anxiety

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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.

 

I hate being THAT mom!

Published December 4, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I hate being the mom that struggles to find something positive to say, but its getting harder and harder.

Stress levels are soaring here right now, the girls and mine.

I think the trigger (this time) is ‘School Plays’. I’m not sure why these have become an issue the last couple of years, at the previous school they all managed the school plays (minor roles) without a hitch.

Baby girl pulled out of her play altogether last year, at the last minute, this year she’s given some notice and decided again not to participate finding a background (helper/off stage) role more manageable. Big girl has managed to participate in her plays but this year has asked to be excluded from the ‘bows’ at the end as she finds them too overwhelming. Middle girl has told me she’s happy to participate in her play but feels frightened when she’s on the stage.

But in reality they’re not managing……….

Big girl is stroppy and stressed and not sleeping, doesn’t sound any different to any other day but its a bit more intense at the moment, particularly on days after they’ve ‘practiced’ their plays. Tonight she stamped her feet, banged her door and shouted ‘I want to kill myself’. (overwhelmed)

Middle girl had a therapy session today (which is slow going but they seem to be managing it fine), I collected her at lunch time from school, I hadn’t even turned the car around before she was refusing to speak to me (control). I hadn’t bought a medal she wanted to show the therapist, she hadn’t asked me too. She then spent the entire session rocking manically and refusing to speak (dysregulated).

Baby girl, well, tonight she’s stood with her arms folded in a mood, stamped her foot and given me the death stare (control) whilst telling me she’s rubbish and everyone one at school hates her (low self esteem), even though I reminded her that she came out of school this evening chatting and laughing with her 2 friends. She also told me that she’s been participating in part of her play because she thinks her teacher will shout if she doesn’t (insecure). (her teacher wouldn’t shout, this is just an example of how unreasonable her ‘thinking’ is when she’s stressed). She also said the story line scares her, its A Christmas Carol (immature/dysregulated).

They practiced their school plays this morning.

Each morning we’re greeted by a lovely teacher who’s working so hard to help the girls. Every morning I find myself having to tell her about some sort of crisis or drama. Today it was that middle girl is terrified when she’s on the stage and to ask her if she can perhaps give her a little thumbs up, tap on the shoulder, check in with her etc. Tomorrow it will be to tell her that baby girl has been staying on the stage after putting the apparatus in place (her job) because she thinks her teacher will tell her off for sitting back down afterwards. I’ve no doubt Monday there will be something else. There is always something…………..

“Middle girl is worried because her p.e. day has changed and she doesn’t know why, baby girl is worried because she has fallen out with her friend and thinks she has no one to play with now, big girl is worried because someone shouted in class today and it hurt her ears, middle girl is worried because she doesn’t know why there was no science yesterday, baby girl is worried because someone told a dinner lady she pushed them but she didn’t and she thinks she’s in trouble, big girl is worried about the book your reading in class, middle girl was hot in class yesterday and came home angry because no one noticed, baby girl is worried because a man came in to school and she doesn’t know who it is, big girl is worried because she didn’t understand her homework, middle girl is angry because the girls wouldn’t let her join in at lunch time today, baby girl is worried because she thinks she’s going to see a real volcano next week and might die!” This is probably a good representation of a couple of days worth of ‘chats’ I have each morning!

I hate being THAT parent!

In reality it is all anxiety, lots and lots of anxiety about anything and everything and it seems to be getting worse as they get older and I’m not sure why, maybe because they understand more, or maybe because they’re expected to understand more and don’t. You only need to search the word ‘stress’ on my blog to see this is a common theme. Is this Autism? Attachment/Trauma? both?

Its that old chicken and egg question, are they not sleeping because they’re anxious or are they anxious because they’re so tired.

What I do know is that this level of stress isn’t sustainable, for any of us.

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

Mummy’s Exhausted

Published November 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Sometimes it all just feels too much.

I don’t feel like a mom lately. I feel like a therapist, a psychologist, a referee, an advocate, a PA, an emotional punch bag!

There is too much to remember, too much to keep on top of, too much to explain, too much to figure out, too much to think about, just too much!

All the girls are struggling, it’s been like it for several months now and I feel like I’m running round in circles putting out a constant supply of little fires, but with every fire I extinguish, another two appear, sometimes three.

Baby girl is stressed out to the max, she’s not sleeping, is run down and sucking the life out of me with her demands for attention and control.

Middle girl is stressed out to the max, she’s not sleeping, her skin and nails are showing the signs of stress, yet she keeps pushing me further and further away.

Big girl is stressed out to the max, she’s not sleeping, is run down having daily tantrums and constantly trying to provoke a reaction from me, sometimes she wins.

In the last month I’ve joined a support group for parents of children who self harm, which is basically a bunch of parents sat in a room saying ‘I don’t know what to do’, and a member of staff from CAMHS that says nothing more than ‘well what do you think you should do?’.

I’ve taken all 3 girls, at the same time, to see the gp to ask, no beg for help with their sleep difficulties, there’s none available apparently, but she commended them on being ‘pretty’ and remarked how she hoped they’d come back and see her again soon.

I’ve also contacted the Autism specialists for help with baby girls worries about everything and anything, and middle girls anger and stress which I’m putting down to social difficulties, I have to wait until early 2015 before they’ll see me, never mind the girls.

I’m also in daily communications with the school, but honestly, I’m getting sick of having to tell them about this worry and that worry and this incident and that incident, I must sound like a broken record to them, I’m starting to wonder why we bother, the teachers are working so hard to ‘get it right’ but the minute they remedy one issue, the girls present yet another! Even their ‘key worker’ has said she finds them totally draining some days. Every stress, worry and anxiety seems to be school related. They store them all up and bring them home! They can’t cope with school, and I cant cope with home schooling.

I’m not sure how much longer I can play these games, because that’s what it feels like, I feel like a pawn in a game of chaos!

Mummy’s exhausted!

 

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