As we arrive home from Family Therapy, I start to make tea. It is Pasta Carbonara. And no, that isn’t a joke, I tell L. But L asks me if she can go toThe Boyfriend’s for a roast dinner to celebrate the removal of his IV line after two weeks. I agree, on the basis she takes a note to his Mum, to tell her how L needs to eat. I include my mobile number and ask that she texts me when she receives it. That leaves C, K and I to have tea together. We eat on sofas, an unheard of treat. K has an essay to write. Her anxiety is escalating. Over the last few days, it has come to the point where every sentence of homework causes her breathless panic. We have found that bringing her out of her room can help, so she is beside the fire, typing at herMacbook. But the anxiety increases. For my part, I am already pissed off. C opened my special bottle of Sonoma Valley Syrah that I bought as a treat, because he “fancied a glass of wine, alright!” He continues to ask why L can’t just see how anorexia is ruining her life and surely that should be enough to make her eat. I want a magical Laura Collins or Charlotte Bevan Godmother to come and feed my child, send me to bed and tell C to stop being an idiot. But the doorbell stays quiet and K still has that Mrs Bloody Dalloway Essay to do.
So, we retreat to the kitchen. I clear dishes and K makes tea, then we sit. K starts at the laptop. She panics and panics. Bach Rescue Remedy is dropped on the tongue and deep breathing advised. Again, all my instincts have to be suppressed. Because what I really want to do is shut the laptop lid and take her back to the fire. But her English teacher insists the work is done and responds to her situation by telling her that everyone else can do this. This time, I think my instincts are right; why is my acutely anxious daughter writing about the psychological travails of Mrs Sodding Bloody Dalloway when she is struggling with her own demons? So she can study for her AS level? What does ANY of this matter in the fragile, crumbling shipwreck of our home life? But I don’t. I sit with her and type this post. I suggest wording. I fume as I realise C has now nicked the Cava after the Syrah has been drunk and I retrieve it from the front room. I worry how we will survive the daily assault of a life beset by mental health issues, each of us arguing over wine, rowing about motivation and feigning sleep so the other will get up to start another fraught day. This is us, keeping up keeping on. I really hope it’s enough.