trauma

All posts tagged trauma

Looking back…..

Published January 6, 2018 by thefamilyof5

Those of you that have Facebook will know all about the ‘on this day’ function. It’s a feature that reminds you of posts from ‘on this day’ over the years. Today Facebook reminded me of a photo I took of the girls at a family party, it was about 6 months after placement. They were settled, happy and attached so going to the party seemed a great idea. This party was our first big family gathering, we bought new dresses and shoes and were excited about being seem out as a family of 5.

I remember commenting on what a lovely time the girls had, they’d danced, enjoyed a buffet and smiled a lot. I remember the journey home, it was very late but none of the girls slept, they were just so excited I remember thinking. They were so well behaved the entire night. I felt so proud.

Then Facebook showed me a photo from the party. Their fake and forced smiles, the look of terror in their eyes, their body’s ridged and wary. I feel ashamed for now seeing it.

I realise now that even after 6 months of being their mommy, I didn’t know. I didn’t know their faces well enough to be able to truly read them, I didn’t know their body language enough to be able to understand it. I thought we were settled, attached and out the otherside. After 6 months of being a family, we were all still strangers, and they were still terrified, I just didn’t realise that at the time. 

That was over 7 years ago, we’re still getting to know each other today, they do now thankfully feel safe with us and we know them well enough to know when they’re not ‘ok’ and they know us well enough to know we won’t hurt them, but attachment, that thing that I naively thought we’d mastered in a couple of months, well, that’s still a work in progress. 

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Let there be light….

Published December 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

The second bit of good news from this week came yesterday in the form of a phone call.

Last year, when we were fighting to get funding for tuition from big girls ECHP, we built a really supportive and understanding relationship with a manager in the local authority SEND team. She really took the time to get to know us as a family and really heard us when we explained what the girls needs were. I’m confident if it wasn’t for her, taking the time to really listen to us, we’d still be fighting for tuition now. 

After visiting our local special school with that same manager from the SEND team this week, it was agreed that it wasn’t suitable for big girl. The upshot of this, is that the school we really feel is the most likely to be manageable for big girl, is now considered our nearest suitable school. This means that the local authority will provide transport! (If none of this makes sense, go back about 3 posts and all will fall in to place, I think).

The plan was always for her (and her sisters) to return to formal education, this is perhaps just slightly sooner than we planned, but it feels right and even more so with recent events.

Big girls attachment difficulties impact her ability to receive an education from me and inturn that can impact our schedule each day. Her autism makes socialising more difficult, and her attachment style means she avoids it. This really isn’t helpful for her, she needs friends, she needs  ‘no strings’ connections and social interactions with peers. I’m hopeful that she will eventually feel a sense of belonging at this school once she realises she is with children just like her, and who make no emotional demands of her (unlike family, inadvertently, does). Hopefully she’ll find herself.

So now we plan the transition. Big girl is still unaware of this plan, until we have concrete plans to share with her it’s better kept quiet, she’s far too emotionally fragile at the moment to manage such uncertainty. I’m hoping that we can start things pretty quickly, ideally before Christmas with a full time timetable implemented early January. 

I can’t fix everything for her, but I can do everything in my power to give her everything she needs to be the best that she can be. 

If only she knew how much she was loved.

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.

The aftermath…. 

Published December 1, 2017 by thefamilyof5

It took a few days to hit them, I guess it wasn’t really until big girl started to come down around a week after her recent episode, that baby girl and middle girl felt safe enough to relax, and let it out. 

The tiredness didn’t help either, I guess it’s difficult for them to sleep whilst they’re so preoccupied with what mood she will wake in. I know I am.

Their needs became so great, they had ‘hurts’ that needed rubbing better, they needed to be close both physically and emotionally, they wanted ALL of my attention and they didn’t want to share. They fought for control in play, wanted to be first for everything. Behaviour deteriorated and choices became poor. 

It had taken about 4 days after ‘roof gate’ for big girl to stop calling us stupid idiots, a further day for her to only think it without saying it outloud. A full 6 days later and she finally was able to feel remorse, which rapidly seemed to be turning to toxic shame through the day, so we intervened and talked about it. It hadn’t been safe to talk about it before. 

Her foot was badly bruised (from kicking the door) but no permanent damage. Her self esteem however hadn’t escaped unscathed. She felt ‘bad’, told us she was ‘stupid’ and that the policeman should have taken her away. We told her we loved her.

Day 7 and it was like it never happened, for her anyway.  The aftermath for the rest of us began here. 

