Anxiety can spiral quite rapidly. It can catch you unawares of how bad it really is. When you realize it is also likely that your own anxiety levels will have risen, as you fear where the situation will end for your child. Sometimes drastic action needs to be taken. In this case I found I was unable to work with the thought that my child was unsafe from themselves, alone and in a complete darkness. Supporting them was the priority and the best way I could see, to do that, was to be physically present.
Giving up work is very difficult, yet for me staying at work was even harder. By staying at home it meant that there was usually someone around for the child. Getting to appointments was no longer rushed, or at the mercy of when I could get time off. What ever their sleep patterns, there was always someone to smile and say good morning; to acknowledge their existence; to ensure they were eating and taking their medication. Just being physically present was enough to support the child in finding the courage to take steps.
The way it most supported them was, when they wanted to talk, needed something or were experiencing difficulty, the child had someone available, someone who knew what was going on, and someone they could forge bonds of trust with. This is highly important, and the only way I have been able to do it was to be present in the quiet “nothing” times. This is when barriers are down and truth appears. As the parent I could not instigate a conversation or force it, it was solely driven by the child, but I created the space for it to happen. The environment was all I could “control”.
At times there will be no response. It doesn’t mean that you are not making a difference, it means that the child is unable to respond at that time. During the most difficult times, staying up till late was the only way to be physically present as their sleep patterns had become nocturnal. Whilst highly disruptive and unsustainable, the small snippets of interaction, shared at times, were worthwhile and did make a difference. When unable to be present I would leave notes, close to a food source, colorful, to the point and with a smiley face or heart, to reaffirm that they are loved.
Impatience, questioning “am I doing enough?”, and fearing “it’s not making a difference, they’re getting worse” made frequent appearances. Being present wasn’t the only thing being done, appointments with specialists, medications, alternative therapies were also being used. I suggest doing a stock take of everything you are doing and quietly celebrate any positive change or step forward you discover, no matter how microscopic. The one certainty in life is Change!
Extended family can be more impatient and questioning. They do not always know how to support you or your child and can lack the insight to show support at times. They did not understand that being present is a part of finding a path to recovery, yet it is! Have the courage to trust your child and create the space and environment for them to learn to trust themselves.