This blog started about L and her battle with anorexia. Somewhere along the way, I wrote about J and his life with Aspergers – a daily battle with Normal, the definition of which everyone else gets to decide. Now it’s Ks turn. On Thursday we have our first CAMHS appointment to deal with her anxiety and depression, which seems to be increasing daily. I think I am getting better at noticing the signs. Sometimes she stops mid conversation and breathes as if to steady herself. An open window can cause her to become tearful in case spiders enter the house. She twists and turns her hands and washes them frequently leaving them raw. I feel powerless; I can do nothing except hold her close, as tightly as possible, and only when I am with her. Attacks like this come at school when she is alone, with no one to help or tell.
However, what I want you to know about K is not her challenges, but everything else that makes her K. She was born ten minutes before L and in her first hours in the world made an impression. While L slumbered angelically in her fish tank cot, K refused to sleep and seemed to want to take in everything about the world. An experienced midwife took her to walk up and down to get her to sleep. She assured me she always got babies to sleep. Two hours later, she returned with Miss Wide Awake, declaring her a miracle baby who just wanted to look at everything. She had focus from a few days old and would look directly at people in an unnerving way.
Fiercely stubborn, K has always had her own way. She walked first, but resisted any attempt to make her walk in shoes, until L had a pair and we made K wear them. She stood for an hour in the shop without shifting either foot. I took her home and she was lifted out of her pram and stood stock still on the kitchen floor. Until L repeatedly ran up to her, stamped on her foot then ran off cackling. After four stamps, K pursued her in a rage. The shoes fitted fine.
I have known her be fearless too. She barged up to a group of teenage boys, aged 2, and pointed at their roller blades, saying she wanted their shoes. She chased a group of reception children out of the play castle screaming, Listen, I am the princess and you are my servants!! Authority never troubled this little girl. She declared school rules to be a social construction of reality at the age of nine after kicking a boy for being racist.
But it is her mind which fascinates me and others most. She read voraciously from an early age, taking books everywhere. Her talent for writing is astonishing and when I started this blog, it was always her approval I sought. History enthrals her, especially the good stuff with swords and she has an interesting fact for every occasion.
How, just how, did her mind become so troubled, how did she become so scared of the world? Friendships have always eluded her, but with a twin sister on hand, she had a ready made social group. But that became so much harder in a large secondary school and that huge confusing world, coupled with a sadistic bully, unfettered by a weak school caused untold damage. But perhaps it was her parents marriage collapse and two years of a war zone. Has anorexia, which she said made her prefer to go to school than be at home, caused this anxiety? Or is it just the outside world? So much of defining mental illness hinges on the expectations of the world outside. Social skills are highly prized, but are never taught in schools. In her last visit to CAMHS she told the psychologist it was as if everyone had been taken aside and told The Rules and she was away that day.
I long for the world to see how wonderful she is, how clever and funny. But even more, I so want her to see it herself. I have no interest in her being changed, because to me, she is just perfect. I wonder if CAMHS will be able to help her reach out to others and to love herself as much as we all love her.