|When a hug could fix everything…
I’ve spent a good part of this afternoon yelling at the people who are supposed to be supporting my son as he completes his first two weeks in “supported independent living.” This was determined to be the next logical step after doing so well in his group home – that’s what they told me, anyway.
Yeah. sure. Where is the support? In these two weeks, he has become isolated when not at work, has clearly (to us) somehow cheecked his meds twice, and has “forgotten” to show up for morning meds once. He also missed an appointment with his caseworker. This, too, he “forgot” – and they caseworker let it slide. After the initial move-in rush, Ben has not finished unpacking. I’ll bet there are roaches crawling over unwashed dishes in his sink. I hope not, but let’s just say I have concerns.
Why? Well, it could be the stress of too much change too soon. After seven years in Harrison House – where he had 24/7 staffing, 7 housemates, required chores and meetings, and someone to be accountable to – Ben now is expected to live alone, and “take responsibility.” Except for showing up twice a day to take meds, he is left to his own schedule, his own decisions, his own life. Ben has lost his community, his sense of purpose, his structure and his parental figures. All without gradual steps. It’s like they threw him down a flight of stairs and said good luck.
And, oh sure, we’ll take you to the hospital if you break a leg. But we won’t bother cushioning your fall or providing a handrail.
Add to that the fact that Ben’s school semester ended during this time, he no longer has required meetings to go to, and he has no one to play cards with, say good morning to, watch Iron Chef with. Yeah, he said he hated Harrison House and couldn’t wait to get out – but even the things he did to get away from there (extra NA or AA meetings, community Clubhouse, nights spent with his family) were good for him. If not for his job, he’d he alone all the time. And that is not good for anyone.
On June 9th, I’ll be the keynote speaker at Fellowship Place in New Haven CT, where they provide community to those like Ben who so desperately need it – and cannot get it elsewhere. I wish Ben lived near their program. If he would go. Things we’re required to do sometimes help us the most.
Several calls to the office later, I have spoken to every possible staff member about Ben’s tricks for not keeping his meds in his system. If they have to tattoo it on his arm, I don’t care. Watch him taking the meds – every second – and make sure he sits afterward according to doctor’s orders. No bathroom, no cigarette breaks. Come on! How hard is that? Why doesn’t every per diem staff member have access to that info?
But – more than that – where is the plan they promised to make this transition easier? When I asked his caseworker, I got this response: “Well, we do a plan after 30 days, after we get to know him.”
Really? When and how do you plan to know him? Do you know how a kid can fall through the cracks in 30 days? How will you know if he’s isolating himself?
Will it be too late when you finally notice him?
Quote from the Fellowship Place website: “It is possible to overcome the effects of severe mental illness and move from homelessness, poverty, and despair to a life of hope and self-sufficiency”
Yes- with love, a good plan, a sense of purpose, and the right meds. What if I were not there to step in? What about the people whose families have given up?