Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Every time my daughter and I visit anyone within the mental health care system, they ask about her “safe plan.” There are questions to be asked and answered. There are boxes to be checked.
My daughter knows how to answer; she's had a safe plan memorized and in place since age 15. Also her first time in an emergency room for “splitting.” You can Google all the words that are in quotes. This is not intended to educate as there are plenty of articles and organizations that can teach you about such things, if you're interested.
I will share, now that it's a safe, un-re-traumatizing distance in the not so distant past, that my daughter wanted to die in August. She became so overwhelmed by “adulting” and didn't want her parents to see she was failing. She went two days without food or money before she couldn't see any other way through her pain than to end it - permanently.
Thank God's grace, the Universe or her personal guardian angel that day that she had a safe plan in place, enacted it and survived this episode of acute depression. She called 9-1-1. She used her inner resources to hold on a few more moments while her mind told her “why bother?” What she didn't have that day was a safe person.
Safe plans work best when there are safe people.
I'll write more on this topic. Or maybe my daughter will but I'm going to share one anecdotal experience I witnessed while accompanying her to an urgent Behavioral Health appointment at Kaiser.
MFT/LCSW/WhateverTheFuck Acronym Credentials:
“I see you're here for depression after your recent hospitalization. Do you still feel depressed?” (daughter shares events leading up to hopelessness) “Do you have a previous suicide attempt?” (daughter “no”) “Alcohol or substance abuse in your family?” (daughter “yep”)
“Preoccupation with death in conversations?” (daughter “isn't that what we're doing right NOW?”) “Any family member who has died by suicide?” (daughter “do great great aunts count? Then no.”)
“Any family history of depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia?” “Any history of physical or sexual abuse?” “Diagnosis of a serious medical illness?” “Recent failing relationship?” (daughter “my dog died...?”)
“Any recent life change, such as a death of a member of the family, marriage, break-up of a marriage, the birth of a child, a job loss, a job promotion or demotion, or legal problems?”
“Now that we're done with the questions, here's a brochure on the stages of grief and here's a brochure for your local chapter of Al-Anon. NOW, let's come up with a safe plan...” (daughter, “I used my FUCKING SAFE PLAN!! THAT'S WHY I'M SITTING HERE NOW!! May I leave?!”)
This is why we no longer have Kaiser.
Safe plans require SAFE PEOPLE. Find your safe people.
Creating a safe place with safe plans that work because there are safe people involved is one of my Missions through our future non-profit. It hasn't been named yet but paperwork is finalized and ready to file with the IRS & State. Any contributions to the creation of a truly supportive environment and organization for families like mine can go through gofundme.com/findaneedfillaneed(