Updated: Mar 28
You, me, them, us......
It really does. We try everything to help where we can, don't we? Especially with our own offspring, there are often no limits, until there has to be.
My husband and I were just caught unawares by a call from the prison. Every time the phone rings and its the prison, we sigh.....'what now.......what next?'
First, let me tell you about our morning of calls from our eldest daughter who believed she was finishing her sentence and returning to her old flat. She was panicking. She knows she can't cope with real life for long. Given what she probably already knew, she had convinced herself she was returning to the flat where she and other people wouldn't have been safe. This morning, she was wanting to go work in London for 'the big bucks', that way she could pay for her castle and servants. She told us we needed do 'this and that' to make it happen and then she chatted about the 'someone' that had stolen her money again, the dark side of Wicca and Alienware. We got many daily calls from prison like this. Confusion reigns, the meds clearly aren't working.
To our surprise, but not, if you know what I mean? We had recently been informed by a prison officer, that she would go back to the place, where the system had already let her down, more than once. To the place where she kept hurting herself and other people. This conversation was in contrast to us recently being 'assured' some weeks ago, that this wouldn't happen and 'appropriate' accommodation with care would be found. Then it all changed and we appeared to be back to square one and we were beside ourselves with worry.
Second custodial sentence and chucked back into society. A society she doesn't fit in. Square peg, round hole. Care in the community at its worst.
How would we cope? How would she cope? We really, honestly have no fight left in us. We were terrified.
Then came the call.
A lovely woman called Evie rang us, with the news that two senior Psychiatrists had signed to section B indefinitely.
After 7 months in prison, they finally got it!
We both sobbed.
The lady was confused at our distress, until she realised how relieved we were, it wasn't bad news, it was the news we'd been hoping for.....for many, many years.
The good news day, we thought would never come was finally here. We couldn't quite believe it and then the pain hits over and over again. I doubt that pain will ever fully go, I mean, we made her.
This journey we have been on, with our much loved child who turns 30 this year, has us totally spent. Our belief in the mental health system is at an all time low and we've felt very much abandoned, mostly. No one ever seemed to care enough. No one ever seemed to understand.
On top of all that, we have been judged harshly by our own family, not all, but many have decided that they could have raised her better. Honestly, I really would have loved to give them the opportunity to try, but ultimately, I'm so happy they never got to experience the pain and heartache of raising her.
I forgive them their ignorance.
Our scars are both mental and physical. Our other children have suffered. My husband and I ran out of options a long time ago and caring for her at home would put us in danger again. We aren't the professionals that can help her and yet, everyday we have to fight the temptation to go pick her up and watch our lives crumble to nothing again. Not scooping her up is the hardest internal fight we've ever had to deal with. It's un natural, cruel even. It has never ever sat well with any of us.
Right now, our hearts are both broken and with todays news, already healing. The fear of her hurting someone is gone, gone for now, anyway. Who knows what the future holds for her or us? It's been a rollercoaster, a rollercoaster without wheels, just jarring bumps on the track and then some and we've ended up, the kids and us, very traumatised. The worst part for us, the parents, was being blamed. Consistently blamed for her behaviour pre 18. Doctors never stopped trying to escape doing anything meaningful about treating her, then of course when she turned 18, she was left to fight the system herself and we were often denied information and or input. She had 'rights' you see and they won above her real and complex needs.
We have really tried to help and help find the right treatment/care for her, but we were often made to feel like we were a nuisance, a problem or indeed too aggressive in our demands. So many doors have been slammed shut in our faces. It really felt like a revolving, consistent slap.
By fighting for her rights, we found the 'system' would block us by telling B 'it would be better if we weren't involved'. Complaints got nowhere and in fact we found our written complaints rarely answered and when they were, the questions we asked were ignored. They knew how to let her slip through the system, simply because she didn't fit anywhere. Simply because they lacked the resources to help. Often because, they didn't want to help and sometimes because they were as scared as we were.
It's been impossible.
Are we the best parents in the world?
No, course not.
Are we the worst?
Are you a good or bad parent?
I suspect you learnt as you went and once experienced, felt pretty good about your skills. Okay, now do all that with a child that has more than one personality, a disorder so wide, even the professionals struggle to name it! That disorder grows more complicated year on year. Imagine......no don't. I really don't want you to go there, because its a very dark place. It's a place were you keep moving for 'fresh starts', where running a business from home is impossible and you push friends and family away to protect them and her. Your life becomes a living hell, it's all a mess and functioning normally becomes a real chore. I'm pretty sure I've acted my way through a couple of decades, playing happy families when the truth was quite different.
It's a life full of pointless appointments, judgements and its a lonely, sad journey for us and our other children.
They also threw drugs at her like confetti. Those drugs have side effects, sure, but they were never good ones. There was no miracle cure.
We 'played' at 'normal' best we could, but when the police were often at our door, it becomes so far from the book of perfect parenting, it was a surreal version written by Tim Burton. Yes, she has battered me and no I didn't report it, a mistake, I know. It been very much like we had a monster waiting to pounce, pounce she did, so much so, we now hide our address from her and no it doesn't feel right. It never feels right.
It wasn't just the violence. Anyone that comes into contact with her is accused of bullying and other unsavories. No one is safe.
We want to help. Of course we do.
That said, none of us have any wish to go back to feeling, so unsafe in our beds, that we sleep with knives under the pillow.
We don't beat ourselves up as much now, we just try hard to keep up the momentum whilst fighting her corner. It's exhausting. She's our daughter, she deserves our help. Someone has to advocate for her when the professionals fail. We loved her madly, but that girl we knew is mostly gone and we only get a glimpse of her here and there now. We've already been grieving for a very long time. It's a loss that is hard to fathom. The 'why' is never answered. There will never be a satisfactory conclusion.
We still cling to a little hope, even though we really know the chances of her leading a 'normal life' are slim to none and the chances of her ever coming home are pretty much an impossible dream on all sides.
When the realisation finally dawned on us, that we couldn't personally fix B and no one wanted to help us or her, our lives went from the dark hole to a really sad and empty place. Our belief in the world being a good place, with good people in it, felt very much a big fat lie!
Today is a good day, so rare, the first positive action in what? 16 years!
She was a bright, intelligent, well educated, beautiful, but very broken girl, who year on year got lost in the maze that is her mind. Schizophrenia, BPD, autism, labels, more labels and even more labels never helped her or us, it just added a dose of stigma and confusion to her life and ours.
Sometimes my lovelies, some people are too fragile for this world and 'care in the community' does them a disservice. What they need is just to be in a safe and secure environment. They are safe, we are safe and we can stop pushing her in the wrong direction and she can find peace at last.
We are all ready for some peace in our lives.
Where did you go B?
Don't worry about us, we'll meet you there.