TRIGGER WARNING – SUICIDE ATTEMPT
So, week 2 of lockdown and everyone is still shellshocked, numb, confused and adjusting. How long will it last? Have my year 11 and my year 6 kids REALLY left their schools for the last time ever?
My 15 year old has been struggling with his mental health for about two years now; this has presented as anxiety, low mood, alcohol abuse and self harm (cutting). Before the lock down we had been awaiting a CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) referral after two crisis GP meetings and having previously been turned down by CAMHS a year or more ago.
He seemed fine in the first bit of lock down; 24/7 gaming, 24/7 snacking, the occasional spat with his siblings, but nothing red flag raising. That Wednesday, we were sitting watching TV, and he was upstairs on his PC. He had been downstairs with us earlier and seemed fine. At about 10.30pm I got a Whatsapp message from said son…….
“I need you to come here”.
“I did a bad thing”.
I ran up the stairs and into his room; he was sitting in his gaming chair, his face pale and streaked with barely withheld tears. He pointed to a heap of crackly silver blister packs that had once contained painkillers- paracetamol and ibuprofen. He confessed that he had indeed taken an overdose and I ran to get his dad who was still downstairs.
I then blindly tried to ring 111 but soon realised it would be a lot quicker to put him in the car and take him to our nearest hospital, five minutes away. I had the foresight to change into some clothes that weren’t my quarantine and furlough uniform combo of stained pjs and no bra. We flew into the (completely empty) A&E to be reminded that he is 15, and therefore needs to go to the children’s hospital in a different part of the city.
We got back in the car and headed there. We were seen extremely quickly and the nurse sent me out while he spoke to my son alone. This is a horrible feeling for any parent and under the circumstances I felt utterly helpless, sat in my face mask surrounded by staff in full PPE with no other patients.
They needed to do blood tests to assess the levels in his blood and that would take three hours. We were both tired and shell-shocked and sat alone in a room in the empty assessment unit.
They moved us to a ward and thankfully there was a bed for me too. My son fell asleep and eventually we were told that his results were okay, but they’d keep us in that night to see the crisis team in the morning. I’m so glad my son then slept.
I think the most surreal thing was the extremely cheerful domestic lady coming and asking for his meal choices. She was so incredibly smiley and happy and tried so hard with a monosyllabic 15 year old. Of course she had no idea of why he was there.
Another wonderful moment was our amazing nurse showing me where I could make a cuppa in the parent’s kitchen and asking me if I was okay. I obviously wasn’t and cried at her kindness. She said she so wanted to give me a hug (and I really needed one) but we had to stand 2 metres apart while I snivelled and she reassured me it wasn’t my fault and I’m not a crap mum.
In the morning the psychologist arrived. He was really nice and was so good at trying to talk to an almost silent teenage boy. He concluded that the CAMHS referral was needed urgently and he would expedite it for us. He said he was happy to let us go home as he felt there was no immediate danger for my son to himself or others so off we went. Tired, emotionally drained, but happy to go home to the family.
He is now having weekly CAMHS appointments via Skype and seems much happier. I know we are not out of the woods but he seems settled and a lot less anxious. This lock-down is affecting everybody’s mental health, of that I have no doubt, and it obviously triggered a strong crisis in my boy.
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