Hello, is there anybody there?

Published November 20, 2017 by thefamilyof5

Its been a while eh, I’ve so much to update you with, especially if you haven’t been following my Facebook page, or Instagram.

So. I’ll break it up in to two parts.  Before July & since July.

Before July

Things were brilliant. The girls were calm, I was calm. They were enjoying their tuition and learning. We were making some lovely memories. Our DDP therapy had mostly stopped, a few sessions with Big girl, but sessions mostly just involving me with the focus on giving me a space to reflect therapeutically. They were attending a dance class and a cookery class and had joined our local ParkRun community event.

Baby girl was really benefiting from having me near, her attachment getting more and more secure. She was also beginning to show signs of maturing. Still clingy, but growing up socially. She was having deeper thoughts that didn’t just revolve around herself and food. She remained adamant however that she would never be going back to school. Ever. Hmmm we’ll see young lady!

Big girl was plodding along. Her difficult ways remained, our attachment was still an issue, especially in respect of school work/home education, but overall things were pleasant and she was happy to work for the tutors. She even found a new love of maths. The issues we faced were simply with regard to her education, she was resistant to do any work for me. It was just like the homework difficulties we faced when she was in school. We decided it was time to look at getting her back in to formal education. She hadnt really ‘grown’ as much as we’d hoped and a more formal setting with social opportunities she could manage, in an environment that understood her was what we felt she now needed. She hadnt grown enough to manage mainstream education as we’d planned so that left us with special school’s. I spent a few months researching local SEN schools and found the one I thought she could manage. I let the SEND team know of our request towards the end of June.

Middle girl, well, what can I say, she has absolutely thrived since we removed her from school.  She’s grown way more confident, her speech is brilliant, in fact some days you cant shut her up, she’s been enjoying imaginative play, messy play, she’s been dancing and singing and being funny, she’s funny, who knew!? She has really started to open up, trusting me with some of her feelings, trusting me to say ‘yes’ when she wants something, trusting me not to reject her, our attachment really beginning to blossom.

Since July.

Late spring the therapist and I agreed that the DDP hadnt been as beneficial as we’d hoped, especially for Big girl. We agreed that some 1:1 basic life story work might help her move a few obstacles that would then allow her to engage in the DDP work later on down the line. Big girls attachment was a big focus, always had been, and the root to all of the small difficulties we were facing, including her reluctance to receive an education from me.

So the work began in the first week of July. It immediately became tricky with her first meltdown less than a few days later. We’d seen nothing like this since she was in school. A few more sessions took place and the meltdowns returned, each time increasing in severity. She became violent again. Always towards me. Baby girl and Middle girl were scared again. And angry that this scary behavior from big girl had returned. No one could understand it, not even big girl. She was being swept under a wave of anxiety that she wasn’t expecting, didn’t understand, and didn’t know how to escape from. She was fighting to control the waves but they just kept coming.

The application for the SEN school slowed down because of the end of year and then of course the school holidays. I went to a meeting to talk about her needs and let them know the importance of her moving to the right school. Especially now, the return of her violence reminded me of how difficult things had been when she was in mainstream school and not coping. We couldn’t afford to get it wrong again. None of us would survive that again.

It was around this same time that our replacement post adoption social worker was assigned to us, our previous one had retired at the start of the year. It felt like she had come just at the right time, had she been assigned to us a month before, we’d have sent her packing, but instead, just like Nanny Mcphee, she was there just as we needed her. Id like to say that she made everything better but I cant. I wont go in to details but needless to say for the first time ever I felt judged and blamed for big girls difficulties. So much for Nanny McPhee!

Things got worse, my bruises got bigger and new ones began appearing before the old ones had time to heal. She was bigger than last time, stronger. Baby girl and middle girl were totally traumatised and big girl had succumbed to the darkness. She was feeling more and more unreachable as every second passed. She was angry, putting her self in danger, defiant, obstructive, self harming, arrogant and generally just bloody awful. We’d opened Pandoras box inside her head, she didn’t know how to close it, she wouldn’t let us help her close it and each therapy session served only to open it more. She wasn’t ready. She was completely overwhelmed, filled with hatred and anger I’ve never seen in her before, she was barely recognizable. By September we were all on our knees and we needed real help.

