Mental Illness


I am a words person, I love poetry and books and music with meaningful lyrics.  I need sound, quiet makes me uneasy.  There is a constant rhythm to our household.  Cleaning just can’t be done without a funky beat to speed it along.  If I’m cooking then I’m singing too.  My teenage boys are always trying to show me the latest dance moves for whatever dance craze is popular they’re not embarrassed to bust a move with their mama.  There’s no embarrassment or shock to our silliness It’s to be expected in the Burgos household  There’s always music playing in the background.  Even with the baby we’ve never made a practice of keeping quiet while she sleeps.  She can sleep through anything.

As long as I can remember I’ve always felt like my life has a sound tract.  Sometimes through different phases and stages the music just seems to speak to my heart.  to this day I can hear a song and it will take me right back to a certain place in time. I’ve always found it so strange how it seems like a new song will come out at the same time as we’re experiencing something, and it will describe my feelings exactly.  My sound tract includes every genre of music, right now my sound tract is a little somber.

As I was driving home from visiting Ranee in one of her hospital stays. the words rang out from the radio.


“hold onto me cause I’m a little unsteady,

mama come here, approach appear,

daddy I’m alone this house don’t feel like a home.

If you love me don’t let go

if you love me don’t let go hold on to me cause I’m a little unsteady”

Those words carry so much weight.  That’s where we’re at right now we’re unsteady. Ranee is unsteady and I feel unstable and our household isn’t providing her with the steadiness that she needs to stay out of the hospital.  She isn’t finding security within the walls of her own home.  It’s difficult to understand the healing process of mental illness.  There are many facets to it, it is not easy.  progress is like a dance we go forward a bit than we go back, we are moving in a slow rhythm but we’re tripping over our feet.  Having a young child away in a mental health facility is so difficult.  Our home doesn’t have the same buzz about it.  We all miss her terribly.  I miss my boys as well, they understand that Ranee needs us right now but we miss our family unit.

An institution is not like a regular hospital where you can drop in whenever you want.  The day is very structured, with group therapies, school, individual therapy.   Although visiting is welcome, it is only a small part of the day. Because children are placed in facilities based on bed availability you have no say really on how far you may need to travel to visit your child.  The first institution Ranee was sent to was an hour and a half away, we faithfully made the drive everyday. That was our choice to make that drive everyday as some parents would only come on the weekends, but we didn’t want Ranee to feel abandoned.  She realized we where the only parents coming everyday and she felt sorry for the other children that didn’t get frequent visitors, so she told us we didn’t need to come to see her everyday. But those visits where for us too. We needed to see her and be with her. That stay was 17 days.

The boys were allowed to visit but after a couple of times they expressed that it was just too difficult to see her in there. They wanted her home just as much as we did and it was too painful to see her within those walls, the reality of it far to real for them.  Ranee missed Charlene terribly, more than anyone else, they have a beautiful, special bond. Babies aren’t allowed on the mental health unit because of safety issues, there are all kinds of mental issues within the facility walls and there’s concern that a baby could get hurt.  Not being with Charlene was crushing her, it only added to her anxiety and depression.  She asked everyday if she could see her sister.  After a week the doctors where so kind to arrange a way for her to see Charlene, they allowed us to bring her to a separate room off of the unit so she could spend time with her sister.  As she cradled her sister in her lap she smiled.  That was the first day we saw a flicker of light in her, a smile, laughter.  That was the first time since she had been away that I felt a little bit of stability.

Yes we’re a little unsteady but we’re finding our footing, we’re learning this new dance.


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