About Me

Mum of 2, suffering my own mental health issues, I began to write this blog as a way to release feelings and emotions. At 13 my daughter was terribly bullied which has led to her having serious mental health problems of her own. She is now 16. I wanted to document our journey and hopefully be able to look back and see how far we have come.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Something verging on normal

My workload did not diminish in the run up to Christmas, but Emily's symptoms did, or certainly appeared to.  She continued to be excited about the surprises in store for her and her mood seemed, on the whole, good.  My Mother and I attended the school fair arranged by the unit. I shopped for last minute presents and food.  It was a reasonably normal but hectic time.

In addition to the bought presents I had decided to make something for both of my children.  Normally at this time of year I would have been busy making arty items for sale at Christmas events.  Sadly, or maybe not so sadly, these are now a thing of the past.  My crafty side was still looking for an outlet and making something for a specific person is much nicer. For Emily, I wanted to use her love of words to create something meaningful, uplifting and 'teenagery'.

This is what I came up with. the size is A3.  In the centre I have drawn and coloured a heart in pastels.  Her name goes across the middle (sadly omitted for the blog).  Along one side of the heart is "Sign your name across our hearts"  and all around the edge are references to the roles she plays and the names she is known by; Daughter, friend, cousin etc.

On Christmas morning I gave it to her last.  She told me receiving this and some chocolate would have been all she needed for Christmas, she loved it so much.

For my son, even though he is 12, loves teddies and cuddly things to take to bed.  Due to illness in the week before Christmas, I didn't have as much time as I would have liked.  So this little guy (excuse the bad photo, my son took it on his phone!) was a bit of a rush job without the time for a pattern!
I called him Mr Wonky and my son loves him.

There have been times over the festive period when things have not gone to plan, we have fallen out, the kids have been yelling at each other, or we have actually been bored.  There have also been times when my own depression has surfaced to such an extent I didn't know if I could keep going.

Despite this, after cooking a Christmas Day meal, sitting down with my husband, children and parents I was so very thankful.  Thankful that we were all together, that for the moment both my kids were behaving as, well, kids.  Grumpy and stroppy at times, but normal, something which has been lacking for some time.

I have no doubt as the school visits start to loom again we will see a return of some of the symptoms and worries.  I can see it creeping in now, but I will be forever grateful that the festive period was full of love and something verging on normal.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

One more thing overcome

Family therapy this week was once again useful.  We started without Emily and in addition to the therapist had her main nurse, Tia in the room with us.  Tia is the one person who seems to hold the mini team together.  The problems we have experienced are in part due to her recent leave and extended period of sickness.  Tia knew what I'd said at the review and she was so apologetic that the original plan had not been followed.  I told her that it wasn't her fault, it wasn't her sole responsibility.  I have nothing bad to say about her.  She is the only one who calls me with updates and suggestions. Unfortunately, when she is not there, no one else picks up what she does for us.

I went over a few of my observations about Emily's behaviour at home.  There are times, I feel, that she is trying to get my attention.  One of my pet hates is the leg shaking.  We are all in agreement that this is not an involuntary reaction to stress.  To be honest it drives me to distraction.  I have now taken to leaving the room. To stay would make the chances of me saying something unkind highly probable.  Interesting, when I've done this, the behaviour has stopped.

I'd also noticed an increase in nightly toilet trips.  Emily insists she can't help it, she needs to keep going.  We'd tried to talk about it, she fears she may wet the bed.  I told her that she hasn't wet the bed since she was a small child and even if she did have an accident, no one would be cross.

When Emily finally joined our session the therapist started to explore some of the observed behaviour.  Whilst it may be upsetting for her it is important that it is confronted.  To ignore it is not helpful.  By talking about it, the staff were able to suggest that Emily has some CBT sessions focussed around some of her thought processes.

On Friday morning I took Emily to her mainstream school, we met an outreach worker, a school house manager and two students.  It was difficult and strained.  We had a walk around as if Emily was completely new.  The two girls chosen to meet her seemed nice.  The trouble was that Emily was looking at her feet, she hardly spoke and her eye contact was non existent.  The outreach worker and I chatted to the girls, what were their favourite lessons, how close to school did they live?  We worked quite well together, keeping it light and trying to include Emily and encourage her to speak.  We didn't really succeed.

On the face of it, you could be forgiven for thinking the visit was a waste and didn't go that well.  But, when I consider her reaction to the last visit, this can only be seen as a success, well at least an improvement.  She didn't get upset and angry, she didn't 'freak out'.  I told her she should be proud.  She'd gone in, stayed calm and made it through.

The outreach worker will be calling me next week for the next visit.  We are both thinking that an actual lesson may benefit, Emily would have something to focus on and she wouldn't need to make small talk.

I asked Emily if she'd like to come into the city centre at the weekend to pick up some panto tickets I'd reserved.  She shook her head, no way.  No way was she going to a busy town or going on a bus.

This morning  I took her up to the local shops for her hairdressers appointment.  We'd talked over options and she decided to go from mid length layers to a blunt bob.  The way I see it, if you have a nice haircut, clothes you feel comfortable in and your spots covered up, you can conquer anything.  I hoped I was right as I watched as the lengths of hair fall to the salon floor.

As we walked home, she swished her locks and kept touching them, laughing at how much shorter it was.  Now I turned my attention to her face.  She is such a pretty girl, but has terrible spots.  I think that's one of the reasons her head always points to the floor.  I talked to her about confidence.  I do worry that the kids at school will see the spots and it will be another barrier for her to overcome.  So I asked her to bring me the contents of her make up bag.  They were pitiful.

I took a chance and offered her a deal.  If you come to town on the bus, I'll get you a few bits of new make up.  I could see the fight she was having with herself, fear of the bus, of the busy town centre, versus NEW MAKE UP bought with someone else's money. 

A few hours later we sat at the front of the bus on the top deck.  We laughed at what we could see from our vantage point.  She was calm all the way, her leg didn't shake once.  Though town was a little busy, she managed, we picked make up, got the panto tickets and came home.  Emily said she couldn't believe she'd done it.  Such an everyday task to so many of us, had been a huge hurdle to her.  One more thing overcome.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Keep talking

By the weekend things had improved.  The real story was that when Emily went to visit mainstream school, they were unprepared.  They asked her questions, understandably.  When was she coming back?  Was she coming back next week?? Half days, full days?? Emily felt under terrible pressure.  The Unit had, unfortunately, not really had a conversation with school and as a result, the visit went badly.

We talked things over while we sat and wrapped Christmas presents.  Emily has no real 'wants' this year.  In a way that's been nice.  I've gone out and been able to look for things that she might like.  As a result she is actually looking forward to Christmas, lunch at home with her family and surprises under the tree.  This is an achievement in itself.  Emily looking forward to anything.  We are not a religious family, but for us Christmas is a time when the family comes together and, amongst other things, share thoughtful gifts, gifts that show how much we care.

Last week we had another review meeting.  Very few people attended this time.  I made no attempt to hide my feelings.  It was me who had instigated reduced residential attendance to aid Emily's transition to day attender, the unit had not.  Not only this, but the school visits during the last six weeks had been a total of one, when there should have been several.  I expressed my 'disappointment', which was met with embarrassment.  There are so many good staff in this place, but co-ordination and communication continue to let us down.

I am hoping we are now back on track and things will happen.  Emily continues to have ups and downs.  Ups show me the old Emily, downs show me a frightened child shaking with fear.

And me?  I have taken the step of weighing myself.  I have put 2 stone on in 4 months.  I am ashamed. Still, I am also determined to do something,  My low mood, and attempts to cope with Emily, have lead to alcohol and comfort food.  I can not hate myself for trying to find a way to cope, to feel just a small amount better.  No, in contrast, what I can do is say 'enough!'.  I no longer fit in any of my clothes, the time has come to take action.  Gone is the junk food, 'in' is the low fat, low carb eating regime. (I will not say diet)  Small positive changes can make a big impact.  I hope I can keep it up.

Tonight Emily asked to talk to me,  she was upset, worrying about school.  We talked for a while, thinking of real things we could do, strategies we could put in place.  Emily's concerns are around more school visits.  I told her that it was no use looking at the past, we can only affect the future. We need to look at her concerns and work out what solutions may be available to potential problems.

My life is so up and down and so is Emily's, but while ever we can keep talking we have a chance.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Tired and unhappy

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror this evening.  The sallow skin, dark circles around the eyes, the down turned mouth, but worst of all were my eyes themselves. They are so full of sadness or maybe, dare I say it, hopelessness.  The two things that give me some respite are also the things that will be my undoing.  Food and alcohol.  My weight is increasing at an alarming rate and I can not spend an evening without a drink.  I am ashamed of myself, ashamed of what I have become.

Every time we have a set back, I ask myself how much longer I can carry on.  I even found my inner voice recently saying, 'get through Christmas and then you can go'. But I can't go, there are too many people who would be left behind and they would be hurting.  My Husband, my Son, my Mum and Dad, maybe even my Daughter, but at the moment I think she is so lost in herself, she wouldn't notice.

