As part of our 20K in April challenge, we’re sharing stories, with permission, from our community every day from 13th to 30th April. All are true accounts of the reality of a random group of parents in our community. Some are professionals, others full time carers. Some have been battling for years, others are new to this dance of accessing services, navigating school, coping with shame, guilt and judgment, and keeping their child alive while trying to work, look after their other children, have a relationship, have a life. All of them deserve, like their children, to be heard and helped.
25 years ago the birth of my first child made me feel joyful, empowered and invincible. A bond full of promise and unconditional love was sealed at that moment. My dream to allow my son to grow up to be healthy, happy and successful was awakened.
My first step into motherhood certainly was to change my life forever!
A diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome at 5 took us along a road of exploration. He thrived in our loving home and with the help of a classroom assistant and several adaptations he excelled in his studies. Studying was his safe place and his dream of studying maths at Oxford was in his grasp.
Unfortunately this wasn’t to be the case. He went through a number of stressful situations, which caused him to suffer a massive breakdown resulting in depression and very low self-esteem.
Overnight he stopped functioning, his stare was vacant and he couldn’t sting a sentence together. His only solace in life was and sadly still is food (comfort eating). He has struggled to turn ‘the switch back on’.
Parenting a child with mental health is an ‘unknown’ journey. I cried every day, I rang everywhere for help only to be put from ‘pillar to post’. His much needed access to adult mental health services was short lived as I quickly found out they had discharged him because they asked him how he was and he muttered “I’m ok”. He wasn’t ok and hadn’t the ability to converse!
Stress levels were unbearable. I was taking my frustration out on my son, trying to pull him out of bed and hurry his recovery. My own mental health was in tatters; my 14 year old son was stealing from me and taking drugs to cope. My worst nightmare unfolded and I had to make my son homeless to allow a local charity to step in…..
8 years on my son is home where he belongs but his mental health lingers and there’s no support. He was suicidal over the summer and even rang the mental health team himself but there was no follow up call as promised and he’s still waiting!
I found PMH recently while searching as every mum does to help their child. What a discovery, a life line and a bright light of hope. Being a parent of a child with mental health is a dark, lonely, frightening road for the parent and child. PMH offers invaluable support, training, and connections with likeminded parents who just ‘get it’. It is a non-judgemental, safe place to seek help and give help. PMH needs practical and financial support to keep shining its bright light. I thank the PMH community and in particular Suzanne Alderson as I know I have finally found the place where I am meant to be.
If you would like to donate to the 20K challenge, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/suzanne-alderson
If you’d like to sign up and fundraise as part of the 20K Challenge in April for Parenting Mental Health, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/PMH-Sphinx20KChallenge