Our therapist was reluctant to believe that the therapy was the cause of all the violence and aggression, since they hadn’t apparently discussed anything difficult yet, so she wanted to continue. She nor the social worker were able to accept the impact that the volatility and violence was having on baby girl and middle girl (never mind the rest of us), nor did they seem to understand that we had no respite options and very limited child care. we needed help. It was really 24/7. During a meeting with the post adoption team and our therapist they all apparently agreed that the issues we were having were simply ours, nothing related to attachment or trauma, we were simply struggling to parent a typical teenager and needed generic parenting advice. There was nothing they could do. In other words, we screamed for help and they put their backs against a wall and blamed us. Case closed. A referral was made to a generic parenting support team and we rang CAMHS in desperation.

We had the usual difficulties getting access to CAMHS, because big girl has a diagnosis of Autism everything is instantly blamed on it and we get told ‘its normal autism behavior’, this is before they even meet with us, never mind with big girl. We protested and they agreed to meet us to talk through the difficulties. They agreed after lengthy discussion and a few tears from me that it sounded like big girl was in fact overloaded with anxiety and would likely benefit from some medical support. We would need to wait for another appointment.

The SEND department have agreed to a SEN placement for Big girl (she has no idea yet) but do not agree that the school we chose is the best one to meet her needs. Our nearest generic SEN school is adequate they feel and as such will not provide transport to the school we need for her. Without transport she cant go. She wont last a week in the generic school they’re proposing. So we’re stuck. We need to find a way through. She needs an education. She wont accept an education from me. We know the consequences of putting her in the wrong school. She’s too fragile for us to get this wrong. Things have become even more difficult with her at home and at this rate we’ll need a residential school or foster care. This now needs to be sorted out fast but no one seems to be in a hurry.

Since the start of the life story work in July, big girl has either been angry or manically happy. Neither is pleasant. Whilst she’s never been easy, she has always been respectful, kind and gentle. Never one to break rules or be cheeky really. We haven’t seen the big girl we’re used to for many months now. She’s still in there though, I haven’t given up hope of that.

This weekend, after another long week of her anger brewing and tensions increasing things reached a peak. She hurt us and then she put her self in danger by climbing on to a roof, we were left with no alternative but to call the police for help.

The policeman arrived, lovely he was, very gentle and kind and understanding. Whilst the Sunday roast, that I’d popped in the oven in an attempt to maintain some normality, roasted away in the oven, he tried to calm down big girl, reason with her and ultimately diffuse the situation. She finally came indoors but she wasn’t calm. He stayed for over an hour, almost long enough to join us for dinner. He apologised that there wasn’t much that he could offer by way of practical support. He could see she was a child struggling with her emotions. She remained rude towards him the entire time. He made a ‘referral’ which he said should bring help, or at least get us some much needed attention. Baby girl and Middle girl, whilst they still found the entire ordeal traumatic, they coped surprisingly well. He left. We ate dinner, she chose to eat in a different room to the ‘stupid idiots’ otherwise known as her family.

We’re all still feeling quite shell shocked today unsurprisingly. Big girl hasn’t really been able to reflect or even really calm down, we’re all still ‘stupid idiots’ (worst words she knows) but she isn’t hurting anyone, for now. She’s angry at the bruises to her foot and hand that she sustained whilst kicking and punching the (unlocked) double glazed door. She’s annoyed that we removed her from the house, to the safety of the back garden (nearest place), to stop her from hitting, kicking and biting us more. She doesn’t really even understand why we’re expecting her to say or feel sorry. She isn’t able to acknowledge her own actions at all or look at me for fear of seeing the fresh bruises she left on my skin. Again. She is feeling ashamed I think, but doesn’t understand that feeling. She knows only anger or happiness and she isn’t feeling very happy right now. None of us are.

The lady from the generic parenting support place is due tomorrow morning, we might actually terrify her. If she brings a sticker chart god help her!

Despite the events of this weekend, CAMHS are unable to see us any sooner than the already scheduled appointment next week they say.

So that’s us. Hows your year been? 🙂

 

What price should we pay for an education?!

Published May 10, 2016 by thefamilyof5

Why must everything be one long continuous fight!?

In the last 6 years I don’t think there has ever been a time when I’ve not been fighting for support for something for my children! Social care, medical support, education, its never ending!

I’ve been through some pretty tough things in my life, but being an adoptive parent is by far the hardest. Its a really lonely journey, and not many people, professional or not, truly understand the difficulties faced by children suffering the long term effects of neglect and trauma, which makes getting any support nigh on impossible.

