietly. They’re the ones who hold back. They’re the ones that put on a brave front and try to hold down the fort. The rocks. When they tell you they’re breaking, then listen to them. If they tell you they’re broken, they broke a long time ago and you just ignored their pleas.

Scattered pieces flittering away on the breeze.

Remnants battered, having been tossed to and fro.

Hands trembling, long held out, reaching without purchase.

Voice hoarse and whispered from the cries never heard.

Mind spiraling into darkness, shattered, broken.

Broken.

Our Backwards System

Our system has it backwards in regards to helping people with a mental health crisis. Let’s be honest, oh wait!! You can’t! That’s one of the biggest hinderances to people receiving help. You absolutely can NOT be truly honest.

The stigma with mental health is another huge barrier to those who truly want to seek help. In addition, it can be illegal in the sense that one can actually be CHARGED with a crime rather than simply getting someone the help that they need. Please explain how charging someone ISN’T counterproductive in helping someone struggling with mental health issues. Sure, let’s add the criminal stigma to an already added pressure of the mental health stigma. Not to mention, the criminal aspect follows you for the rest of your life and counts towards an offense in your file. No pressure, stress, or harm caused there, right??

Shall we talk about the lack of services, providers, and understanding in our community. You need help, but sorry, it’s a years wait and the providers currently available are fresh out of high school with little to no experience. In addition, all MUST fit into the same neat little box and benefit from talk therapy. It’s one size fits all. And here’s some medication while we’re add it. Don’t worry about the horrible side effects or the fact that you don’t process the medication very well. Try the next one in the same category. And the next. And the next… But we won’t give you something for that severe anxiety that could help you now cause it could be addictive.. so we just won’t prescribe it. But try this off label med instead… it can take a couple months to be effective… if it works for you.

Honesty… When being honest nets you a jail cell or someone coming into your life to control it in ways that they think are being helpful but in actuality make things tremendously worse and cause more harm…. Haven’t they learned yet? Maybe they’re the ones with the mental health problem since they repeat the same mistakes over and over thinking they’ll net different results. Not everyone needs to have their lives controlled and items removed and meds stopped due to the thoughts in ones head. Isn’t ‘talk therapy’ one of the ways in which they say will help? Just don’t talk about that! Or that! Or that!

If a person truly wants to end their lives, they WILL find a way to do it. It doesn’t matter what you remove from their presence, they’ll find a way if determined enough. Yes, we all have those negative thoughts in a crisis of anger that, well, sound terrible, but does that mean the person is actually going to act on it? Shhhh… let’s not discuss that either. You just might be charged for your negative evil thoughts.

How about simply offering ACTUAL help in the FORM that someone needs? Wouldn’t you think that might actually reduce the amount of stress and overwhelming depression a person is suffering? No, let’s lock them up instead and add more work, hassle, embarrassment, stigma and, oh yeah, more STRESS to the equation. How about finding out what their needs truly are and why they are suffering and find solutions that help them actually function? We don’t really have programs available like this.

A lot of my own stress and anxiety is from being disabled and trying to take care of my children, one which battles his own health and mental health issues. But they make getting a caretaker nearly impossible! Hell, I had to pay for my own wheelchair since I can walk to the bathroom in my own home. We have tools to help but we won’t allow you to use them until you’re so messed up you have no choice otherwise. And respite? A glorified babysitter that gets paid to sit there and make sure your kid isn’t causing harm. How about programs that actually allow them to do something THEY enjoy for once to actually reset and take a break beyond experiencing the same day in and day out that led to their need of respite in the first place. And yes, kids need respite too. Or another option is a children’s home type environment where you’re restricted on your rights and creature comforts which just simply adds to their anxiety and removes items they use as supports, such as cell phones. That doesn’t help the child, it just makes them feel locked up.

How do we fix this broken system?

Let’s Be Real

Life is like a panic attack with people constantly coming up behind you and saying, “Boo!”

Life is like an amputee, when you’re having someone hand you some water but they hold it out two inches too short to reach.

Life is like an insistent tapping noise when you’re dealing with major sensory processing issues.

Life is like being stabbed then having someone push on the handle over and over.

Life is like a migraine, and someone projecting flashing lights and high pitched noises in your face.

Life is like a funeral that no one shows up to.

Life is like giving a speech except you’re the one naked.

Life is like a nightmare that you can’t wake up from.

Reaching the door but it shuts right when you get there.

The window that’s stuck during a fire.

Limping with a broken foot and stubbing your toe.

The scream that never escapes your lungs.

The sleep that never comes.

When you tell someone that water is your favorite drink and they hand you a soda.

When you tell someone you’re diabetic and they give you candy.

Let’s be real… because most people aren’t. No one wants to hear your truth. Your struggles. No one wants to understand or make it better. It’s just lip service.

