I start this blog by emphasising the 'Our' in this story.
As I'm the carer for someone that i love more than i can ever express and although i am the carer the dependence is very much two sided.
I am a single mum of two lovely children living in Somerset. i am 39 and am a full time carer for my daughter who i will call K.
My daughter was always abit 'high maintenance' right form the moment we met. She arrived into the world in 7 minutes with no pain relief, on the maternity ward in front of all the expectant mums and from that moment my life changed forever.
She was a difficult baby and would cry for hours for no apparent reason, she slept in my bed with me as a toddler and wouldn't ever settle for anyone else. She displayed some obsessive traits from an early age and always seemed to find the outside world difficult to navigate.
As she grew up she developed normally and although she excelled academically, socially she found the world very difficult to understand.
The first signs of anxiety were displayed at age 8 when she started to pull her hair out.
I can still vividly recall the telephone call from the school headmistress telling me she had found her in the corner of the playground with clumps of hair in her hand.
At school she was withdrawn and found it difficult to make friends and at home she was angry and difficult to manage but yet so loving and tactile.
Secondary school proved very difficult for K. She gained weight due to isolation and loneliness and continued to struggle socially. She became a target for the ominous 'school bullies' and her mental health started to decline.
In the summer of 2015 i first noticed a little cut on her arm. After further investigation i discovered she was self-harming and sought advice from our GP who wasn't particularly helpful.
After two refused referrals to CAMH's i struggled on, working shifts at the local council whilst trying to understand what was going on with her and how i could help her.
This is where the guilt kicks in for me as a mother. Because something traumatic was happening to my daughter right in front of my eyes and i didn't even realise. I don't really want to blog about her experience without discussing with her first but there was a crime committed and my daughter was the victim. a systematic crime that went on for over a year that i was completed unaware of. Three weeks before Christmas 2015 i received a phone call from Children's Services informing me that a person had been arrested and charged for a crime against my child that i didn't even know about. and then my world fell apart.
In complete shock i began 2016 continuing to work and trying my hardest to support and understand what K was going through. Another referral for CAMHs was refused as 'not meeting the criteria' and her self harm and anxiety became so extreme she was removed from mainstream classes and put in a small unit education unit.
In June she took her first overdose.
We were admitted to a children's ward and then sent home the next morning with a CAMHs appointment! Yes folks that how you get a CAMHS referral! hit rock bottom and they will then help you... mostly out of obligation rather than an intervention i might add ( i will cover my frustrations with mental health services in a future blog)
Her mental health continued to deteriorate and we came to the point where her self harm was requiring medical treatment on a regular basis, she couldn't be left on her own and seemed determined to self destruct and that's when i decided. If my daughter had any hope of getting better and going on to have a decent quality of life then i needed to invest all my time into keeping her safe and helping her understand what was going on in her head.
So this is our life. There are so many threads to K. she is a complicated but wonderful girl.
Her strength amazes me and sometimes i am completely in awe of what she overcomes. But she is also difficult, single-minded and at times draining.
I will cover our journey in these blogs, K and her battle with mental health and mine in this bewildering frightening carers role and i really hope i can help others to care whilst still caring for themselves.