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.

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

Rollercoaster

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.