Tag Archive | stress

Windmills and whirligigs

mind windmill

Many adopters, Foster carers or quite frankly any parent who are parenting children with additional needs will have probably at one time or another felt overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of supporting our children and dealing with school staff, some of whom try their best to understand and work with you, or in the other hand completely fight you on everything and treat you like you are being a completely over-protective and controlling parent.

Where am I going with this? Why have I suddenly decided to turn on my laptop and start ranting (my apologies) about schools?

In truth this post isn’t really about schools.

It is about the frustrating and emotional rollercoaster, I find myself riding every Sunday night, Monday morning and of course Friday afternoons.

It is the electronic tears of a worn out, emotionally/physically broken mother, who is rapidly running out of steam and ideas on how to support her sons therapeutically while keeping a firm grip on her own sanity and identity.

But most importantly. It is about the trauma of transitions for my boys and how they manage their anxiety levels around it – or not as the case mostly seems.

Anyone who has been following my posts for a while will know that I regularly talk about the boys’ trauma bond and the devastating effect it has on the household and their relationship with each other, but something I haven’t talked about very much is the weekly ‘transition tornado’ that comes tearing though the family and uproots everyone from their stable grounding each weekend and each start of a school holiday.

There is a very good reason I haven’t talked openly about it and it is not for the reasons many would possible believe.   Some may read this and think that I haven’t written about it because I am worried about how people may interpret what I describe as evidence that, as the boys’ mum, I have lost control and am lacking any empathy for my sons. While these thoughts have crossed my mind, they are not the reasons I haven’t openly spoke about it.

The truth is. I don’t know how to describe it. How do you explain to people who are not witnessing first hand, the devastating transformation that overwhelms ‘the hive’ each week and the damage it is causing to our relationships and sanity?

At the moment it is all Bumble and I can do just to keep pushing through, support each other as well as the boys and pray that “next weekend will be calmer” – rarely are our prayers answered.

Beeswax is struggling at school at the moment but I don’t mean he is struggling academically, although he is finding the beginning of his GCSE’s more taxing than he had anticipated. He is struggling with the absolute chaos of the ongoing disruption and unsettling environment that has been created by a serious of catastrophic mistakes and decisions by senior members of school staff, and it is Waxy and his peers who are paying the price. while measures are put in place to rebalance the school environment. Sadly Waxy being Waxy, he has held on and pushed all his stress and anxiety deep down inside during his school week, only to then walk in the front door on a Friday afternoon and within minutes begin “dumping” all his baggage on the members of the household or to be more accurate, he takes all his anger and frustration out on Buzzbee, verbally and physically.   And, heaven forbid if I dare to parent him before he is ready.

If we are lucky, Waxy will unload his stress and then, other than being a testosterone fuelled, foulmouthed 14-year-old, he will settle down for a while, but by this time often the damage has already been done and the stress and angst has simply been transferred to Buzzbee, who in his current vulnerable emotional state, makes the ideal vessel to ensure the trauma hamster wheel continues turning for as long as is needed.

Buzzbee himself is as I have already said extremely vulnerable at the moment. He is vulnerable to the slightest disruption in his routine. He is vulnerable to the most insignificant whiff of unexpected sensory input, and more importantly, he is vulnerable to Waxy’s emotional dysregulation and the traumatic effects it is having on them both.

But Buzz’s vulnerability is certainly not Waxy’s fault, neither is it Buzzbee’s or even Bumble or mine. In the past year we have become increasingly worried about the lack of Buzzbee’s emotional regulation skills and the increasing developmental gap that has been growing between Buzz and his peers both academically and socially.

After a long road of trying to persuade professionals that there was a genuine cause for concern and not just two, tired and stressed out parents searching for answers and labels, and reading far too much into ‘naughty behaviour’, in the last 2 weeks we have received the confirmation that we had hoped to not hear, but completely expected to hear.   Buzzbee has been struggling for a reason (more than one to be exact) and while therapeutic parenting all this time has helped keep him afloat within the family to an extent, there are gaps that even I hadn’t noticed and these gaps are at the root of many of the reasons he is finding it so difficult to cope at the moment throughout the day and into the night.

I am not going to even start on the pantomime that is bedtimes in our home at the moment.

At the moment I don’t really see a way out of this mess other than going down a path Bumble and I don’t want to take.