From days of seeing the old Emily starting to emerge, the slope has been very slippery indeed.  She has started to self harm again and she claims to have tried to hang herself in her bedroom last weekend. I say claims, because whilst she gave me a detailed account of her actions (while her grandparents were visiting) I heard no noises and there were no marks on her neck.  I hate myself for thinking she is lying, but I can not see that she is telling the truth.

Once again I find myself feeling like there is an alien in my house.  This is not my daughter. 

Today she finally had a first visit back to mainstream school.  She went with someone from the Unit and as it was a teacher training day, there were no children in school. The idea was a relaxed first visit to speak to the adults who would support her transition.

When I collected her this evening for her regular 'Wednesday night at home'  I was looking forward to hearing how school had gone.  I asked the question in the car.  I was told she had 'freaked out' and 'had to be taken back to the unit'.  I asked what could freak her out about a school with no children? Emily could not say.  I asked her, "So what happens next?"  Emily said she would try again and if she freaked out again that would be it, she wouldn't be going back to the school.

Whatever was left of my sanity now left me.  I couldn't stop myself from shouting out how she damn well would be going back, it was a fantastic school and I had fought to get her into it.  What on earth did she think were the alternatives??

When we arrived home, she went into the back room on her own, with Dvd's on the TV and her laptop for company.  I spent a couple of hours in my bedroom.  I noticed that my husband looked tired and unhappy and all I wanted to do was have a drink. To blot out the crap.

Emily and I have not really spoken since.  She asked for, and received, a hug before going to bed and said goodnight, but that is it.  I have nothing left to give.  Every bit of strength I had has left me. 

I am so tired and so unhappy.  I want to run away and leave all this behind, but there is a little boy who still loves me.  And yes, I know its likely my girl still loves me too, but right now, right at this very moment, it is incredibly difficult to love her back.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Phoenix rising?

We did talk that evening.  I was able to set aside all the childish parts of me that wanted to stamp their feet.  I talked to Emily about how our relationship had changed and that I was sorry if I didn't always understand or do the right thing.  We cleared the air and it was worth it.  That would be my one piece of advice to anyone with teenagers,  talk to them and make sure you listen.  You don't always have to have the answers.

Since that weekend there has been a noticeable change in Emily.  She had side effects with Fluoxetine (prozac) and is now taking something different.  I'm not sure if its the new medication or the work the unit do with her, or in fact a combination, but there has been an improvement.

After weeks of having cut off her father, she called him and arranged to go to a community bonfire.  I had mixed emotions.  Part of me was pleased that she had the confidence to venture out.  The other part of me was resentful.  Why did she not agree to go out with me?  How come he was forgiven all of a sudden. Once again, I set my feelings aside.

On the Sunday we managed a family outing to a local park and small animal centre. Not much, but it was nice to be out as a family. My Son is so desperate to do something at weekends that even these small outings placate him.

This last weekend Emily was so animated.  Laughing one moment and a stroppy teenager the next.  I didn't mind the stroppy teenager.  After all that's just normal.  When we talked she told me she was no longer interested in hurting herself and she was looking forward to Christmas.  We went shopping together and she enjoyed looking for presents for people.

She is unfortunate to suffer from very greasy hair which, as she has got older, has changed from a lovely blonde to a dark mousey colour.  I offered to add some highlights.  Emily decided on a full head of blonde.  The transformation was instant and I don't mean the colour.  Her head was held higher and she actually admired herself in the mirror.

The following day she wore make-up, the first time since my wedding day.  With the hair and the make-up came a confidence that had lain dormant for too long.

Was it really possible the phoenix was rising?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Time to talk

When I went to visit Emily on Tuesday last week, she was disinterested and standoffish.  I can't say that I behaved much better.  She couldn't wait for us to go and, I too, took no pleasure in being there.

Due to work commitments, our family therapy session had been cancelled, but the therapist was still on the unit at visiting time.  One word I will use about the staff is commitment.  It was 8pm and I knew she'd been there from around 9.30am..

After our meeting with Emily, our Family Therapist asked how our meeting had gone, she could sense from my response that it could have been better.  Taking my husband and I into an office she asked more questions.  She then shared with us some comments Emily had made in individual therapy the day before.  She had said that we did not always feed her properly and that she didn't always have clean clothes.

My first reaction was anger.  The Therapist made it clear that no one on the unit believed what Emily had said.  They could all see that she was well fed and clean and tidy.  That didn't stop my anger, but by the end of the meeting it had turned to sadness.  I had always prided myself on the relationship I had with my daughter.  We could talk openly about anything and even more important, we were both truthful and honest. This no longer applied and it was this that hurt the most.  I was not used to a daughter who lied and could not be trusted.

Even so I sent her a message by text on the Wednesday, Halloween, to say I hope she enjoyed her party.  I received no response.

A nurse called me at work on Thursday.  Emily was coming home that day, being picked up by my parents at 4pm.  The nurse explained that Emily was upset that I didn't believe her when she said things and that I didn't listen. The nurse was kind and accepted that I was in a difficult position.  I drove home arguing with myself.  I wanted to be childish, ignore her, be nasty, shout at her.  I came to the conclusion that that was what she was after.  That would give her a reason to feel persecuted and unloved and she was neither. The battle in my head continued with a voice saying over and over 'you are the adult she is the child'.  By the time I arrived home I was ready to talk.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

I'm supposed to be her mum

Through talking to therapists and observing behaviour, it is becoming more and more apparent that Emily is displaying some symptoms which may not be her own.  One therapist suggested that she was 'collecting' symptoms from other young people on the ward.  I am inclined to agree.  Sometimes things just don't fit, they don't feel right.  I'm not saying my daughter isn't ill, but I do feel her reluctance to rejoin the real world is making her seek out ways to extend her stay in the unit.

I'm told she has 'demonised' her father in therapy sessions yet last weekend, when he came to the house to see my son, she bounded in to him like an excited puppy. 

After a weekend where I could seen a good amount of the 'old' Emily having a relaxed time, she informed me right at the end that the whole weekend had been terrible.  The house had been full of people and animals that only she can see.  It's hard.  If she had seen them, why did she not say at the time or get upset?  Why leave it until her last few hours in the house?  I just don't understand and neither do the therapists.

I'm told I need to be stronger with her.  That maybe she is trying to pull my strings.  That she needs to realise that her symptoms are ones of depression and anxiety and to conquer them she needs to do some work.

They are so concerned about the 'collected' symptoms that the last review meeting recommended that her nights on the unit were reduced gradually to get her back to a day attender.  They also want to get her integrated back into her mainstream school.  I know this will be hard for her, but she is very lucky that the school will accommodate her in a small specialist unit until such time as she can re-join the main classes.  In my mind this is what she needs. It will give her back some purpose, a reason to get up.

This weekend, she was totally engrossed in drawing.  We managed a couple of walks during the weekend and to be honest I thought how much like a normal stroppy teen she was, laughing one minute and arguing with her brother the next.  Then it gets to 9pm on the Sunday again and she is in her room.  When I go in to see her, her eyes are angry and wet with tears.  She has once more written "I want to die" on her arm.  I challenge her. She shouts nastily at me, "you don't understand" "you don't believe me" "I've had a terrible weekend" "it's been horrible".  I challenge again.  She may be feeling bad now but it has not been the whole weekend. I remind her of all the things she has done and the times when she has seemed like a normal girl. I tell her she should be proud of her achievements.  She can not see it, she doesn't want to. 

She told me she wanted to ring the unit.  It is a suggestion they made if she wanted to hurt herself.  I leave her room and give her privacy.

Five minutes later the phone rings.  One of the nurses tells me how upset Emily is and that she has tied something around her neck to hang herself.  I go to Emily's room, there is nothing around her neck, nor are there any marks. The nurse is still on the phone and then says that Emily is upset that I don't believe her and they tell me I shouldn't leave her on her own.  Why is this happening again?  I ask her and she just shouts at me.  I make her come downstairs.  The tv is off and we sit in silence.  I have nothing left to say.  It feels like I am being punished.

She asks to go in the shower.  I ask her for assurance that she will not hurt herself.  When she returns from the shower it is like she's changed again.  The atmosphere is frosty between us, but it is clear that she is feeling calm and ready for bed.

I am so frustrated.  I admitted to my husband this evening that I don't know this girl any more.  I feel like she is playing some game, but I don't know the rules. But its more than that because now I am so terribly ashamed to realised that I don't like her and I don't like how she is hurting me and the other members of my family.

I'm supposed to be her mum, but I'm not sure I'm acting like one

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Better or worse?

Emily struggled at home on Friday evening.  Knowing I'd had a conversation with her father had obviously affected her.  We ended up watching a DVD of her choosing to pass the time until 10pm, definitely past her bedtime.

On Saturday Emily had the urge to clean my car, I followed her buffing with some scratch polish.  She was very animated saying that car cleaning, especially alloy wheels, should be part of therapy. It was nice to see her enjoying doing something.  It was even better knowing she'd asked to do it.

