Life posts …again

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.

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20 responses to “Life posts …again

  1. I stand up with you and support you 100%

  2. Nice to read a blog admitting that sometimes life gets too much and we just can’t cope and it is not a sign of failure. My doctor uses the beaker analogy that sometimes my beaker just overflows with too many things pouring I to it with no release valve. I don’t know your exact circumstances or need to know but I know how you feel. 18 years of coping with a son with Aspergers has driven me to some very dark places. Concentrate on yourself for a bit and empty your beaker. I know this can’t be done until you deal with your son’s problems. It’s a matter of prioritising. Your health comes first over the job. I wish my school could be so understanding but we are all supposed to perform like mini robots and there’s no space for dealing with mental health issues. At the end of the day we’re all human and cope with life’s stresses in different ways. You take as long as it takes . I have always put my son’s welfare first,sometimes foolishly at the expense of my health and the rest of my family but he didn’t ask to have Aspergers and I only want what’s best for him. Hope you can resolve your issues soon and take care if yourself!

  3. Very courageous of you to be so very honest. When you are physically ill the path to recovery is relatively straight forward. Your path to recovery is much more challenging and a much more winding path. I hope you find that place soon where you can make the climb to better mental health. All the very best. We are thinking of you.

  4. I hope you recover from these trying times soon. My family cope with these challenges daily too as my adopted sibling has severe challenges with his mental health. I have been presented with more minor challenges when taking oral steroids for my asthma, a situation that was made worse because the doctors did not warn me of this side effect but treated me angrily when I was trying to make sense of it all. I always find it helpful to remember when I am battling my health that it will pass. The beaker or cistern analogy mentioned by Shariebis a good one too.

  5. Lorraine Munro

    Thinking about you Andy and your family.

  6. Incredibly sad to hear you’re struggling so hard (unsurprisingly, considering the conditions). Brave of you to be so openly sharing, hope the virtual support you get from your tweets is, in some way, of use.

  7. So proud of you for your honesty and your bravery x

  8. I had to collect my sister and drive her to Wirral from Portsmouth, watching her break down in front of my eyes to the point where I was sat on the hard shoulder with a police car and ambulance as she had tried to get out at 80 miles per hour. A very scary experience that will stay with me forever. I appreciate the complexity of mental health issues and we need more people to speak out and get rid of the stigma and replace it with understanding. Support is needed for both the person from the illness and their family who often get forgotten. Thank you for being one of those with the courage o speak out and I wish you a steady recovery.

  9. A very courageous post. I empathize totally: eldest son has Aspergers and partner has been recipient of long term sick leave due to over work, stress and depression. Mental health problems are no more a weakness than any other health problem. I hope your colleagues continue to be supportive. You have my very best wishes.

  10. A fellow sufferer

    This has hit home to me!
    I recently had to pull out of my final placement (4 year BEd course) suffering from depression. It was something that started before placement – and something that is not new to me, even at my young age. The break from reality, the break from having no responsibilities was helpful but now I am in limbo. I recently got married, which is the only thing getting me through it all, and now I do not know what to do. I have to wait till next January to redo placement (if I so wish) but I now need a purpose till then. It is refreshing seeing someone be so open about such a cause, and for me, the most exhausting thing was putting on a ‘front’ in school, so children would never know there was something up. I have tried meds (but side effects worsened everything) I am meant to be doing CBT but have no desire to do it with other people; I feel now I need a direction. Something I can work towards, something to get me back into school, so I can find again my love for learning and teaching. As someone so young (22), married with a beautiful wife, having the best day ever at our wedding and reducing everyone to tears because it was so wonderful, it seems unreasonable for me to be suffering with depression. I am not as brave as you to open it up so much, but I understand why, and how it helps you to do it. Thank you for sharing, it has given me a drive to move on with my life, find a temporary job (I have no idea what to do) and not to be scared to share details about my mental health.

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