Hi my name is H and I am mum to T my son and A my daughter.
My son really enjoyed nursery, absolutely loved it but when school started proper with reading and writing he became slightly anxious about going into school, specifically anxious about the reading and writing. He was born in 2001 he started nursery in 2004 and school in 2005.
In 2008 my dear sister passed away from cancer leaving 5 children one of which is the same age as T, and at that time good friends with my son.
My son became very anxious that I was going to die and had strange dreams about me falling through the trampoline and never coming back and that kind of thing. He started to not want to go to school he didn’t want to leave my bedroom he slept in my bedroom till he was nigh on 12 years old. When my son was 11 he became rather poorly just after Christmas and on February 18th he was admitted to hospital where he was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis and he was then diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was very hard for him we were placed on the Teenage Cancer Ward which was a lovely Ward but I did not notice the children with chemo headscarves and drips walking around but he did and and he was very much of the ilk .. it could be worse .. look what those poor children have got… that type of thing.
He was very brave indeed but it was a massive shock and he fell very ill it was very scary, the first doctor was shaking so much that she couldn’t take his blood she was almost in tears and that was very very traumatic for him. He was only a young boy but a very bright boy and he was worried that this was going to kill him and that it was his fault. We stayed in hospital for 4 or 5 days in quite a nice little bubble in many ways but when we came home it didn’t feel so safe at all.
Whilst we were in hospital life changed dramatically for my daughter from the moment of diagnosis. My daughter and my son and myself were very very close my husband still lived at home with us as well and although we argued a lot we were were still a good family unit of 4.
My little girl was only 13 on the cusp of puberty very attached to me, all of a sudden had to go and stay with her Nan. Her Mum ripped and left basically. I didn’t explain to her what was going on I didn’t have time or brain space. We basically were told from the doctor’s to go straight to the children’s hospital and “not pass go”, it was like a very quick game of Monopoly. Strange that I often think of it like that.
So, regarding my daughter, on day 2 or 3 I think 2 I got the bus home which seemed endless my husband came down to sit with my boy and I went home to ostensibly sit with my daughter but when I got home I was stressed and tired and very hungry and I just slept got my clothes had some food and went back to the hospital in the afternoon, having not had much time to explain and cuddle. This little girl did not know what had hit her! Our life has gone from talking about everything and sharing what was going on to what must have felt very scary and very lonely for her and I know it did.
Things did not get better for her when we got home my husband and I started arguing a lot because we were arguing anyway before but with two well children it was differen. With one poorly one especially we found all sorts to argue about he did not pull his weight or work and he did not pull his weight and look after the children to the level I believe that they should be looked after, fed and house cleaned a bit! and the rows ensued in between constant night testing, for blood sugar levels, my son not wanting to leave my bedroom, my daughter feeling very very pushed out and my son’s mental health deteriorating because not only now was he worried about me passing away but he was probably worried about himself.
Life changed for us all, especially him in so many different ways and having to put up with 6 injections a day and possibly 6 to 10 blood tests, it’s more injections that anybody has in a year generally.
So both my children were damaged during this period I can really believe that and I really feel for my daughter who incidentally is not the one with mental health problems. But she is scarred by this experience that lasted for many years and she sometimes feels very pushed out and I have learnt from Suzanne’s Partnering not Parenting to listen to what she has to say rather than pass judgement or give advice or tell her to stop, just to listen, it’s taking a long time to learn how to do this.
My son’s mental health probably started deteriorating enough for me to realise it was his mental health deteriorating when he was in Year 7 he found it incredibly hard to go to school and he was violently sick every morning there was blood in his sick. Little did I know that he was using wire pushed down his throat to make himself vomit, he did not disclose this to me until this year and he is now 19 this is terribly terribly sad. That he would put himself through this because he was so scared about being in school.His first day back at school he had a hypo and he was treated wrongly for it by the teacher, he sent him off on his own and he felt absolutely terrible. This combined with the fact that he already did not enjoy being at school and reading and writing made it very hard for me to encourage him to go in and the more he stayed off school the more he stayed in his bedroom, reclusive, shouting and banging and knocking holes in the walls not letting me tidy up, it was absolutely disgusting, it would take me 4 or 5 full hours of cleaning to get it clean and I had to repaint the walls to make them look clean they got that dirty.
He maintained one friendship thank God and he still has that lovely friendship, he stays twice a week even now. Yes they spend a lot of their time smoking and some of that smoking concerns me, that is all I want to say about it at present. But thank god he has this friendship this lad has stayed on board since my boy was 12 and I take him on holiday and consider him my godson, he’s lovely. I hope they will live together in the future but we will have plan B’s if necessary.
So how did I feel about my child having an obvious deep depression and anxiety?
I felt really sad, really concerned and helpless. I wanted to swap places, did I think it was my fault? it’s possibly I did, I can’t recall feeling that because I do believe that really worrying and berating yourself constantly takes your strength away from dealing with the situation. I don’t know whether I believe that academically or from my heart but I have led myself to believe this is what I believe if this makes any sense sorry to use the word believe so many times!
What help have I had and how has it helped me and my son and indeed my daughter?
Well initially we were referred to the senco woman at school she was very nice but very focused on the fact that T shared a bed with me and that other children would laugh at him for this, but why would they ever know? I thought that her focus on this showed her shortcoming not mine?
She was nice but unable to deal with our situation and my boy’s extreme anxiety.
