There are times when I realise that of the last two years, L has spent 14 months of them as a patient in a psychiatric hospital. It is like a loss of a normal childhood. Very few teenagers live like this. As an inpatient, she takes her familiar things with her. Our time is spent on sterile sofas, hugging for our set hours of visiting time. And then, the day patient phase, where she sets off in a taxi every morning. And I watch her go. I think, how did this confident clever young woman end up here? She was meant to be in college, but instead she is in a place which seems more like home, but is a treatment centre.
When you have children, no one tells you it could end like this. There are books that describe a first word, hold a first tooth, a lock from a first haircut, but no book describes a first stay in a psychiatric unit. My first prescription for anti depressants doesn’t feature either. Having a child that doesn’t fit the mould can feel like a bereavement every day, a sense of loss of what should be,
And so, this week, we have L’s review. A mini review for the one neither L not I could make. She wants to leave. I feel that once again she has hit a barrier of an almost healthy weight. Except her periods aren’t back properly. But when we arrive, it feels like it might be ok. She has put on weight. In the review she talks about never wanting to lose weight again. The consultant psychiatrist tells us she won’t be cured for a number of years yet. He tells her that she might not be better until she is at BMI 23. She smiles and nods. I ask how she doesn’t yell out Holy Shit Are You Serious? And we all laugh.
And so she is discharged. 14 months out of 24. We are all happy. But what I want is a letter saying you are free now. That’s not going to happen. I just have to hang on to here. I hope it’s the start of the end. But I can’t rule out that it may just be the beginning of another downward slope. Only L can decide.