#cpv

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It all just got too much.

Published November 12, 2018 by thefamilyof5

I’ve noticed all of my blog posts lately are about big girl, she’s really still finding life very tricky.

Since starting at the new special school January things have got progressively worse. Sadly because she masks all of her difficulties in school, the staff have found it very difficult to proactively support her. We have had a few meetings, but it’s hard for them to see the big girl I describe when she presents so differently. It’s been the same issue in every school she’s been too.

We’ve had numerous occasions whereby big girl has come home from school in what I can only describe as a manic state, it often quickly turns to anger, more often than not developing in to violent outbursts. Sometimes the police have to be called.

It’s got pretty bad. Not only is she prescribed anti anxiety medication by Camhs but they now prescribe anti psychotic medication for use when she is struggling, or we know there’s something coming up that she will struggle with. My heart aches 😦

This weekend was another of those manic episodes whereby she was talking gibberish and clearly in a state of complete overwhelm. It’s so sad to see her like that.

She is finding all aspects of her school day stressful, everything from traffic in the taxi, music in PE and loud dinner halls to boys behaving oddly (flirting is my guess) and girls putting all of their emotions and worries on her.

Big girl created a fake persona when she started at this school. She made herself out to be socially able, confident, fun, giggly and a capable. She’s none of those things, in fact I’d go as far as to say she is the opposite. She doesn’t even really like people all that much.

I know why she did it, she wanted to fit in, to be liked. And for a few weeks, maybe a month or so, it worked. She made friends, she felt liked and she enjoyed those positive feelings.

But over time, maintaining this fake personality has taken its toll. She’s become somewhat of an agony aunt to the younger girls it seems. This is a girl who doesn’t understand her own feelings, never mind know what to do about them. The girls in her own class are obviously looking up to her also because they’re getting her to help with their boyfriend issues, and asking her for advice on sex and boys and bullying. Big girl doesn’t even know what sex is, let alone have the slightest interest in boys. So many emotions are being offloaded on to her by peers and almost all of them make no sense to her.

She’d rather play Vets with her sisters.

The fake persona doesn’t end on the playground either. The staff have been seeing her as confident and capable, I imagine they’ve spent time wondering why she’s even in their school especially as she is academically pretty average. They’ve been choosing her to represent the school at events, be the nominated speaker when visitors are in school, be the lead role in a group, she even nominates herself sometimes! The list goes on. And of course she’s done all of the things they’ve asked/expected of her, with a fake smile on her face, she’s a people pleaser, it’s what she does to keep herself safe.

Big girl feels overwhelmed by everyone’s ‘feelings’, their ‘expectations’ of her and of course she also feels ashamed that she is unable to be herself in school. She tells me no one in school has ever seen the real her.

So MrFO5 and I made a difficult decision the weekend and decided to put big girl on a reduced timetable. We are awaiting a date for a meeting with various professionals and school. Big girls EHCP hasn’t been updated since she was home educated, despite a review taking place at my request in July, so at the moment, the plan doesn’t even detail the support she needs in a school environment never mind reflect her needs. We hope a meeting will be arranged before Christmas and we can get big girl the support, or alternative provision that she needs.

I’ve tirelessly tried to support school to see big girl for the emotionally and socially 6yr old that she is, but they just can’t see past the facade of the confident 14yr old she’s pretending to be. So for now, she will attend only 2.5 days a week with full support at lunch and break times. The new timetable we’ve devised gives big girl a break between each day, giving her time to calm down and hopefully to stop her anxiety building throughout the week. The support for break and lunch times will mean she isn’t on the playground and can’t get overwhelmed by the other children’s drama’s and expectations of her.

It’s not an ideal situation. Big girl is in school because her attachment difficulties made home education too intense for her to manage so this extra time at home is going to be difficult for all of us to manage.

Today though, my big girl has enjoyed her 1st half Monday and played with her babydoll. We will continue to plod along this path and support big girl as best as we’re able.

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Big girls struggles

Published November 9, 2018 by thefamilyof5

Here’s big girl, in half term last week, playing with her baby doll, her favorite thing to do.

When she goes to school, even though it’s a special school, she feels a huge amount of pressure to ‘be’ her 14 chronological years.

