It has been so long since I updated this blog; in my head, I’ve written here every day – like when you think you’ve replied to a text message but have just thought through the response & failed to actually write it! So much has happened yet I wonder daily if we are any further forwards?
So, Lizzie was admitted to another adolescent mental health unit and for the first week, everything seemed quite positive. Then the inevitable happened and she decided she was in the wrong place and that she would function better at home. She failed to see that nothing had changed and that at home she was most likely to die. She claimed she would discharge herself because she was a voluntary admission, so they sectioned her immediately.
She was placed under a Section 5, which is an emergency section valid for 72 hours until a full assessment can be made by an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). The AMHP’s are external to the hospital and offer an independent assessment. Under these circumstances, they initially aim to detain the patient under a Section 2 (4 weeks for assessment purposes) but will take into account the treating Doctor’s report, parental feedback and obviously the state and welfare of the patient. Lizzie was placed under a Section 3 which meant she could be detained for up to 6 months for treatment. The UK Mental Health Act 1983 and the details of the various sections can be found here: UK Mental Health Act 1983/Sections
Obviously Lizzie did not respond well to this action, initially. Then we saw an improvement: she agreed to medication! This was a major breakthrough because she has always refused this form of intervention and as I have written previously, I felt it was necessary to calm her mind so she could focus on recovery. She was prescribed mood stabilisers; these are reasonably gentle and just prevent the huge mood swings that cause so much distress. They do however cause some marked restlessness so this was closely monitored as the dose was gradually increased to an appropriate level.
Two or three weeks into her admission, my husband and I went on holiday. Each year, we book a holiday on our own & this break had been booked for 6 months. I’m not going to unnecessarily defend this: we have 6 children, run our own business and need a break once a year. I wont lie, I genuinely didn’t think I could get on the plane and leave my daughter whilst she was in hospital but she was doing so well and amazing as she is, she encouraged us to go. I will write a separate blog about parental guilt: it’s huge and needs to be aired!! Suffice to say at this juncture that as “grown ups”, we need to remember that we are not infallible; that we too are precious and need to recognise the value of rest and respite to be strong enough to continue the fight for (and with!) our children.
Lizzie was making great progress: she was engaging in therapy and her meds were having what appeared to be a positive effect. A month after our holiday, we had another trip booked as a family: we were due to spend 5 days with Lizzie’s auntie and uncle at their house in France. I was so excited when Lizzie’s doctors said she was doing so well that she could come too! The trip was due to take place the following week and she came home on leave that night for what was to be a few nights.
When we arrived home, we had a visit from our fabulous support worker from CAMHS to check up on Lizzie “in the community”; we chatted for a long time and Lizzie explained how the fact that the hospital had reduced her risk from high to low was wrong: she said that she may be doing well but that didn’t mean she was better and no longer a risk to herself. We all agreed that this was true but that her ability to keep herself safe had dramatically increased: she no longer had the urge to self harm and that was a major step forwards. She was in good spirits and was calm.
Within two hours, we were on our way to A&E following another, significant, overdose. This is how fast these things happen; you cannot take your eye off the ball for one single minute; you can’t relax into complacency…ever. Lizzie found the paracetamol in a wash bag that I hadn’t unpacked from my holiday. She told me as soon as she had done it and claimed it was impulsive. Once in hospital, the “normal” tests were carried out and at 2am they informed us that her blood results & organ function was just within a whisker of normal levels: she is starting to cause herself serious damage…..damage she may not one day recover from, whether she chooses to live or not.
Once medically fit, we were discharged back to her adolescent unit. Her doctor’s there decided that Lizzie’s impulsiveness was a recurring pattern that coupled with the hyperactivity of her thoughts, her inability to focus & her pronounced restlessness were traits of ADHD. So we are now trialling a medication for ADHD, which she reports is having a positive effect and has reduced any impulsive feelings.
I am not convinced. Whilst I accept that Lizzie has many symptoms related to ADHD, her deep psychological issues are very real; her history of self harm, self loathing and disparity with this world are not, in my humble opinion, derived from ADHD. Her new medication should work immediately to calm her hyperactivity yet my daughter still paces, within the confines of the hospital corridors, at least 12km a day. Is this a coping strategy or is this restlessness, hyperactivity? If the hyperactivity still remains, then surely the impulsiveness does too? The placebo effect is a very powerful reality and my concern is that, driven by her desire to now be discharged, the mist is falling again and Lizzie will say and do anything to make that happen. Of course I want my daughter home….but I want her alive more.
Stay strong x