Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The penny drops

When my son first 'got ill' I guess for a while we treated it like it was something short term and that the best way of dealing with it was by treating him as normally as possible. It seemed logical and it seemed to be the best thing to do but we reached a point where it was obvious that wasn't to be and, frankly, it broke my heart.

When he was 3 or 4 years old I took him camping in the summer. We went to a seaside town that I knew from my own childhood as I knew lots of places to take him, found a nice camp-site to stay at and had a wonderful time. Originally we were only going to go for a couple of days because I didn't want it to be too much for him but we ended up staying over a week and the next summer there was only one thing he wanted to do in the holidays.

Year after year we went there. Same camp-site, a lot of the same people, and excellent facilities made it a no brainer really and we always had a good time. The first summer we knew something was wrong (he was around 14) we still went and everything was fine. It really gave me hope that there was a way out of all this; no doubt helped by the fact he hadn't actually had a diagnosis yet.

By the next summer things had started to go steeply downhill but he still wanted to go camping and it seemed like a great (and reassuring) idea. With him being a little older I asked if he wanted to take a friend and so three of us set off.

Everything seemed to go well. Got there fine, set up the tents, and they went off for a while to be teenagers. All in all we had (what seemed at the time) the best day for a long time and about 9-ish we headed back to the tents which is when the problems started.

They were sharing one tent and I was on my own in one next to them but after about half an hour he came to my tent, quite distressed, and saying he couldn't cope with it, and to add to the situation it had started to rain heavily. He was getting into quite a state so there was no option but to leave. The tents were collapsed and thrown in the boot of the car and we set off for home in the dark.

It was a few miles on that the penny dropped. It was then that I realised this wasn't something that could just be 'got through', I realised it was going to be a major part of our lives.

That drive home was just about the lowest I got and I'm not at all ashamed to say that I was sobbing gently for a fair part of the journey. My son had a serious mental health problem and I was finally having to face up to it. In a lot of ways I also think that was the day that he realised as well, and possibly the day his childhood ended.

The tents? They're still abandoned in a bin bag at the back of the garage and probably covered in mould by now.



  1. Marion Moffatt (Arsenalise365)7 September 2010 at 11:21

    Hi (sorry don't know what to call you!) - fellow Gooner. I read your blog today and was very moved. I used to work for Face to Face, parents supporting other parents (usually in the first couple of years following diagnosis), so I hope I have a tiny understanding of what you have been through, are going through. Certainly reading your blog will will be a sobering contrast to the other ones I read (you know the usual suspects Arseblog etc) but I will endeavour to do so, so keep writing.
    Btw I had to search in the archive (no bad thing, but some people may not bother) to find out more about you and your son. Is there not a way you can include a small profile at the top of your blog page?

  2. Hi.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and for your kind words.

    You're absolutely right - it would be a good idea to have a short profile. I really should check the 'bells and whistles' I can use on here as I didn't bother at first, mainly because I wasn't sure whether this would just be a one day thing or if I'd carry it through.

    As for the name thing, I'm deliberately keeping this anonymous as I feel it gives me more freedom to talk about things.


  3. Marion Moffatt (Arsenalise365)7 September 2010 at 12:06

    I do understand about the anonymity, I didn't mean you to expose yourself totally as it were! I'll call you N5 if I may!

  4. You certainly may.

    (obviously it's more my son's anonynmity I'm thinking of than my own)


  5. Hello,
    I've read your blog yesterday and didn't really think about it much but after I read today's blog I also read a bit of the archive and I'm also very moved.
    I can relate quite a bit, as patient and also as a relative, not with this illness or something equally bad, but something long term.
    I know it's hard on everyone and it might never get easier, so I really admire you for what you do.
    x Ari

  6. Thanks for sharing and answering my question, with this blog it does look like your starting something and may lead onto other things:) I ask the question because I guess I wanted to know that you did have a chance to some time to yourself, because your health and well being is important too, for yourself and for your son (which I'm sure you know!!!:) And thank you for your honesty, and definitely keep blogging x

    Also one last thing, on your twitter page maybe you could have the link to your blog on it, if you go to profile or settings (not sure) you can put it in there (which I'm sure you know lol)

  7. Thanks you both for your kind words and support - and it's on my twitter page now!


  8. The penny drops-
    how long have you been waiting to let that one out?
    if something happens to you what happens to your son?
    is there any chance he will get well enough to ever be able to love alone and study or work?

    i think we should call you JAC,
    Just Another Carer, get it? lol

  9. Hi Mongo.

    I don't like to think what would happen if I wasn't around at this stage - I really don't.

    As for him living on his own - it's the aim for both of us. He'll get there but it's going to be a long journey from where we are.

    Jac? I like that.

    Take care.