In the afternoon I suggested we sort out her bedroom.  The floor is strewn with 'stuff'.  There are random piles of it, there are carrier bags of it, there are gift bags full of it.  I guess this is really a typical teenage bedroom, but in my mind it made her room unwelcoming and chaotic. So many things didn't have a home.

At times she admitted she found the process stressful, but in the end, she agreed the outcome was worthwhile.  A room where most things, had a home.

Saturday night was easier.  Thank goodness for Casualty.

On Sunday my son and husband went for a bike ride.  Emily was adamant she didn't want to go.  Instead we stayed at home and she prepared the meat and vegetables for the slow cooker.  This had been part of her 'objectives' for the weekend.  Vegetables require sharp knives and I therefore found myself cleaning the oven to ensure I was within supervision distance.

Sunday night I returned her to the unit.  I was well aware that she had found the weekend hard.  Her spirits had been very low.  She had not self harmed and I was grateful for that, but instead there was a great sadness in her.

Yesterday, I heard nothing from her.  She never turned on her phone.  I decided to leave it.  If she wanted me she could call.  If there was a problem, the nurses would call.  Even so, I did not rest easy.

This evening my husband and I visited the unit.  Emily was nowhere to be seen.  One of the other young people told us she was in her room upset and nurses were with her.

When she finally came into the corridor, where we waited, she was flanked by two nurses.  This was unusual behaviour.  We were later than normal and I wondered if it was a reaction to this.

Once in a small meeting room the nurses proceeded to inform us that Emily had been found curled up on the floor of her room by another young person.  She was upset that someone, unseen to everyone else, was in the room with her.  As I sat beside Emily her left leg shook up and down constantly, she looked at the ground and she aggressively worked a stress toy in her hands. 

The nurses left.  Emily shouted that the person she could see was sat in the room with us and ran out.  When she came back with a nurse I talked to her about the daft things her brother had done.  He'd done cooking at school and had added a tablespoon of black pepper instead of a teaspoon... We'd had his cooking for our evening meal.  That was enough to make anyone laugh and from there we kept the conversation light and funny.

On the way home in the car, my husband started to try to analyse Emily's behaviour.  In the end I stopped him.  I don't know if Emily is really seeing things.  I don't know what on earth is going on and no amount of talking is going to change that.  One thing I do know, she doesn't appear to be getting any better, in fact I'd say she's getting worse.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


My one and only post on Facebook this week made reference to being on a roller coaster and the wish to have a go on the tea cups instead.  One or two people knew why I'd posted this, but most did not.

Not only do I feel the ups and downs of this ride, but I feel I'm on one that's really rickety, the turns are sharp and frequent.  The ride is also in the dark and I can not predict what emotion I will feel next.

One moment I think Emily is making progress.  Last Saturday we went out bowling as a family and, whilst it could have been better, she got through it and it felt like an achievement.

Then she goes back to the unit and doesn't turn her phone on so I can't contact her.  When I visit on the Tuesday she's sullen. She tells me she seeing someone in her room. I'm bewildered as I thought the voices and visions had calmed down.  Now she tells me they never went away.  I find myself looking at my child and thinking, 'Is she telling the truth?'  What scares me now is that she could be exaggerating her symptoms because she wants to stay in the unit. The unit is not the real world, the unit is not stressful, for her the unit is safe.

Her nurse is also concerned that not everything rings true, but what do we do?  Is she telling the truth or not?

On Wednesday the unit called me and suggested Emily come home for the night.  I was happy to agree and went straight from work to collect her.  I was really looking forward to having her at home instead of a hour visit in an uncomfortable chair.  As I drove to the unit my head was filled with warmth and expectations of cuddles on the sofa. 

The understanding was she could go back to the unit at 9pm if she didn't feel able to spend the night, otherwise we'd take her back the following morning, just in time for family therapy.

She was strange at home.  She put on some 'catch up' tv but then disappeared from the room. A little later she said she was going in the shower.  She'd got home at about 6.30pm, by 8.00pm she was obviously in distress and I took her upstairs to my room so we could talk on our own.  She talked about not being able to cope, seeing things and wanting to go back to the unit.  She told me she'd thought about drinking nail varnish remover in her room.  She told me she'd gone in the shower with a dinner knife and tried, in vain, to cut her wrists.  Then, she admitted that she had hurt herself since coming home.  I had thought I'd found all the hidden pencil sharpener blades.  It seems there was yet another concealed in her room.  Despite having worked hard to let her arms heal, she had now undone all that work.  Pulling up her sleeves the cuts were all back just centimetres apart, her legs had not gone unpunished either.

I was numb.  I'd been allowed my daughter for an extra night and I'd failed everyone.  She didn't want to stay the night and, if the truth be told, I didn't want her to stay either.  I didn't want the responsibility.  I knew her room at the unit was controlled and she would be safe. I guess that was her point.

I called the unit and explained.  My voice was quiet and lifeless, I felt lifeless.  I couldn't keep her safe.

Social Services have been in touch following on from the issues around Emily's father.  I spoke to them at length.  They were satisfied that the children are now of an age to make their own decision if they want to see him.  They felt the children were no longer at risk and I agreed with them.

None of the professionals working with Emily has spoken to her father, I asked this week if this was going to happen.  I am struggling to explain to him why she is not wanting to see him. The unit advised I could talk to him as they had no immediate plans to do so. Deep joy.

The phone rang on Friday night.  I knew it would be him so I got to the phone first.  I had thought long and hard about what I should say to him.  In the end I said that therapy had brought out unpleasant memories of childhood for Emily, which involved him.  Because of this, she wasn't wanting to see him at the moment. I didn't want to get into the whole "she said you did this" charade. I told him that it was likely he would be invited to family therapy to address some of these issues.  He said ok and asked to speak to our son. I'm not sure what to make of that.

I have to admit to very uncharitable thoughts on Friday night.  If it was me I would be frantic, wanting to know what the memories were about, what I had done,  how I could put things right.  As I went to bed I really hoped he was worrying and feeling ashamed, but part of me thought it was just as likely, he wouldn't have a clue about the part he's played.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Feeling sorry for myself

I'm not sure anyone in my house managed to get through the weekend without feeling ill, even the cats seem to have colds.  My head, face and neck were so painful on Saturday.  Painkillers wouldn't touch it so I spent most of the day with a hot water bottle attached to my face.  Emily had tummy ache, so was also making use of a hot water bottle.  My husband walked around like a zombie and to top it all we spent Saturday night/ Sunday morning alternating between my vomiting son and my scared crying daughter.

Emily went quietly back to the unit on Sunday.  My son stayed off school on Monday.  Today I dropped him at school, but I'd arranged to work from home, just in case I 'got a call'.  I tried to do some work.  The 'call' came at 11.30, so I went and brought him home.  He's just overtired I think. He put himself to bed when we got in.

Since then I've been trying to work.  I have been less than productive.  I can do basic tasks, data input, typing up notes, checking details, answering e-mails etc. I can do anything that doesn't require decisions, creativity, flare, drive or enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, there is only a small proportion of my role which doesn't require those things. I even struggled to think of those words to write here.

On top of everything going on around I am so terribly concious that deadlines are upon me for work I haven't even managed to start.  I've worked for my employer for a number of years, they consider me hard working, conscientious and someone who gets things done.  I am no longer that person, I wonder how long it will take them to realise?  

I am so very very tired.  It feels like there is nothing left.  I just want to put myself to bed and stay there for a week.  But I can't, tonight is visiting, tomorrow is work and parents evening and on and on it goes.

So I apologise today for my moaning (when there are many others far worse off) and for feeling sorry for myself.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Another week goes by

I've found it terribly hard this week. I've missed Emily so much. We get so used to being able to phone or text our loved ones at any time that it is alien when this option is removed. Emily's phone is usually in her possession for 2 hours per day, approximately 6pm - 8pm. The rest of the time it sits in a safe.  Sometimes she doesn’t collect it at all.

She goes back to the unit on a Sunday evening and there is no visiting on Monday..  Obviously that makes it Tuesday night before I can see her. It seems such a long time. Messages were flying from my phone to hers on Monday evening, but it doesn't replace actually seeing her in the flesh.

On Monday morning I had my own Doctors appointment.  She looked at me with pity in her eyes before increasing my medication and offering to refer me for a new batch of counselling.  I’m not sure how long the waiting list will be, but I think it will be well worth exploring my first marriage and the problems my daughter is recalling from that time.  I wonder if I can actually lay some of the crap to rest.  Time will tell, it’s weird how I can hardly recall any details.

On Tuesday I went to visit Emily with my husband and son. We played games around a table and tried to keep it light hearted, but there were times when Emily cried.  She says she missed cuddles the most and she can’t go to anyone when she wakes in the night.

