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.
My ex is bi polar and I suspect on the asd spectrum, he says and does things that cause distress and harm but does not recognise this. My daughter no longer sees him.My son who is now 14 is on the autism spectrum though with intervention and understanding has grown in to a kind , loving and mostly independent young man. My oldest daughter Chloe became unwell with depression when she was 12 , it coincided with the start of her periods and she quickly became very depressed, not sleeping, losing interest in everything, tearful, lack of appetite, grades dropped. We were seen relatively quickly by Cypts and the psychiatrist after a few visits prescribed medication. There was a concern that it could be bi polar because of the genetic link.
A few months later Chloe’s dad was accused of rape by my sister in law.I discussed this with a then friend, she put in a complaint to social services because it had not been triggered? She said that the children were suffering emotional abuse, She used her job title to do this ( head of children’s services) and said that all 3 children were bed wetting, that Chloe had attempted suicide 4 times, and that I was labelling Chloe as bi polar. None of this was true. She had a daughter who I looked after every week in my home as she had breast cancer throughout the whole time frame.Social services took up involvement, I had taken the children and moved in to my parents house at this point.
The news then hit local press and social media. My then friend started to abuse her position, she told Chloe she could see everything she was saying to professionals on her work computer, she told her daughter things and in turn the daughter would say my mums told me lots about you but I’m sworn to secrecy . The daughter bullied Chloe and shouted personal information to gain attention for herself. I put in a fitness to practice complaint against the mother.
During this time previous friends avoided us and strangers in the street came up to us asking if the allegations were true.
Chloe suffered bullying at school and was cutting her arms daily, she was told her dad was a pedofile by different students on different days. And the bullying continued from the friend, some days she would be nice other days abusive. School made her sign a contract to say if she self harmed at school she would be excluded. She stopped asking for help at school and because more secretive. Her grades dropped, and even though there were daily conversations with school I found them very unhelpful. I announced that I was moving her school. I picked a school that was demographically similar and allowed Chloe to get the achievement she deserved. The school was full but I went through appeal , I asked the headteacher, the psychiatrist and the care coordinator for a letter of support. I got her in to the new school , it was the best decision ever. Chloe still struggled but the support from school was immense and like nothing we had experienced before.
By this time we were now living in our own house. I was fighting for mental health services, medication was upped to the limit. Chloe received Dbt and formed a small friendship group. One of the girls from the group took her life last April. This really effected Chloe. Chloe had a very dark year, she took 3 overdoses herself in the last year. Each one very serious. I had no one to confide it who understood, we had been totally avoided by previous friends. Chloe’s old friends from her previous school were no longer aloud to talk to her, do the parents think mental illness is contagious?I joined pmh in November last year after Chloe had taken her 3rd overdose, I was desperate for support and no on identified any groups so I looked myself, I needed to understand how to deal with my situation with people who understood. My daughter was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder traits. I had never posted anything on Facebook ever before but I felt able to within my group . I suddenly realised that there was a network of people I could go to for advice or support. When Chloe had another plan in December I was much better equipped to deal with it. She took another overdose in January and I had 15,000 people to talk too, who had my back. Their kind words and advice made it more bearable. I joined the daily gratitude and it helped my positivity. Even on the darkest of days you can have small successes. I celebrated the little stuff like getting out for a walk , sitting down for a meal together and getting her to school, with people who understood what it was like when their child had totally withdrawn from life. I read Suzannes book and adopted her partnering techniques and I think that is why we are now turning things around. We are having more better days that we have ever had, we still have our dark days. I have taken part in zooms with professional speakers who talk about asd and adhd so I can have a better understanding of my children. I have made friends with people in the group. I have finally found my people.
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