Nothing prepares you as a parent for having to come up with a code word with your child for when they are suicidal and have to go to into immediate hospitalization. I can’t explain to you the panic and the heartbreak and the feeling of failure that comes with this realization.

I found out my child was cutting herself and feeling suicidal through a school counselor. My child was very adept at keeping this hidden (as teenagers often are). Even though I had talked to my child many times as she grew up about healthy ways to express your feelings and positive means with which to convey yourself she still felt alone and vulnerable. Some of this hidden behavior was driven by a need of appearing “normal” and a fear of disappointing her family. Mental illness runs on both sides of her family and along with having gender identity issues and “Dad” issues it was too much for her to process at such a young age.

We settled on “Lyric” (my Mom’s dog’s name). The counselor discussed with us (me and my child — her father dropped out long ago) which options were best. If I got that text I knew which hospital I had to take my child to immediately and at which state run facility she needed to be admitted. Heartbreak and hysteria does not begin to adequately express anything in this conversation.

I lost my health insurance when I divorced my ex (If I didn’t divorce him I could’ve been held liable for the results of his newly-acquired at that time alcoholic behavior for which he has repeatedly refused help). In our state my child is covered under Medicaid — I receive no benefits other than reproductive services because I am too rich for Medicaid and too poor for Obamacare. My state did not extend the Medicaid gap. I researched all the plans and none of the exchanges offered the comprehensive help that Medicaid did. She receives psychological counseling, medication through her primary care physician and is now excelling in her life. She is now eager to go to college and and be a dues paying member of our culture. If I were to get a better paying job my child would not have the services she has now. She is still undergoing testing to fully understand all of her issues.

I am stuck choosing between not being able to pay rent/gas in my car to get to work/etc.. and my child’s medical necessities. As a mother I will gladly wear the same clothes I’ve worn for years and eat discount food if it means that my child gets the psychiatric and medical care that she desperately needs. It’s not her fault the reality that she lives in. She has done nothing wrong in the finite amount of time that she has lived on this planet.

I am terrified that the new Republican healthcare bill will gut Medicaid. My child deserves a chance to grow up strong and healthy in the country of her and her parents’ birth (we’ve all been here for years — members of both our families fought in the Revolutionary War). Mental illness and trauma need to be covered just as every other illness is taken care of. She is not “less than “. She is not unworthy of growing up to be a productive member of the society. Her demons are not her fault.

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