Heartbreak

I Never Saw The Signs Of My Daughter’s Suicide Attempt And I Let Her Sleep

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woman curled up in bed

I rounded the corner and spotted my daughter weaving as she walked into the apartment complex. 

She was filthy and coming ‘home’ for an unexpected visit.

Or, so I thought.

I sighed.

My body was tired.

I resented her. 

....

The guilt is intense and I am embarrassed, and therefore silent, about my disdain for everything she has chosen to be, and to do, in life. 

Love was not a question, of course. I loved my daughter then and I love her now.

The State of Florida had offered her an option to learn parenting skills. When she gave birth, she was deemed unfit, along with her baby’s father.

Rightfully so, rightfully so.

They were an awful mix of volatility and small combustible outbursts that occurred daily. They had no right to bring a child into the world.  They were not strangers to the local police officers.

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She loved him. I supposed he loved her on some level, but neither of them possessed an understanding of love at the young age of 21 years old. Add into that a mixture of mental health challenges and spectrum disorders to really confuse reality.

Everything happened in a blur. The baby was in a foster home for 6 weeks and was not being cared for properly.

His recommended hip scan, as a breeched birth, was ignored.

Cereal added to his unsterilized bottles was the woman’s answer to stop him from crying. She was making him sick, grey-skinned, and he was losing weight. 

Naturally, he cried even more due to his inability to properly digest oat flakes at 10 days old.

The Family Court came up with a plan to assist my daughter and remove the baby from foster care. I rented a two-bedroom apartment where she would have her separate room and where the baby and I would share the other bedroom. I would teach her what healthy and stable moms do to care for a baby.

The baby was placed in my care at 7 weeks old. I set up shop. A new crib, furnishings from Good Will, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity, made for an affordable temporary home. 

It would be my daughter’s safe place to continue on her new path, with her baby, after the State approved.

The offer was made, and I had agreed, albeit a tad reluctantly, to help my daughter plod through her case plan with the State.

Instead of milestones, each phase of the Case Plan was a hurdle for her.

Stumbling blocks.

The light dimmed as to when I would return to my married life, and home, an hour and a half south.

In theory, I would stay to jump-start her new life. She would successfully learn how to mother in 180 days. Practice and theory often clash much like mothers and daughters.

The first week was tricky, but I was patient. I awakened her for nighttime feedings. She would give him the bottle in my room. A comfy chair in the corner was a perfect perch.

By week two, I was not as patient. More often than not, I was doing what she was supposed to be doing, bathing, refilling bottles, and changing diapers. My responsibilities crept into the nighttime feedings.

She sat there, on her phone and professed her love to her boyfriend.

I walked the baby, entertained him, sang, and read to him, all while she focused elsewhere.

By week 3, she was gone.

Her preference was to be with him, the father of her child. I nicknamed the tented area in the woods, the “Enchanted Forest.”

I didn’t know what other people called this homeless community along the tracks, behind the courthouse, but I dubbed it according to the fantasy life where they believed they would succeed.

They had a tent, a couch outside of it, and drop cloths draped in the tree branches to offer cover from the sun and rain.

I went to see it.

Only once.

Once a mom’s heartbreak maxes out, resignation sets in. No one imagines bringing a child into the world to see them homeless. I controlled nothing and offered her everything. It wasn’t good enough for her.

She was happy with him, with zero responsibilities and partying.

Yes, she was happy in the most unstable way a person ignoring mental health help could imagine.

I took the baby for his hip scan, updated all of his well-visits, and took him to the family court sessions. I would see her there, and she acted as if this was normal.

But, deep down inside, the girl who was raised in a different world, knew how very wrong her lifestyle choices were in a high-risk environment.

The hidden cracks were appearing on the outside.

She was confused and angry and lacked the required, consistent counseling to remind her of coping skills.

She would pop in randomly to take a shower and sleep. There wasn’t much interaction between her and her son beyond a few Facebook-worthy pics.

What a wonderful mother, I am! Look at my baby.

And then she was gone.

Sometimes for weeks.

It was just the baby and me.

I was tired.

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Our only real outings included a trip to the Winn-Dixie supermarket. One day, upon our return, I rounded the corner and spotted my daughter weaving as she walked into the apartment complex.

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She was filthy and coming ‘home’ for an unexpected visit.

I was pissed.

I felt used because I was used. I was used, raising this infant, even if only for 180 days, while she played house in the woods, eroded my emotional well-being.

How dare she come back drunk?

I pulled over and let her join us on the drive to the far end where our apartment was situated. Her words slurred, and her lips operated as if she had been stung by a swarm of bees. Her bloated face and garbled speech were the best she could muster.

Her presentation sickened me.

The guilt eats at me and I am torn. She is my child.

Is it normal for a mother to be disgusted with her own offspring?

She wobbled into her room and went to bed. I unloaded the groceries and the baby and ignored her closed door.

At some point, my anger and disgust dissipated. Has it been 9 hours? She always ate every few hours, regardless.

The pit in my stomach grew as my fear slowly escalated.

I stood outside her bedroom door and listened.

Nothing.

The baby was in his crib and sound asleep.

I slowly pushed open her door. The darkness didn’t prevent me from seeing her form lying across the bed, as if she had never moved. I shook her gently.

No response.

Oh, my God.

I shook her a little more vigorously. She finally looked up at me through slits of her puffy eyelids.

Are you okay? You’ve been asleep for 9 hours!

“No”.

She was still slurring and no drunken state could possibly last this long.

I made out the words, “Seroquel, the rest of the bottle, he doesn’t love me, I think 20 to 30 pills.”

“I wanted to scare him.”

I called 911.

I pulled her to a sitting position. This startled her enough that she stumbled into the bathroom. Violent vomiting continued as 6 EMTs crowded into the tiny space.

Thankfully, the emergency crew was familiar with her anti-psychotic medicine and stepped in to help.  I was of no use, really.

The baby never woke.

As I watched them load her into the rescue truck, I locked the door and stared at their departure.

The red lights, with no sirens, disappeared out of the complex. She was safe now.

I try not to revisit this memory.

But I wonder.

I wonder if I had let my anger and resentment stay in the forefront, would she have drifted off to her death?

Each time my mind travels there, to that ugly side of life, I remind myself that she lived through it. She explains now that she never wanted to actually die.

She wanted him to save her.

He didn’t, though.

But a mom’s love is not to be reckoned with, at least not mine.

I still have her son.

He’s 4 now. I love him and I love her.

I always will.

Love.

Indisputable and unbreakable through the hardest of tests.

If you know someone who needs assistance with their mental illness, let love guide your decisions. If you suspect drug or alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Call for help. Hotlines, in the USA, other than 911 in emergencies, will give you the support and information to guide you.

National Mental Health Hotline | 866-903-3787
The Mental Health Hotline can help with a mental health crisis. A mental health crisis is a situation that involves…mentalhealthhotline.org

Drug Abuse Hotline | Help.org
Purposes of a Substance Abuse Hotline Substance abuse hotlines are a resource for people struggling with addiction…www.help.org

RELATED: 6 Warnings Signs Of Depression That's Getting Worse (And Mean It's Time To Reach Out For Help)

Lisa Gerard Braun is a writer focusing on mental health, physical wellness, inspirational personal growth, and equality stories.  

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