Ok, so it started over 7 years ago. I say it started, that was when it started for me.Not for my daughter. For my daughter that was when it got so unbearable the façade of normalcy she had maintained her whole childhood, slipped.
Her mask fell off and everything went to hell. For her, it was only pivotal in that finally her real pain was exposed and culminated in her first suicide attempt. She was 12 years old.
In retrospect, something must have shielded it further from me, had I known then, the pain she was experiencing, I would have probably been sectioned. As it is, even now it is something I find extremely difficult to reconcile. That someone SO gifted, SO beautiful was fighting with and hating every aspect of herself at such a tender age, alone, is just debilitatingly painful for me.
When I say alone, for her, what she was facing, was SO huge and so cleverly hidden, she must’ve felt so alone. I myself tried to get her help from services, but so little is known about personality disorders and she was SO young, they just had no clue. Frustratingly, because she refused to engage with them, they refused to even try. Even more frustrating is her violent refusal was actually a symptom. If they had taken 5 minutes, stopped patronising her and actually asked her about what she was experiencing, she may have got help far sooner.
To be absolutely honest, her symptoms of emotional disregulation put a strain on even our relationship. However, once I came across the list of symptoms and began to research them, it made perfect sense. She made perfect sense.
I have been dealing with various disorders for years now. Not including my own ADHD, but starting with my son. My son’s ADHD became a training ground for me and the first lesson I learned was
The behaviour must be separated from the person. AKA I am not my behaviour.
I learned to see through any manifestations of anger, of oppositional defiance (oh yes he had that too) and see the frustrated, hurt, desperately unhappy baby that the good Lord blessed me with (and believe you me, he seemed far from a blessing at times) I learned to look past the negative. To push beyond the negative behaviour and love him, despite of and sometimes because of it. I couldn’t help it. Even when he was cursing me out and sometimes trying to physically attack me, I loved him, he was mine. I couldn’t not love him.
I’ll admit to secretly not liking him occasionally but even then, it was the behaviour he was demonstrating at the time. (Little secret, my eldest child? Fucking charming, disliking him is v difficult) but definitely some of his behaviours made me want to do time for him. 😉
As he aged, I dis-engaged, I just couldn’t cope. MY ADHD kicked in and said “just quit”. I am ashamed to say, I listened to it, but there’s nothing I can do about that now, this was nearly a decade ago. At that moment I stopped parenting him. I never stopped loving him, I just didn’t reinforce boundaries and let him run wild.
It was during THIS time coping with his behaviour, my training for helping my youngest kicked in. Because it was hard and I had to become ‘mindful’. Something I never was before. Of course during this phase, my own ADHD was diagnosed, and so, I had disengaged, but then, my youngest tried to kill herself. It was a wake-up call, I had to engage. Her life depended on it.
Despairing I googled the life out of everything. You see on a basic level she was presenting with the symptoms of ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder – which thanks to the boy I had frequent experience of)
It was a logical conclusion to draw. She had ADHD, right? WRONG!
ADHD has specific criteria, THE most important one is presenting before the age of 7. My youngest was super intelligent and had an IQ of around 140 at 9, she started reading at 2 years old and completed her first novel at 6 years, she had no issues following instruction at home or school, was an A* student, until her 1st year in secondary school, when out of the blue, she had a scuffle with a student that culminated in her calling the headmistress a fucking cunt. Then she went into an inclusive learning centre- you may be out of our school, but you STILL need to be educated-. Basically a school for the expelled.
The thing was, presenting symptoms of ADHD at 12 years old indicated early on-set bi polar and so, I asked for her to be assessed. She was sullen and aggressive with them, they saw it as a refusal to engage and refused, even thou her lack of engagement was a symptom and she was clearly emotionally unstable. I believe, had they assessed her for that? BPD would have been identified, but no, they just gave her a blanket diagnosis of oppositional defiance disorder out of sheer laziness, not even offering me support in coping with a child who was so depressed she couldn’t leave her room and would lie on her bed staring at the ceiling for hours and who’s rages put the Hulk to shame. It made my blood boil.
I have to say thou, God provides silver linings in these things, one such silver lining was Southwark Inclusive Learning centre. Yes, the school for the expelled showed an enormous amount of grace, she was highly favoured by the teaching staff, who saw her intelligence and talent. They realised, she had social anxiety and that the large numbers in classrooms at mainstream school was something she couldn’t deal with and so kept her on as a full-time pupil. It was whilst at this school that the beginning of our journey in the valley of the shadow of death began with her first suicide attempt.
Ringing the school, I told them, if she can’t deal with school THAT much, she didn’t have to go. The teacher was very sympathetic and supportive. However, her attendance had fallen below a certain threshold and so I was invited to a meeting under the guise of helping getting her back in.
Enter stage left “The educational welfare officer ” who ACTUALLY told me I couldn’t say depressed and I must say ‘blue’ and so I retorted with “Okay, my child is so fucking blue that she actually tried to kill herself how’s that? I don’t give a shit what you say, she doesn’t have to come in, I mean what’s the point in her having an education in a fucking coffin”? Of course I was told off for my language. This old hag had no comprehension of my fear and looking back acted in quite a calculated psychopathic way. My response was deemed over-emotional.
