Following on from my last blog…this one goes into more detail about how we moved on….
Having realised that I needed help, my first stop was my GP. She listened to me and accepted my request to refer me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy although she warned there may be a long wait. She also suggested medication on a short term basis to reduce my stress levels. Initially I was against this (a hang up from my childhood I think) but agreed to give it a try. We left it with an appointment for a review in a month when we would also discuss GG and possible referral to be assessed for FASD.
Shortly after this my appointment my grant for counselling with Link came through. This allowed for an initial six one hour sessions. The first session was really all about taking background information to direct the following sessions. During the subsequent sessions I came to accept the following:
I held a belief from my upbringing (in a very male dominated environment – particularly after my Mum passed away when I was 20) that , yes, rubbish things happen but if you can’t change it then just “man up” and move on. It was all very much about the mind and not recognising the role of the heart. This helped me accept that it is okay to not move on and shut feelings away – that sometimes you have to let your heart “speak”. Easier said than done. I also realised that when the kids do something that makes me cross or stressed, in my mission to remain a therapeutic parent I hold onto the emotions. I keep them inside me but never give myself the time to let those emotions on. Now I make sure I take the time to accept these emotions and not hold onto them and what a difference it makes!
I already knew that my standards for myself were too high and unrealistic….higher than I would expect from anyone else. I spent too much time comparing myself to others who appeared to be Super Mum’s who had time to do everything. Whilst in my head I knew that my situation was different and that my children have additional needs I could not get my heart to believe this. I got stuck at the point of making my heart believe what my head knew. I was able to address this in CBT which has been really helpful. I have also now unfriended a couple of friends on Facebook whose statuses used to regularly wind me up as they demonstrated how perfect they were. I recognise that this is just what they are portraying and not necessarily real life.
I was able to recognise the impact the loss of my Mum (20 years ago) was still having on my life. She was my best friend and parenting, particularly during the tough times was bringing home how much I still miss her as she isn’t there to talk to. I was away from home when her condition worsened and had to fly home to be there when she passed away. I made it but now also recognise that this has left me with a degree of separation anxiety. I worry excessively when the people I love and care for are not with me particularly if I do not hear from them when I expect to. This is something that will hopefully be addressed in the CBT sessions still to come.
I also was able to discuss the fiasco that was our intros and accept that they were not how we had imagined. Instead of being angry for being robbed of that special time I now mainly feel sad for everyone involved that it happened how it did but mostly for BB who may find this additional part to his story difficult to come to terms with.
Coming into adoption my husband and I had always dreamed of having four children. However I was starting to realise after the way things had been over the preceding 9 months this was not going to happen – more grieving to be done!
I have repeatedly been told by various people that I need to take better care of myself! I went on a day for adopters run by my local authority tackling just that…picked up a few ideas that have really help me to regulate myself. If I am regulated then I am in a better position to regulate BB and GG. This was also something we talked about during the Link sessions.
My final “revelation” (for now at least) was that the symptoms and the way I was feeling are probably very similar to those that GG is experiencing with her anxieties, sensory and regulation difficulties. This was a useful insight and something that has helped me a little with approaching the subject with her. I am hoping this will help more over the coming months.
So I have been incorporating all these things into my life. It takes some effort but it is definitely making a difference. I am having a break at the moment from CBT as I had a hysterectomy a few weeks ago (blog to follow on this – don’t worry no gory details!) but will be picking this up once I can drive again, along with OT appointments with GG, theraplay for BB and FASD assessment for GG. Things are finally coming together – we don’t have answers and the children are still providing challenging behaviour – but at least we feel we are being listened to now and some support is being provided. Whether it is the right support remains to be seen but at least if it isn’t I am in a better place to be able to fight for something more beneficial. I am still not happy with the school situation but I am holding off on that one until I have more facts. They are making some good noises….just not consistently.
By addressing all of the above I have become much calmer and am in a much better place – less stressed. This in turn has helped the children who are also calmer and in a better place – don’t get me wrong they are still a handful 😉 In particular BB has really moved on in the last few months. He is no longer the very unhappy and shutdown child who came to us. He is still capable of throwing very good strops, gets frustrated that he cannot communicate to us as well as he would like to but he is flourishing as is the attachment between him and me. It took some 9 months to get in contrast to GG who was almost instant. It was definitely well worth fighting for.
Throughout all of this HH has supported me and been there for me. He has never criticised me and has allowed me the time to work through all these complex emotions.
I have allowed my heart to be heard and have therefore found it a little easier to move on from some things and accept them so they no longer affect me to the same degree and so I can therefore enjoy life with my family rather than operating as a robot which is how it felt six months ago. I am also sure there will be more ups and downs but hopefully I am now better equipped to cope with them and recognise when I need help earlier and then get it! The hard work goes on – but I feel better equipped to do it.