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, 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.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Torn in two

At times I have to remind myself that I'm actually a Mum to 2 children, not just one.  I try hard to make sure my son doesn't feel neglected, but as Emily consumes more and more of me, its getting increasingly difficult.  I try to talk to him, I tell him that I'm proud of him and that I love him, but I fear it isn't enough. 

It was his 12th Birthday this week and I found myself running around before and after work, to pick up extra little gifts for him.  I guess I fell into the trap of trying to show my love by spending money.  But so many things have been cancelled recently, our holiday for one, that I so needed to see him happy on his Birthday.

Its clear that Emily's illness is still progressing.  She still feels 'they' are after her.  She still hears them talking to her and laughing at her.  She still sees them in the house and her room.  Now she sees them writing taunts on the walls and they trip her up. 

I should have been at work on Tuesday, but Emily had an anxiety attack in the morning at the thought of having to go out with Nananan (she had some appointments). In the end I arranged to work from home and stayed with her.  I managed 2 hours work during the day and made my hours up at night.

I made it to work on Wednesday and Thursday, but I felt exhausted, like I was underperforming, not pulling my weight.  I'm fortunate, my team are great and supportive, but I still feel bad.

Today was the day of my Son's bowling party. Emily started to get anxious and by midday she was asking me if people would put something in her food at the party.  This type of comment is becoming more common.  Whilst the 'grounding' techniques do work sometimes, they don't help with everything.  More and more she says the same thing over and over again.  "I don't like it Mummy, make it stop. They're hurting me Mummy, they're in my head".  I'm so frustrated because I can do nothing, nothing to make it stop. 

So neither of us went to the party and a sad little boy went off with his Dad, my partner and Nannan.  He wanted me there and I let him down.

As each day passes and Emily leans on me more and more, the less I become a person.  Does that make sense?  I am retreating, needing to preserve what little of me remains until help arrives.  But each day it gets harder, I am never alone, I am never free.  I can not heal myself.  I need to support Emily, I need to be a Mum to my little boy, I need to be a partner and I need to go to work and actually do work.

So am I torn in two?  Or am I torn in three or four??

Monday, 11 June 2012

Say it with felt

The weekend has been tough at times, but we have managed to keep Emily busy.  I've basically just sat in the living room with her. I've painted and she's made her felt creatures, with input from me where needed. The TV has been our constant companion.

She definitely got into the sewing and it certainly helped her get through the day.  After a basic design first, she moved on to something more elaborate.

As I mentioned in my last post, she wanted to create something that could have been 'normal' once, but wasn't anymore.  I wondered if I should be sad by her creation, but I decided, actually, I quite liked it.

I told her I thought it was a good example of something not having to conform to being the 'norm' in order to be lovable and fun.  I said none of us were perfect and that's absolutely fine.

Unfortunately nights are another thing.  Emily regularly sleeps badly, she has nightmares and thinks if she goes to sleep, someone will be in her room to get her.  We hug her, we talk and reassure and we check out her room to prove no one else is in it.  You can see in her eyes that she doesn't believe you.

Today Emily, my Mum and myself went and met with the Dr at CAMHS.  We were joined by a Psychologist who talked us through some techniques we could try to help Emily.  It's called 'Grounding' and I think some of it could help.  We found that many of the things we do in part anyway.  Talking, hugging and reassuring Emily that she is safe.  One of the other techniques is to talk to her, tell her where she is, who is with her, what is in the room etc.  The idea is that when she's reliving bad experiences, its a way to bring her back to the present.

The other idea was a 'Grounding' item.  It's probably wrong of me to say it, but it seems a bit like having a lucky charm.  Its the idea that you have a small item which means something to you.  You carry it around and in times of anxiety you hold it and try again to bring yourself back to the present.  Emily and I discussed what she could use for this. In the end  I decided to make something.  Keeping with the current theme I used some felt and made this.