Her father has wanted to see her this week, but she doesn’t want him to visit.  This has caused some problems as he thinks it’s me being obstructive. I think our relationship has now reached a point of no return.
I’ve visited Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Emily tells me she finds it hard when I visit.  She really wants to see me and have cuddles but then she misses me when I’ve gone.  Trouble is I don’t think I could go without seeing her.  That’s perhaps me being selfish.  My biggest fear is that she’ll say she doesn’t want to see me, like she’s done with her father.

Today my Mum & Dad brought her home for the weekend.  She is already showing signs of distress, she really wants to hurt herself.  Tonight we had poster paints out in the living room and we both made colourful patterns.  Tomorrow we will decorate squares of fabric, as I came up with the idea of us making squares for a patchwork quilt.  It will be another full on intense weekend, but I don’t care.  At least I have her home, if only for the weekend.  I just need to keep her safe

Monday, 24 September 2012

Hard to write

I'm struggling with this post, it feels like a probe is going right into my core.  What I need to share is upsetting, guilt ridden and makes me ashamed.

The weekend has been hard.  It has been very intense.  I've got up when Emily did and stuck to her side like glue.  I've needed to.  She's tried to take pins, thorns from bushes and dinner knives, all with the intention of self harm.  This because I found what she'd been using to cut herself.  We found them by accident really, last week.  My son went to borrow her electronic spell checker, inside it he found a small razor blade. I discovered it had been removed from a pencil sharpener.  When I found a second pencil sharpener with no blade I hunted around her room.  I was lucky to find it, hidden in her glasses case.  Without being able to harm herself, the weekend has been even more tough for her.

Another reason it was tough for her was, as she put it, "I've stitched up my dad".
We sat alone and I let Emily speak at her own pace. She has been speaking to people at the unit about her experiences as a child. Unbeknown to me some of her memories are not happy ones and these seem to centre around her father.  She talked of being scared of him, of his bad temper, his shouting, his rough handling, his inability to show love and care.  All of this was whilst we were married.
She went on to say when her and my son went to stay with him at weekends after we split up, he would feed them, but that would be all.  She would look after her brother, she would tuck him in and kiss him goodnight.

Some of this I was aware of, some of it I wasn't.  I do remember incidents when he hurt Emily in front of me because he lost his temper.  I remember yelling at him and crying.  Guilt has come pouring out of me like water through an exploding dam wall.  There is so much I can't remember from that time, does it mean I shut it away?  Could this even be the root of some of my own mental health problems?

I was suffering with terrible depression during my first marriage.  He did not 'get it'.  I'm sure at times he got angry with the kids because he was actually angry with me.  I knew about abuse, but the times when he snapped and was physical were not that frequent and they were my fault, weren't they? I did stop him, I did shout at him, but maybe I should have done more. My Mum says I used to tell her some of this at the time, but I don't remember. I think if I had tried to tell anyone else, he would have laughed it off.  He wasn't a nasty man, he just lost his temper sometimes. Mr Charisma, but that's not good enough is it?  If I had done something before she was 8 maybe I could have saved her from this agony she now faces. I can't understand why I am almost seeming to defend him, even now.  My head is saying, 'he's not a bad man', but then it says, 'no, but maybe he's a bad father'.  Maybe I made him a bad father.

Maybe I can't accept that he may not be very nice, because what would that say about me?

I looked at my profile and thought, do I need to change this?  It may be that it's not the school bullies that led us here.   But then I thought, it's all still bullying even if it happens to now be at the hand of her father.

So, what happens now?  The unit will explore some of these memories and in a few weeks time her father will be invited into therapy.  I have said I want to attend too.  I think we all need to hear what he says.  We all need to face up to what this means for us. I am frightened of opening these wounds, but I have to do it if it will help Emily to heal.  I fear there is so much I have locked away and I'm not sure I can cope with it. 

That poor child has struggled through so much, hidden things from me for 'my protection'.
What happens if I turn out to be the monster?

Trust broken, trust restored

On Thursday last week, I arranged for my son to have time off school to attend family therapy.  He was upset that his sister was now a resident, so I thought it would be good for him to see where she was and also have an opportunity to maybe say how he was feeling.

The session started without Emily, which is not unusual. Our therapist talked to my son about Cahms, therapy and mental health.  She then told me that Emily had said something in a 1-1 session which she needed to share.  She told us that since our Wedding Emily felt pushed out and was not receiving as much attention.  I burst into tears and looked over at my husband to see shock and disbelief on his face.  My emotions were in turmoil.  I couldn't understand what more we could do for Emily, so to think she felt like this well, I was devastated.

I spoke of when we were first together 6 years before and admitted, at that time, Emily had said my, now husband, was getting more kisses and cuddles than her.  We took that straight on board there and then, cuddles began to include the kids and we did everything we could make them feel part of something, rather than on the edge of it.  I asked if this could have been what Emily referred to, no I was told.  It was since our Wedding.

When Emily entered the session, she was unsure why I was so upset.  The therapist talked about how our family had changed and was leading up to trying to discuss the comment she had made in her 1-1.  I studied Emily.  If she had said something that she knew would upset me, and was waiting for this to be discussed, she would have been panicky.  She was not, she was calm, bordering on bored.  When the alleged conversation was finally revealed it was quite clear by her reaction that she had no idea what the therapist was talking about.  Her comments of "I don't understand what's going on here", "I don't remember saying anything", "I haven't said that, I wanted them to get married, it made it better" were brushed aside by the therapist.  The therapist made the assumption that Emily was denying her comments because they had upset me, but she was denying them because she had not said it.  When she finally stormed out of the room, it was not because she was expressing her anger, as we were told, it was because the therapist would not listen to her.  My husband was really angry, he told the therapist this,  he did not shout, because that's not him, but he told her something must have been misunderstood.  My son was sobbing on my knee, I was sobbing and somewhere in the unit, Emily was sobbing.

I left the unit in an almost catatonic state.  This was all wrong. It was being made out that the bullying was the tip of the iceberg and actually we were causing the problem.

When we visited Emily that evening we sat as a family and discussed everything that had happened.  Emily had assumed we would be upset and cross with her.  She assumed we had believed the therapist.  It turned out that Emily's actual comment in response to a question about our relationship was "I guess I don't get as much time just on my own with Mum"  How this got built up into the statement from earlier that day I can not begin to imagine, but it did throw up serious concerns about what information was being acted upon and whether that information is correct.  Later that evening I sat and wrote an email to the therapist detailing our family discussions and our concerns.  I did accept that there are times when the perception of one person is different to another, but that this was not the case.

On Friday morning I asked for a meeting to clear up my concerns.  I couldn't rest and I certainly couldn't go into the weekend with all this doubt and mistrust hanging over us.  It felt like we had just become the enemy.

As my husband was at work, my Mum came with me.  I met with the therapist and Doctor.  To cut a long story short we heard from the nurse who agreed Emily had only said about not getting as much time on her own with me.  No one said they had made a mistake, but it was apparent they knew they had.  We talked, Mum talked and I left feeling like a weight had been lifted with my trust in them restored.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Did I fail?

Emily was 14 last week.  Her day seemed better than I had dared to hope for. She was pleased with her presents and although she was spending the day at the unit, they were having some time on a climbing wall in the afternoon.  Emily was actually looking forward to this. She has become close to a couple of the girls within the unit and I guess to her, going climbing was the closest thing she would get to a party.  Later we ate at home and Nannan & Grandad joined us for blowing out the, insisted upon, 14 candles and eating the cake.
birthday cake with candles
Emily's Birthday cake and far too many candles!

To be honest, it almost seemed normal.  She almost seemed normal. Almost.

Friday evening saw another unexpected visit from their father. My heart sank when I saw the car pull up outside so I did something childish.  I left my husband and the kids in the room and I hid.  When I say hid, I went to the back room and sat with the door shut, stroking one of our rescue cats.

I could hear the kids greet him and to my surprise I could also hear him asking Emily some questions about the unit.  I have tried to tell him before, but he's never been interested and certainly never asked any questions.  I wondered if seeing her scarred arms had actually had an effect on him after all.

It wasn't long before he asked for me and he came into the back room. I have so much I want to say to him, so many 'home truths' I want to throw at him. In reality, in that room, me, him and the cat, I remained silent.  He told me he hadn't realised how bad things were until he'd seem her arms.  I've informed him several times about Emily's illness and the impact it has on her.  It was clear he hadn't taken me seriously.  He then offered to take Emily to his house for a few weeks as in his words "it can't still be the bullying that's the problem now, so maybe she needs a change of scene" and "have they said what's actually wrong with her?"  My responses were clipped, defensive and to the point.  I added that Emily was also upset because, given the way he behaves, she assumes he doesn't love her.

On Monday I collected Emily at 4pm as normal.  I could see in her eyes something wasn't right, she said it had been a bad day.  Once in the car I encouraged her to talk.  She had been removed from her school lesson in the morning as she had dug her nails into her arm, constantly scratching until she bled. A support worker, her Doctor and one of her friends had taken turns in physically holding her hands to stop her scratching at herself.  She sobbed in the car, her head hanging, telling me she couldn't go on, couldn't see how it would get better, couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I hugged her tight and told her I had been in the place she was now, but I was still here because I had got through it and she would too. You may not always be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it doesn't mean it isn't there,  it's just hidden from view.