Big girl is a 6-7yr old in a teenagers body, what you see is just a facade. People see a teenager and interact accordingly. The girls in her class assume she can handle their friendship woes and talks about their teenage worries, they even ask her for advice. The boys see a pretty girl and flirt, expect an appropriate reaction when they flirt with her despite her not really know what flirting is, or what it means. The teachers see an academically able, smiling teenager and wonder why she’s in their school so they load her up with expectation and responsibility.

She’s crumbling under the weight of other peoples expectations and pressure.

She so desperately wants to fit in, and her mimicking skills give her the drive to respond as expected. Thus creating the illusion, and with it comes increased expectation and pressure.

Life overwhelms big girl constantly. She is unable to manage her emotions. She doesn’t understand them. She can’t verbalise them. She can’t self regulate. She erupts. Violently.

In an ideal world she’d have stayed in primary school forever, I even remember expressing this view when the time came to move. Primary school age is where she has always been most comfortable and she has never progressed from this. Yet she is academically able.

She came home from school today a jibbering wreak of psychotic hyperness. Laughing manically, high pitched voice, strange gestures and mannerisms, not making any sense. It quickly moved to anger.

I don’t know how you help a child who can’t cope with the life society expects of her which then makes her expect it of herself?!

The numbers just don’t add up.

Chronologically 14

Academically 12

Emotionally 5

Socially 6

Where does someone with those numbers feel like they fit in?!

#NAW2018 National Adoption Week Innit!

Published October 15, 2018 by thefamilyof5

So, apparently it’s national adoption week, it’s pending arrival passed me by. I’ve been preoccupied talking with emergency social workers, police men, mental health professionals and tending to my bruised body, broken heart and traumatised children.

So here we are, it’s that special week every year that organisations and champions really push adoption in what’s basically a recruitment drive. The stories of the children who ‘only need a loving home’ to grow up in, or the siblings that ‘want a new mommy and daddy’, or the child that ‘just needs to be loved’, you know how it goes. Tag lines, catchy phrases, heart wrenching photos of sad looking children that just want to be loved.

We have a loving home, plenty of love to share. Our 3 easy to place (apparently) children got their new mummy and daddy. Doesn’t stop the trauma. Doesn’t stop the violence. Doesn’t stop the heartache.

Well, I’m done with #NAW, I’m done with organisations painting pretty fairy tale pictures and avoiding the truth of the matter. Adoption is NOT for the feint of heart! Its nothing like parenting a birth child! Its a relentless battle for help that no one’s prepared to pay for! Its being blamed, judged and shunned! Its emotionally and physically exhausting! (I’m not even sure exhausting is a strong enough word?!).

I’m tired of fighting for my children, for the support they need and deserve and being passed from pillar to post, blamed or ignored.

Would I recommend adoption? No, never. I love my children with all my heart and I will never give up on them, but would I recommend it? No. Uh Uh, no way!

If all those organisations that use money and power to push this drive every year for new recruits, instead used that power and money to push for better support and understanding, maybe less adopters would feel so let down and misled, maybe more children would get the support and understanding they need and more people would be making informed choices to adopt.

*Sorry if this isn’t the fairy tale post you hoped for, it’s been a really rough few weeks (more like 8years!!) and my positivity appears to have gone missing (died a slow painful death!).

Attachment & School

Published September 9, 2018 by thefamilyof5

How does attachment ‘look’ in school.?

For big girl, it looks like she is very capable. She has a avoidant attachment style so will do everything she needs to do to avoid any kind of dependant relationship with a teacher/adult. She learnt in her past that adults can’t be trusted or relied upon, in fact sometimes, they can even be dangerous.

So in school she will appear capable and competent because any sign of weakness may cause her teacher to try and help her, and she can not possibly allow that to happen, ever. She will volunteer for things she feels the teacher might expect of her, she will choose to lead her group and even opt to be the spokes person for her team. All of these fill her with absolute fear and terror. None of that matters to her though, her only focus is to not need any kind of relationship with anyone if she is to survive.

She will do everything she can to hide any sign of weakness, she will mask her fears and anxieties and ‘cope’. It’s not a positive experience for her, she feels no sense of achievement and next time it happens it’s equally as terrifying. There are no benefits to her self esteem or mental health for her to be this way.

When she comes home, and she feels safe, she knows she’s understood and her fears and anxieties are finally allowed to be shown.

How does your child’s attachment ‘look’ in school?

Great article for teachers and school staff here, can you identify the students in your class here?

http://one-eighty.org.uk/attachment-in-schools/

What’s plan B?

