12 Sep A mothers perspective
LIVING WITH PTSD, ASSOCIATED DEPRESSION & ANXIETY – A Mother’s Story
“I don’t want to be here anymore, I don’t want to be alive” no mother is prepared to hear those words and I really hope I never hear them again.
Every mother worries about their children, whatever age, my son has had many growing up traumas during his life, broken wrist, broken nose all the usual dramas that kids go through, but as a mum I could not have been prepared for what we have experienced as a family since July of this year. You can never expect to see your son sitting in the garden of a mental health hospital not knowing what is happening to him.
My son is 26 this year, a kind hearted, good looking, intelligent guy with an amazing career, company car and everything going for him. He then experienced a terrible incident which over a few weeks developed into flashbacks, dreams, hallucinations and was diagnosed by his GP with PTSD. We tried a few sessions of therapy, GP changed medication, but he got so bad he was admitted to hospital as a code red, a risk to his own life.
I received the call from my sister and immediately called my son, it was the hardest conversation I had ever had “ I am sick mum, I need to go to the mental health unit at the hospital, it’s for the best, I don’t want to end my life.”
I was on leave that week, I work at the hospital so I knew I would be close to him, but I was in no fit state to visit him that day and would not have been good for him.
I arrived the next day with lots of treats & clothes, was searched for things that could be used in my sons room as he was a suicide risk. I will never forget walking into the garden of the hospital, my son sitting on a bench, head in hands, very sick people walking around, making lots of noise, it broke my heart, he was on one to one surveillance.
My son was in that unit for 3 weeks, medication just kept changing, many mornings he woke up with lost memory, not knowing where he was, there was no communication from the staff with the family. He had no therapy, apart from one session with a Locum (which really helped, but was not continued) I had to break down in tears in front of the consultant to get this single session of treatment. Apparently my son was not there to be “made better”, he was there to be “made safe”, but how could that happen without therapy?
As I needed to continue working, I would speak to my son every morning, arrive early to work and leave earlier so I could go and visit and take him out for a walk. One visit, he said I think I tried to do something last night, he had a red mark around his neck, he had tried to take his life using a cord from tracksuit bottoms. Another morning, he woke finding himself fully dressed in his chair.
I called for a meeting, he was deteriorating. We sat with the entire team and consultant, my son sat in front of us all saying he didn’t want to live anymore.
As well as my visits, his Dad, girlfriend and my sister, who had now rented a cottage for a couple of weeks for support, would alternate time with him, he was taken out of the unit for a break as often as possible.
The turning point came when one Sunday morning (I was spending the weekend with my sister) we received a text at 6am from my son, saying he’d been awake all night, the staff were ignoring him, he’d had enough.
We decided we needed to take him out of the unit. My sister was returning home to Berkshire, she and her husband were able to look after him with 24/7 surveillance and we as a family would pay for some private therapy.
It took us 3 days to get my son out of the unit.
My sister with her husband’s support worked tirelessly sorting out a new crisis team, transfer of GP and sourced a Psychologist that was an expert in EMDR, the best treatment possible for my son.
They had to watch my son continuously, he was still very sick and tried to take his life two more times, each time was halted either by my sister or myself snapping him out of the lost state, my sister still sleeps in his room on the floor.
I will be grateful to my sister and husband forever, if it was not for them I would have had to give up work and care for my son, I could not afford to do so, but I would have, for his sake.
My son is one of the lucky ones, he has a family that can provide support and pay for special therapy, there are many out there who have nothing.
He is still on his journey, but a huge positive has come from this terrible experience, my son is in the early stages of setting up a charity for young people who need similar help but do not have the support that he has. We have all learnt so much from this, until you experience mental health first hand, you cannot comprehend the struggles those suffering and those supporting have to go through. Hopefully this charity will go some way to improving this for many people.
I am incredibly proud of my son and will love him forever.