anxiety

All posts tagged anxiety

Baby steps (part 2 if I’ve used this title before?!).

Published April 26, 2018 by thefamilyof5

Big girl comes home from school every day very ‘hyper’. This is an indication of anxiety. Every day I spend about 30-40mins talking to her as soon as she walks through the door, she tells me about her day, processes her thoughts and unloads everything on to me. She feels calmer afterwards and I can get on with making the dinner.

On quite a few occasions she’s come home more hyper than usual. For example, there was the day of her science fair, a Friday, she came home in such a state we almost called an ambulance or took her to A&E. It took 4hrs that evening to get her to a relative state of normal, but it took until the Sunday lunchtime for her to really be feeling ‘ok’.

Then there was yesterday, a change in timetable first thing in the morning and an extra long PE session with 2 potential new teachers was just too much. She came home very hyper/manic and again, it took me some time to calm her down and help to regulate her. This time, she was able to tell me why she was so hyper, usually she isn’t aware and we have to work it out together, she recognised that the PE lesson first thing in the morning had left her feeling anxious and overwhelmed all day. She recognised things that she had done throughout the day were because of her anxiety. She told me about jumping in class and generally being ‘silly’ all day. These are not behaviours that you would usually associate with big girl, unless she was anxious.

We talked about how hard it must be for her to feel this anxious all day and how it wasn’t healthy for her brain or her body to be feeling like this for long periods of time. We talked about what she thought she could do to help herself calm down once she’s recognised her anxiety levels. We came up with many ideas, such a leaving the classroom, talking to a teacher, going for a walk, using the sensory room, sitting and reading a book and a few others, none of these she felt would help her. The only thing she felt might help was being at home or with me. We talked about how maybe phoning home could be an option and she thought that was worth a try however, having the courage to ask a teacher to let her call home posed another issue.

It’s amazing that she has, for the first time to my knowledge, been aware, in the moment, of how she is feeling, it is also the first time she has been able to recognise that things she is doing ‘aren’t right’ and are because she is anxious. She said that when she was jumping around she was telling herself in her brain that she needed to stop and things weren’t ok. But she couldn’t.

What is exceptionally sad about all of this though, is that all of this information is in the Letter to Teacher that she gave to her teacher during her transition to school. It specifically mentions silly behaviour being a sign of anxiety, it talks about new faces and changes to routines being a trigger for anxiety AND it also suggests offering a phone call home as reassurance. Big girl is developing a new awareness about herself and how she feels, but she can’t do it all by herself. She needs help to regulate and feel safe.

We’re meeting with school tomorrow, I really hope that we’re able to help her teachers to really ‘know’ big girl and not just see the facade she allows them to see.

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Someone switched the light on…..

Published December 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

The light, you know the one at the end of the tunnel, it disappeared months ago. It got switched back on again this week. A couple of things have happened, this was the first.

We met with CAMHS, big girl came too this time. We chatted about her difficulties and all the things we’d tried over the years, psychotherapy with them, DDP with someone else, home educating, therapeutic parenting, lots of interventions and resources aimed at helping her manage and understand her feelings, build attachment, even counselling. Some had helped, some had seemingly just put a very weak plaster over things. 

It had become clear that big girl was simply surviving, constantly at the peak of her anxiety threshold. We’d resisted the offer of medication for her anxiety from CAMHS in 2015 when things got bad, we’d opted to remove her anxiety by removing her from school instead. Whilst I don’t regret this decision, home education has been great for big girl, I can see now that we should have done both, helped her with her anxiety with the medication, as well as removed her from school. I feel bad, I feel like I failed her. 

The decision was made this week to start big girl on some medication to help reduce her anxiety levels. Finally some real support for her. It’s not a decision we took lightly but we feel we exhausted all other options. I still feel bad, I feel like I failed her. I’m her mom, I should have been able to ‘fix’ this for her. 

It can take several weeks before any benefits are felt we’re told. So. Now we wait.

8 Weeks of summer, 2 to go!

Published August 21, 2015 by thefamilyof5

We’re 8 weeks in to our super long summer holiday and there are still 2 more weeks to go.

We’ve had a great time so far, aside from 1 major episode from Big girl a few days after we broke up from school. I wont go in to too much detail as even though it was horrific at the time, there’s been many weeks of relaxed fun so I’d rather try and put it behind us. We’d been to a zoo, it seems Big Girl saw a bug display and something on it frightened her. She didn’t tell anyone though. Instead she mulled it over inside her head for 3 nights becoming progressively more tired and volatile as each day passed. She wouldn’t open up, no matter how hard we tried. The end result was a massive explosion that lasted 2 days. Lots of violence, aggression and her first ‘running away’.