Later that evening her Doctor called to express concern over the days events.  She asked me to be even more vigilant than usual.

Yesterday I received another phone call.  The unit were asking permission to discuss Emily with her father. He had telephoned reception requesting information. I gave permission and then I was passed over to the Emily's Consultant who also wanted to speak to me.  I was still reeling from my ex having called them (presumably to get the 'real' story) when I  was dealt a far more sickening blow.  It struck me in the pit of my stomach.  The Consultant was explaining that due to the continuing self harm and suicidal thoughts they thought the time had come for Emily to become a resident.  I was sat by myself in the lunch area at work. I tried to sound together and practical, but it felt like my sanity was unravelling. I was asked my view, I was told Emily was ok about it when it had been mentioned. I answered that I would support whatever they thought was best for my Daughter. The Consultant said she would make enquires to see when Emily could be admitted and call me back.

I felt sick, my head was spinning with so many thoughts.  Tears were running down my face.  As I gathered my belongings I put my head down and hid behind my hair, trying to walk out of the room unnoticed.  In the ladies loos I leaned on the windowsill with my head in my hands.  The phone rang again and the Consultant confirmed the date for Emily to become a resident.

For me I feel like this has removed the last shred of credibility I had as a mother.  Ok we needed help, but at least she was still coming home, just like if she was going to school.  This action has taken her care so far out of my hands, taken away my responsibility, my role, my duty.  At the moment Emily will still spend Friday and Saturday nights at home, but this can be taken away too if needed and I would be faced with seeing her in a visiting room for a couple of hours at a time.

I couldn't hold it together at work, a colleague came across me in the corridor and alerted management.  I was sent home.  The guilt continued to pile on me, I'd let my daughter down and now I was letting work down too. At least going home early would allow me to collect Emily from the unit myself.

I had a drink in a cafe while I waited for 4pm (the end of Emily's day).  So many thoughts were in my head, including the situation with Emily's father.  I decided to make a call.  My tone may have been frosty, but I surprised myself how calm I was.  He knew the up to date position now.  I told him how guilty I felt that I hadn't been able to do more to prevent this.  I told him if I felt that way with all I had tried to do, then he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself as he had done nothing.  I told him he spent more time planning holidays than talking to his daughter.  To be fair, I think the penny finally dropped.  He admitted he'd not known what to do, so he did nothing. He admitted he'd not realised how serious things were even though I'd told him.  All he ever needed to do was talk to her and listen, text, phone calls, e-mails anything to show he cared. I told him this too.

When I collected Emily she looked ok.  I suppose for her, the weight of not being able to cope at home, has now been lifted.  We had a mixed night of her excitedly packing (as if going for a sleepover) through to her sobbing on my shoulder. I spent the night in a strange state of shell shock.

This morning I helped her unpack in her new room.  It felt like I was sending her to Uni, helping to put toiletries in the bathroom and photo frames on the desk in the halls of residence.  But this isn't Uni and she is only just 14 and tonight I really fear that she will be alone in that unfamiliar room and she will sob her heart out.  Just writing that make the tears roll down my own face again.  My head aches, my jaw is clenched, I haven't brushed my hair or cleaned my teeth and I don't care about the dark circles under my eyes.

This is going to be hard for all of us.  I need that little girl to stay strong, to be able to beat this and come out the other side.

Since yesterday I've asked family and friends, did I fail?  Is there something else I could or should have done?  Is letting her go into residential admitting defeat? Admitting I can't help her, I'm not good enough?

Did I fail?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Damned if I do, damned if I don't

The small bottle of cheap brandy I bought stands half empty.  I haven't managed a night without some form of drink for weeks now.  It started gradually.  We had so many alcoholic gifts for our wedding, we slipped into a routine of drinking some in the evenings while we were on holiday from work.  Whilst my husband can take it or leave it, I fear I can not.  We share a bottle of wine, but the spirits are there for when I drink alone.

Emily is now up to full strength in her medication.  I hope and pray it is only a matter of a few weeks now, until we start to see some improvement. 

Today while I was at work, the father of my children came to see them.  It is Emily's Birthday tomorrow (or today, looking at the time) He has just returned from yet another childless holiday.  By the time I got home from work, he had left.  Unfortunately, he had also left a lasting impression on the children.  Emily had shown him the marks on her arms, in an attempt to make him understand the dark place she was in.  I'm told he just shrugged his shoulders and said nothing.  He never asks her how she is, he never asks me how she is.

He thinks this is my fault, that I have made her like this.  When I first tried to tell him that his daughter was self harming, he joked that she was taking after me.  What a jolly joke!  For the record I have never cut myself.  Apparently a suicide attempt is the same thing according to him, and yes at 17 I did give that one a go.  He makes no attempt to support Emily or me.  My son, 12, idolised his father, but he too is starting to see the lack of interest.  It hurts him to see that there seems to be no concern or compassion for his sister and a waining interest in him.

Emily said this evening, through her tears, "I've got enough in my head, I don't need him on top"  My son said "I'm just going to his house on Saturday to get my toys before he throws any more away"  He too, was crying.

It's ok for him, it is us who are left to pick up the pieces.  It is us who are trying to get Emily and my son through this terrible time and this incredibly tiring and long journey.  It is us, me and a man who has willingly and selflessly accepted these children as his own, who will see this through to the end.  We, with support from my elderly parents, will come out of the other side with these kids.

Do I sound bitter?  Well that would be because I am.  I am sick of trying to smooth over the cracks their father leaves behind.  I want to get him in a room and give it to him straight.  I want to stop being the mature adult who rises above all the frustrations and ignores his selfish behaviour.  But to ignore it means it will never change, and whilst I can try and ignore it, the children can not.  He is, and always will be, their father.  What am I supposed to do?  I will always be damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Parent or Carer?

Since my last post we have had another Family Therapy Session and Emily's 6 week review.  We also had a family melt down last Sunday.  Emily and her brother were constantly snapping at each other throughout the day, but the final straw came when my son dropped a toy down the stairs.  Despite us all trying to help him put it back together (it was fixable) he ranted and yelled and wanted help but wouldn't actually let anyone get involved.

I really couldn't take anymore, work is rubbish, home is rubbish.  In the end, Emily shut herself in her room, I was sobbing hysterically in my room, wishing for a change, that I was dead. Andrew was stamping around shouting that his toy would never be fixed and my poor husband was trying to sort the lot of us.

Calm eventually returned, apologies were given and I suppose normal life resumed, well what passes for normal life.

The review meeting was strange, we felt out of place.  I couldn't say the things I really wanted to, as Emily was present.  I wanted to say that I was finding it hard.  Each day gets harder.  Emily is showing no signs of improvement.  Her self harm continues and her arms and legs are covered in superficial slash marks.

The Consultant intimated that we should keep Emily distracted at all times and that spending time in her room alone was counter productive.  My husband and I were referred to as 'Carers'.  I found this really clinical and impersonal.  They admitted they had not put in place the support needed and that this would be rectified. I tried to defend myself, explain what we try and do with Emily, but I did feel like I was on trial.

Later in the week the unit phoned me to tell me Emily's mood was low. They suggested we keep her busy, maybe some baking?  I have to admit to feeling totally fed up.  I am well aware of Emily's mood. We had spent all previous nights 'keeping her busy'. I am so frustrated.  It doesn't matter what I do, we distract and entertain, nothing changes. I'm not sure how, after a full day at work, I'm supposed to find the energy to bake.  My Mum said she'd cried all of Thursday night, purely out of worry.  Emily had repeatedly mentioned her wish to die.

On Friday Emily was walking around with 'I want to be dead' in marker pen on the back of her hand. Knowing how this was now affecting other people, I asked her to wash it off, to be honest I was cross with her.  I know I shouldn't be, but it's almost as if she wants to wear her depression as a badge for all to see. She really has no idea of the impact this has on others.  It's not her fault, but the upset is not diminished.

We've been trying to work on the garden this weekend, it's well overdue, I've tried to encourage Emily out into the sunshine.  I needed to do something that showed an actual result for a change.  This evening, I could see yet more slashes on her arms. I need to get away from this. Cahms are yet to have a positive impact and I'm not sure how much longer I can do this, work, house work, kids and crap.  I feel like I've been worn away, eroded.

I thought I was a parent, when did it change to carer?

Saturday, 1 September 2012

An apology

Last week and this week have been tough.  The pressure of feeling unsupported by Cahms coupled with Emily's fragile state of mind has been hard, really hard.  Too many times she's told me she wanted to be dead.  Too many times she's cut her arms and her legs.

Then on Wednesday this week everything changed.  I received a phone call from a Family Therapist asking to set up a meeting for today.  It seems one of the Doctors, not really in contact with Emily, had picked up on the lack of intervention and had set wheels in motion.

