Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Depression and Hospitals
I'm interested in what you have to say about depression.
It's such a nasty word isn't it? Depression. It just sounds sad.
But it's worse than sad isn't it? People who've never experienced it, or even witnessed someone depressed, think that it would be easy just to snap out of it. But that's not how it works.
I've been depressed. I know how it feels. And now I have to watch my 4 year old feel it. It's horrible. All day yesterday he cried, hysterically, off and on for no reason. Nothing particular happened, there was nothing wrong with him. Nothing except the enormous feeling that the world is against you and nothing can ever make you happy again.
He says over and over "no one likes me". He doesn't want to play with anything he normally enjoys. He just lays around whining, crying, or sleeping.
It's heartbreaking to watch. He comes to me for comfort, which I can give, but help I can not. I can't fix what's organically going on in his brain. All I can do is hold him and tell him I'm sorry he feels so sad. And that so many people love and like him. I'd love to be able to pick him up and put a band-aid on his boo-boo and that that would be enough to make him feel better. But depression is a big boo-boo. Too big for a band-aid.
It hurts me when he gets this way. I wish I could feel it for him. I wish I could take away the pain and sadness. At least I would know that it doesn't last forever. That eventually the mood lifts and you see the sun again. To Taz, it feels like the world is dark and lonely. He doesn't know if it will ever end. It hurts my heart and my soul.
Speaking of depressing...the kids in the psychiatric hospital with Taz. Until recently I hadn't even known such places existed for children. Entire units of hospitals set aside for children with mental health issues. I don't know why all the kids were there. I can guess. There's only two ways to get a spot in a psych hospital. You either have to be in danger to your self....or to others.
We went to a parent's support group at the hospital while Taz was there. One 12 year old boy had tried to light his parent's house on fire. Like, he had actually poured the gasoline around it and everything. There was a 5 year old boy that sounded like Taz. He had tried to stab his mother with a knife.
One thing that will be ingrained in my mind is how many of the kids were sound asleep in random places every time I visited. It just doesn't seem normal. I suppose it's because of the medication. The doctors and nurses told me that because they raise the doses much faster in the hospital it tends to knock the kids out, until their bodies adjust. But every time I visited there was a kid sleeping on a chair in the day room. Or a sleeping child being carried into their bedroom by the nurse, including Taz. It just brought to mind the expression "drugged up". And a lot of them were. At least the little ones.
But it's a reminder of where we are...and why. Sometimes you look around and see normal children doing normal children things. Playing video games, watching cartoons, teenage girls doing each other's hair. Then you hear screaming and swearing coming from one of the seclusion rooms and the normalcy is gone. And you remember where you are.
I don't think I'll ever forget the experience. Not just the trauma of having my son there (cause we all know how traumatic that was for me as written here), but just that such places exist. That such places even need to exist. As I walked through the hallway and looked at their faces, it made me incredibly sad. Sad that we live in a world where children can get so sick. And little ones who are so innocent by nature can have such big problems. Problems that most adults can't even handle. Then we expect little children to not only handle these big feelings but also control themselves, learn in a classroom, make friends, and generally act like typical children.
It doesn't seem fair.
And worse, it seems likely we'll be back there someday.