Scary Bug Grrrrr

        Scary Bug Grrrrr

We did all our uniform shopping at the start of the summer, we got their shoes. Got big girls new high school uniform. We sorted out PE kits. We packed school bags and then put everything away. We took down all the calendars and explained to the girls that we wanted them to forget about the date and the return to school and instead just enjoy the summer. They all agreed this was a good idea. So this is what we’ve done!

Packed & Ready to go!

Packed & Ready to go!

We had a great summer. Lots of lovely day trips, castles, zoo’s, parks, boat trips and a really lovely weeks holiday by the coast. They’ve slept so much better. They’ve been nicer to each other. They’ve been able to concentrate on craft projects, hell, I even did some baking with them that involved them using a sharp knife the other day and no one died!! Madness I know!

VERY naughty (but nice) RockyRoad

VERY naughty (but nice) RockyRoad

We’re now at the end of week 8. We have 2 more weeks to go. Things have starting to get a little more tricky this week. We went to the pub for lunch the other day and the very helpful waitress greeted the girls with ‘how many weeks have you got left before your back at school?’ I could have slapped her, instead I just answered for them with a very over enthusiastic ‘lots and lots and lots’.  Then Baby girl commented on how dark it seemed to be getting at bedtime last night, I casually remarked about how the nights were going to be getting darker as winter got closer. This resulted in a poor nights sleep and her telling me today that she is worried that winter getting closer means it will be time for school soon. Big girl has been generally moody this week, I haven’t been able to fathom out whats the matter with her yet but its triggered anxiety in Middle Girl who also had a poor nights sleep last night because she said she’s been worried that Big girl will get angry again. So today hasn’t been great, 3 tired stressed out kids intent on making each other feel as miserable and stressed out as they do.

Not the S word!!!!

Not the S word!!!!

I fear this is the start of the downward slide. I knew it would come. Id hoped to put it off for longer. We’ve had a really wonderful summer but now its time to batten down the hatches and weather the storm!

 

 

I’ve linked this post up with #WASO over at The Adoption Social

 

Summer Update

Published July 17, 2015 by thefamilyof5

It’s been a while since I blogged, sorry, in fact the last time was the middle of May half term and things were going well.

You’ve probably guessed that the rest of May half term didn’t go as well. In fact, things went very downhill very quickly after that.

Big girl has been super stressed for a while now about her move to high school, I suspect it started way back in October when the whole class went and visited a local high school for the morning. Recently things have just became too much for her. The return to school after May half term bought SAT’s, there was talk from peers about ‘leaving’, there was talk and practice for leavers assembly’s, sports day practice, sex ed talks, treat days, non uniform days, more high school transition work and lots of general off time table winding down.

She became more volatile than ever, raged with anger and aggression like we’d never seen before. Of course in school, she mostly presented as she always does, smiley and compliant, but her anxiety was noticed and the rage in her eyes seen. Fortunately the relationship that I’d been able to build up with school meant that they were really understanding and supportive of the situation. Big girls teacher (our key worker) did her best to support us all,  and even took away all ‘expectations’ of big girl to actually do any work hoping it would reduce her anxiety. Sadly it wasn’t enough. Big girl was raging on an almost daily basis, baby girl and middle girl were terrified and MrFO5 and I were covered in bruises.  Middle girl and Baby girl were showing signs of anxiety in school, both developed some OCD type behaviors and neither were sleeping. They were constantly on high alert waiting for big girls next ‘blow out’ and so was I.

Something had to give. We pulled out of school early for the summer, almost 3 weeks early. It was a big step, I didn’t know if it was the right one and I was super worried about getting in trouble with the LEA. But in light of the fact that CAMHS, whom we’d contacted earlier in the year regarding big girls mental health, were failing to provide any help for big girl (we’re still fighting to be seen even now), we were left with limited options.

We sat big girl down, we told her we knew she was struggling, the idea of leaving school, the transition to high school and school its self had all become unmanageable for her. We told her we’d be finishing school for the summer soon. We set her up an email address and encouraged her to swap details with people from her class. We physically saw a weight lift from her during that conversation.

Just under a week later she went to school for her last day. We told her it was her last day, we suggested she give her friend a discreet hug etc She wasn’t supposed to tell anyone it was her last day, but she did. Baby girl and Middle girl also finished a few days later (I needed them to be in school for their class transition days). School have been very understanding and supportive of this decision which has made things easier and less stressful. Nothing worse than worrying about being in trouble with the LEA for ‘wagging’.

So that’s us. Things have been much calmer. The calendars have all been put away so they have no idea of the day never mind the date, Big girl has carried on with her visits to high school and her transition preparation is now complete. They’re all sleeping much better. The bickering has stopped. Big girl hasn’t had a blow out for 3 weeks (except one, which I’ll write about separately). We’ve stopped treading on egg shells!

