Did your motherly instinct ever contradict actions recommended by professionals? There are times to trust your gut. Our children with serious mental illness (MI) need protection. We’re their first line of defense.
Moses’ parents did what was necessary to protect their baby. “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Hebrews 11:23
Years ago, I did what was necessary to protect Chris. There came I time when I had to stand up against professionals. Maybe the details of my story will sound familiar.
The day came for Chris to begin treatment in a partial-care facility. As I drove him there, I worried if the professionals would be caring. I tried to reassure myself everything would be okay.
How can I leave Chris with complete strangers? He just experienced being locked in a psychiatric unit in the hospital. The psychiatrist said he’s ready for the next step. But, I know Chris is still emotionally fragile. God will be with him there.
As we approached the facility, there was a sign directing us to a temporary trailer. The sign on the door read: “Partial-Care Temporary Treatment Facility: Due to fire, our main facility is being repaired.”
I dropped Chris off and went home. Household chores couldn’t keep my mind of Chris.
What’s he doing now? Is his day structured? Is he responding to the other patients? Is he interacting with them?
The day dragged on. Finally, it was time to pick him up. I studied Chris’s face as he approached the car. He walked slowly. Head down. No smile.
“How did it go, Chris?”
“I couldn’t stand it. I felt closed in. It reminded me of the hospital. I felt like a caged animal.”
“How was the social worker?”
“She spoke mean to me. She hates her job.”
Chris’s remarks about the social worker concerned me. Chris’s MI caused him to have a negative attitude. But, God provided discernment. My heavenly Father used my intuition to tell me Chris’s assessment was accurate.
The next day, I accompanied Chris into the facility to meet the social worker. We had a brief conversation. The most enlightening portion went like this:
“Have you worked here long?”
“Only a few years. Chris will soon have a new social worker here. I’ll be leaving soon. I’m pregnant. I’m looking for a different profession. I hate this job.”
Her comments confirmed my suspicions. Chris was right. Suddenly it was even harder to leave him. Knowing he’d be spending the day with someone who hates her job (and Chris?).
When I picked Chris up, he offered some news.
“I met with a psychiatrist.”
“How long was your meeting?”
“Only a few minutes.”
Chris seemed very agitated.
“I don’t want to go back to that place.”
Once again, God provided discernment. My intuition told me his reaction was based on a bad situation, rather than on his condition. His medication had started to help him return to the old Chris. I decided to let Chris stay home the next day (to take a break from the program).
The next day, I called the guidance counselor of Chris’s school. I wanted to inquire about homebound instruction. Little did I know, I was about to get lectured by that professional.
“I’m calling to discuss the details of Chris’s homebound instruction.”
“Mrs. Chandler, where’s Chris?”
“He’s home with me. I kept him home because the partial-care facility seemed like a detrimental place for him. The social worker admitted to me she hates her job.”
“It’s against the school district policy for Chris to be absent. You need to call our social worker.”
When I called the social worker, she yelled at me. She chastised me for making the decision to keep Chris home. In an angry tone she said, “Mrs. Chandler, you’re too over-involved.”
Too over-involved! With my own son?! Does she actually believe I’m simply allowing Chris to play hooky? Surely, she knows about Chris’s diagnosis. Lord, help me respond correctly.
“First of all, I’m the one in crisis and you’re the professional. I’d appreciate it if you’d speak to me with more compassion. Secondly, there’s NO WAY I could ever be over-involved with my son. He’s MY son. I’ll do what I feel is best for him. The social worker at the partial-care facility hates her job and was agitating Chris.”
Her reply: “Well, the psychiatrist at that facility determined that Chris is ready to go back to school.”
In shock I said, “That was based on a brief conversation with Chris, without reading Chris’s hospital records, or without speaking to me!”
“There are procedures to be followed, Mrs. Chandler. You can’t simply keep Chris home.”
“Well in lieu of anyone taking the lead, I’d be happy to take responsibility to arrange a meeting.”
The school social worker backed off and said, “The social worker at the partial-care facility is supposed to arrange a meeting. I’ll make sure it happens as soon as possible.”
I hung up the phone. Emotionally spent. But, grateful God helped me stand up to the professional who—shall we say—lacked bedside manners.
Sometimes God uses caring professionals to guide us through the mental health system. Other times, He alone provides the discernment and wisdom for us to know what’s best for our child. Either way, God equips us to do what He calls us to do.
Listen to “Lord, Reign in Me” as a reminder He’s alive and directing you.
Was there a time when your woman’s intuition directed you to stand strong against professionals on behalf of your child?