Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holding Our Ground—Hospitals Shouldn’t be Used for Punishment

We had our oldest son’s psychiatrist appointment last week to discuss whether or not to add an antidepressant to his current meds. After careful consideration, our doctor decided to wait on it and observe him more over the weeks ahead. He didn’t feel like his recent behavior was due to a manic state or even depression but maybe stress and his inability to handle his feelings.

Once again our psychiatrist encouraged us to have him hospitalized and said it would be like “jail” to him and may teach him a lesson to not act violently towards his family. He agreed that he wasn’t unstable, but thought it was besides the point and that the unpleasant experience may discourage him to act this way in the future.

My husband and I stood our ground and told him that we refused to use the hospital as punishment, instead we firmly believe that the hospital should be a place of healing. We explained that if we use it to “teach him a lesson”, it may be harder for him to use when he’s legitimately sick. If on the other hand he was raging and we couldn’t get him under control or he was seriously putting our safety at risk, we would bring him there in a heartbeat. But at this time, we can see that he has some control and isn’t taking steps to seriously harm us.

So we decided that we would come up with our own tough consequences to help him learn to control his bullying behavior towards us. We’ve witnessed his ability to stop his behavior when an outsider comes into our home and hope that this same control can be used in the future.

I want to focus on the source of his stress, specifically school. If there’s anything we can do to decrease his stress there, we can possibly eliminate the violent behavior. In addition to the continued therapy to work on coping skills. But as many of you know first hand, it’s all trial and error. I guess we’ll see what success we have and go from there.

On a positive note, my son has been a joy to be around all vacation, indicating that his moods are stable for the time being. Wish us luck as we start back to school this week.


  1. I'm glad your son has been doing well. Good luck for school!

    Good for you for standing up to the psychiatrist! Hospitalization can be unpleasant at first, but it is a place for healing. He is ill, and if hospitalized, it takes a bit to get used to, but it should be a structured environment where he can learn some skills to deal with his current problems and how to cope in the future.

    Not a "jail". What a ridiculous comment!

    But yes, in emergencies, definitely take him to the ER.

    Wishing you all the best.

  2. Just found your blog; wanted to tell you what an amazing job you are doing under the circumstances. We extraordinary moms need to stick together. My (just) 13 yr old son is bi-polar, adhd, 18 yr old son has Asperger's Syndrome...and my 15 yr old son has ADHD inattentive-type. I am bi-polar as well, so that makes the whole circus even crazier. But we have been going through some of the same things here with our youngest...much of it has been med-change related...but I think testosterone has joined in the mayhem. He was hospitalized for the first time in July. Once again in October. You are right to not use it as a punishment. Of course, I get to typing away here and realize I need to go pick my son up from his afterschool program but...anyway...hang in there mama! We are Mighty Warriors for our boys! :)

    1. Thanks Nici for your support. It sounds like you are very experienced with this in your family. I too think we may have testosterone on board as my son turns 13, it’s complicating things for sure.