• Sue Doo

My Experience With CAMHS, in 2018

I read the report recently that outlined the pressure that the Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services, (CAMHS) is under. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-58565067

This is no different to when I called upon the service 3 years ago. A 6-month waiting list, to then be put into a group situation where the young people were all suffering with anxiety!

It’s scary enough as a parent when your kids just don’t seem right, there’s no manual.

Have you ever felt this sense of dread and despair at not having any answers?

Searching the internet for a morsel of hope?

You then wait for ages, placating your young person, with unsanctioned platitudes, to then put them into a situation that you know is just not helpful.

It’s counterintuitive to every paternal instinct, intuition, and molecule in our parenting bodies!!

I get it because that’s how I was feeling, desperate, alone, and scared.

My teen was unable to attend school a lot of the time. Let me briefly explain, we had recently moved back to the UK, so schooling here was very different and there was no friendship group to fall back on. For my young person or for us and any we did have didn’t understand and I didn’t have the energy to keep explaining something I barely understood myself.

Everything was different and this is what triggered the anxiety that became so crippling, not just affecting schooling, education, social interactions but also took overeating habits, sleep patterns, general unhappiness, and our lives.

I now believe, with hindsight, that my young person was depressed as well as anxious.

The heartbreak and stress that I felt at the time was often unbearable and I would end up in tears of frustration, not knowing how to help my young person.

Do you ever feel that way, alone, desperate, and hopeless?

Honestly, I get it. This anxiety has affected every aspect of our lives, and the hardest thing was I knew the only way to get up the list was if there was an actual attempt on life….. That’s not something anyone wants their loved one to think of – what a sad sign of the times.

We eventually got to this set of group sessions with about 12 other teens and parents for 12 weeks. I would leave work early, travel through rain, snow, and sun along country lanes, I was not used to, in the middle of winter.

The first few weeks my young person couldn’t get out of the car, by about week 7, along with many tears, anger, and much frustration, we got into the building. Over the course of the next 5 sessions, we were able to stay longer in the building, using different techniques. Blowing bubbles, physically moving, it helps to dissipate the adrenaline that builds in an anxiety attack. Playing with fidget devices and agreeing in advance the time frame.

It was sole destroying. Not just for my teen, but also for me, I had gone looking for a solution and I wasn’t finding it.

Around this time, we also tried counselling and found this only made my young person sadder. How was that possible?

Often in counselling a lot of time is spent talking about the past, dwelling on the negatives in our daily lives and what has gotten us to this point. Great in theory, and it works wonderfully well for some, but for others it just keeps them stuck in a perpetual holding pattern of pain and misery. Often taking them lower and lower each time. This was our experience.

After this we searched for other help and were recommended Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, (SFH). This therapy made sense to me, focusing on the positives, learning about how our brains work and what we can do to help ourselves, all within a relaxing framework. Brilliant!!

It was described to me as a therapy that "helped to sow the flowers in the fertile soil."

Image from https://vocal.media/motivation/7-self-care-tips-for-a-happier-life

Now, it wasn’t the sole key to my young person’s pain, but it defiantly helped and provided them with skills, tools, and space.

BUT What it did do was help me. So much so I chose to change my career and train in SFH. Now I provide care and support to ‘Manic Mum’s and Desperate Dad’s’, because I’ve felt their pain, I’ve been in that space.

I found there was a lack of support for parents who were in this limbo, where at times it was an overwhelming experience with no one to ask guidance of and no skill set to draw on.

Don’t we all just want to support, love, and enhance the lives of our kids. Want to see them smile again, laugh and just be goofy?

Yes, they can be annoying, but that’s why way we love them, isn’t it? Watching them grow into the wonderful, loving, and interesting adults that they will be.

I found that throughout my young people’s journeys, me being a calm, relaxed, confident, and consistent parent has helped them and me navigate the undulating path we have been on.

Don’t get me wrong we all lose it at times, we are human and that’s ok, but when we are doing it all the time its madness.

Do you have a short temper and find your quick to shout?

Slam doors and generally get emotional?

Bury yourself in work so you don’t have to deal with the latest fall out?

I get it because I have struggled, just like that, work being an escape, but also another burden. Getting angry because I felt helpless. Then I started the SFH, and I began to relax, be calmer and learn to focus on what I could change and what I did want from life.

Here’s an example of how I recognised the subtle changes I was making though the SFH.

I used to work as a Learning Support Assistant in a primary school and I had come home from work to do the usual jobs, tidy up, sort the washing, walk the dogs, and cook the dinner. Just for the two of us, as my husband was travelling.

I had sorted the laundry, walked, and fed the dogs, and I was ready to serve dinner so I let my young person know to come down. Before they made it into the kitchen I knew there was a problem – I could just sense it, they told me they couldn’t eat what I had cooked, couldn’t cope with the texture of the food – it was probably chicken and veg or salmon, nothing exotic or unusual.

I was angry, annoyed, frustrated, and tired. I just wanted to scream and cry – the only safe thing they could eat was pizza, so I admit. I angrily, stomped out of my house at 7.30pm, leaving my dinner to over cook and got in my car. Also leaving my pale, anxious young person at home, looking like a rabbit in the head lights, and went and bought a pizza from the local supermarket to cook.

It was when I was paying for it, all £2.30, that I realised it wasn’t worth getting upset over, it made me unhappy and made my young person’s anxiety worse, I was exacerbating the situation.

SO, I calmed down, put pizza on the shopping list and sat with my young person to find a list of “safe foods” that we would always have in the house.

We had found a solution to the problem, they felt heard and although they understood I wasn’t jumping for joy when they couldn’t eat what I’d cooked – we were able to cope so much better.

Small steps, that’s what it’s all about.

That’s one of the small changes that Solution Focused Hypnotherapy has helped me to achieve and each small change, like a pebble hitting the wat

er, has a much larger affect on its surroundings. Rippling out and encompassing areas, situations, and people you had never imagined.

If you're feeling low, frustrated, or alone and want some support then get in touch and we can arrange a time for a chat.

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

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