In May we requested an assessment of our adoption support needs and indicated that we wanted to put separate ASF applications in for each of the boys to receive support from a DDP therapist. Early into term 1 of the new school year, Bumble and I filled in the forms to the best of our ability for our PASW.

Guess what?   We are STILL waiting to put in the applications despite the fact we have made it very clear that we are completely on our knees and desperately need support NOW!

 

Mending broken bonds

I have been a little bit lax in writing posts in the past few weeks and those I have written have been…. Well, let’s just say….they have been written out of a rushed sense of duty to keep up with my posts and as a result they have been all over the place and quite frankly, from my perspective, they have been just a jumble of nonsense thrown into a blog post and have absolutely no substance or direction to them.

But, do you know what? In some ways, my recent posts have while saying very little, they have said a lot and reading back over them, it is hard for me not to admit that it is oozing with signs of secondary trauma taking a firm grip of the inhabitants of ‘the Hive’ as both boys completely unravel and the chaos that their trauma bond brings, moves to a whole other stratosphere.

Over the last few weeks Bumble and I have really begun to feel like we are drowning and second guess our parenting – “were we too strict”?, “did we choose the right battle”?, “what am I doing wrong”?. The list could go on forever and we both know that these thoughts were unhelpful, but when you are in the trenches, hindsight is not a luxury you always have.

One thing has been clear. Despite Beeswax boarding during the week and Buzzbee desperately missing him when he is away. Both boys need a break from each other. A break that is more than just the 5 days Waxy is at school. If anything, school is one of the biggest stressors at the moment and Bumble and I are trying to get his school to understand that (that is a whole other post and if you have read my past posts you will know how much “fun” I have with them).

Next week Waxy is going on a skiing trip with his school (huge anxiety that he is unable to acknowledge) and while he is away it will also be his birthday (cue; stressor number 2, he has never been away from Buzz on his birthday, and no matter what he tells his little brother, he will miss not having him them – although after he receives Buzz’s present he may be cringing with embarrassment (I will tell you in the next post what it was).

From where Bumble and I are sitting, it is very clear (albeit extremely complicated) exactly what is going on with the boys. Waxy cannot bear to acknowledge vulnerability and yes, we know he will miss not seeing Buzz for nearly 2 weeks, but his way of handling this is to push Buzz away emotionally (and physically). Quite honestly, he has been so horrible to his little brother that it has broken my heart to see it because I know that Buzzbee is the centre of Waxy’s universe and always will be, but it is too painful for him to admit that (and let’s face it, he is a raging, hormonal teenager too). The problem is this time he has really done some very really damage to their relationship and his rejection has had a profound and upsetting effect on Buzzbee who is not equipped to deal with it at this moment in time.

Buzzbee is now riding a colossal rollercoaster of emotional trauma and crushed self-esteem and self-worth. He has morphed into a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and while during the week he is manageable and able to let us (sometimes) support him and seek comfort from us. It takes him a day or two to settle back down and relax but the moment Friday afternoon comes around, his anxiety levels rocket through the roof again – fidgety, self-soothing humming, constant/unending rambling, hair-trigger temper, snappy and the air is once again every shade of blue. The anticipation of Beeswax’s return for school and the uncertainty of Waxy’s demeanour/mood is sending our already hyper –aroused 9 year old into emotional orbit. His amygdala is primed to flip into ‘fight, flight and freeze’ before Waxy has even walked through the front door, and if not handled very carefully the results are volcanic for both of them.

The weekend before last, was probably the hardest for them both in quite some time and while thankfully no-one was physically hurt (the only physical victims were a TV, 2 doors and a stairgate), the words that crossed both boys’ lips towards each other (and directed at Bumble and I), could not be taken back and for Buzzbee (who is very literal with his language), he took to heart every cruel comment that his big brother directed at him and firmly believed that this is what his big brother truly thinks about him. No amount of persuasion from us was going to convince him any other way.

In the past Jemima (DDP therapist we used to work with) would tell me off to trying to ‘fix’ things but this time I couldn’t leave it like this. I know the boys love each other and while their separate holidays may help them both, in the here and now, I knew it was in both boys best interest for me to ‘broker a truce’ and help them enjoy each other’s company once me.

With a 5 year age gap this can be quite tricky especially when you know the one activity they both really love doing, is one that at this moment in time is completely out of the question because it is also one of their biggest flashpoints with each other – I am of course talking about playing the Xbox together.

