Photo credit: Elinor Carucci for the New York Times Magazine
Earlier this month:
- The battle of oncoming traffic: keeping him safe in the weeks leading up to hospitalization — won mostly by luck, but also by hero sister who spent every morning for two weeks straight talking him off ledge. And hero mother who gave up sleep. Casualties include mother’s blood sugar and general health, sister’s emotional well-being, some friends’ and neighbors’ spare time. Kendall’s ears, which bled out while she babysat him one Saturday. Two key work deadlines.
The battle of acceptance: coming to terms with the fact that he needs to be committed again — won in the nick of time, mostly through patience and continued dialogue between sisters.
The battle of patience over anticipation: initiating action at the right moment — won after a very touch-and-go weekend, by hero sister who pushed to hold off a few days, and knew exactly what to do when the time came.
Key Take Away: You have to trust the people in the trenches. You can’t run a war remotely.
This past week:
- The battle of persuasion I: getting police to take him to psychiatric screening — won in the afternoon, after a near miss in the morning. Trick is to call screeners directly. Call them a few days ahead. And then call them again at the moment of decision and have them call police for you.
The battle of persuasion II: convincing psychiatric screening that he needs to be committed — won on first round, largely due to being proactive and sending a full medical history and detailed explanation of current episode to screener, at the very outset.
The battle of persuasion III: convincing short-term psych hospital to accept him as an involuntary inpatient — won by screener through some combination of baseline professional competence and sheer luck.
The battle of communication I: establishing contact with Social Worker as quickly as possible following admission — won, again by being proactive and sending full medical history and detailed explanation of current episode to Social Worker at the very outset.
Key Take Away: You have to be as proactive as possible in getting pertinent information to key actors. Email is your friend. It is never too early to make a call, or send an information sheet.
- The battle against contagion: not going crazy ourselves as we deal with a crazy person in a crazy system — winning, mostly by talking to each other regularly.
The battle to maintain solidarity: remaining united with siblings in arms — won by learning not to fight.
Key Take Away: You must value and maintain all the alliances you have. There is no room for ego. To fight alone is to lose.
- The battle of communication II: making contact with ward psychiatrist
The battle of persuasion IV: convincing ward psychiatrist to seek longer-term commitment because he is clearly still manic
The battle of self-control: sitting through family meeting, with him, without completely losing shit.
Key Reminder: There is no escaping the people who are inside your heart. Love and Obligation supersede all distances.