Our Broken System

Our system is set up for failure. It’s no wonder why we have such a high suicide rate in our state and in our country. From lack of services to stigma to getting healthcare to laws that make mental health a crime, people are not getting the help they need and our state will continue to climb with rising suicide numbers and public meltdowns and catastrophes.

When a person can actually understand why someone would enter a VA hospital and blow his brains out or shoot up a business, then you can understand the chaos our system creates and does very little to change things.

You can’t be honest with healthcare workers. Honesty can add more trouble, red tape, and a host of other problems. Suicidal? Let’s take your guns. Now we have the added stress of being unable to protect ourselves. Let’s take their meds. Now we have to suffer in even more pain. Let’s take their…. quit trying to control someone else’s life. If they truly want to die, they will find a way to do so.

There are no immediate services. I need help now. I need a good counselor now. I need respite now. I need mentoring now. Months of back and forth paperwork, wait lists, no shows…. Try being disabled and having to keep up with the back and forth, the paperwork, the frustrations and not understanding the process. No real help there even when you cry out for help because it doesn’t make sense and no progress is being made.

They’re hiring mental health service providers straight out of high school now. Very little if any training, no experience, and no real passion or drive to help kids who need it. Even the experienced ones assume cases are all alike and apply the same tools and jargon regardless of if it fits the client or not. Stuff the square peg into the round hole… And then basically roll their eyes in frustration when it doesn’t fit. Must be our fault.

It’s truly sad when a law has to be passed for mental health, in particular ptsd, to be covered by workers comp, in a career field that sees a lot of violence and death. How is that even a thing? How was that not covered? How in the hell can they think it’s ok to penalize someone for needing a mental health break? This is the stigma that our world suffers from. We must be strong with all things all the time. It’s not ok to crack when your world falls apart and your child shatters. Smile, nod your head, we’re fine.

Punishing a person criminally for having a mental health crisis. Yes, you read that right. It’s a crime in Idaho. What you say or do can be used against you. How does that make life easier on you? How does that truly help? Now you have a record. Now you’re court ordered to do things and if you’re not mentally right yet, one little slip up adds more charges. Now how does that help someone get better?

We have proven services that can help a person in crisis but insurance won’t cover those services. What they will cover has long waits, poor quality, and not enough staffing. If you don’t have money, you don’t get the best care. What kind of message does that send?

Let’s talk about drug use since it can go hand in hand with mental health. Yet, in our country, we make drug use a crime rather than put it where it needs to be, mental health if it’s beyond simple social use. Again, if you’re rich and high up in the political system, it’s ok, we’ll just cover it up, but the lower end of the totem pole, well, you have to pay society for your crime. And since it’s a crime, have you used any substance before? Of course not. Who the hell will be truly honest? It’s a crime. So how does one get help? It’s a broken system.

If you admit you use drugs, it follows you in your record then the stigma is attached which shows in the bias for any future treatment in the medical system and in the world. If you have mental health issues (sans drug use) it too gets attached to the record that follows you, full of bias in future treatment and lack of services to help you get back on level ground. It’s a broken system.

Should mental health not be one of the most important aspects of life to take care of? Do we not want a productive healthy society? What are the drawbacks to that? Why keep the system broken and people down? It costs more in the long run if they allow people to fall apart and stay there. It costs more in the long run if we don’t provide appropriate services to kids in need. It costs more in the long run if we don’t provide care giver help to families struggling. Why wait till it’s too late, or they’re so bad off it takes that much longer to possibly recover or they completely and absolutely snap? Why are there so many good services out there out of reach to people?

Between our medical system, mental health, insurance and the criminal justice system, we have allowed these broken systems to continue for too long without real fixes that actually provide quality care and real help to those who need it. So many complain about it but very little is getting done. Just my 2 cents….

Victim Impact Statement

My son’s case is next month and I’m already starting to stress about it. The case might not technically be in my name (my son’s case), but it IS against me. I plan on writing a victim impact statement as it was I who called 911 that day. It was I who followed my child’s crisis plan and picked up that phone. And it is I who am struggling with the aftermath of that ridiculous and mind blowing day that forever changed the way in which I view the local police department, crisis plans, and seeking medical help for my child. They have taught me to fear calling the police. They have taught me that a crisis plan is no more than an arrest plan. They have taught me that the police department values do not align with what they pretend it does and the juvenile justice system is no better.

I received a phone call a month after that 911 call to get an assist to drive my son to the ER (per his crisis plan). “Your son has a warrant out for his arrest,” she told me. I laughed. I thought it was a joke that is how far from reality I thought that call was. When she persisted, I told her she must have the wrong kid, what did my son ever do? They told me he assaulted a police officer….This is a felony charge… When the heck did this happen, as I knew that was completely impossible. My son is very polite with officers and he maintains himself to the best of his ability out in public. They advised me of the date this occurred and the only thing on the calendar for that day was the 911 call and ER visit. You have got to be kidding me… They charged him for melting down about going to the ER and not wanting to go willingly. Of course he didn’t, that why I called in the first place. He was committing self harm and melting down over being told he had to go to the ER for medical clearance which meant blood work. One of his biggest fears is needles and medical procedures. In fact he now has PTSD over this and anything medical related.

