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CAMHS Part 3 – Sesson 5

Published May 13, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Today was MY session with camhs, at least I thought it was supposed to be, seems I got mixed up and was actually supposed to have been taking the girls, oops!

So my arrival without the girls threw their plan somewhat but we decided to use the session to feedback on the previous sessions.

I talked about how difficult I’d found the sessions and they talked about how difficult it must have been for me.
I talked about how hard I’m finding things and they talked about how in tune we all appear to be with each other.
I talked about how I worry about the girls emotions, they talked about how they see me as a ‘processor’ type parent (this is good apparently, means I’m ‘thinking’ about their feelings and experiences and how they effect them on a day to day, moment to moment basis, I think).
I talked about how I worry I’m too strict, they talked about my boundaries giving security.
I talked about my experience of the first time we met the girls, they talked about how overwhelming it must have been for all of us.
I talked about how I feel like I don’t know how to help the girls in the best way, they talked about how I know the girls better than anyone.
I talked about people around us not ‘seeing’ what I see or understanding the girls struggles, they talked about understanding their struggles and believing me.

We talked about all sorts and covered lots in our 60 minutes, I felt they praised me quite a lot, which I really wasn’t expecting, but think I needed. They pointed out several positive things that they’d observed and I left feeling quite a weight lifted, I guess that’s the whole point of the sessions!

Next Tuesday its me and the girls, I must remember to take them this time!!

It occurred to me today that this is the 24th CAMHS visit I’ve blogged about, we’ve been to a few more which took place during the initial referral stage before I started my blog taking the total up to 27 CAMHS appointments in 15 months, that’s quite a lot isn’t it!

CAMHS Part 3 – Session 4 – The Black Cloud

Published May 8, 2013 by thefamilyof5

A few weeks ago the girls met the new psychotherapist for the first time, you can read about it here.

On Tuesday afternoon they had their 2nd session with him and also the family therapist. I felt a little more prepared this time, or at least I felt I knew what to expect, I didn’t/couldn’t tell the girls about the appointment until  I collected them from school, if I’d told them any sooner their anxiety levels would have hit the roof. So once I rounded them up and got them in the car I dropped the bomb shell that we were going to see the nice man and lady at CAMHS again. Baby girl seemed excited, middle girl didn’t comment or react and big girl simply replied with ‘oh yes he did say we’d go again soon didn’t he mummy’.

Knowing how much they’d struggled with the last appointment I wanted the girls to also be prepared and hopefully less anxious. I had no intention of allowing them to unravel again regardless of whether that was what I was supposed to do or not, I still have no clue how they expect me to ‘be’ during these sessions. So in the car on the way there I talked to them about how they’d been a little worried and unsure last time and how they didn’t need to worry because I was there to keep them safe and we go to the session together as a family and we would come home together afterwards as a family. I also reminded them that if someone was talking to them it was generally polite to listen and not talk over them like they did last time. I reminded them that there was a box of activities that had been put together especially for them and that was what they should play with and that the rest of the toys in the cupboards around the room were not for playing with today. I assured them that they didn’t have to do anything they didn’t want too and if they wanted to just sit down and do nothing then that was fine or if they wanted to come and stand by me, hold my hand or sit on my lap then that was also fine. I reminded them that the nice man and lady at camhs were there to help us all with our feelings. I emphasised a lot on the words ‘help’ ‘safe’ ‘family’ ‘mommy will take care of you’, I didn’t want them to feel like they were alone, which is how I think they felt last time due to me ‘sitting back and letting them unravel’. I really wish I hadn’t done that now but I didn’t know what was expected of me. This time I was prepared, we all talked about it together. Big girl talked about being polite and remembering to use manners, middle girl echo’d big girls comments and baby girl commented on how climbing all over me wasn’t a sensible choice. We all appeared quite calm, I felt confident the session would go more smoothly.

The minute we walked in to the room big girls anxious voice reappeared, baby girl became fidgety and wriggly, middle girl just smiled, widely.

After a brief ‘hello again’ introduction the girls busied themselves with the box of activities, well all except baby girl, she chose to climb all over me whining , hugging me so tight she almost choked me and constantly asking for the toys in the cupboard around the room, you know, all the things I told her not to do. The psychotherapist did his usual trick of making me feel utterly incompetent by commenting/wondering out loud, how big girl and middle girl must feel they need to look after themselves whilst mommy is so busy taking care of baby girl.  At one point big girl was making something with paper and glue and the psychotherapist commented how it looked like she wanted my help but wasn’t sure how to ask for it, like that was MY fault!? Was I supposed to offer, wait for her to ask, wait for her response, it was all too much to think about, I offered to help her, she declined it, just like she always does. Big girl likes me to help her only when she asks for it, she sometimes likes to notify me that she needs help by standing nearby and showing me her struggle, but if I offer help, she rarely accepts it, instead she’ll wait a while and then ask me to help, which was exactly what happened here.