I’m physically exhausted, the house is a tip,  but I know now that we made the right decision.

 

Back to school with a crash, bang and a great big wallop!

Published May 10, 2015 by thefamilyof5

The Easter smiles we all enjoyed didn’t last very long. The girls all came down with a serious case of backtoschoolitis pretty much straight away. It wasn’t a huge shock, Id been expecting it, but I wont deny finding the 0-60 transition from happy smiley kids to grumpy angry kids difficult to manage. I felt overcome with sadness, not sadness for me, but sadness for them. It shouldn’t have to be this hard for them.

Baby girls biggest struggle has been that her teacher is poorly, she didn’t return to school after Easter and hasn’t returned yet. Baby girl misses her terribly. The relationship that her teacher had been working so hard on building was the only thing helping her to feel safe in school. Without it, she feels lost again. Some of Baby girls anxiety related behaviors that her teacher had been working really hard to combat by building that trusting relationship with her, have returned. She seems to be developing separation anxiety from me as well, perhaps due to feeling so alone in school at the moment. I will add, she isn’t alone, she’s very well taken care of in school, but that special trusting relationship that she’d started to develop with her teacher has been temporarily severed, and she feels abandoned once again.

Then there is Middle girl, there have been some changes in her teaching arrangement’s due to Baby girls teacher being away. The TA classroom support that she heavily relied on has had to cover other areas, so the amount of support she’s been able to offer Middle girl in the mornings has been reduced quite a lot. There has also had to be some changes to her timetable. Middle girl has found this very difficult and the impact of struggling with her work so much has dented the self esteem boost she gained over Easter. She’s back to thinking she’s rubbish again. She’s also continuing to have difficulties with her peers on top of all this change to her daily routine. Little girls of this age fall out/make up constantly but with her difficulties in socialising and communicating this can all get a bit too much for her to manage leaving her feeling frustrated and angry, again.

Big girl, well, what can I say. She just seems to struggle with anything and everything. Just when I think we’ve addressed one issue, up pops another. She also seems to go out of her way to put herself in situations she cant manage and refuses to ask for help or even talk about whats worrying her. She’s a real mess at the moment with SAT’s looming. For weeks she’s been telling me she doesn’t want to do them, apparently she “may as well be dead if she has to do SAT’s“. She convinced she’ll fail even though she doesn’t really know what is required to either pass or fail, or even what constitutes and pass or a fail. Both her teacher and I have worked really hard to play down to importance of SAT’s, explaining that they’re just a way of being able to see how good teachers are teaching and have no relevance to children at all. None the less she’s insisted on putting herself under immense amounts of pressure to ‘succeed’. After a hellish week with her last week it was agreed Friday that we will tell Big girl that she isn’t doing SAT’s. Whilst all the other children are in the hall completing their SAT’s papers she will be in the staff room with a TA completing practice papers, that way she will still ‘fairly’ be able to take part in the end of SAT’s treat on Friday, (or at least this is what we’ve told her, in reality she will be doing real papers). So you’d think this would alleviate her stress wouldn’t you, no, apparently NOT doing SAT’s just means she’s worked hard (hard work that’s all in her imagination by the way) for nothing and now she needs to rage and tantrum about that. I’m starting to think that actually she just ‘needs’ something to fret about!? As you can probably tell, my patience and understanding with her is wearing somewhat thin right now.

So yes, back to school with a crash, bang and bloody great big wollap. On top of attending to these seriously draining cases of backtoschoolitis I have also had some other issues I’ve been trying to manage. In January I wrote to the placing authority and requested copies of all the files/information they have on the girls. Not only is this information important to the girls but It will also help our therapist. 2 weeks ago I received a huge package, piles and piles of reports that cost over £10 to post never mind the costs involved in sorting and copying. All of which we were given before placement. The placing authority apparently knew they were only going to waste money send me duplicated reports, but sent them anyway. So I now seem to have a new challenge on my hands to try and get information about MY children, for MY children. I cant tell you about the information we’ve asked for because its personal to the girls, but I can tell you that its very significant and important information that we’ve asked for.

Then there are the sleep issues. We met with the pediatrician in December and then with a Specialist Children’s Nurse in January and again in February. The nurse’s only suggestion was to ‘compress’ the girls sleep to improve the quality and then gradually stretch it a bit. Sounds great doesn’t it. Except to compress their sleep I would need to keep them up until 11-11.30pm every night and get them up around 5am every morning. FOR 4-8MONTHS!!!! Possibly more!! Not do-able. These 3 tired traumatised kids tantrum, self harm and re-traumatise themselves and each other, imagine what they’d be like after even less sleep! And how am I meant to co-regulate them if I’m not regulated myself due to being constantly sleep deprived and dealing with tantrums and rages every waking hour. No, just No! And that’s what I’ve told the Pediatrician. Besides, after seeing the dramatic improvements in their sleeping patterns over Easter I’m now more confident that anxiety is the issue effecting sleep and not vice versa. So anxiety is what I’ve requested further help with. Not heard a word from the pediatrician since.

