M has been having problems for a long time now. They got so bad we took him to the doctors who referred him to the Child and Family Mental Health unit at the kids hospital.
A couple of weeks ago we finally had his appointment at the Choices Clinic. The appointment was just to assess if M was actually in need of any help that they have available – the cynic in me sees it as a way of manipulating waiting lists as a 3 month list for this appointment, before being moved onto another waiting list. M was not keen to go, as he just wants to shut down to the world around him rather than participate in it. I managed to persuade him that if we could get him some help, the world might not be so scary for him.
We arrived very early, but to get a parking space at the hospital, that’s what needs to be done! M was able to have a run around on the grass area before we went in. I had to fill in copious amounts of forms while we waited to be seen. It always amazes me the amount of form filling, when all the information is computerised these days so his full medical history is available.
The doctor came out to meet us an instantly M took my hand and stayed very close. We were told there was a student doctor with him that day – seeing one person was bad enough for M but having 2 there was going to be difficult. We went through, and M saw a table full of Lego which he went to and sat at in the corner. I sat and talked about M. As someone who likes to see the positive in situations, it breaks my heart to focus on the negatives. Telling a total stranger about how hard life is for my little boy just makes me so sad, especially doing it when the child is in the room. It makes me feel a failure as a parent that I haven’t been able to make it all better for him. I know asking for help is the best way to help him, but it doesn’t stop me feeling I have let him down. Whenever M was spoken to, he looked at me for reassurance, and mumbled a response. He was just not willing to participate in the meeting other than being in the room.
The doctor agreed that M need to be seen by one of the psychologist about his panic attacks and his unwillingness to interact with his surroundings. Then he tells us that the waiting list is presently sitting at about 5 months – having waited 3 months for this appointment already it is turning into a long process already.
M was in a total state coming away from there. It must be horrible for him listening to the person he trusts most being so negative about him and his behaviour. He flapped the whole car journey home, about 20 minutes, and then took himself away to his room to probably try to process the morning. He may not speak much, but he takes it all in.
Some days M can be like any regular kid who has a lust for life, giggling and playing, but most days he is withdrawn and uncommunicative. Getting him to leave the house can be so difficult and near impossible at times. Initially we had thought there was a problem at school – as there has been many times over the years, but it is not just on school days that he is withdrawn. Over the recent school holidays, getting him to get dressed was so difficult and getting him out of the house was impossible without a detailed plan of where we were going, how long we would be, and what we would be doing while we were there.
The school term started again on Monday, which meant from about Friday he was getting more and more wound up. He didn’t speak and had to be forced to take his meals with the rest of the family. It was his birthday on Sunday, and yet the day was overshadowed by the fear that he would be returning to school.
He barely slept Sunday night with a panic attack to surpass all others that he has had. Subsequently, school was a no go Monday morning as he finally slept about 8am. I haven’t managed to get him to school this week yet, and Wednesday, I couldn’t even get him out of bed, and he refused food until the evening. We have asked the school if they will send some work home for him, just to make sure his brain keeps ticking over – I sometimes wish I had the ability to do home schooling with him, but don’t think I’m capable of that.
It is a very fine line I walk trying to protect a very fragile little man from a world that doesn’t understand him, and he definitely doesn’t get, and making him get on with life. He tells me he knows this school year is important being his last at primary, so he isn’t burying his head in the sand to the bigger picture. He just doesn’t know how to be a part of it right now.
I break my heart a little more each time he has a situation he can not cope with, but I know he has to see me strong and supportive for him.
I do my best, and just hope it is good enough.