Thursday, 10 December 2015

Mental health and special needs

Serious title. Serious topics. I usually like to think I'm a paragon of mental health but I have to admit the last few months have pushed me to the edge. Some days it feels like I listen to whinging and crying from 6am to 7pm. It's never really that bad but sometimes it feels like it is. Fortunately the whinging is only really when we're home so I spend a lot of time out and about. Yesterday was a great day. We caught the train into the city. I didn't have anything particular to do there but we made a morning of it. We basically had a coffee with Ed, listened to the London Court clock turn 10 o'clock, watched the little horses go around, picked up some milk and caught the train home. It doesn't take much to entertain everyone but we do have to be out and about. Being at home is painful.

As it turns out, the medical world is well across the effect whinging children have on their parents. Over the last few months, I have seen the GP, orthopaedic surgeon, ENT specialist, respiratory specialist, special needs toy library staff, paediatric physio. All but one have taken a moment to ask me how I am. The child health nurse took it to the next level and directly asked me if I have days when I want to walk away and check myself into greylands (our local mental health hospital). The answer was no but I have to admit I have considered booking myself a flight to Bali. I'm tired, I'm not mentally ill. Maybe there is a fine line. I don't know.

Maybe I'm going ok because I know it's not forever. I think it would be a very different story if this was a long term situation. The boys are struggling a bit but we're 95 per cent sure that they'll be completely caught up in a year or two. For a long time I could put it down to them being twins or them being a little bit premature or even a bit because boys are often later in their development than girls. I've only got Miss 3 to compare to. Eventually though I had to bite the bullet and get some medical assistance and unfortunately I didn't receive any reassurances but instead a mass of referrals and specialist appointments. I wanted to be told I was being silly and not to worry but sadly my concerns were right and they are quite delayed in their development. 

They're delayed but they are getting there every day. I think Master L might even walk before Christmas. My fear isn't their long term prospects, my fear is that I will go crazy in the next six months listening to their constant whinging. I feel for them too. It must be horribly frustrating not being able to walk or talk. I know all children get frustrated and difficult when they're trying to learn something new. The problem for me is that in my house it's taking a really long time and there are two of them. 

Despite being confident about the future, having the boys referred to as 'special needs' has been pretty confronting. We live next door to a house which is rented by the autism society. Two young men live there with their rotating carers who come for two and a half days each over the course of a week. That is what I think of when I hear the term special needs. They make the same whinging, moaning noises as my babies but they're in their early twenties. Sometimes I see their parents when they visit and I really feel for them. One of the boys is a twin and when the mother saw my twins I could just see a wave of emotion sweep over her. I don't know what age her son was when he went into care and I can only imagine the torture she went through making this decision.

Christmas time can be difficult for many people and there is a lot of talk about mental illness at this time of year. When one of my boys is being difficult for me on Christmas day, I hope I'm going to pick him up, give him a hug and be grateful that he's there with me (I'll also be grateful that there is someone else there to pick up the other one). In the spirit of Christmas, I hope that I will take a moment to think of the lady next door whose son is too big to pick up and who has made the decision to take him home for Christmas even though she knows it's going to be hard work.

So things are a little difficult for me at the moment but I have perspective. This Christmas, let's all spare a thought for the parents of the boys next door and the parents of all the special needs children.

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