Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here's a Kids Story. Is she someone you know?
I have told you stories about how we can impact children by helping them with what they have to deal with in today's world. Today, I decided to give you a snapshot of one of these kids and what it is she has to cope everyday. Leslie is a precocious 8 year old with long dark curls and beautifully curly lashes. She is bright and can sing like an angel, which she enjoys. It is one of her few joys, she says. She also has just been admitted to the hospital for cutting her wrist, so deep she needed 24 stitches and a blood transfusion. Leslie was the child of addicts. From the time she was a toddler, her daddy injected her with crystal meth, cocaine and variety of other drugs. Then he raped her from the time she was 4, every day, until just a few weeks ago when she went to live with a foster family. She remembers the nights especially. The smells, the sounds and the pain. She also remembers the blood. There was a lot of blood. She learned not to cry and scream because it only made it worse for her. Things got shoved in her mouth if she made too much noise. So she learned to leave her body while this was happening. She learned that pain can be overcome by "checking out" as she calls it. But she said you have to come back sometime. And it gets too real too fast. When the pressure of her life gets too much for her little shoulders and mind to bear, she cuts. The blood is sanctifying and washes away the dirt. She has few friends. Everyone knows there is something different about her, but they have no idea really just how deep it goes. She is haunted by pieces of memories that are too horrible to talk about right now. She can't see anything past where she has already been. She needs counseling and intense therapy. She needs to know she is more than the sum of what was done to her.She needs to know that does not have to define her life. She needs to be able to do that at her own pace and with loving support from at least one person she can learn to trust. She has just learned that she will always be susceptible to addiction, because she was not able to grow up learning how to deal with normal feelings without substances clouding her perceptions. She knows her kids may have th same possible probelm with addiction. She has trouble sometimes figuring out what is real. This may sound like an extreme case to you, but these are the kids I see everyday, either at the clinic, in juvenile custody or on the streets selling themselves for rent. These kids are the forgotten ones. Meanwhile a battle rages in the mental health profession over what is the priority to treat, substance abuse or psychiatric issues. I have a news flash. They are both equally important and substance abuse by children, even if it was forced upon them by direct ingestion or by growing up in a crack house has just a big a place in treatment as bipolar and depression. But take a quick look at the availability of effective substance abuse interventions for kids from the age of 10-18. In my area there are relatively none. What does that say about just how well the industry is keeping up with what the community needs? I think we can all agree kids are in desperate need of help in all aspects of their lives. Substance abuse deserves an equal amount of money and attention in treating a child. After all wellness included the entire body, mind and soul. Total wellness cannot be achieved with anything less. My challenge to you is to let your city officials know we need to get kids treatment for drug issues as well as mental health issues. If we can bail out GM and AIG we can surely spend a few hundred million dollars on saving our kids. Aren't they worth it?