Those of you who know me in real life will most likely know that I have a tendency, when things get really tough, to get trapped in my own head. It’s like I can’t see the wood for the trees, and I forget to see the positives, or the world around me, or even consider that other people might be struggling too. It’s not all of the time, and generally I try my hardest to be a good wife, and a good mama, and a good daughter and a good friend. It’s just that sometimes I fall really short I think.
Someone, I can’t remember who, recently asked me why I worry so much more about Norman than Marvin. It’s not entirely true, I worry about them both pretty much every second of every day, but I see a lot of myself in Norman. He struggles to deal with his big feelings a lot of the time, and he is extremely hard on himself when he thinks he’s got something wrong. These feelings only come out when he’s at home and safe, and I’m sure that the outside world wouldn’t believe that, at six years old, he will hit and nip and bite himself, and say that he’s an idiot. It’s heartbreaking to see, not least because it’s absolutely not true. While I don’t turn to physical ways of dealing with my feelings, I can be fairly horrible to myself in my head. I stew on the smallest of things, I worry about things that I said to people years ago, ways I’ve got it wrong. And I expect a lot of the time, the other person has no memory of it whatsoever!
I think that considering how prevalent mental health is at the moment, we take a very reactive stance to it in this country. A friend (and clearly a very clever person) recently compared it to going to the dentist – she said we go for regular checkups to prevent any problems with our teeth, rather than only going when there’s a problem – but when it comes to mental health, we only seek help when things get tough, and in my case, really tough!
How, then, can I support Norman, make him see that he’s not horrible, or an idiot, or any of the other things he calls himself at his most difficult times, if I’ve never been able to do the same for myself? And how can I stop Marvin from going down the same path? I can’t really explain, either, why I feel the way I do about myself. Well actually that’s not true, I could explain it, but it would be the truth as I see it rather than the real truth, in much the same way as I can’t agree with Norman but I know he truly dislikes himself at times.
I’ve been trying to do things to feel better, to be kinder to myself, so that I can set a good example to my boys about how they can be kind to themselves. Because the truth is, nobody can ever be liked by everyone all the time, you have to learn to like yourself instead of letting other people validate you. I’ve been trying to widen my social circle and reconnect with people who I’ve lost contact with. I’ve been writing a lot, not only here, but keeping a mood diary to figure out what my triggers are and reflect on how I’m feeling. I’m trying to work some meditation into my days, although not regularly enough yet. I’ve sent some letters to people, and had one lovely reply! I’ve been trying some different crafts to expand my horizons! The point is, I’m trying to look after myself, so that Norman and Marvin can see how important that is, that everyone is worthwhile, and just because a person has had some difficult experiences, it doesn’t mean that they can’t come through the other side.
After last week’s debacle at school with Norman, we’ve pushed on with getting them the help they need. We had a meeting with the headmistress, the SENCO, the learning support mentor and Norman’s class teacher, who didn’t have any chair marks on her thankfully! We have, again, asked the school to find other ways to help our boys, to consider their need for an EHCP, to start making the appropriate referrals for some specialist support in school. I should point out that these are things we’ve discussed several times over the last couple of years, but we have been told that the boys didn’t need those things quite yet. Apparently flinging a chair changes things! I honestly still feel mortified by what happened, but the violence and aggression are a daily occurrence for us so it means people are finally sitting up and taking notice. Our social worker is also coming to visit us apparently! I may have seen a pig flying past when I was speaking to her mind…
So hopefully things will start moving forward at a slightly quicker rate than they have been, watch this space… we’re doing our best!