My husband worked from home so he could attend the session today.  We sat in a room with a Therapist, a Doctor and a Student Nurse and we talked about what family therapy was about. We explored some of my background and my husband did everything he could to show his willingness to support Emily.  Given my own mental health issues, therapy is no stranger to me. For my husband, this is brand new.  He participated fully today and instantly agreed to attend  further sessions regardless of work commitments. I am so very proud of him.

During the session, the therapist openly admitted that mistakes had been made, that Emily should not have been left for 6 weeks without therapeutic intervention.  She apologised and asked me if I, in view of this lack of care, would be able to put my trust in them.

Throughout this 'journey' my only concern has been the well being of my daughter.  I do believe that errors can happen, but from talking to the various practitioners today I can see they are truly sorry.  They know they have let Emily down and they intend to put that right.

I am relived that the situation will be changing rapidly and that Emily will soon be able to start the difficult path to recovery.

A simple apology can go a long way.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hope becomes Hopeless

I don't understand.  The very people who are supposed to help Emily get better seem to be doing just the opposite.

There were trips planned for this week from the unit.  Emily was really anxious, not wanting to go.  When I dropped her off yesterday a nurse took her in because she was upset.  The nurse told her that no one would force her to go.  But what did they do?  They made her go, told her she had no choice.  She sat shaking most of the time, biting her lip.  As far as the staff were concerned "she's been fine, no problems".

I had a telephone conversation on Sunday with her named nurse.  He is the person who is supposed to have weekly chats and sessions with her.  He is hardly ever on shift when Emily is there.  She has had no sessions with anyone except the medic about her medication.  This weeks trips were worrying enough, but next week they are scheduled to go to Pleasure Island.  I told her nurse that Emily wouldn't be able to cope this, that she would be petrified.  He said he'd talk to her and she didn't have to go if she really didn't want to.

Today I spoke to that nurse again and his tone was very different.  It was quite clear that he didn't actually care what I thought.  I told him Emily's symptoms were increasing again, that our evenings with her are awful.  He didn't show any concern.  I asked if she would be able to miss the Pleasure Island trip and was told no, they wanted her to go.  After all, he told me, she'd been fine on today's trip, adding that she was being a typical teenager and seemed bored.

I didn't know what to say.  I told him that if he expected her to go next week, he'd better talk to her and explain his reasons.  I knew Emily would be really upset, but what else could I do. I hoped he'd listen to her.

Emily was in her room when I got home from work this evening, Nannan was downstairs. After Nannan went home it wasn't long before she was downstairs, crying hysterically.  Why was no one helping her, she wanted to know?  No one was talking to her. No one understood how she felt. She trembled and thrashed around, sobbing.  It took a while for her to show me the cuts and scratches on her legs.  It looked like she'd repeatedly gone backwards and forwards through brambles. Whilst they weren't deep, I'd never seen so many marks on her.

I can understand why Cahms want the children to do activities, but they have given Emily no strategies for coping.  This is a child who barely leaves the house and they want her to go to a packed noisy theme park.  Give her some tools, take it slow, build up her confidence!!  Why are they doing this?  Why won't they listen to me?  I am not a neurotic mother.  I am the mother who has to pick up the pieces when she gets home. The mother who has to look at the marks her daughter makes on her skin because she can't cope. The mother who is seeing the last glimmer of hope fade away. I am the mother who hears her daughter say she can't carry on.

I may not be medically trained but I know when something is wrong.  They are trained, why can't they see it?  Why aren't they helping?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Light a candle

It's almost 4am. Once again, despite the exhaustion clawing at me, sleep will not come.

I am in a travel lodge in York, my husband is beside me and my son is almost close enough to touch. Both sleep soundly. Emily is not here, she is at home with my mum.

We should, as a family, have been spending this week at the seaside. But that was another planned holiday which fell by the wayside, like all our other plans this year.  The sadness in the eyes of my son was too much to bear. I didn't want him to resent Emily and I also thought he deserved some form of holiday, however brief. And so here we are, 2 nights in a travel lodge.

We've packed in as much as we can, our main focus has been my son. He has chosen our activities and we've done our best to have fun. He's enjoying himself, but he misses Emily and feels guilty that she is not here.  As a distraction we've bought cuddly toys and have been taking photo's of them in various locations. It's given us something else to focus on.

I've tried to make it better by acknowledging that all our tickets last for a year. I am determined we will come and use them again and next time Emily will be with us. I told her this in our phone call tonight. She cried down the phone.

Today was her last day at the unit this week. Although she gets upset at having to go still, she feels safe and supported there. Now she faces a day with just Nannan, until we get home in the early evening.  I felt guilty even thinking about doing this trip, like I'm abandoning her again, but I can't forget there is a little boy who needs his mum too.  Am I wrong?

My husband has been fantastic, when he made a vow last week to be a father to my children, he meant it. I can see my son's love for him growing each day. Emily already loves him, but my son has taken longer. This trip has been an important 'rite of passage' for my husband and son. But Emily has never been far from our thoughts.

I wonder now, how long did the candle we lit in the minster burn for her?

Friday, 10 August 2012


Today I am drowning.  With the Wedding and a couple of nights away, I've realised I've missed several days of my anti depressant medication.  Boy can I tell.  I feel sick with worry, I want to hide away and I want to sob in a corner.

But hiding isn't an option and sobbing must be done away from Emily.   I need to dust myself down, pick up the pieces and get on with it.

This week my 13 year old daughter was prescribed Prozac.  I can't describe the feeling that washed over me when I saw the label.  I knew medication was coming, but to see Prozac written on the bottle was something else.  They are starting her on a small dose of liquid medicine.  This allows them to check for any adverse reactions prior to giving her a full dose.  I know she needs help and I'm not against medication (I will be medicated for life, if I remember to take it) but there is a great sadness in me.  Sad that it has had to come to this.

It will be a number of weeks before we will be able to tell the effectiveness of the medication.  I hope it doesn't change Emily. I want her to get better, but I still want her to be Emily, if that makes sense?

Her body is covered in little cuts and scratches.  Since I removed all razors she tries to use kitchen knives or scissors to mark herself.  Favourite places are her hips, tops of her thighs, ankles and sometimes her arms.

My Mum stayed at my house with the children for the 2 nights I honeymooned.  She thought it would be better for Emily to be at home.  She spent the days at the 'Unit' which helped to give Mum a break.  Outside 'unit' times I was in constant contact with Emily via instant messenger on our phones.

My Husbands relatives came from Europe to celebrate our Wedding.  Some had to go home after the weekend, but his Sister and her family stayed for a week in Derbyshire.  We had arranged to go and see them yesterday.  They have two boys of a similar age to my children.

They were not surprised when we arrived at their holiday park without Emily.  She couldn't do it, poor Mum had to change her plans so that we could still have our planned day.  We are very lucky that my Mum is so kind.  She understands that my Husband rarely gets to see his family and had no hesitation in helping us to have the day with them and my son.

Later we all drove back to our house so that they could see Emily before leaving England. I'd warned them about the state of our house, but I'm sure they thought I was exaggerating. 

I was terribly ashamed when they walked in.  My house is just so untidy. Lots of things around that never seem to find a home.  Made worse by piles of things on the floor that came back from the Wedding reception and other piles of things that were used to make things for the Wedding reception.  Add to that unfinished DIY projects everywhere and I felt a total failure.

I told my husband later that I was lazy and I know this is true.  With the Wedding preparation and supporting Emily, housework has just not got done.  I made so many things myself for the Wedding that everything else got left.

So I feel I am drowning in self pity and drowning in mess and housework and it makes me feel pathetic. Once I finish this post, I'm going to get a black bin bag and get started. Oh and I'm going to take my medication.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Wedding Day

On the eve of my Wedding, my niece came to stay overnight, it was nice to hear laughter coming from my daughters bedroom, rather than crying or screaming.  My husband to be and my son slept at my Mums.

Emily came into my room several times during the night.  Her panic about getting through the day was increasing.  I hardly slept that night, the same as so many nights before.

In the morning Emily switched between panic and practical. I tried to keep her calm. I did her hair and foundation. I  set her little tasks to try and keep her busy.  She helped with the smaller bridesmaid and helped me get into my dress.  She ran errands from our house to my Mums a few houses away.

I felt that I wasn't ready, I'd just not had chance to do all the things I wanted to before I left.  So much time had gone into other things I'd felt so rushed.  When the taxi had arrived I hadn't even got my dress on.

We left the house with rows of neighbours lining the street, cameras snapping away.  Some of them know about Emily's state of mind, but not all.  It was lovely to see them.  They laughed as I locked my own front door and tried to fit the key in my little bag.

I had no flowers, I decided to do things differently.  Handbags for me and the girls instead.  How else would you carry your mobile phone??

Emily managed really well through the ceremony and photo's.  Cracks started to appear when seated at the top table. She sat between her new Step Dad and my Mum.  Between them they did their best to keep her calm.

