It’s been 8 months since my last post. I don’t know where time has gone. I’ve had sporadic intentions of writing but then words have failed me or outbursts have flailed me. One or the other.
I’ve been working on some self-healing by curling in on myself and only branching out to a few, very close, unsuspecting victims, while revelling in the mundane minutiae of life trying to find some semblance of sanity. And in fleeting moments of freedom from the hazy torpor, I’ve been (over-)indulging in self-care and, frankly, bloody loving it!
Pickle is now at long last under the supervision of the child psychiatrist. Because of his complex nature, we haven’t yet been able to pinpoint the right kind of therapy for him, if indeed there is one.
Rather unexpectedly however, we have found ourselves squeezed together on a (rather small) couch in a child psychotherapist’s office…..without Pickle!!
Talking through our concerns, worries and fears for Pickle now and in the future has been remarkably uplifting. The sessions compound my growing knowledge and confidence and, if I’m honest, make me feel like I am predominantly on the right tracks. My obsessive reading, challenging and fighting must finally be paying off a little.
Over the years, I have attended most professional meetings alone so having the OH with me has been a fantastic support. I think he finally believes that I was right to wallow in pages and pages of psychobabble, funding the endless complexities of my (mostly) female mind. Even though it has (quite possibly) been to the detriment of my own usually steely mental resolve and is (very possibly) the reason I overdose regularly on Jaffa Cakes and gin.
Pickle’s official diagnosis has come after years of my insisting that the professionals followed through with my gut feeling of “attachment issues”.
I was told not to be so “fixated”. Not to “self-diagnose”.
I listened. Of course.
After all, they’re the experts, right? RIGHT?
(I realise I could be repeating myself here, I refuse to read past blog posts)
Countless meetings, assessments, tests, tantrums, outbursts later and I have it in black and white:
(Otherwise known as: attachment disorder…with significant traits of ADHD and autistic tendencies).
A testy and unforgiving trio. Not the sort you’d like to meet on a dark night!
Pickle was walloped with some horse pills, which seemed to have little effect. A few weeks later, the dose was increased but again with little effect.
A third and final attempt at a different medication is starting to show some signs of light relief. Though in all fairness, I refuse to place all the credit at the feet of medication. Pickle has made a staunch effort to understand his challenges and still wows me every day with his understanding of the workings of his own mind. We talk very openly. He has a wonderful, descriptive imagination and is excellent at drawing analogies that help me understand his emotions and feelings.
This leads me on to what the actual catalyst for this post was. Last week I heard some dreadful and tragic news: an old school friend chose not to continue in this tangled world of crazy. And it broken my heart. I sobbed uncontrollably.
I didn’t know the man he became, but I did know the boy he was and it made me think even more deeply about my own boys. About the external influences that impact them every day. About how important it is that the channels of communication remain open to our children, our families and friends. About the need to fight even harder to be heard.
Many of my regular followers know how passionately I feel about mental health issues. How disappointed and utterly frustrated I am in the mental health service provision in this country – especially in my local area.
It angers me on a daily basis when I read the stories of the often needless difficulties created by the lack of funding, bureaucracy and oftentimes (in my experience) downright lazy-arsedness. But what angers me most of all is the needless loss of life. This doesn’t and shouldn’t need to happen.
In March 1998, I lay writhing in pain on my sofa – unbeknown to me – with a practically perforated bowel. It coincidentally happened to be Bowel Cancer Awareness Week and I overheard a news item strapline declare: “Don’t die of embarrassment”.
That was the rocket up the ass (pun intended) I needed to seek medical help. Thankfully, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and not the Big C.
Though ulcerative colitis and crohn’s disease are both physical illnesses, they are also invisible illnesses. As with mental health disorders, you can appear perfectly well to those on the outside.
I was so grateful to have absorbed that message enough to do something about my symptoms. In the same vein and in the hope that just one person who may be struggling with mental health issues will read this and act on it: Please don’t suffer in silence. You’re not alone.
And to those of you who are lucky enough to have close support and are at ease with being open, try not to judge others based on what you see or don’t see, what you hear, what you assume.
Talk. Ask people how they’re feeling.
And more importantly, listen!
Today is World Mental Health Day and it felt fitting to write this post, which I now realise is completely haphazard, manic and maybe slightly….mental.
But I’ve written it with no thought, just a mixture of anger and deep, deep sadness.
In memory of PG.