Would you charge a child for throwing a temper tantrum over getting a shot? What if that child actually kicked and thrashed and threw things? Pure fear radiating from the kid as he screams bloody murder and fights off any attempt to approach. No, that wasn’t my son that day. My son was verbal, completely broke in the brain in that moment but never struck out at the officers, never kicked, never punched or headbutted, he simply refused to walk himself, yelled all kinds of unpleasant stuff and made a mouth motion as if he was going to bite them when they were restraining him on the ground for not walking willingly. Absolutely no physical harm was done to any officer. Do I like the words that came out of my kids mouth? Absolutely not. My son has austim, severe anxiety and depression and when he is angry or completely afraid, he reacts verbally. That’s how he copes. That’s how a lot of kids with autism or DMDD cope. Most of the time they save it for at home and do well in the public setting. My child was home, not out in the community.

The Meridian Police Department have partnered with CIT. CIT is a program that works with police departments all over the country to change their approach on mental health calls with our juveniles. They are a program to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and rather direct them to the right mental health services in the community to avoid wasting time and money on charging kids that are more suitable to getting help and not crime related. This actually seems common sense but in Idaho, they lack simple laws and procedures that actually get people help and do the right thing for the community. Instead, they have been charging people and punishing them for not having their mental health crisis under control. Even with this program in place, AND training currently going on in Idaho on working with kids with autism, they failed to utilize their agreement with CIT and implement the very program they agreed to. Not once did they call after that fateful day and ask if my son needed help with services or direct me to the appropriate places. Instead, they charged him with a crime and are punishing not only him, but me as well.

The prosecutor in this case is actually likable and seems to have some common sense. After speaking with him about what happened, he immediate dropped the warrant but the charges were not dropped. At one of the hearings, he informed the judge that he may be dropping the felony charge and he sought to do so, but his supervisor refused to allow him to drop the charge. He would still have the misdemeanor charge of resisting but for some reason, she wants both charges to stay. I don’t understand that. I was told that they typically continue charges to make sure my son is getting the mental health services he needs. So why keep both charges on the table? Why hasn’t anyone bothered to call and see what services he is actually already receiving or to share any further services that may be out there? I feel like I’m simply being lied to. I believe the prosecutor believes what he told me but the actions of his supervisor and the department don’t align.

Is this really how Idaho wants treat it’s disabled population? A population less likely to be able to defend itself. Simply throw charges on a kid who has no prior violent charges, who’s simply struggling to live his life and be left alone and they want to label him a criminal and punish him for having a fear of needles and going to hospitals. Again, would we charge a 7 year old, 8, 9, 10… for fighting to avoid a shot? I know that’s happened many many times in hospitals throughout the country when a needle comes out. Do we charge all those kids for this? How is it that much different from charging a freshly turned 16 year old with autism who has a real and absolute fear to the point of PTSD? And yet, he absolutely didn’t hurt anyone. Mind Blown!

So I’d like to write a victim impact statement. I and my son are the victims. You can not imagine the amount of stress and anxiety this has put on us both. I am disabled and stress exacerbates my conditions. My flare has not died since it started shortly after that call. I’m not going to elaborate further into my own mental health stresses but this was seriously the icing on the cake. This has harmed my family. There is no greater good in this situation. There is no inadvertently helping my child in this situation. After speaking to other families who have gone through similar, the services offered in Idaho are the very same services he’s currently seeking/getting and utilizing the very same company to evaluate and direct. We’re already enrolled in it on our own. And don’t get me started on the lack of services for our kids in this state or the waitlist for services. It’s appalling. That would be an entirely new post all on it’s own.

I just can’t wrap my head around it all. I just don’t understand why this is happening. We need real change in Idaho. Common sense changes that actually help our children. More programs to be available to them and more staff to fulfill the long waitlists for the services they do offer. We need to stop charging our children with crimes for things that truly should not be called a crime when it’s something as simple as a medical assist call per the very crisis plan set up by the doctors and mental health community for our children. I now fear calling the police. I’m now jaded in my view of the department. I’m now jaded in my view of the juvenile justice system. I’m now a very stressed out mom fighting the system and praying that common sense will prevail and by some miracle, the felony will be dropped from his charges. In fact, all of it should be dropped. I shouldn’t have to choose between accepting a misdemeanor we don’t believe in or risk having him labeled as a felon for the rest of his life for simply calling 911 that day per his crisis plan. I just needed an assist to get him to the hospital. This is not justice.