We were forced to home educate the girls last year, it wasn’t planned, and it certainly wasn’t choice. Id hoped that the Local Education Authority (LEA) would help us, Id hoped that they’d recognise that I’ve done, am doing, everything I possibly can to help my girls achieve the very best they can. It seems not. We requested some help to fund some tuition via big girls EHC Plan (education health care plan, replaced the statement of special educational needs), not a lot, just a few measly hours a week, I think I said 3hours. It seems that even though they were giving schools thousands of pounds to support her in school, plus the £1900 for her Pupil Premium, they cant even pay for a few hours of tuition. She’s only 3+ years behind though so what the hell eh! Who needs an education anyway!

I also applied recently for an EHC Plan for middle girl, school had planned to do it just before we removed her. The LEA wrote to me today, apparently they don’t feel she qualifies even for an assessment, something to do with mostly achieving a level 2a in year 4 and being seen by an autism service to be chatting to a peer at school on one occasion and seeming to understand the instructions in class?! Mostly nonsense, the Level 2a was probably the only accurate part.

I currently pay £20 a week for 1hours math tuition for my girls. All I wanted was 3hours! 3 measly hours of tuition!! £60 a week! I’m fairly sure all the EHCP panels and tribunals they’ll make me attend will cost a hell of a lot more than £60 a week! They all attracted £1900 each in pupil premium at school, that’s without an EHC Plan, apparently I cant even access that, so where is that money now, what happens to it? The government set it aside for my children’s education, yet they can’t access it unless we completely risk destroying their mental health, and our family unit, just so they can be in school!?

My LEA would prefer I put big girl on anxiety medication (the real cost of which would no doubt be life long and provided by a different department) and sent her to school, rather than provide a few hours a week in tuition! They would rather that middle girl withdrew back in to herself and spent every day scared and confused in school (with therapy paid for by someone else for her foreseeable future), than provide her with a few hours tuition! They would rather my baby girl gave in to the chaos within her, detached from the world and survived in school (with services funded by all manner of departments throughout her life to keep her on the straight and narrow), than support her in an environment that she feels safe. My LEA don’t care if my children are achieving, feeling safe, happy and content (they weren’t in school) or having a mental breakdown, being medicated, or even if our family breaks down, because the cost of all that comes down to a different department!

It shouldn’t be this hard. ALL of my girls deserve an education and the opportunities that will provide them with, but they all also deserve a mommy that isn’t completely exhausted from providing it.

 

 

 

 

The things you’ll never hear me say…………

Published April 20, 2016 by thefamilyof5

Being an adoptive parent means having to constantly fight for what our children need. It’s never easy. Putting on that brave face, that armor every day, means it can sometimes be too hard to let that more vulnerable side of us be seen. There are some things you will never hear an adopter say…………………

I’ll never tell you to stop telling me about your child’s latest achievements, but its sometimes just a tough reminder for me of the things my own children are not achieving right now.

I wont tell you how much of a failure you make me feel, every time you say ‘all kids do that’.

I wont tell you how utterly out of my depth I feel with all this attachment and trauma stuff, I’ll just smile as I confidently explain it all to you.

I wont tell you that I cried myself to sleep last night or the night before, you’ll just hear me say tomorrow is a new day.

I wont tell you how hard it is, every day or how I’m not the lioness everyone thinks I am.

I wont tell you how much I worry for the future and cry about the past.

I wont tell you that I’m lonely, that I haven’t seen or spoken to another adult outside of my family for weeks, I might just casually suggest we catch up soon, hiding the desperation from my voice.

You wont hear me say I feel like I failed my children today when I shouted and saw that look of terror in their faces, you’ll just hear me say ‘we’re fine thanks’.

You’ll never hear me scream ‘I cant do this’, unless your inside my head that is.

I wont tell you the real reason I don’t sleep at night.

I wont tell you that the highest aspiration I have for my child is simply that they manage to stay on the right side of the law, instead I’ll joke with you about how they plan to rule the world!

You wont hear me scream and stamp my feet and beg for someone to just listen, you’ll just see me gracefully appealing yet another decision that’s been made for my child.

I’ll never tell you how many times I’ve wished I could just run away and pretend this life wasn’t mine, I’ll just tell you its been a shit day and tomorrow is a new one.

You wont hear me ask for help, I cant, I’m too busy putting on a brave face and fighting my child’s corner, I don’t have time to show you any weakness, heck I don’t even have time to reply to emails.

 

I will however tell you that this blog was inspired by an article I read today by Ger Renton on themighty.com

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