As the day wore on, Emily found it more and more difficult.  It seemed that the arrival of the evening guests was the catalyst for her rapid deterioration.  New faces, the start of loud music in the main room were real problems for her. 

It was not long after that she came in sobbing.  She'd been barefoot in the garden and had stepped on something sharp. Blood now covered her shoe and the hem of her ivory dress.  I was the Bride, expected to mingle with my guests, but I had to be a Mum and that was more important. I cleaned her foot, but I couldn't stop her crying.  It had been the final straw, she sobbed that she wanted to go home.  I was close to sobbing too.

My evening guests were still arriving, for me, going home wasn't an option, we hadn't even done our first dance yet.   I think my wedding day came to an end around then.  It was still early, but I'd had enough.  It wasn't her fault, but it's hard to go back to 'having fun' when you know how much your daughter is hurting. 

My Mum and Dad were taking the kids home at the end of the night.  I had 2 nights in a local hotel as my honeymoon and I felt guilty about it.

Mum took over with Emily.  She desperately wanted to see our first dance and worked on keeping Emily calm enough to last until then.  My Brother in law offered to run them home as soon as our dance was over and that seemed to help.

I was so immensely grateful to all my family that night, they did all they could to keep things moving as smoothly as possible.

We did our first dance and we enjoyed it, but after, I had nothing left in me.  I moved around the tables trying to make sure I'd spoken to everyone, asking the same questions, smiling the same weary smile and barely hearing the replies. I tried to dance to the music but I was tired and I'd hardly eaten.

The clock seemed to slow down, but gradually we approached 11pm, our time to finally depart.

Later, alone in our room, I lay my head on the chest of my new husband and I sobbed.  He could have thought I was regretting our marriage, but he knew this wasn't the reason.

He told me to let it all out as he held me tight and that's exactly what I did.


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Things are not always as they seem

Weeks one and two were hard.  Emily didn't want to go to the unit.  On some days she cried or screamed not to be left there.  But despite her protests I knew she needed to stay if she was to have any chance of starting to make a recovery. 

Regardless of her thoughts when she went in each morning, she came out at 4pm almost smiling, not because she was now free to go, but because, actually, she'd enjoyed her day.  She'd be quite chatty in the car home, telling me what the other kids had been up to, what activities they'd done and who she was starting to make friends with.  Until the new school term she will only be going three days a week, giving her a couple of extra days at home.

By the end of the second week I thought I could see a change in her.  She seemed more calm, the 'episodes' became much less frequent, I actually thought she was doing well.  Not better in such a short time, but definitely calmer and more in control.  As my Wedding day was moving ever closer, with so many things to do, Emily's new found calmness was just what I needed.

But things are most certainly not as they seem. On Monday night I remarked how well Emily was doing.  She let me in to a secret.  Her health had not improved, but her acting skills had.  Once she'd admitted that she'd been hiding her problems and that she'd done it for my sake, the flood gates opened once more.  She was trying to shield me, she could see how busy I was with work and the Wedding and was trying to give me 'a break'.  I felt like I had failed her.  It had suited me to think she was feeling better.  It was true, I did have so much to do, but I should have realised.

Since she's opened back up to me the episodes have returned and they are ferocious, longer, louder and more heart breaking than even before.

Her Medic is hoping to start medication next week.  I'd begun to think that maybe she'd be ok without it, but now I see her pain again and I see I am wrong.

I know the thought of the Wedding is adding to her pain and fears, but I can't afford to cancel it and I do believe that when she gets caught up in the day she will enjoy herself.

I hope I am not wrong about this too.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Day One?

Today is a day of very mixed feelings, its the day Emily's treatment will start.  Part of me is relieved that we have survived and made it this far, but I know this is also the beginning of a hard path for her and one she has to take no matter what.

On Sunday morning we should have been running Race for Life together.  Sadly Emily couldn't face being out of the house with so many strangers. So our group of 3 became 2 and instead I gave her my medal when I got home.

By Sunday evening I had started with a nasty head cold.  The drawback to something like this, apart from obviously feeling rubbish, is that you don't want to pass it on.  This has made it very difficult to comfort Emily in the usual way of hugs, kisses and holding hands.  I was sneezing with alarming frequency and in between times constantly blowing my nose so we kept to opposite ends of the sofa. 

Monday I felt even worse and at a time Emily needed me I couldn't be fully there for her.  I knew she worried about going to the centre and as the day got closer her fear grew and she got more and more upset about it.  I could only offer her short hugs and words from a distance.

Feeling no better on Tuesday meant a day off work.  This is almost unheard of for me and especially not for 'just a cold'.  Its ridiculous, I am totally shattered, coughing and sneezing with a pounding head and even dosing myself up on whatever medication I can has made little difference. I'm beginning to wonder if the weeks of worry have just left my defences so low that there is no fight in me for stuff like this?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to feel sorry for myself, I'm just blooming annoyed that a) I'm ill b) I can't shake it and c) It's stopping me doing the things I need to do.

So back to today.  Admittance was 10.30am.  Emily flitted from being upset, doing practical stuff like getting showered, back to being upset.  I was surprised though that when the time came to leave,I got her into the car, with me and my cold, with no real problems.  I'd honestly thought I might not be able to physically get her out of the house.

She walked into the centre calmly, even going out and in again to retrieve my forgotten tissues from the car.

Once in the admittance meeting with four staff members it was a different story.  She wouldn't look at anyone and I became almost like an interpreter as questions were asked.  Her answers were barely audible and as her head hung down there was only me who could make out what she was saying.

All through the meeting she was crying and whispering that she didn't want to stay and didn't want me to leave her.  The staff left us alone for a few moments and then offered us a tour.

The centre is very well equipped, with school rooms, leisure room, quiet area's, dinning room etc and the staff are kind.

When the time came to part, Emily started to cry again and begged me not to leave her.  I held her face in my germ infested hand and asked her to look at me, really look at me.

I told her I loved her, I told her I was proud of how well she was doing.  I told her that those bully's were not going to win because she was going to get the help she needed to get better and get her life back.  I told her I would be there at 4pm to bring her home.  I opened her hand and pointed at the felt heart keyring and told her that the heart was proof I would still be with her and I would be thinking about her all afternoon.  I told her she was safe now and the centre would help her get better.

Through all this I did not shed a tear.  Not until I was out of the security doors and in my car did I sit and sob.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

What does the future hold?

We have a date for Emily to start as a day patient; a week on Wednesday. 

Emily cried when she read the letter.  She knows she needs the help, but the realisation that in a short time she will spend days away from me is hard for her to cope with.  There is also fear of the unknown.

Our daily routines continue much as before, managing anxiety attacks, whilst trying to fit in working, shopping and wedding organising.  My wedding, now just four weeks away, is also a source of anxiety for Emily.  My hope is that she will get caught up in her 'role' as bridesmaid and this will be enough of a distraction to at least get her through the ceremony.  After that, we'll just have to take it as it comes.  We will be surrounded by family and friends who will all understand and lend a hand if needed, I just hope it won't come to that.

News has reached us, for while now, that children at the new school are wanting to know where Emily is and why she's not at school.  Not much of a surprise given how long she's now been off.  Unfortunately, she has no real friendships so isn't able to confide in anyone there.  I'm also not sure if it would be the right thing to do anyway. 

The school are getting the children to do a GCSE next year in Y9, Emily had chosen History.  The more I think about school the more worried I get.  I know she is a good student, but I have this sickly feeling in my stomach.  Its not even likely that she will go back at the start of the new school year, how is she ever going to catch up?

Its not just the study side of things though.  There will be a day when she has walk back into that school and there will be questions.  Not only will she have to deal with this but she'll also still be fighting to control her fears.

What does the future hold?  I just don't know, I need to take the advice I give to Emily I think, one day at a time, just one day at a time.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Are we there yet?

Today finally saw myself and Emily waiting for our assessment at the residential unit.  Emily became more and more nervous so we tried to make light of our situation by laughing at theTV.  I'd never had to sit through an episode of 'In the night garden' before.  It seemed to revolve around lots of charactors with too short arms trying to use a ball, still it provided light relief.

We were taken further into the warren like passages by a Nurse and a Specialst Doctor.  They were both very kind and apologised for keeping us waiting.  Emily was very sullen and for while kept her head down and angled away from the Doctor.  I sat next to her and held her hand, the hand with the felt heart keyring in it.

The Doctor wanted to know why we were asking for help.

I started to speak about the 'episodes', the self harm, the voices, the people she thinks she see's, the fact that she can rarely leave the house and if she does, it needs to be with me.  I explained that she can no longer go to school or see the one friend she has left.  I described what its like when her legs are kicking out in pain, when she screams 'mummy they're coming for me!' 'mummy they're hurting me, make it stop!!'  I explained that these were the times you would see her with handfuls of her own hair tightly clenched in her clawed hands.

Amongst my input, Emily managed a few words of her own before the Doctor moved on to why this was happening.