At secondary school all the teachers were nice and understanding but I very much felt they wanted my son off their books because every single attendance meeting and they were very many, I knew what I was talking about and if I took a friend to suppory me she knew what she was talking about too. None of this was made up and they could clearly see that and that my boy was not only very ill with anxiety and depression but very ill with his very unstable diabetes. When they finally passed my child over to the homeschooling team at a special unit I did actually say to them ‘I bet you’re very pleased now’, and they looked shocked but it was mock shocked I was not rude to them ever, but it was very obvious they were very pleased to see the back of probably me to be honest.
Please don’t forget all this time my other child is feeling out in the cold although I am doing my best and holding down a full-time job and indeed on call at night as well…. I was managing elderly care homes at the time and I was on call for the night staff three nights a week, this was a very difficult time because my husband was refusing to work not holding down any of the jobs he did get and not pulling his weight in the house at all. I think he suffers very badly with depression now,but i I needed him to help me manage my household and my children.
So I tried to get other help the doctor was very good we got referred to CAMHS but they were so ineffective it was shocking.
The next people to help me where pathways home education service they were fantastic they gave my son the confidence to realise that he is very bright and he can study if he wishes and he got entry level qualifications from them The main help had to be a young man called Lewis and he was T’s mentor, buddy if you will. He took my son out out to McDonald’s for breakfast and to bowling or the cinema.once a week and they just chatted. They chatted about music, about tattoos, they went out for a drive in this lads car. He was employed by the council and he SAVED my son’s life for sure! By befriending him, and I am crying as I write this, but by supporting me as his mother as well and just caring about us as a family by this time I have a strong feeling my husband had left because within this time my dad and my mum in fact had died and after my dad died there was it no way was I having this lump of a husband in my life that did not respect me enough to help at all and only wanted to spend the inheritance and that sounds harsh and we are reasonably friends now but it was very very difficult living with someone so so inherently genetically lazy.
So if you can keep track of what I’m writing there’s a lot of tooing and froing here as there is in life! Both my children have been through so so much in many different ways losing their dear grandfather losing their grandmother who they had mixed feelings about as I do. Losing their dear Auntie and having to cope with all these changes on top of my son’s illness so this is very difficult and quite hard to write to be honest.
As time went on we moved house to a much nicer area we got away from the drug scene of the area which we were living in we had a nicer way to live so therefore my son appreciated the space more and didn’t trash it and oh yes we also got a snake! Because I told my son if he crashed and banged in his room the snake would have a heart attack and die!! I know it’s a tiny white lie but it worked and even though that said snake is down in my lounge now because this room is too small he has still stopped crashing and banging I am so thankful for this.
Plus the snake is beautiful.
So I had a relationship with somebody for 2 years but that is over now and he was very strange but it meant that we could move house and we were looked after a little bit and lived in quite a normal way, meals at mealtimes, lifts to places, no arguing, quite a quiet nice couple of years despite the fact the relationship ended it feels like it never happened but it wasn’t torturous.
I found PMH on Facebook it started off with just thinking about gratitudes nothing else and then after about a year of me being really wishy-washy with them I started to interact with the other mothers and fathers and carers on the group. I started to read a little bit more into Suzanne’s theory of partnering not parenting, 2 years down the line maybe 3 years down the line I have started to understand this and it has helped me and both my children phenomenally, the respect that we have for each other and the love we have for each other is beautiful. I have learnt how to listen non-judgmentally, how not to sweat the small stuff, how not to care what other people think and enjoy our surroundings, it’s just life-changing.
Due to the support and friendship and love that I have got from Suzanne's Facebook site I have done therapy. I have have and will embark upon a much more prolonged therapy to help me sort out myself which is in turn I swear making me a better parent.
It has help me stop some really damaging behaviours that I was embroiled in and investing in and didn’t realise, and didn’t know how to get out of them once I did realise.
Also what really helped was the Dove course. It has opened my eyes to so much about friendship, about inner beauty about the way I look at the world and the way people see me, about everything. About how I interact with both my children, about what I say and when I say it and how I say it and it’s becoming commonplace now for me to be nicer and gentler it’s breathtaking! I can’t thank you enough Suzanne.
Given my time over again, what would I do differently? Well right from the very beginning I would introduce a healthier diet into my children’s life from an earlier age I would probably have been a little bit stricter about helping them appreciate and enjoy their own space, probably be a bit more conservative with how long I let them stay up at night! I would continue to be as much fun as I have been because apparently I’m very good fun and loving and generous and kind and all of that, both the children say that but they also agree that I’m a bit crazy and my mental health concerns them, so I probably would have addressed that earlier.
I would have pursued school, I would have really tried harder to get both of them to walk to school for a start, not drive them and pay for taxies because one of them has got a weight issue and that’s because me and her have both got a gene defect that affects our weight and T would have benefited from walking everyday and keeping his body fitter.
I find that writing about what I would have done differently is actually really refreshing because I can’t go back and do it differently but it’s good to put it down on paper via email because then I can put it away because I cannot do it differently and I have to accept the things I cannot change and have the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference! Sorry to quote that but it’s true!
Continuing on with what I would have done differently right up until now I would follow menu plans I would budget better I probably would have reduced my hours earlier than I have I looked after myself more, and kept myself a bit fitter. I would have not gone out with the multitude of dodgy fellas I’ve been out with gosh the list is endless, is have hot a dog, probably….I think I better stop there because I am getting to the point in my life where I am addressing the dodgy fellas, the healthy eating, the not working quite so hard and in many ways lockdown has helped me address all these things combined with PMH site. Combined with a friendships I have made and the encouragement to have therapy from Suzanne and J and C and K and N…..the list goes on…..