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.