Between us we told her story once more.  We told of the confident girl who left her junior school and unbeknown to me, was teased even on transistion days to the new Comprehensive. We spoke about the verbal taunts and name calling which started pretty much straight away.  We relived the pushing and kicking from boys and girls in the corridors between lessons, which happened several times a week throughout year 7. I told the story of things being thrown at her in the classroom.

I explained the additional problems resulting from a forced change in her friendship group, which resulted in people Emily had called friends being nasty and vindictive.  I talked about the facebook bullying, the BBM bullying and the liveprofile bullying. Finally Emily spoke about the year 11 boys who attacked her, got her by the throat and hurt her. It was clear to see the shock on the faces of the Doctor and Nurse when I explained school did nothing to help.

Emily was really starting to struggle by now,  through her tears she kept asking to go home.  I sat closer, explaining that we wouldn't be long, but we needed to talk if we were going to get her better.  I told her how well she had done.

They asked about suicide.  Emily has often said she had made plans but didn't want to tell me what they were.  Today she finally agreed to speak about them, but only after I said she could say in front of me and I wouldn't be upset.  Her preferred methods are taking an overdose, drinking something toxic or hanging herself in the local woods. I did as I promised, I didn't get upset.  To be honest I didn't feel anything, it feels like its nothing new, these are methods I guess are the most common, shocking yes, but still common.  In my heart I don't think she would do it, but I may be wrong.  I manage the risk by never letting her be alone, except when she's in her room and even then I'm monitoring the situation.

The outcome of the meeting was that they could take her as a resident, but felt that Emily was too dependent on me and to remove me so completely would be counterproductive.  I have to say I agree.  The Doctor looked me in the eye and said if I couldn't cope and needed her to go in as a resident this was possible.  I am struggling, really struggling, but I didn't want them to know that.  I couldn't put Emily through that just because I'm not strong enough, I will have to cope. 

So we settled on Emily going every morning and coming home every afternoon, a bit like school hours.  Unfortunately, whilst there is room in the residential side of the unit, there isn't in the day only provision.  We now need to wait for a place in the next few weeks.  So it is likely that when other children start their summer break, Emily will be starting her days at the unit. 

We left feeling drained.

Later, at home, I spoke to Emily about the outcome of people who overdose with the likes of paracetamol, she thought they would kill her, I explained the reality.

So are we there yet? No, not really.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Like a pebble

It's been a mixed few days. On Friday Emily leaned on me heavily and like many days, we never left the house. At one point she was adamant the phone was ringing and couldn't comprehend the fact I couldn't hear it. So convincing was she, that 'they' had left a message, I caught myself glancing towards the answer machine when I walked into the living room.  Of course there was nothing there, but that didn't stop Emily believing otherwise.

We did get a genuine call. It was from the residential ward. The Consultant who should be assessing Emily isn't available on the 29th. Our meeting has had to be moved to the following Monday. It doesn't sound much, but to me its another weekend to get through.

Emily took the news ok. I suspect this is due to her now fearing the appointment. Several times recently she's said she won't be able to get better without me being with her. She's scared of going for treatment. But I can't make her better and I truly believe they can and will. Emily does not agree.

Saturday came, and with it another party. This time a 16th for my niece.  There was pretty much a repeat of the anxiety she'd shown before her brothers party.  In the end I made our excuses to my sister over the phone and calmed Emily down. To be honest a part of me couldn't face going either. I am so tired, I'm really struggling to sleep.  I feel I'm on a treadmill and if I don't keep putting one foot in front of the other my world will finally collapse around me. I have blinkers on too, I don't look around. Nothing interests me and nothing gives me pleasure, I just keep moving forward.

Despite a disturbed sleep I awoke with a little energy on Sunday. My son was at his Dad's and Emily seemed nicely occupied. She was playing computer games, surfing, watching tv etc. I decided I might feel a bit better if I did some of the house jobs I'd been trying to ignore.

I was pleased that Emily seemed to be having a better day. I should have known better, I so wanted some time to myself, even if it was doing jobs, I guess I lowered my guard.

It was towards bedtime that the crying started again and the pleas for the voices to leave her alone.

I talked to her and eventually got her to go and get ready for bed. It was then that she asked if she could tell me something. Her eyes were downcast in shame. She admitted that she had cut herself. I asked what with? It turned out she had hidden a spare razor before I'd taken the packet off her. She was crying that she was sorry, but that she couldn't help it.  I told her I wasn't angry, but that I thought she'd had a better day.  Emily admitted that she'd had a better day because she'd cut herself.  It made her feel better, helped her cope.

There have been more episodes today, and they have lasted longer.  She shouts that they are getting her, coming for her while she kicks out with her feet and screws up her eyes.  I hold her really tightly, hoping to keep 'them' away.  I can't.

I can feel myself getting weaker. I am like a pebble constantly being eroded, there is no let up on the waves crashing over me.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

How do you cope?

I was reading a blog entry this evening, it was one of  NetMums 'blog of the week' some time ago, click to read it.

It was about a father so low he was thinking about ways to end his life and it was his young children who were the ones trying to make him better and stop the tears.

I related a lot to him.  I tried to get to the blog to see if he was doing ok since this post, but it seems to have gone. I hope he's ok, I really do.  I was depressed when Emily was small,  for different reasons to the person I've just referred to, but desperate just the same.

I was reminded of my own tears when my children were small, especially Emily.  Post natal depression is an evil beast, it can strike the strongest people.  At the end of the day, no child is born with a manual, and despite what various books will tell you, sometimes there are no rules.

I struggled with post natal depression, when the children grew up, it carried on as common or garden depression.  When I was at my lowest my children would comfort me and I would tell them I was ok, just not feeling well.  There were times when having children to look after, and the trials and tribulations which accompany them, pushed me so close to the edge.  There were alway 2 reasons why I carried on, my 2 children.  On my 40th birthday I chose to have a tattoo.  It was my way of saying to the world 'look I made it to 40!' but it was also my reminder that when I no longer want to be here, I think how my children would feel if I 'checked out early'

Initials of my Children

When the world is a dark place and I can not see the light, I look at my wrist and I know why I carry on.

If you suffer, find your reason to carry on and hold on tight.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The need for comfort

I wonder if being at work all day meant that Emily felt she had to hold herself together for Nannan.  If so it would make sense that within ten minutes of being home, the flood gates had opened.  Huge body shaking sobs subsided eventually to a resigned tone. She muttered almost to herself, 'I don't deserve to be here' 'I'm worthless'  'Everyone would be happier if I was gone'

I see the eyelids swollen from crying and the set of her mouth, the way she pummelled and ripped at a chunk of blue tac in her hands.  These confirm to me that she really does think it would be better for everyone if she wasn't here. I find myself, not for the first time, strangely detached.  I think this is becoming my way of coping.  I calmly talk to her about her worth, about how its her illness making her feel so bad, but one thing I say seems to hit home more than anything else.  I told her that her pain might end if she wasn't here, but the pain I would feel, Nannan would feel, my partner would feel, her brother would feel, everyone who knows her would feel, would be unbearable.  I meant it.  I can not imagine what it must be like to lose a child, I don't want to imagine it. 

Emily started to talk about her fear of treatment.  I suppose as it becomes closer this will become more of an issue.  Whilst she knows she is ill, fear of the unknown is building.  She also fears having to spend time away from me.  I talked to her about treatment being a chance to heal and rebuild her life.  A chance to be able to do normal teenager things. Emily doesn't think she will ever do normal things.

Later this evening Emily started screaming that there was a man in the room with us.  Nothing I could say or do would convince her otherwise.  Her eyes were screwed tightly shut, her hands contorted, almost claw like, covering her face.  I'd calm her down, only to be faced with a fresh reaction.  They were grabbing her throat.  The man was stood in the room again.  They were hurting her.

Eventually, I settled her in bed.  The bedside light is on, she has a cuddly toy, her heart shaped keyring and now also clings to one of my old t-shirts.  Comfort can come from the strangest things.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Nowhere to hide

Emily's episodes continue to worsen.  This evening I heard her run frantically across her bedroom and launch herself down the stairs. It was 10.30pm.  She told me that she'd barely escaped. 'They' had surrounded her, tried to hold her down and cover her mouth.  She was so terrified that she couldn't get away, but had spotted a gap between them and made a run for it. 

I gave her a hug and tried to soothe with words, but we both know they have little effect.  I'm frightened too.  Frightened of what might come next.  I looked into her glazed eyes tonight and I just see something broken.  Eventually she agreed to go back to bed.

I have work tomorrow.  I don't feel like I can face it, but I also feel I need a break from Emily, so it seems like I have little choice.  That sounds so selfish, I don't mean to be, but my own mental health problems are just waiting, desperate to come out and take over.  That can't happen, I will hold it together.

I went to CAMHS on my own on Monday.  I needed to be able to talk freely. I feel bad that I get frustrated because there is no let up.  The Dr was very kind and said I was doing all I could, all the right things.  We all know I can't heal her, we just need to keep her safe and get through to next Friday.

But for Emily there is nowhere safe and nowhere to hide.