The whole time this ‘mommy slating’ was taking place baby girl is emotionally sucking the life from me by squirming and wriggling all over my lap with her arms tight around my neck whining down my ear and whimpering like a baby, which incidentally also gave the psychotherapist something to comment on, so all the while I’m trying to soothe her without neglecting her sisters needs and missing something the psychotherapist could ‘wonder out loud’ about. I made a huge point of ‘wowing’ middle girls pictures that she was contently sat on the floor with and tried my best to keep up with big girl flitting back and forth in an attempt to spot her next need before the psychotherapist, all the while my hand is still stroking baby girls back in a pointless attempt to calm her, I say pointless because actually I think she was playing me, She was only interested in doing the things I’d asked her not to and she is clever enough to know that the chances of getting away with it in front of people, was high. I’m confident if I’d told her not to sit on the chairs and pick her nose then that would have been exactly what she would have done. Why? who knows?  No really, I haven’t a clue why she does this.

The session ended, we left. We came straight home and I followed the girls to the garden and sent them to bounce it off on the trampoline whilst I stared in to space like a zombie listening to their constant demands of ‘mommy watch me’ ‘mommy look at this’ ‘mommy did you see’. They were anxious, they were struggling, but I could barely keep my eyes open let alone construct a sentence. The life had literally been sucked out of me, chewed up, minced, chucked about a bit and made in to a great big fat black cloud of self pity above my head. I wallowed, they bounced.

Next week the appointment is just for me. Joy!

Apples and Onions

Published May 8, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Some of us are raising apples and some of us are raising onions.
When you bite into an apple there is a core and you can work things out.
When you peel an onion there is layer upon layer to unravel and understand.
Therefore don’t seek advice or understanding from apple growers if you are raising an onion instead speak to experienced onion growers.

I was reminded of this again today by a fellow onion grower, what are you growing, apples or onions like me? 😉

CAMHS Part 3 – Session 2 – Eh?!

Published April 15, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Eh?! Is exactly what I was thinking as I walked across the car park back to my car after today’s session.

Today’s session was me, the family therapist and the psychotherapist. They started the meeting by asking me how the school holidays had gone. I was glad they asked this as I’d wanted to ask them for some advice on how to handle big girls recent increase in self harming.

It was then that my brain started to become confused. The psychotherapist abruptly interrupted me shortly after I started to ask for their advice and he began talking about, well to be honest, I’m not really sure what he was talking about. He talked about me responding to her behaviours rather than addressing under lying causes, he said something that sounded like ‘but your not seeing big girl just her behaviour’. He said at one point, ‘I know I’m being tough on you’, was he? I didn’t really understand anything of what he was saying, was he criticising me? he also said something about my job as a mum of 3 being a particularly difficult one, so was he praising me? At the end when he said ‘before you respond did you understand that’, I said ‘no, I seem to have completely missed your point?’. I really hadn’t a clue what he was talking about his comments seemed fragmented and seemed to flit from one topic to another, yet all the time I was aware that still no one had given me any advice on how I should react when big girl hurts herself.

So then the topic changed to how they thought our sessions should go moving forwards. The family therapist plans to offer support to me and my husband with the psychotherapist working with the girls. I quickly pointed out that my husband wouldn’t be able to attend lots of appointments due to his work commitments, there was talk of him using annual leave to which I pointed out that we like to keep that for ‘family time’ as we like to spend time doing things as a family as much as possible as we felt that was important. The psychotherapist appeared irritated by this and pointed out that he felt the work they were proposing to do with us was important too. I’m not sure if he was actually irritated but his tone certainly made me feel as though he was and in turn I became defensive and felt I needed to justify our decision to use my husbands annual leave for family time.

I know therapy is important and I know the girls, and us as a family, need this support. But at the same time, we have to try and be a normal family, and do normal family stuff in order to maintain some level of normality, our lives shouldn’t all be about trauma, adoption and therapy, should it?!

So anyway, I suggested that we had the occasional late appointment that would enable my husband to attend without his boss seeing him as an unreliable employee that needed lots of time off. The psychotherapist remarked how he thought it was interesting that I’d started off by saying how difficult it would be for my husband to attend regular sessions, but after he’d applied a little pressure I’d relented and said we could manage some late appointments. Again, I missed his point?! Was he saying I was weak and feeble? Or was he saying I was flexible and accommodating?

There was more talking by the psychotherapist, about what I couldn’t tell you, he rambled on and I barely made sense of any of it. He did at one point say something about big girl not allowing herself to trust that I will take care of her. I picked up on this, I agreed with his comment and tried to talk about the girls reactions to a recent surgery I’d had (I’ll blog about this another time). He hurried me along and then stopped me mid sentence to tell me we were out of time.

