“That Family”

My daughter was given a choice by the policemen who had climbed the stairs to where she was waiting in her room: she could go with them and willingly enter the ambulance waiting in our driveway, or they could “help” her down and into the ambulance if she preferred. From there she would be transported to the Emergency Room for an evaluation due to her threats of suicide.

As an officer came downstairs and relayed this to me, I was beyond relieved and somewhat surprised when he told me that she had agreed to go of her own volition. I didn’t ask what kind of “help” she would have received had she resisted. At that point I didn’t really care.

I only knew that for her own safety she was going to the Emergency Room whether she wanted to or not, and I welcomed any help or means to get her there.


(Photo Source: Google Images)

I must clarify that the policemen in our home that day were kind and empathetic. I did not feel in any way that my daughter or I were being threatened, bullied, or coerced. (Trust me, if I had thought any of those tactics would have worked up to that point, I would likely have used them myself!) These gentle men were respectful and compassionate, and I will always be thankful for the calm and reassuring assistance they gave us.

I watched as my middle child came meekly down the stairs with her escorts in blue. By this time a few of the initial seven had dispersed (even though some had only waited in the hallway outside her bedroom), but I was struck by the timidity of her gait and demeanor.

I imagined what fear I would have felt had I been in her position, hearing and seeing a line of uniformed policemen who had come directly in response to her threats and anger. This made me both thankful and heartbroken for the passive end to her tumultuous fury.

As I’ve said before, I believe that although my daughter’s rage and wrath had escalated sharply over the past months, part of her was aching desperately for help. The larger part of her was loud, threatening, accusatory, and fond of obscenities and self harm. But undoubtedly she was still crying out to be rescued from the darkness engulfing her.

 help (google)

(Photo Source: Google Images)

Despite the trauma of a 911 call and the police officers gathered in our living room, as I watched my daughter quietly make her way to the front door I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, we could finally get the help she needed. I allowed myself to wonder if perhaps soon she would be safe.

I quickly gathered my purse and a jacket and followed the line of all those going outside. The ambulance personnel carefully strapped my now submissive teen’s small frame to a gurney and lifted her into their medical room on wheels. I was directed to the front of the ambulance, where I was to ride next to the driver.

I was dazed and shaken as I climbed helplessly into the ambulance’s cab, heartbroken to leave my youngest daughter behind. She was in the good care of her step-sister, but it all felt so wrong and inconceivable to me.

Why could I not be in two places at one time? How could I choose between which of my children needed me most? I couldn’t. The choice was made for me, and had been building to this moment for so many long weeks, even months.

This couldn’t be real. We couldn’t be “that family”, the one that all the neighbors would now be talking about, recounting how many police cars had been parked in front of our house next to the ambulance, wondering and whispering about why they’d been summoned there in the first place.


(Photo Source: Google Images)

I knew I was as helpless to quell any neighborhood gossip as I had been to help my daughter rise to the surface of her depression. It was another in a long line of things I simply had to let go of in order to concentrate on whatever was ahead.

None of us knew what would happen next, but it was more than clear that something had to change.


© Monica Simpson and Help To Hope, 2013

7 thoughts on ““That Family”

  1. So many heartbreaking choices you’ve had to make. Thank you for describing them, speaking on behalf of so many others who have had to do the same, but who lack the words to name their trauma.

    • Thank you, Amy. I know there are so many who have and do have to make these choices, and yet we each feel so alone. I hate that. I hope to be a small part of changing it, of making it less a scary mystery and more an opportunity to love and support (and maybe take a casserole). 😉


  2. you are a wonderful mother. I really hope things with your daughter get better soon. I know you all will ensure her the best care and support you can. she is really lucky to have amother that cares about her so much. I thik you did a great job. I know what you mean about being in the middle of the gossip in the neighborhood. Hopefully they will realize that they should put all judgements and whispering aside and support your family and daughter. I hope things will get better soon. Scary times are hard, but like you said something has to change and it will. Hang in there.

    • Thanks, Emma. To clarify, I am recounting this story from a few years ago. We went through some terribly tough things, but my daughter is stable now.

      I share our story in hopes of encouraging others who are walking the difficult path now. It can feel hopeless and terrifying at times, and I feel it’s important to let people know they are not alone, that others have survived it and they can as well.

      I appreciate your kind compassion,


  3. My heart is with you, as I read this it was re-living my own moments with my daughter. The uncertainty and the horizon of hope … the fear that I had failed her. The psych ward, the waiting, and the doctors. My decision to put her into a 15 month rehabilitation program. How she growled under her breath, “I hate you for this.” The healing. The year that we worked together to restore our relationship. Her being drug free for almost a year now. The valley’s were deep and the mountain’s seemingly impossible. I want to share a quote with you that my father said to me during some very tumultuous times, “A good mother does what is best for her children. You are a good mother.” Be the lighthouse. 🙂 My love to you. Courtney

    • Thank you so much, Courtney. It sounds as if we have walked a very similar path. I’m thankful to hear that your daughter is stable now as well. It is something that will always remain in our hearts as mothers.

      It was a journey for me to see that what I was doing was good and right and best. I spent so many sleepless nights alone questioning, praying, agonizing. If I could change anything, it might be that I would have acted even sooner than I did. I am confident that the hardest things to do were what saved my daughter’s life. So is she.

      Thanks for the gift of sharing part of your story with me.

      All the best,


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