The fact she said this in front of my girl and it caused her such distressed she had to be removed hysterical from the room had ABSOLUTEY no emotional effect on this withered old bint and yet I cooperated with them in an effort to get her an education. However, this event (her suicide attempt) culminated with what I can only describe as a witch-hunt that resulted in a court appearance and me receiving a criminal conviction of a conditional discharge, the old bag wanted to ‘get’ me fined so badly, she was sick at this result.
For a conditional discharge was actually the least they could give me, because I pleaded guilty with mitigation and I found favour somehow with the very smart, lovely judge. She recognized my cooperation as I described the daily despair and fear for my child, she also seemed to recognize the educational welfare officer’s extreme zeal for a conviction, for what it was, a desire for victory by a spiteful, hypocritical bitch, who seemingly targeted my family as a way of upping her conviction numbers. Her fake concern being for my daughters welfare and belief that I was somehow the reason for my childs absence at school’ seemed laughable in the face of my own testimony as to my daughters delicate emotional state.
During this time, my middle child was diagnosed with ADHD
-another battle, seeing as her ‘special needs’ teacher disagreed with my attempt to get her diagnosed, telling me. Ive worked with kids for 15 years and I know ADHD, she hasn’t got it”. To which I HAD to respond, “I’ve had ADHD ALL my life and lived with children affected 24/7 for the past 18 years, I’m telling you she has it”! This woman cared SO much about being right she deliberately tried to sabotage the assessment, but praise God they saw through it and of course the ditzy bint was diagnosed, this girl presents symptoms of ADHD at about 100 miles an hour. Most think she’s a dizzy blond. NO. She’s SO ADHD she makes me look positively together 😉 –
Of course, her lack of attendance at school was also the reason for my court appearance, but I put that into my mitigation, she is LITERALLY in process of being diagnosed and by the way, she is literally leaving school in a few weeks. So what’s the point in even putting this in? I mean what is the concern for her, seeing as she’s only supposed to be attending for exams? To which hilariously the judge looks at the education welfare officer for a response, of course she has none, it none, if you don’t include, the only reason I put it in is so she will be punished because I don’t really care about this child whom I’ve never even met, just give me a conviction. It was SO obvious. Especially as she then brought up my sons lack of attendance, to which I of course was able to say. “…and yes, you people came to me when he was 14 and after telling him he couldn’t be on site of his school if he wasn’t medicated, and after he refused to take medication on this basis. You told me, you didn’t expect much from him anyway and you wouldn’t prosecute”! If looks could kill, LOL. It would have been quite comical if I hadn’t have been SO angry.
So, the learning centre put everything into my youngest and , helping her to return there and because they were so flexible and because they actually cared, my youngest is the only one of my children to get ALL her GCSE’s. ALL A’s and B’s I believe.
However, I digress, you see, after all these fight’s for my children and because of the research I needed to advocate for them. I have supernatural patience and an unmitigated amount of grace, with all. I meet you and you act like a total tit. I won’t think you’re a tit, I’ll presume you are possibly having a bad day. Because there is always more under the surface than how we behave, what we’ve been through shapes how we behave, the chemicals in our brains or sometimes the lack of them shapes how we behave. However, it doesn’t dictate who we are. It merely informs our pathology.
Through what I have been through and experienced, I have become a reasonably decent mediator.
A specific part of borderline personality disorder is that because of negative self esteem, any argument as to their worthlessness isn’t received as such. They say. “I’m a piece of shit, I need to die”? You, of course say. “No you are not, your wonderful, you’re so talented…” and begin to list their positive attributes? Alarmingly, they become more upset and argue with you, you argue back, thinking you are telling them they are good? Except for a person with BPD, THAT isn’t what you just told them, what you just told them is. “Your opinion is worthless, your feelings are wrong. You are wrong”. You literally end up shouting they are wrong, whatever you say to them, all they hear is. “YOU ARE WRONG”. They don’t hear the nice things, because saying the above merely negates the validity of their emotion and they have massive emotion, so with every positive thing you say, you are literally increasing their feelings of negativity toward themselves? Imagine the worse you can feel and multiply it by a thousand and you wouldn’t be even grazing the surface. You have to validate their feelings, with either …
”you’re feeling that bad today? Tell me about it”…
“…I hate you’re feeling that, but you know something, I, for one, think you are amazingly strong and courageous and I know you feel worthless and that feeling is so big you can’t think straight, but, to me? You aren’t and I don’t know if things will change in the future, but we’ll find an answer together”…
Through that, you aren’t saying, what your feeling isn’t true, you acknowledge their feelings and at the same time letting them know of their importance to you,you’re telling them positive things about them without invalidating the reality of their emotions.
I guess my kids have made me strong, but no matter how strong you get, your child being in pain and you not being able to make it better? Well I literally do not know how to express the devastation of that. So, yes, I’ve been training for this my whole life and if the only person I ever help is my little girl, well, I’ve done enough. Because for me the only thing that matters is that she LIVES, not just exists but LIVEs AND THOUROUGHLY ENJOYS HER LIFE.
And of course, a diagnosis doesn’t mean its over, it just means she can finally get the support and treatment we’ve been fighting for over the past seven years. I guess we just turned over a new page and maybe we can start writing a better story. Because, we may be walking in the valley of the shadow of death, but I’ll be damned if we build a house there, no we’re not going to live there we’re NOT staying just passing through.