Published May 24, 2018 by thefamilyof5

I tweeted recently, wondering about how or where adopters can go for support if the relationship with their county’s post adoption department breaks down.

Peer support is great but realistically other than a listening ear from other mentally and physically exhausted parents experiencing the same difficulties, there isn’t much they can do to help.

Adoption UK is a great place for facts and sign posting, but they can’t help you access the adoption support fund or attend meetings or offer respite or therapy.

Someone suggested approaching a local voluntary agency, and whilst I’m confident they would like to help, realistically who would fund them to support an adoptive family that’s not on their books.

So where can we go, when the relationship breaks down with your local support service it seems there is no where else to go.

Our own county has 1 manager and 2-3 actual social workers who work alongside 2-3 family support workers. When the newly assigned social worker told us that child on parent violence was normal teen behaviour and we needed generic parenting training our confidence in her was lost. When their manager backed her up and agreed the issues we were experiencing didn’t fall with the post adoption remit, we lost all hope. When the generic local parenting support team that they referred us to said that the difficulties were experiencing were way beyond anything they could help with, we were left feeling abandoned by the very services that were meant to be supporting us.

So where do we go?! When we need someone to help school understand attachment and trauma (because we all know schools don’t listen to us measly parents), where do we go? When we need therapeutic advice or support services, where do we go? When you’re confident almost all members of your family are suffering some kind of ptsd, where do you go? When your children are experiencing difficulties managing their feelings, where do you go? When you need support for siblings, where do you go? There is no where.

The system designed to support us does so conditionally, there’s no plan B.

Big girls first lesson.

Published March 18, 2018 by thefamilyof5

It’s been a really tricky few days here with big girl, it’s been building up for several weeks. She’s been gradually distancing herself from anything and everything family related. No interest in her sisters, or speaking to any of us, no interest in making the intricate models she’s grown to love, nothing. Her only interest has been school, and school homework/practise. Unusually, I had absolutely no idea why all this was happening. Usually I can identify a specific trigger but as this was a gradual build up (again unusual) I really had no idea what was going on.

A brief chat about something Tuesday quickly escalated to violence and aggression. It became super apparent that we were all still traumatised from big girls violence from last summer/autumn. We all crumbled under the strain quickly.

On Friday big girl came home from school in a state I can only describe as ‘manic’. I’ve never seen her behave that way before, MrFo5 and I were ready to call an ambulance as we were convinced she was having some sort of mental health breakdown. She was laughing hysterically whilst shouting aggressively, demanding me to ring a social worker to take her away, not making sense, incoherent speech, it was scary to see.

4hours I talked with her, and after 4 hours she was a little more like herself again whilst I resembled goodness knows what. It was an exhausting 4hours.

I now know what Overwhelmed looks like. She was completely overwhelmed. There had been an event in school and she’s found it scary and overwhelming. She told me about various other things that she finds difficult in school, noisy dinner hall, relaxed boundaries, and feeling a bit lost at break and dinner times were the most notable. She didn’t tell us before because she doesn’t need us now she has friends (she said). Saturday she remained hostile but was markedly calmer.

Sunday, today, I shared with her a theory I’d had at 3am whilst my brain was frantically still trying to process the previous 48hrs and some of the garbled nonsense she’d blurted out on Friday, particularly about peers talking negatively about their parents.

My theory was that big girl is now actually making friends, she’s socialising with other children, having actual conversations and social interactions, something she’s never experienced before. The friends that she’s socialising with, even though it is a special school, are still way ahead of big girl emotionally and socially. She may be leaps ahead of her class academically, but that’s where it ends.

So in reality she’s learning what its like to be a friend as a 13yr old, without having learnt to be friends as a 6yr old, or a 10yr old so she isn’t familiar with the friendship/peers/being a kid rules. All kids bitch about their parents at school, all kids make out that they have the worst family ever, but most go home, snuggle on the sofa, watch TV, chat, share some Pizza and just generally do the family thing. The bitching stuff in school is just showing off, bravado, but of course, big girl doesn’t know this.

She seems to have a friend that is particularly vocal about her terrible family and how awfully they treat her. Big girl likes her, wants to be her friend so she copies. She doesn’t know the rules though. She doesn’t know it’s just showing off and she has been convinced that this friend really hates her family, really goes home each day and has an awful time. So big girl did the same she said. Only she doesn’t have an awful family that treat her badly, she generally quite likes her family, but to ensure she is just like her friend and can be liked even more by her new friends, she continues the showing off game at home.

