After 70 days in an adolescent inpatient mental health facility it was time for my daughter to return home. While a happy occasion it was a also a time of fear, anxiety, and paranoia. While she was inpatient we knew she was in a safe environment. Their was constant supervision, counselors and a rigid living schedule.
The next step for many kids who transition is staying in an extended care facility. Extended care is designed to provide a step down approach to reintegrating to society. Many of the extended care residents are in their later teens and also recovering from addiction issues. Additionally they go to school and attend an Intensive Out Patient program. (IOP)
Having no addiction issues and being much younger in age she came straight home. However the home environment she came home to was far different than the one she left 70 days earlier. Before she was discharged she agreed to a contract that laid out the structure that would exist upon her return home. Attending the high school where she had been enrolled was not an option so it was decided to that attending school where she would be participating in IOP was the best course of action.
For 70 days she lived with 7 other kids and a staff dedicated to her recovery. Dealing with the crush of family and friends who wanted to reconnect was overwhelming. We had to set boundaries to aid in her recovery.
Discharge took place on a Sunday and her new structure began on Monday morning. Though she was no longer inpatient the new structure did not leave a lot of personal time. The day starts with an hour to an hour and half commute to school. There is a total of 7 students and 3 instructors so slacking off during the school day is not an option. When the school day ends IOP counseling begins and her day ends somewhere between 7 to 9pm each day. 2 to 3 days a week parents also participate in group meetings so our lives are pretty much dedicated to the recovery process.
Currently she has a foot in two different realities. First is the recovery community. this is safe place where her peers truly understand what she is going through. Second is the home environment. No matter how much friends and family want to support her they can not understand how painful the experiences is and how uncomfortable she feels away from the safety of the recovery community. Her close friends don’t judge her or see her differently but there is a fear of what will the transition to a large public high school will be like.
The time commitments place a great deal of stress on the family. My wife usually takes the morning commute and I get pick up in the evening. A good benefit of the commute is a chance to talk with her. The downside is a serious lack of quality time.
Support from other families has been a huge relief. Knowing that you are not alone and the process works even if takes time.
Boundaries are still tested on a regular basis. That is where the home contract comes in. More on that in a different post.