Finally I also have a fight on my hands with the local authority. The high school we chose for Big girl is 4 miles away and in the opposite direction to primary school meaning a logistical impossibility for the school run. Big girl isn’t able to get herself to school safely and as this is the only school in the locality that Big girl will stand any chance at being able to manage, its the only viable option available. So we applied to the local authority for help with transport. Apparently because big girls recently awarded EHC plan names a mainstream school to be suitable, then these people that have never met her, and probably never set foot in any of the local schools, have decided that these huge local high schools are suitable for her. Therefore she doesn’t meet the requirements for help with transport. So something else I need to fight for, I mean really, what is the point in adopted children being given priority admissions and adoptive parents the freedom to choose the most suitable school for their child’s complex needs, if there’s no provision to get the child to the schools they need in the first place!

So, as you can see, its been a bit rocky here lately, we’ve a few mountains to climb, some swamps to trudge across and endless fires to fight but we’re managing, we have to!

I’ve linked this post up with #WASO over at The Adoption Social

 

 

The fine line……

Published December 14, 2014 by thefamilyof5

There is a fine line between building resilience and pushing too far I beleive.

My girls are really struggling right now, we’ve had more tantrums in the last fortnight than we have this year, their sleep is at an all time low, I don’t know how to make it all better anymore.

Baby girl and middle girl have both now withdrawn from their on stage rolls in their school christmas plays, opting to sit at the side instead, however, it seems even that is too much for them ‘people are still looking at me’ they’ve sobbed ‘I want to sit where no one can see me’ they say. Big girl has chosen to participate in her play but this hasn’t stopped her reeling off a never ending list of ‘issues’. ‘I’m squashed when we do this bit’, ‘XZY stands too close to me were doing that bit’, ‘I keep getting the actions wrong’ and yes I know that most kids probably go home with a list not dissimilar, and many children get stage fright and worry that people are looking at them or they’ll forget the words or get the actions wrong. What is different though is the profound effect all the ‘stress’ has on their ability to manage their emotions and in-turn behaviour.

I sat all the girls down today and asked ‘what do you need to make it more manageable for you?’ They didn’t know, I knew they wouldn’t but I was getting desperate after a full weekend of tantrums. Big girl is adamant she wants to take part but was able to acknowledge how hard she was finding it. Baby girl would rather not take part at all and stay home and middle girl really wasn’t able to decide or identify exacty what she was finding so hard.

So when does resilience building become too much? When do I decide that this is just to much for them and the benefits have been outweighed by the anxiety and it’s negative effect on their emotional well being and health? Do I continue to push them all to take part and see that it’s ok? Or accept that it’s just not managable for them?!

There is a fine line, but at the moment I just can’t see where that line is………..

The Christmas Play

Published December 10, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I cant remember if I’ve blogged about Christmas plays, tweeted or just written it on my Facebook page!? I really must try and stick to one thing!

Anyway, Christmas plays seem to have become an issue here the last couple of years, Baby girl has opted out of her play again this year, finding being on the stage too overwhelming. Big and Middle had both chosen to participate.

Middle girl has been far too enthusiastic, she’s been adamant to the point of being manic, that she’s enjoying being involved in her play. I’ve had my doubts since she first came home and told me about her role in the play (bouncing off the ceiling gave it away). She completely overcompensated with her enthusiasm and it just didn’t feel genuine, but, I went along with it because I knew if any decisions had to be made, they had to be made by her. She’s been really difficult for the last 2 weeks, really angry, hostile and so hyper she’s been unable to settle so she’s been barely sleeping. After another difficult night with another early hour waking up manic, I asked her again what was the matter ‘nothing’ she replied, again.

As we sat down for breakfast I could see the worry in her face ‘Please tell me’ I said, and after looking at the floor for a few minutes (that felt like longer) she finally told me through her real tears of sadness that she was finding being on stage too much to cope with and that she’d been stood on stage though all the rehearsals terrified but unable to tell anyone. I hugged her and wiped away her tears and assured her that mommy would sort it, and I did. With the help of our new amazing ‘key person’ in school, we assured middle girl that she didn’t have to do anything that she didn’t want too.

I believe today’s rehearsals went smoothly and middle girl is happy with her new ‘off stage’ role!

I’m so glad she was finally brave enough to talk to me, but I’m so so sad that she hadn’t felt able to tell me sooner, she’d needed to hide how she felt from everyone because she was scared what might happen. So she forced a smile, held it all in, and in-turn had endured all that unnecessary anxiety and worry during rehearsals.

 

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