Tag Archives: attachment disorder


10 Oct

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:

Diagnosis: my-gut-feeling-feckin-itis

(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.


Holy Crap!

29 Jun

By now, it will come as no surprise to you that change affects Pickle’s ability to self-regulate. This is common is children with attachment issues. Pickle is basically a slave to his impulsivity, he has a lack of control over his emotions and over his responses to the emotions of others.

One thing I failed to mention in my Trouser-gate rant last week was that there have been several changes going on in the Permanently Pickled household recently.

The main one being that my mother-in-law is becoming increasingly unwell (see The Big C). This has meant that we have had to travel 3 hours south most weekends, disrupting the usual weekend grind. On one occasion, I travelled down alone at short notice without having the opportunity to speak to the boys before I left.

Family was called in to help at the last minute.

Superficially, Pickle often shows little in the way of what most would consider ‘obvious’ anxiety. In fact many people would unwittingly believe that he is über-confident. I have seen this described in attachment theory as “low self-esteem with a big ego”; the perfect description for Pickle.

Pickle’s anxieties tend to bubble away underneath, slowly simmering and then ultimately exploding like a violent sneeze, except more prolonged and far messier!

One of his (many) latest attention-needing behaviours which appears to have superseded the former forehead-smashing against brick walls – which, quite frankly, I feel like doing myself at times – is, quite simply, running!

Yup, he runs.

Just runs.

That’s it!

He runs out of the house, out of the driveway, sometimes down the street. Usually accompanied by a distinctive staccato roar, building to a crescendo of disparaging chants.

Prior to Trouser-gate and during my absence, there was a perfect Pickle moment at school, which involved a Usain-type bolt out of the classroom… almost out of school – had it not been Pickle-proofed!

The trigger? Who knows! A pen tapping? The need for the teacher’s immediate attention? Sitting in the ‘wrong’ seat? Usually something seemingly trivial to those of us with secure attachment patterns hardwired in our brains.

So, Pickle does as Pickle does. He decided he had had enough. He was going home!

The teacher admitted to her momentary panic before realising there was no Tom, Dick or Harry tunnel leading under the school playground – well, not to her knowledge. (I believe a group of our older children know differently).

Remembering our conversations from the ‘Team Around the Child’ meetings, she remained firm, ignored the outburst and allowed him to make his under 10-second dash….to the toilets!

There, he resolutely locked himself away…for the best part of 4 hours!

I wish this were an exaggeration.

However, the four-hour sit-in did stretch over lunch hour and those of you who know Pickle personally, will be far from stunned to hear that he broke from this steadfast protest to feed his forever-famished face.

Stuffed to the gills, he then stubbornly went back to his self-locked sanctuary!

What his protest was about, nobody was quite sure.

One thing is certain, Pickle has bat-like senses when it comes to rumblings of restlessness in the ranks. Even the most minor of changes can still elicit seemingly irrational and extreme behaviours.

When I arrived back from visiting my mother-in-law, we lay together on the “Bladder Bag” (Pickle’s word for the Buddha Bag. Call me cruel but I haven’t corrected him) and talked about what had happened.

After much coaxing, he opened up by saying, “I don’t like it when you go away, Mummy. When you go away I think you’re going to die. And I’m scared our love will end.”

Suppose, both he and I had better get used to many more privy protests!


16 Jun

7 a.m. and the bottles of Rosey in my belly basement started to rattle with despair and morbid dread, but I maintained poise and was the epitome of fake inner calmness.

“These trousers are scruffy. I look like an idiot. Everybody is going to laugh at me”.

The brand-new school trousers bought to replace the hole-ridden pair that have been flapping around his ankles for the past few months were scapegoated in this morning’s rather baffling outburst.

Pickle had woken up in a grump. Nothing was going to be right today.

His ever-growing defiance in the face of my often overly dogmatic ideals is becoming a challenge and a half!

It was literally a trouser-duel-at-dawn!!

The shiny new, downtrodden trousers, which were so looking forward to their debut playground outing, were simply cast aside with rude disdain while the tattered and worn pair cackled their victory with their large mouth-like holes.

The trousers were off the hook. Of course, they were. They weren’t going to steal all the glory. This wasn’t about the trousers; this was a Pickle morning. Albeit a more prodigious one!

The trouser rumpus, turned into a breakfast rumpus, turned into a teeth-brushing rumpus. You get the idea!

So after Pickle’s preferred approach of choosing to sit on the top step of the stairs screaming, “I don’t want to go to school. School is boring. I would rather have a punishment than go to school’, and after refusing breakfast, refusing to clean his teeth, refusing to put his shoes on, Gherkin and I hopped gaily into the car, birds tweeting around our heads, with a sullen Pickle dragging his shoeless feet behind us.

As the engine started and we set off down the road, Pickle chirped, “I want to brush my teeth”. Well, rats and blimin’ bastardry!!!

Rightly or wrongly, I ignored his request and drove off to school. Explaining that the time had passed in which he could change that particular behaviour but that he could still put his shoes on as a way of rectifying things. However, his recalcitrant nature re-emerged and again he flatly refused to cooperate.

Outside school, there was no way he was getting out of the car. If I wanted him out of the car, I would have to “get the headteacher”. Oh throw me a challenge, please!

Needless to say he got out of the car – without the need for the headteacher -, still shoeless, but now wailing that I was horrid and mean, and that he hated me. I flashed a sublime rictus grin at the passing mother with her perfectly behaved, merrily skipping children and slowly walked towards the school entrance, shoes in hand.

After a few paces, he called me back. The switch had rocked back for a fleeting moment, he put on his shoes as his watery eyeballs leaked down his cheeks.

Once in school, the fist-clenching, growling and head-thumping began. Sadly, that is how I had to leave him….

…with a cuddle, an ‘I Love You’ and in the capable and patient hands of one of his favourite teaching assistants.

And I was left exhausted and wondering…..who exactly wears the trousers around here?

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