The past 24 hours have been a nightmare. Yesterday, we had a family meeting by telephone with our daughter and a social worker from the facility in Pensacola. We strongly voiced our concerns about our daughter returning home. We didn't feel prepared and we didn't think she was ready to come home. She had refused to speak with us or see us for the entire time she had been in the facility. During the 30 minute call, our daughter sat silently, never saying a word. We only knew she was on the line because the social worker kept telling us that she heard us, but refused to speak. At the end of the call, the social worker said that the doctor would be discharging her in the afternoon. Once we got the final word that we needed to begin the 3 hour trip to Pensacola, we decided to take my mother-in-law and my mom with us. We knew that if our daughter became combative, we would have our hands full making the 3 hour journey home.
Once we arrived at the facility, we signed the necessary paperwork for discharge. Our daughter gathered her clothes and was sure to high five and hug all her new "friends". We loaded her things in the car and she climbed in the back seat between our moms and off we went. She hardly spoke as we made our way East back home. We were all hungry and we asked her what she would like to eat, she said Chinese. The social worker recommended that we keep the conversation light during the ride home, so we did. We decided to grab dinner in Destin. Once we arrived and sat down, our daughter completely changed gears.
She began telling us about her stay at the mental health facility as if she had just returned from a vacation. She told us about the great room mates she had, as well as the "crazy" ones. She told us that some nurses hated her and that one nurse was really cool and and even let all the girls write down songs they liked and she created a playlist on her phone and even brought in a speaker to play the music on for the girls. (we aren't sure if this is true, but it sounds unlikely based on facility rules). She went on on and on, sounding almost proud of her experience.
During the ride to drop off my mom at her house, our daughter was much more talkative. She was making plans for the following day to bake some things at my mother-in-laws house and said she was looking forward to seeing her little nieces. Upon arriving at my moms, our daughter said she needed to use the bathroom and did. We then hoped back in the car for the 1 hour trip to my mother-in-laws house. Upon arriving there, my daughter asked to use the bathroom again, before we headed home. At first, I was a bit suspicious, but remembered she drank 4 sodas at dinner. We then made the 15 minute trip home and braced ourselves for a possible outburst when we got there. Once we were home, my daughter said she needed a shower and was looking forward to sleeping in her own bed. She went to bed without issue, my wife and I sat in the living room for a while. We were relieved that we had made it to bedtime without issue, we thought to ourselves that maybe the meds were working, maybe she was really doing better. I set the home security system, motion cameras and went to bed in hopes of a good nights sleep for our entire family.
I woke at 5:20 am to walk my dog, then decided to lay on the couch for a few hours. My son called at 8:40 am and woke me up, my wife also woke up upon hearing the phone ring. I got up and fed my dog and heard my daughters dogs barking in her room. I didn't want her to be startled awake, so I went to her room to let them out and feed them. When I opened her door, my heart sank, she was gone. For a moment I thought just maybe, she had went to the bathroom when I was feeding the dog and I didn't see her. My wife and I frantically searched the house for her, but she was gone. I returned to her room to find a large amount of cut hair behind her door (we later determined that she stole a pair of scissors while using a bathroom at my mother-in-laws the night before). I looked at her window and saw that the screen had been cut and was blowing in the wind. My worst fear had come true, my baby girl was out in the world on her own in an unsafe state of mind. The countless dangers that she could face were rushing through my head. As a dad, it is my job to protect my family, no matter the cost. If the situation ever arose, I would stand toe to toe with the any man, any animal or any danger to protect my family. But this danger was one I couldn't fight toe to toe, I couldn't protect my little girl if I had no idea where she was.
We called the local Sheriff's Office and then our family members. My mother-in-law, my mom and my sister-in-law were all headed our way to help search for her. Over the next few hours, through good work by the Sheriff's Office, we determined that my daughter was in a town, 9 miles from our home. She had used the phones of several different strangers and hitch hiked with someone during the night. The deputies were able to locate her in the area after she made several attempts to elude them and she was quickly apprehended.
We were told by the deputy that our daughter had fresh signs of self-mutilation and that she had stated she wanted to "end it all". At that time it was determined that they would Baker Act her, again. The deputy said that our daughter refused to see us or speak with us. He said that she would be transported to a local mental health facility and they would call me.
As the details began to unravel, it was determined that our daughter left through her window shortly after midnight and walked/hitch hiked the 9 miles to a nearby town. At one point, she was in the company of a 56 year-old man and used his phone. She was also in the company of another unknown man and used his phone. The rest of the events of the night are unknown, which is terrifying. So many bad things could have happened to our little girl, I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it. What happens next is unknown, we will resume the search for a residential care facility and possible financial option to be able to the $10k-$30k per month cost we have been quoted.
Lord, I want to thank you for protecting my child during this terrifying event. Lord, help us to understand what is going on in her mind. Remove the confusion and self-doubt in her mind. I rebuke the enemy that is tormenting my child and I plead the blood of Jesus over her life. Lord, as a father, it is my desire to protect my family, I need your wisdom and guidance to pray for and protect my family. Please guide me Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.