It’s Been a While……

…..almost a year in fact! I have been inundated with messages on this website and through social media: messages of concern, good will and general enquiry and for that I am very grateful. Please don’t panic, Maddy is still here but there have been some very real reasons why I chose not to blog over the past 12 months and why I stepped away from social media (in this capacity) for so long.

Firstly, and probably the least relevant to our public journey, is that in June last year I was diagnosed with cancer again. This was my second run in with cancer and completely unrelated to my first. During the 12 month follow up with my consultant for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April, he told me my scans were clear and I could officially celebrate a year in remission. Delightedly I stated that the lump I had found must be nothing then or the scan would have picked it up. Not so…and we began another round of tests, biopsies and scans. In July I had a lumpectomy and some lymph nodes removed and started radiotherapy a few weeks later. I was extremely lucky (again!) and am now fully recovered from my run in with breast cancer. But the treatment took it’s toll on me this time and I struggled with fatigue like I have never known! I had to save all my strength for our never ending fight with mental illness and recovering from cancer.

But it’s that ongoing fight with Mandy’s mental illness and her suicidality which have been the real reasons for my abstinence here. She has been home and out of hospital for almost a year now. During that time, I preserved my energy & my voice as we have fought one of the hardest battles ever just to get her into her school of choice, which is also our catchment school. Despite being declared suitable for mainstream education, the local school felt she was too high risk and rejected appeal after appeal.

I could have had some sympathy with their position 20 years ago when mental health did not carry the profile it does now and the reality of it’s existence amongst young teens was not so well known and understood: so my daughter has scars from self harm but sadly so do over 50% of her peers so why would those scars be cited as a a potential trigger to other children when she is as keen to hide them as they are for her to do so? That is just one example of the ignorance we faced and the school’s appeal to offer her a place finally ended up with with The Secretary of State. Thankfully, we were expertly and sympathetically supported by our local authority and The Secretary of State overturned the school’s appeal. A place was granted.

But this fight took it’s toll: Maddy came out of the process emotionally bruised and feeling even more rejected; even less like she fitted in and was deserving of the same rights as any “normal” 15 year old. As it turns out, the team “on the ground” at the school have been fantastic and we couldn’t ask for more in terms of acceptance, flexibility and understanding. But sadly, Maddy does not go to school; she is too ill.

Probably the biggest reason for not speaking here for a year is that Maddy reads my blog. She had to cope, emotionally, during my diagnosis and treatment because she knew I needed to focus on me and not worry about her and I held onto a hope that she could learn new patterns, new coping strategies. I have held so much fear and been so desperate for her to fight that I didn’t want her to know how afraid I was that she would give up. But I have seen it; I have watched her struggle and fight and the time has come to admit that my daughter held her breath for those few months but that nothing has changed, not for the better anyway.

In the past 12 months, we have had no suicide attempts. On paper, and if you don’t walk in our shoes, I guess this could be seen as a positive. Believe me, this is terrifying. There is a calmness about my child right now, an acceptance. We talk about these things, a lot. I don’t need to surmise or guess as to why she hasn’t made any attempts: she sees this as futile now. She says that when she is ready, she will just do it, one final time. I have just struggled to write this last paragraph, not through tears or emotional pain, but because my beautiful 15 year old has been gabbling away in my ear: we have been chatting “timescales” and lack of purpose. If you read my blog regularly, you will know I care not a bit about being judged: I put so much energy into being positive and using the word “hope”; sometimes we just need to deal with the elephant in the room.

We are currently waiting to find out if she is to be readmitted to hospital. If I was a bitter person, if I had the energy, I would rant about how CAMHS have made us wait 10 days for this decision: 10 long, agonising, painful, terrifying days. But what does it change? We have been here before and the reality is that nothing will change the ultimate outcome: only Maddy can change that…..

It feels good to be back (yes, Junie, you were right)

Stay Strong x

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