I left the office 59 and a half minutes after arriving, feeling confused about the content and purpose of the entire session!

It may take me some time to make sense of today.

Next week I’m to take all 3 girls, I hope he doesn’t confuse them as much as he did me!?

All kids do that……..kinda!

Published March 11, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I had a meeting today with the psychologist from the ASD place that’s working with us to address big girls sleep issues, yes she struggles to sleep too, its not just middle girl!

However, I’m not blogging about big girls sleep or middle girls, I want to tell you about my meeting, well not even really the meeting but more some of the things that the sleep psychologist said to me.

She said those words that all adopters loath to hear ‘all kids do that’ but then she added something very important, she said ‘but with your girls very more so’. She gets it!
She talked about competitiveness and how most kids are competitive, but how its more extreme with kids from backgrounds like my girls! She gets it!

She talked about attention seeking and how all kids do it, but with children like mine its so much more intense and difficult to handle. She gets it!

She empathised and validated everything I said! It was really quite surreal, if I didn’t know better I’d say she was an adoptive parent herself!

I’ve never come away from a meeting and felt that the professional I’d seen really ‘got it’, but she did!

I often struggle to find ways to explain how parenting my girls is different to parenting a birth child, its so complex that I struggle to find a simple explanation. A good friend of mine shared with me what I consider to be a wonderfully perfect analogy of adoptive parenting.

Apples and Onions
As parents we all grow our children, many are apples, few are onions, growing our children is in many ways the same, but with onions its more complex because they have so many layers, therefore it is different!

There are so few that really ‘get it’, let’s spread the word! 🙂

Dependent vs Independent

Published March 1, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I often find myself trying to find ways to simply explain the differences between parenting an adopted child and parenting a birth child.

I had a ‘light bulb’ moment in the shower the other day (the tranquillity of the shower is really the only place I get to organise my thoughts these days, its the only place I’m ever alone).

My girls learnt independence too soon, they learnt the world was a scary and unpredictable place and the only person they could trust was themselves.

My girls can dress themselves, feed themselves, and keep themselves safe. They can survive, they have survived.

So I ‘just’ (because of course its so easy!! ) have to teach my girls to trust me, believe me, change their view of the world, allow me to take care of them, allow me to keep them safe and depend on me! easy peasy eh!

Quite simply:

“Adoption is teaching your child to be dependent whilst other parents are teaching their children independence.”

Big girls 1st play-date

Published February 19, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I became friends with one of the mum’s at school last year, we spent a lovely day at the park with her and her 2 children last summer. She’s experienced adoption within her own family as she was growing up and has also worked within a social services environment. I’ve shared a lot with her over the last year and she’s listened and empathised without judging me which makes her a valuable friend, many are too quick to judge.

She’s familiar with big girls social difficulties and was kind enough to invite big girl over to play with her daughter today. Big girl was understandably nervous but also excited.

I dropped her off at 10.30am after having reassured her for the 10th time that I’d be back to collect her at 1pm after lunch and that yes, they had my number, so if she was upset or wanted to come home early she could ring me.

No one called. So I picked her up at 1pm as I’d promised. She was happy and I was told she’d had a lovely time and judging by her smile, she had.

It started as soon as she got in the car. She seemed concerned that her sisters might have missed her and felt they needed reassuring that she was back now so it was all going to be ok. (She does wonders for my own confidence as a mother) (I was being sarcastic)

It continued when we got home, she praised them for being good whilst she was gone, she asked them what they’d been doing and shared her own play-date experience all whilst seemingly reassuring them of her return.

Once she was happy that her sisters were safe and well and that I hadn’t broken or lost them in her absence, she began to fill me in on her play-date. In fact every 3-4 minutes she would return from the playroom where she was keeping an eye on her sisters to tell me something about her morning. I had a detailed description drip fed to me in teeny snippets of information about her lunch, drinks, activities and experiences for the next 3 hours.

She’d held it all together for so long and now she was off loading, so I smiled, I nodded and I listened until she was done.

She’d enjoyed her play-date even though there were aspects she was unsure about. She’d just needed to ‘order’ her thoughts and feelings so she could make sense of them. Once she’d done this, she felt more at ease and less anxious and felt more able to give her sisters some space. Which they were also happy about!

Especially baby girl as you will have read in my previous post.

There was trauma being leaked all over the place this afternoon. Baby girl was unravelling with fear, big girl was off loading her stresses and middle girl was just soaking it all up and becoming more and more manic throughout the afternoon.

When I talk about trauma breeding trauma, this is a perfect example of what I mean.

I put 3 dysregulated girls to bed tonight, 2 are already showing signs of a difficult night.

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