In my last post on June 9 the hope was there that things would resolve peaceably and somehow we would live on, a struggle yes, but maintain some normality. Yep, high hopes dashed again. Friday 14/6, he that posts refer to was seen by his keyworker and was ok but increased drinking and use of recreational substances and tobacco meant that he had outstayed his welcome with his latest sofa stay. Also prescribed meds had been replaced with the above combination in his perceived wisdom as they were not working for him. Admission of psychosis issues seen last year were back.
We texted him on the Saturday- would he meet for lunch in a neutral place and could we bring any things for him. He agreed and luckily warned us that he had made that long promised hirsute decision to shave his head. We met and for the first time, yes really, came across him puffing away on a cigarette, we chatted and were told how he had refused alcohol or drugs that morning as he was meeting us (some decisions just amaze). He had nowhere to sleep for that evening and this was one area of discussion. Our young man was getting more and more ill physically and mentally. It was hard to see but at the same time so glad we had offered to meet and actually still have some sort of connection.
While we ate one of the support team rang him as promised and also spoke to us. We were all (adults) concerned about the lack of a place to stay in his current state. A crisis admission was set up for the nearest adolescent unit. He agreed to it and we transported him there quite calmly. After meetings we sat with him while ward admissions went on. Signs of agitation showed quickly but here was a chance to be assessed without being sectioned, a topic that we as parents have become far too familiar with. We left him to settle having actually spent 6 hours together the longest in ages.
Later I rang to see had he settled? No issues and aggression had led to a need to section. He was transferred late that night to another unit to be held there until a secure adolescent bed hopefully closer than Woking could be found. By Monday work was not going to see me I had exceeded my limits and my stable base of antidepressants had finally capitulated. Self promises about returning became Tuesday, then Wednesday as a suitable bed could not be secured. We heard of offers for Manchester. This pressure was too much. Yes now, Friday 21/6 he is in a secure unit in a better travelling distance. I went to the GP on Tuesday and admitted no I could not cope to keep up this “well” pretence.
I am now signed off work and yesterday had to face the lowest I have been in many years it was scary. Fortunately the one thing I am not is suicidal and that is a place
that I do not want to go- I like life generally and I have much, more to do / achieve.
So, why am I laying my life open like this? because it is a topic that I have raised in previous schools. I have a history of mental health (depression) through a variety of causes. I take my meds, I have received counselling, the best therapy was CBT several years ago. I keep our staff well being and line managers informed when I am struggling. They have always been supportive these last few years as I have rebuilt a good attendance rate. I have a range of friends on Twitter and other social networks who support each other. We are not in competition over this very important issue we collaborate, we share, we support, we coax, coach each other and it sure helps.
Mental health is still a major cause of stigma – let’s stand up and be counted. We want to do our job as well as anyone else and as has been seen in lots of press articles over the years we are depicted as a weakness. Why? I am a human with a complex life like many of my pupils and I have to learn to manage the different aspects of my life. Sometimes I can not do that but for the vast majority of the time I am striving to do the best I can and I believe I do so.
Support mental health, understand it and develop an aware workforce and student population who are prepared for such eventualities that may happen to them in their futures.
If you have read all of this, thank you. If you are at TMEast on Saturday this is why I can not be with you but as co-presenter James said there are more Teachmeets. I have been the lucky recipient of many messages of goodwill this week and they are helping me to work towards a return to work and relative stability.