It's small enough to fit in the palm of her hand.  Emily loves it and can't believe how attached she has become already.  It was a good idea.  I'm very grateful to the Drs for giving us some tools.  I just need to hope that we can keep it going and the novelty doesn't wear off.

On a much lighter note, my partner said to her.  "It's even better because its 'heart felt'"  I groaned, but it took Emily a while to get that one.  It was nice to see her laugh.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The wait goes on

Everyone tells me that Emily needs medication and therapy, but this does not seem to be forthcoming.
I've been phoning all week since the Dr said she was referring us to the residential unit.  Obviously we have had the bank holiday weekend in between.

It didn't help that I was committed to an Art Exhibition over the four days of the Jubilee.  Emily and my son should have been going away with their Father, but there was no way that Emily was going to be able to do this. Her father does not understand.  She had an 'episode' when he was here recently and his reaction was just to pretend he couldn't see her crying on the sofa.  There was no way he would be able to support her and she knew that all too well. The result was that while my other half and I were manning the exhibition, my Mum was looking after Emily.

As soon as everyone was back at work on Wednesday I started chasing the residential referral.  I was told that it looked like there was an assessment by the residential team scheduled for Friday the 8th, but the reception team would chase and confirm.  By Friday morning we were still waiting.  It became obvious that an assessment the same day was unlikely.  I was so annoyed with them.  I'd called everyday and had assurances that I would receive a call confirming what was happening, but nothing came.

On Friday I'd almost reached breaking point.  We'd all been sat in the house for 3 days waiting for calls that never came.  I had a little girl who decided that no one cared.  No one was calling back so that must mean  that she was insignificant, right?  So so wrong :(  Why don't people realise the impact of their actions??

My partner suggested I get out of the house for an hour or two.  I went to the local shopping centre.  Emily had shown an interest in doing crafty things and I wanted some bits and pieces too.  It was nice to be away from the house and not have a real agenda.

I did a little shopping for everyone.  I'm conscious I don't want to leave my son out. The only thing I seem to be able to occupy Emily with is, constant re-runs of TV series (outnumbered & primeval) and crafty things like paint by numbers.  So I bought my son a paint by numbers too and got Emily a pad of water colour paper.

The day before we had managed an hour at Hobbycraft.  There she'd selected felt and stuffing to make weird creatures.  I don't care what she makes as long as I can keep her occupied.  Strangely though, she's made a kind of doll.  Her remit was "something that was once normal, but isn't now"  I think that says a lot about how she feels.

While I was out shopping I finally got a call from the residential unit.  They told me Emily's assessment would be in 3 weeks time.  I accepted this meekly and only cried after the call terminated.  How the hell were we supposed to get through the next three weeks?? I didn't understand.  I felt that the system was failing us in a massive way.

I texted my other half.  As usual he voiced his support and optimism that we'd get through.  I wasn't so sure, I wasn't sure at all.  Weary as I was, I couldn't see how I could get myself and Emily through another 3 weeks.

The shopping centre is not far from CAMHS.  I walked with a tear stained face through the shoppers, out to my car.  I sat in the car and sobbed unchecked.  I decided I needed to tell them how I felt, I needed them to know we weren't strong enough to get through three weeks.

I drove through the tears to CAMHS.  I faced the receptionist and tried to speak.  As soon as I did, the emotion took over and the tears flowed unchecked.  I was ushered into a waiting room.

After a few minutes the Dr we'd seen before popped her head around the door and kindly beckoned me to follow her.  Once in a room I found myself apologising over and over for my behaviour.  The Dr understood why I was there and told me she was there to help me whenever I needed it.

There is nothing she can do about the three week wait for the next assessment, but she has offered to see us in the meantime.  On Monday Emily, myself and my Mum will be off to CAMHS.  Basically, we need to equip ourselves to be able to keep Emily safe until the residential unit can take over.

I sit here this evening, having shared a bottle of wine with my partner and then having moved onto brandy, and I am grateful.  Grateful that the man, who is not Emily's Father, is kind and good enough to get right in there and help her in the same way I do.  We are broken in many ways, but we are also blessed.