Being scared of the child welfare system has an impact on almost everything I do. Every move I make has to be given careful thought—what doctors I go to and what I tell a doctor or therapist.
I can’t talk openly with doctors about my pain or tell them about my memory issues because it could look bad for me as a parent. When I talk about pain, they automatically think I’m trying to get narcotics, which I’m not. I’m sleepy enough without them.
I was in pain a long time before I finally received a diagnosis for a medical condition. Before I was diagnosed, I went a few times to the same neurologist. After the tests came back negative, he suggested that seeing a psychiatrist would probably be more helpful. I felt really badly because I had serious pain and I wasn’t being listened to. He insisted it was all in my head. I also felt that this doctor could have done other testing, which he refused to do. I had to live with pain, which made it harder to care for my child.
Finally I did get a diagnosis for the pain.
‘YOU’RE NEVER TRULY SAFE’
Still, I’m scared that if I go to the hospital for medical issues, that I might be held against my will. Although I have not been in psych hospitals in at least 8 years, my past issues get mentioned any time I seek help at any hospital. I feel embarrassed that my psych issues are brought up even when that is not the reason I went to the hospital.
There is this one hospital in the Bronx that is the worst. One time I went there after I had a seizure and they tried to hold me against my will because I had once been there for psych issues. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go home to my child.
Also, a therapist who I was mandated to see once told me that, no matter what, I would never be truly safe from the child welfare system. Because I have mental health issues, my son could be taken back by CPS at any time, for any reason.
HOW DO I GET HELP?
I also have memory issues. I’m scared because I’m way too young to have memory issues. This means I have to work harder and use strategies like writing things down and setting alarms so I won’t forget things.
It would be helpful if I could talk about my memory issues, my pain and my medications (which make me tired), but I’m afraid if I share these struggles with doctors, CPS will take my baby when I’ve worked so hard to get him back from foster care.
Since high school, I’ve also been forced to see therapists I didn’t want to go to, and sometimes I refused to talk to them. Because of these experiences, I’m not comfortable with doctors or therapists and don’t trust them. How do I get help?
It would be helpful to get therapy for my son. He doesn’t listen to me. I wonder, “Am I too soft with him?” There aren’t any parenting classes that I want to take right now. If I were to take a class, I would want to do it together with my son, and they only offer that kind of class for babies and toddlers.
IF SOMEBODY COULD JUST LISTEN
My son and I used to go to Mommy and Me classes for mothers and kids aged 3 and under. We sat on cushions on the floor and did activities together and played with all kinds of toys and games. We did group activities such as making a city together out of blocks without the kids knocking the blocks down. We told them they could knock everything down as soon as we finished. We listened to music and did art.
This was so much fun that I signed up voluntarily three times in a row. I love to see my son happy and playing with friends, and it was helpful to be around other moms and get suggestions and advice about kids.
I wish I had someone to talk to who would keep everything confidential. If I could tell everything I need to say without fear that it would make my life difficult, if somebody could just listen, if I could talk without worry about consequences, I would feel safe. I would talk about my pain issues, my weight issues and my parenting issues. Sometimes, I don’t need advice and suggestions–I just want to talk. Just talking and getting rid of your worries feels better.