I shared my theory with big girl and after a little bit of thinking she told me about some of the other things this friend has said, and photos she’s shown her, that actually show that she is very much loved by her family and very much happy to be with them. She began to see that what the girl was saying, wasn’t necessarily true, just a thing that kids do.

Today she has been lovely, she has played with her sisters, sat with her family, laughed and joked and listened to music with us. It’s been a good day, the best for months.

I’ve encouraged her to begin a new trend at school whereby it becomes cool to openly like your family, because she does, I’m hoping the teachers jump on the idea and use it to bring more positivity in to the classrooms and playgrounds.

Here ends this lesson on ‘showing off’ for big girl, until the next one, there will be many more lessons to come I’m sure.

Here comes the sun…….

Published February 7, 2018 by thefamilyof5

It’s taken me a while to write this, I feel a huge amount of guilt over what I’m about to write, ashamed even, but I can’t deny it.

Since big girl went back to school, I’ve felt happier. So so much happier.

It’s not even that I’m feeling happier because I know she’s at a good school. I’m feeling happier because she isn’t chipping away at my smile from the second she wakes to the moment to goes to bed. It wasn’t until she wasn’t here with me 24/7 that I realised how much her negativity (aimed always at me), was effecting me. I know it isn’t her fault but the change I’ve felt in my own sense of worth and mental health has been huge. I know she’s just a child, a very anxious child at that, but her negativity is so draining. I feel awful. What kind of a mother feels happier away from their child.

“I can’t do that”

“That’s stupid”

“I’m not doing that”

“It’s stupid”

“It’s rubbish”

“I hate it”

“I won’t”

All worded in a way to imply that it was all my fault, that I was stupid, that it was my fault she couldn’t do it, that it was rubbish because of me, that she hated me.

Even when she was being remotely positive, it was still negative.

“It’s nice, but not as nice as the cake I had before”

“It was a funny film, but not as funny as….”

“It’s been a sunny day, but yesterday was sunnier”

“I had a great day, but my best day ever was….”

Can you see? It sounds so petty now I write it down, but the negativity was killing me. 24/7 sucking the life from me. Baby girl and Middle girl felt it too.

I would wake each day with a positive fresh outlook and every day she would gradually chip away at me until I ended my day full of gloom and despair. Big girl has always struggled with her relationship with me, needing me, but pushing me away, wanting to love me, but unable to allow herself. All of her anger and hurt has always been directed at me, her violence too.

My days still begin fresh and positive, and hers still negative. My days are now happier and filled with sunshine and laughter. Home educating baby girl and middle girl has become more fun and easy going. When big girl returns from school, seemingly after a good day, she still brings that bag of negativity with her, she throws it at me sometimes, but now I’m stronger, so I just pocket it and move on. I wonder what she does with the bag all day at school? She must pocket it too, saving it all for me when she gets home.

They say that children from trauma backgrounds often project the feelings they have about themselves, on to those around them, which is incredibly sad.

I’ve tried so hard to build up her confidence, fill her with positive experiences, happy memories and love. But always she’d focus on the negative. Big girl has never been able to talk about, manage, even face her feelings. She would rather die than even think about how she feels inside. Perhaps thats why she projects so much negativity, easier to throw it at someone else than it is to face it.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, I don’t have a way of making everything OK for big girl. School, whilst she’s currently managing it, isn’t addressing her needs on a deeper emotional level, in fact, it’s probably just offering her a distraction from them. The medication she was prescribed last year, again just another way to avoid what’s real. The 4+ years of therapy she had was unsuccessful, she wasn’t able to engage. I’ve not been able to get through the wall, or even get her to acknowledge her own wall. She tells me nothing. Ironically, her teacher emailed me only last week and commented on what a lovely relationship big girl has with me and how lovely it is that she is able to talk to me. Goodness knows what she’s told them but realistically it’s just another way for her to avoid reality. Fake is safer. Fake is something she excels in.

For now, things are better. Baby girl and middle girl are enjoying their learning, I’m happier and mentally stronger, Mr FO5 is benefitting from all of the above and big girl is seemingly doing OK and enjoying aspects of school. So for now, I shall pocket my guilt along with big girls bags of negativity. The sunshine is here, and we shall bask in it for as long as we can.

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