I think medication is crucial and I feel so strongly about it. I’ve been through the whole spectrum. He started at age four with Ritalin which is completely the wrong medicine for bipolar. He would come home and smack his face and cry and scream and it was awful, it was a terrible experience. Basically, it took us seven and a half years of intermittent use of medications. I was in the wrong state where they didn’t really treat him for bipolar because they thought it was just parenting. I felt like it was my fault and that all he needed was consequences, the proper consequences. So, by the time we moved to the right state and got he got the proper diagnosis it took about three months of different medication trials to find what really seems to be working. All I have to say is, medication is crucial. Anybody who says they don’t want to put their child on medication because they’re afraid they’re going to get addicted to it or they’re afraid of the side effects, I feel for them. I think they’re not seeing the forest for the trees. They need to look at how terrible their kid is feeling. These medicines aren’t addictive so I am really a proponent of taking the right medication.


Hospitalizing a Child
“Having a child hospitalized with a depression takes all of your time, all of your energy, and all of your focus,” one mother commented to me after her daughter had been hospitalized out of the blue for a suicide attempt. “You know, the first day our daughter was in the hospital, we were shell shocked, could barely move.” Only gradually does one put one’s life back in order. When a child is in the hospital, the need to ask questions, to advocate, to constantly force the issue of how plans will be made, is all important. Only gradually, after the immediate concerns were taken care of, could this mother begin to deal with her hurt, rage, sense of loss, and complete confusion about her daughter’s unexpected suicide attempt. The steps along the way to recovery were first adjusting to the ward, then readjusting to her daughter’s being home and her gradual reentry into school, and then coping with a continuous back and forth, heart in the throat agony about whether she would attempt suicide again.”
This passage was taken from Out of the Darkened Room, a book written for families facing depression.
Out of the Darkened Room is published by Little, Brown, and Company and can be purchased at your local bookstore, through the publisher’s website, or at any major online book retailer.

The following sections contain parent perspectives on what it is like for them when their child stays at an inpatient facility for Depression.


Coming In
“When our daughter was first admitted, it felt too sudden. We couldn’t believe that we couldn’t do it ourselves.”

“For us, the admission was not traumatic. We knew that it was what we needed to do to help him.”

“The most important thing for parents to know? That they need to ask as many questions as they want to ask, and to know that the staff, doctors, and clinicians are very approachable . . . They are approachable but they need to be approached . . .”

“We had a record of all of his care up to that point, and we brought it with us. We gave it to the people on Bader 5 and they really read it.”

“Know as much as you can about who you are speaking to.”


While In
“I would tell parents to remember that you’re the people who are going to do the work.”

“The people on the unit recognize that they are not just working with an individual, but with a family unit.”

“We have [several] children. In order to keep things stable for everyone, I would visit the unit while my wife stayed home with the others. We were lucky to have the resources to do that. . .”

“With one in the hospital and the other at home, I had to be there for both of them…”

“When your child is in the hospital, and it seems like there is no time, it’s important to recognize small ‘chunks’ of time and use them. I used commuting time as quiet time.”

“Know as much as you can about who you are speaking to.”


Going Home
“When my child was discharged from the hospital, people would ask us, ‘Is he better?’ We said, ‘He’s a lot better than he was.’ . . . It’s important to remember that this is an ongoing struggle . . .”

“It’s important for parents to foster connections within the community. I feel like part of my job is to make the rest of the world understand what [hospitalization] is: not punishment, but help”

“The first days at home can be terrifying because you are used to the support of the staff on the unit. Turning to your discharge plan and outpatient providers can be very comforting”