Note: The featured photo is my 8th Grade School photo, taken a few months before the behavioral health symptoms took me down the path of my recovery journey, I saw this linked to an Autism Adovacy blog ant thought the need to reference my story on that road two decades ago.
Before a recent law in Washington State, Adolescents age 13 and older were generally entitled to make their own decisions about their need for mental health services and to decide whether to allow their parents to be given any details about their condition, diagnosis or treatment. Pennsylvania has a similar law on the books, however the age is 14 years of age.
14 years of age is the magic number of legal decision in Pennsylvania. 20 years ago, I began showing my puberty and sytmptoms of needing care.
Starting in November 1999 and lasting until August 2000, I was hospitalized five times before being placed into residential treatment for a nine month period.
20 years ago, it was a normal day, another day of acting out at school to come home to yet another day of wraparoud. I had been acting out for a few hours, as such, I was mobile crisis was alerted and I was triaged at the local emergency room beore landign a bed in a locally renowned specialty psychiatric hospital over an hour away from my home.
Once there and begining the admission process, I leard because I was 14, that I was at the magic age of consenting to “whatever I felt fit about my treatment”
Think about it, you can’t make any other legal decisons at that age, however in the mental health community, when you are sheltered in at the moment, you have the right to do whatever you please.
At times, I used this to my advantage, and I have to admit it wasn’t pretty.
One time in particular, when I was on my sprees, I had the bright idea to sign myself out of the hospital, still to this day almost 20 years later, I don’t know why, but I wish I could tell that 15 year old to think twice.
For it cost me (and my parents) years of heartache, mentally, physically, and financially.
In that instant that I got the bug up my rear to sign myself out, my father, who was working at the time, dropped everything on a dime and drove the hour and a half to pick me up from the hospital.
Think about it, I could have roamed the neighborhoods of that hospital or make a very dangerous decision.
As such, my parents took severe, costly legal protections to secure my individual freedoms, something 19 years later I often think about.
With the reecent relapses, I think, do I make the right decisons for what I know?
The truth is when I am medicated, I am the pleasant, loving, Dustin that everyone wants to be around
When I forget excessive doses of my medication I am the Dustin that people worry about.
Thats why, I now know the importance of following a medication regimen because it is what I have worked so darn hard to get on to feel to be the one loving person everyone loves so dearly.
As I started becoming myself recently, I informed my mother of that roller coaster ride, and she said these starch, stern words to me as I was getting out of her car to go home one night.
“If you do not take your medicine, I will not talk to you.”
This coming from the parent who oftentimes manipulates her needs and resources to do whatever I may need and oftentimes want, really brought not only what I was doing the past year, but when I was experiencing symptioms 0 years ago into perspective and that I should have followed orders, and that if I did, my family wouldnt have had to incur into the investment that thet did.
And fot that I truly apologize and take responsibility, because I just was not healthy, and knowing that the medication cocktail was the one that kept me well over the past two decades was the one.
However, crossing that line and brushing that line by relapsing wasn’t the smartest idea, but I felt I needed to know.
Now I know, and I don’t plan on going back down that road that I was on the last 10 months. I am returning to the normal self that everybody loves and I am also fighting for my individuality, and I know that I have to clean up the past and make amends with it, and that too is a teatous process and it must be done and I feel certain that I am in the mind to do so.