The locked down psych ward in the hospital is not a fun place to visit. There are many locked doors in between you and where you need to go. The nurses usually take all of your possessions away from you, or lock them up in your room, except for the clothes that you are wearing. When you walk into the main visitors room, you see many lonely, desperate, angry, or confused looking people hanging around.

Sometimes the people don’t really understand why they are there. The multiple times that my mom went into the psych ward, she did not fully understand why she was there. She was usually very angry, anxious, confused, and sad. She has never really believed that her memory or addiction problems were severe enough to put her in danger.

She still tells me on a regular basis that “She is no more forgetful than any other 65 year old!” Which is sort of funny, because she is actually 69, and she repeats that same statement often, 5 minutes after she last stated it. I usually respond with an “Ok, mom…Ok.” And when she says things like, “Man, I would give anything to have a beer right now”, I usually say, “I bet you do mom, I bet you do…..”

I recall a time where I took mom to a routine Psychiatric visit and she ended up being hauled up to the psych ward with no warning. It was a very helpless feeling watching the big burly guards grab her thin, frail arms and lead her away from me, all the while she is pleading for me to do something. The doctor didn’t feel she was safe any more, and put a 72 hour hold on her, which is routine when patients are unstable and at risk for potential self abusive behavior. On that visit though, I never saw it coming. One minute we were talking about her meds, behaviors, and recent problems, and the next the doc is telling us she needs to be admitted.

There is nothing quite so frightening as getting a late night call from your mom in the psych ward, who is crying and pleading for you to get her out of there. In those moments I would plead for God to help me detach from the chaotic drama and misery that mom was trying to pull me into. Sometimes I was OK at it. Other times, I felt like I was sinking in a sea of helplessness, as I had no way of ever giving her what she wanted. All I could do was listen, and give her more tough love, by saying things like “mom, you need to stay there until you feel better and it’s safe for you to go home.” Sometimes it seemed to calm her. Other times nothing I ever said was good enough.

I know now that I tried my very best to help her, and that it is all I was ever expected to do. Sometimes you can give someone every chance to heal and recover, and they will never choose it. It doesn’t mean that you are unworthy, it just means they don’t think that they are worthy enough for you. It helps me immensely to know and truly believe that I will ALWAYS be worthy enough to God, whose opinion I am most concerned about.

I remember

to well

all those

locked doors

keeping us apart.


The psych wards,

the memory floors,

the locks on your heart

and mind

shut tight

keeping me

on the outside.


That day:

A routine visit

to the psych

and without warning

they snatched you away.


I stood alone

helpless and afraid

not knowing

what to do

while you yelled out

“Mary, don’t let them take me away!”


The security guards

on either side

keeping you close

as I trail behind

confused and afraid

another 72 hour hold

to keep you safe….


And all you

want to do

is run away free

and escape….


I faithfully wait

leave on a light

as you fretfully sit

and put up a good fight.


And as I always do,

I  fervently pray

that our merciful Lord

will help you


find your way….

Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual Mashups



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