Handling Anger

IMG_0279-0.JPG

Joe and I finally managed to sit down and have a useful conversation about how we felt about Julie’s continuing self harm. It’s difficult to find time for this sort of complicated and subtle conversation when you are both busy working, and also trying to manage the practical problems of having to care for a member of the family with such a serious mental illness.

Such a conversation was long overdue. We were both having difficulties with the situation. Incidents still occur regularly, and there is no sign yet of them coming to an end. Julie has been improving in lots of ways – she has been on a very successful work experience placement for example – but she is still ill. In the bad old days everybody knew that she was ill; these days not many people realise what goes on behind the scenes, but quite a bit still goes on. She had to call for an ambulance for example, the other day, to the astonishment (and alarm) of many of our neighbours.

The problem in the long term for parents is that you don’t stop reacting, and the reaction doesn’t stop being painful and destructive. When there is a particularly frightening or messy incident, you experience a wave of distress and anxiety which can continue for days, long after Julie herself is beginning to bounce back. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re very actively involved in the event – getting stuck in with the First Aid box and then sitting with her in A&E – or just hearing about it afterwards from your partner.

Nor does there seem to be any way of protecting yourself, keeping the emotion boxed in, or bracing yourself for the impact. I know that some families reject a child who has serious mental illness (quite a few end up in care) and I can see how for some families this is the only solution that gives them a fighting chance of survival.

Sometimes I get angry after an incident. I got more angry when I was recovering from an operation and I was feeling physically very vulnerable. Joe often gets angry. It does feel sometimes as if all the love and care you pour in is being rejected, and it can take a day or two before you can forget this when you speak to them. Joe still feels guilt too – I stopped feeling guilty long ago – but he still wishes he could keep his little girl safe and stop these bad things happening to her. Both of us experience feelings of despair and hopelessness, overwhelming grief, sudden flashbacks, and difficulties sleeping.

It’s important to acknowledge these huge emotions and their impact on us and on Julie. There’s no point trying to pretend to Julie that we don’t feel anything, as if we were automatons. At the same time, we have to be careful not to beat up on her when she herself is at her most vulnerable. How easy it is to let the anger slip out, to list all the things she has jeopardised, to threaten and invoke the spectre of the disaster she has almost brought down on our heads. The hard thing is to find safe ways of saying “We love you, we hold you, we hate what you’re doing to yourself, but we know we can’t stop you doing it. We will go on being here for you no matter what you do.”

Advertisements
2 comments
  1. dhonour said:

    I hope one day that you realize what a unique and loving mother you are, and I hope even more that Julie is able to see that too.

    • Thanks Dina, that’s such a nice comment. But it isn’t any special property in me – it’s more of a survival instinct. And smaller things stop being important, which helps!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

LEANING INTO A NEW NORMAL

With Celenia Delsol

(Un)Diagnosed and still okay

The life and times of Bridget's family as the navigate an unexpected journey with a rare genetic syndrome

Sectioned

A blog about mental health & mental healthcare

purplepersuasion

Mental health blog by a service user with bipolar disorder. Winner of the Mark Hanson Awards for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards 2013 and the Mood Disorder category in the 2012 This Week in Mentalists Awards.

Brotherly Love

A personal exploration of autism from a brother’s perspective, including family relationships, philosophy, neuroscience, mental health history and ethics

Side by Side

A web magazine for friends, families and advocates of mental health

The Chatter Blog

Living: All Day Every Day: Then Chattering About It

partialinsight

Stroke and visual impairment

glosswatch

humourless mummy, cuddly feminist

L A F E I S T

truth slayer

Lily Mae Martin

Life in particular

One Pissed Off Rhino

You wouldn't fight a rhino with a fork - all you'd end up with is one bent fork and one pissed off rhino.

The Riddle Ages

An Anglo-Saxon Riddle Blog

annkilter

What ships are for...

Thunderhawk Bolt

That weird kid from school... all grown up

The Small Places

Life in particular

The Bipolar Codex

Kate McDonnell: Art, design and bipolar disorder

%d bloggers like this: