The train is coming…….

I live in a world surrounded by positive quotes, my daughter scours the internet looking for quotes that inspire and are recovery based. Having seen the hours she and her peers spent scrap booking I noticed that these quotes are highly sought after and much valued.

Whilst I can see their merit and wish I could hold those thoughts to my heart, I do think that I am a little old to practice my typography skills and turn them into posters. Unfortunately, I am also too old and too cynical to build my hopes and optimism on these things.

My personal view is more there is light at the end of the tunnel but be very careful as it is probably an oncoming train….sometimes this will be a very fast unstoppable train that will flatten you even if you get off the tracks, it will fly past leaving you rocking with the force of its passing as you stand pressed on the platform wall wondering what the hell it was and trying to make sense of the speed and brutality.

Sometimes it will be an ancient, sneaking freight train that will approach really slowly leaving you thinking that you have plenty of time to plan a way out, that someone will help you get out of the way but even slow and sneaky trains are heavy and will squash you and leave you feeling that you have a massive weight on you and will need some serious engineering guile to get it off you and to ever see daylight again.

Trouble is you will never be able to estimate which train it is and there is never enough time to plan or to see how bad it will be when they hit you. This is because you have never been squashed by the train of mental health problems in this way before. You have never been in this type of accident in your life, you may have had people in your life who had depression, anxiety, worked with people and although you know it is serious you don’t know or didn’t realise what it would be like to live with and try to help someone who is so mentally ill that it is life threatening.

You will become used to normalising it and living with it and find it almost surprising when you reach the tipping point when you stop just be sent home from A and E, stitched, glued and dressed, with a ‘when are you next seeing CAMHS? Discuss it with them’ conversation, when it actually reaches the point of this is now an inpatient situation and your child is, without some serious intervention, going to die.

You will have noticed that the self-harming is bad, you have followed advice about sharps in the house, you will be eating many more casseroles that you thought possible as these do not need sharp knives to either prepare or eat.

Your underwear drawer will probably be full of any remaining sharp knives and frankly you probably will not have even seen a Stanley knife in years, impromptu DIY or crafting activities are no longer your thing. In days gone by your might have kept a secret drawer, wherein lay a somewhat neglected vibrator bought spontaneously on a weekend away with your husband. Now none are given if this is found as after all no one to your knowledge has even beaten themselves to death with a rampant rabbit. The excruciating embarrassment of that find would be eclipsed by the relief that the sharps stash had not.

Likewise the pain of epilation is worth the risk of forgetting to take a razor out of the shower. Well you may decide that really after a certain length arm pit and leg hairs don’t actually grow any longer and it is actually a blessing to wear long sleeve tops and trousers no matter what the weather. You daughter wears long sleeve tops summer and winter to hide the cuts and the scars you wear then because you do not have ready access to razoring implements and it is not worth the risk.

In fact you won’t really have the time or head space to worry about such things and will find the number of people that advise you that you need ‘me time’ so annoying that you may well struggle to resist the desire to poke them in the ribs with the carefully collected sharp knives in your possession.

You will also come to appreciate that some people actually are brave and compassionate enough to try and say something helpful and practical as most of the world and the people you thought were sensible are really inadequately prepared to be your friend when it really hits the fan.

You may have travelled with the medications in a box hidden under the passenger seat of the car just in case of a spontaneous overdose attempt, whilst trying to balance your kid’s need for developing independence by learning to manage their medications. Balancing your knowledge that they have to learn how to be independent of you and the smothering motherhood that having a sick child brings out in the most laissez faire parent and your desperate desire to keep them safe.

Trust will be a big issue as your kid is still an adolescent trying to find their independent identity and being allowed to develop their skills but the skills they need to cope and manage are not the normal skills, this takes parenting to a whole new level.

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