Yesterday morning, I woke up in the hospital.
I’d only had minimal sleep but, when I woke up, I looked over to the hospital bed and saw my daughter sleeping peacefully. She looked beautiful, as always. I forced myself to forget the events leading up to that moment and feel grateful that she was going to be okay.
The day before, for the first time in her 15 years, she experienced two seizures. She’d never had a seizure in her life and neither had anyone in her immediate family on either side. When I received a call from her school, with the news of what’d happened, my first thought was that they’d mixed her up with another student. There was no way they were talking about MY daughter. I spent the drive to school thinking that I was going to be very angry if, when I got there, another student was waiting for me. I was almost convinced that was the case. But it wasn’t. My daughter looked shaken and disoriented, like she couldn’t understand what was happening to her. And rightfully so, because neither could I. The staff attending to her met me by the reception desk and assured me that she’d had a seizure and described what had happened.
From the school, we drove to the nearest hospital ER and, during the ride, my daughter was talking normally, describing what happened from her perspective. When we got to the hospital and checked in, I stood by her bedside and assured her that we were going to find out what caused the seizure. She was crying, by now, and understandably scared. And then…she started zoning out again and that’s when I realized that she was having another seizure. She was looking over her left shoulder and wouldn’t respond to me calling her name. She started moving and I rushed around to keep her from falling out of bed, while alerting her nurse. After they came in and took over, I sank into the chair and began to cry because I was afraid for my baby. It took her awhile to come out of it and, when she did, she had no recollection of what had happened. She didn’t even believe me when I told her that I’d watched her have a second seizure.
During conversations with her psychiatrist and the nurses attending to her, I learned that the anti-depressant she was on, Wellbutrin, was a likely contributor. They did a CT scan on her and administered anti-seizure meds before transporting her to another hospital where she would have an MRI scan (results: clear) and an EEG. We stayed overnight for observation and she had no further seizures, which was a very good sign. The hospital discharged her the next day, with a prescription for Keppra and some follow-up appointments. She is currently fighting the withdrawal from the Wellbutrin because even lessening the dosage to gradually wean her off still poses a risk of further seizures.
I am now more determined than ever to find a way to deal with her depression in more natural, organic ways because I don’t want her to rely on chemicals to regulate her moods. She has to take Keppra for a while and with it comes a whole new list of side effects, including suicidal thoughts. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is that we have to rely on this medication to prevent seizures while dealing with the sort of side effects that could potentially worsen her depression and anxiety. This is not to mention the struggles we’ve had with self-harm. It all makes me want to scream because WE didn’t ask for any of this. Everything that we’re going through at the moment was preventable.
My reasons for writing this post go beyond what my daughter experienced. I have a very clear message, which I will get to in a bit. First, my daughter is not an epileptic. She never would have experienced those seizures if she hadn’t been on anti-depressants. She never would have needed the anti-depressants if she didn’t have depression and anxiety. She never would have had depression and anxiety if she’d never had to endure abuse and parental alienation at the hands of her father. I won’t rehash the entire story in this post, but I have written a detailed post about it here.
The Court system dismissed my constant efforts to protect my daughter from the abuse. Nobody bothered to find out what was going on in my house and, without that vital information, the presiding judge ordered “maximized contact” which entailed prolonged visitation with her father. The more time she spent in his sole care, the worse things became between her and me. He didn’t care about her because he only saw her as a tool to get back at me for divorcing him. Did he consider the long-term effects? No. Did he care that she was hurt, confused and deprived of the close bond she had always had with me, her mother? No. Was he happy when he watched her acting disrespectful and abusive towards me? Yes. Did he listen to me when I warned him that he would lose control of her as she got older? No, he laughed at me, saying it would never happen. A year later, he admitted to me that she was uncontrollable, refusing to go to school, smoking, drinking, shoplifting. He told me that she didn’t listen to him and treated him with disrespect. And then he died, leaving me to clean up the mess he made of her life. I have, for the most part but, as detailed above, we’re still suffering the residual effects. I am trying very hard to put everything behind me but how can I do that when we’re still experiencing the “ripple effect”, years later? My daughter is fighting difficult battles that stem from the constant negative dialogue put in her mind by her father. At one point, he told her he didn’t even want her to come home (when she was in the hospital, after her 2nd suicide attempt). How does a girl deal with the knowledge that her father is willing to abandon her after HE was the one who contributed to her problems in the first place?
My message comes from a place of genuine sincerity, from one parent to all others who may be reading this. I have seen, firsthand, the effects of years of parental alienation and abuse. I am the voice of all parents, who have experienced abuse and/or alienation at the hands of their co-parents, and all children who have paid a high price for being caught in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. Please don’t make the same mistakes my daughter’s father did. He is no longer with us, but my daughter is STILL paying the price with her health. The bottom line is, you cannot predict the long-term effects of such irresponsible parenting. The possible long-term effects are easy to dismiss before they manifest. The question is, do you really want to risk facing a potentially traumatic event in your child’s future and realize that there’s a distinct connection between your mistakes and the event itself?
From the moment your children enter this world, their needs must come first, NOT yours. If you’re at all tempted to sabotage their relationship with their other parent, DON’T. Your children deserve the love of both of their parents. Regardless of what happened between you and their other parent, it has nothing to do with your children and it should NEVER affect their relationship with the other parent or how they’re raised. Creating a chronically negative, toxic environment for your children will be to their detriment. Permissive parenting, for the sake of being the “fun” parent, will come back to bite you in the ass. Always, always, always consider the best interest of your children, above all else, and that means a continuous, solid display of respect for their other parent, regardless of how you feel about each other. Even if your children manage to come through it all seemingly unscathed, you can rest assured that they will become aware of what really happened and realize that YOU behaved badly. The alliance between two parents is of paramount importance, when it comes to a child’s upbringing, which means that both parents must find a way to forge a civil friendship. It’s still a partnership, even though the dynamic has changed, and the primary focus is ~ and should ALWAYS be ~ what’s best for the children involved.