Thankfully this weekend gave my mum and I the perfect opportunity to trying do some damage limitation and provide the boys with an environment that is neutral to them both – The holiday campsite where mum and dad have their caravan. 20150308_073232

And, if we ignore the low level snapping, sniping and snarling each time our back was turned. I would have to say that the weekend had the beginnings of seeing positive steps to repairing the boys’ bond with each other. They can never resist messing about in the swimming pool or playing football together on the beach (or teasing me about my lack of skills) and a much needed trip to a small country life adventure centre to walk and feed the goats, help each other over the obstacle course before racing each other down the wavy slides (trying not to take nanny’s feet out from under at the same time), and quite honestly just letting loose together was what they needed and the weekend actually went off without any major hitches.20150307_112158

Having my mum there also gave me a tiny bit of a break from all the stresses of past, present and future battles – that and getting to see the cutest baby donkey I think I have ever seen, and yes his name was Eeyore.20150307_111741

How? What? When? Why?

I think I am going to give ‘Half-term’ a new name in the Hive. I am going to call it “How? When? What? Why? Week”! Ok I know it is the Easter Holidays but these 4 little words are overtaking my days at the moment and I am as guilty as both boys for using it.

  • “How many times do I need to repeat myself before you do as I ask”?
  • “When will you two stop fighting and just get along”?
  • “What have I told you about teasing the dog”?
  • “Why did you tell your brother, you hate him and don’t want him around anymore? When we both know he is the most important person to you”!
  • “How come he can say ‘sorry’ to you and you accept it but I simply say ‘sorry, NOW CAN I GO BACK ON THE COMPUTER?’ and you are still cross with me”?
  • “When are you going to get us our snack”?
  • “What is in it for me if I tidy my bedroom and put my clothes away”?
  • “Why can’t we play on the computer at 8am in the morning”?

Ok these are some of the more tense comments (there are lots of lovely therapeutic ones too) but you can get a picture of my days at the moment.
I am always being told off by Bumble or Buzzbee’s previous therapist, Jemima for being too hard on myself and using ‘I should have been able to…’ to further beat myself up. However last night I got myself into an emotional pickle and couldn’t get “How? What? When? Why?” out of my head. So, I found myself writing the following at 2am in the morning simply so I could settle down for the night!

  • How can you anyone be expected to heal from scars you cannot see if they still feel they are being blamed for it happening? When will they understand there is no magic wand to fix what happened? Why won’t they accept that you are doing the best you can and slowly you are getting there?
  • How can you begin to learn to trust again when so much damage has been caused and you are afraid of what would happen if any more pebbles were thrown into the pond? Why is this so difficult for you to understand?
  • Why does everyone feel the need to jump to conclusions about someone’s abilities as a mum anytime they have a ‘wobbly’ day? When will they stop blaming your past history of depression for the reason that you are feeling teary today? (It has been a stressful, emotional filled day THAT IS ALL!) How can we help them accept that some days we have the right to feel upset? It doesn’t mean we are about to fall apart again! What would you do in our shoes?
  • What makes people think that because your child did not come from your womb, they have the right to criticise or interfere with your parenting? How dare they? Why do I let other people’s opinions get to me? When they have walked a month in my shoes, then they can come to me and say they have the right to judge!
  • When will I stop trying to be Supermum and let people support me? How can I expect people to understand where I am coming from, when I still don’t feel safe enough to be open with them?
  • Why do people refuse to look beyond my boy’s behaviour? When will they start seeing the amazing boys I see? How can I help this happen? What will it take?
  • When will school understand, I am not the enemy? How can I make them see all we want is to work as a team? Why do they refuse to take on board our advice but then accept wholeheartedly EXACTLY the same advice from professionals?
  • When will I stop feeling that I have to justify my every decision to people?
  • Why do I keep smiling while my heart is breaking?
  • What can I do to make people understand? I am the boys’s mother and no matter what they throw at me, I will never give up on them. I LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY!
  • How do I keep going?

This list I think would have gone on forever if I hadn’t finally fallen back to sleep. Sometimes I really do wind myself up by worrying about things I have absolute no control over?

Time to treat myself kindly and eat mountains of chocolate Easter Eggs, I think!

(Sshhh! Don’t tell the boys!)

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