book review: Broken by Rosie Lewis

I just finished reading the latest memoir by Rosie Lewis Broken.

One thing I like about this author is she’s very detailed in the exact dates things take place. And many of her stories have taken place in the last few years. Which at least for me makes me feel more connected to the story as I can think about what I was doing at the time, different parts of the year, and know that Rosie and her family were dealing with the struggle to rehabilitate two very traumatiz3ed children.

On new years day 2014, Rosie went to an emergency foster carer’s house to pick up this sibling group. Five year old Bobbi, and her nine year old brother Archie. They had been taken into emergency care a few days ago after an incident of domestic violence at their home. The police had gotten previous complaints from neighbors and suspicions of neglect but finding the house inhabitable was what caused the children to be taken into care due to severe neglect.

Rosie helped lead a domestic violence for kids (not even sure what that would entail!) workshop a few years back. She instantly recognizes Archie.

He is very mature for his age and has a scary blankness about him like all his emotions are locked away and he has a firm mask in place. He is polite to the point of being annoying in his compliments and actions, and clearly is very anxious that he care for Bobbi particularly in making sure she doesn’t go to sleep during the day and does at night.

Whereas Archie is distant and reserved,Bobbi is all impulse and hyperactivity. ADHD is suspected but Bobbi is not yet on any medication. I love the approach Rosie takes which is completely trauma informed and connected. Using sensory/ brain based, and therapeutic parenting skills to make Bobbi feel safe and meet her developmental level.

Slowly over the months her rages, food hoarding and high anxiety about food, rough play and no idea about how to socialize with children, and other behaviors start to calm down. Rosie is very persistent in advocating for both Archie and Bobbi especially in school and luckily has a special needs coordinator on her side to make the school take a more trauma informed approach which to their surprise works.

While Bobbi’s behaviors though disturbing and exhausting quickly become very clear and solutions slowly implemented, Archie is a complete mystery. A particular incident in the beginning of the book proves to show the rageful side to Archie and so his behaviors from that point on alternate between politeness and barely contained rage. But other than that she can not read him.

From the beginning it’s clear that the children’s mother is a very unfit parent childlike herself, completely hanging on her very abusive drug addicted boyfriend’s every word.

Another excellent thing about the book is that the kids have an amazing social worker. Who very quickly and compassionately moves their case along so that where most placements take a year to become permanent outcome, situations the kid’s case is settled in a few months.

In spite of the limited time they have with Rosie relative to other cases, and the rollercoaster ride to their forever home, Rosie makes amazing progress with them both. Though with Archie things have to reach a head before he can really open up about the horrible things he and his sister were exposed to. The patient connected relationship Rosie built with Archie even when she thought she didn’t know him at all after weeks and months, was the foundation that allowed him to eventually let out his secrets and really open up.

I highly recommend this book. It is very in line with therapeutic and Connected parenting/ caregiving, and mentions books and authors that are very much in that field.

Another touching aspect of the book is it takes place after Megan in Taken, has been adopted. And she provides comic relief and an innoscent contrast to the harsh reality of the children’s lives.

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Book Review: A Long Way from Home by Cathy Glass

Hi Everyone,

I just finished reading Cathy Glass’s latest fostering memoir A Long Way from Home.

This book centers on Anna who at 2 years old, is adopted by a childless couple Ian and Elaine.

It is written in two parts, the first part is an account of Ean and Elaine’s journey in a unnamed northeastern European country. They come there with their dream of adopting a baby finally coming true, only to find out that the baby died and a care worker simply told them to “pick another one.” As if children were items in a store.

Completely heartbroken they were about to fly home and simply give up on ever having children, when their adoption worker said there was another extremely child that they could adopt. She was two years old and she had spent times in the orphanage as well as living with her natural mother. It wasn’t known til years later that her mother was abusive and neglectful to Anna. And the conditions in the orphanage were absolutely horrific and described in detail.

At the time Ian and Elaine felt very sorry for Anna’s mother as she was putting her child up for adoption it was said to work in another country where she could have a “better life.”

Ian and Elaine with no time to greive their long awaited baby girl had to switch mentally and emotionally to the fact that they’d be parenting a toddler. They followed all the right procedures for visiting and getting to know Anna. They thought her emotional blankness, hyperactivity, and lack of affection were due to all the huge changes in her life and that with their love and a good home she would soon settle.

Part one outlines the family transitioning Anna fromher country of origin to the US, the court proceedings and their first few weeks with Anna. It is clear that neither Ian nor Elaine are at all confident in parenting in general,not being able to say no or give any expectations or boundaries. They simply let Anna do whatever she wanted.

This included never sleeping in her own bed, and basically eating, playing with, and basically doing what she wanted when she wanted.

For a traumatized child feeling the parent is in control and they can be kept safe, especially from their own overwhelming feelings of rage and terror, and other mixed emotions is essential. However the couple kept hoping she’d somehow turn the corner. It was so sad and frustrating to see the family spiral down when you could see from the first full week as a family even before cominbg to the UK that things were going off on the wrong foot.

Part two takes place a few years after Anna comes to England. At6 this point they are at the end of their rope. Things reached a crisis point at Christmas and Ian left Elaine and Anna and
Elaine totally devastated by the situation begged the social services to take Anna into care.

She was taken under a Section 20 in which Elaine and Ian would share parental rights with social services with a goal of reuniting the child with their family.

In the timeline of Cathy’s family this takes place a few years after John left them when Paula is four and Adrian is eight. Lucy has yet to enter the family.

Anna has gone through two foster carers in a week with one very experienced. Both placements ended due to cruelty to animals and children.

Cathy is very apprehensive more than usual as she has young children and a cat, as one of the carers did. But hearing about Ian leaving Elaine resolves her to help this family as much as she can as her family recently went through a similar situation.

When Cathy meets Anna, it’s already known that Anna has been diagnosed with reactive aqttachment disorder RAD. It’s something I have written a fair amount about in this blog as for some reason, I’m very interested in the subject of childhood trauma and ways to therapeutically care for these hurting complex kids.

RAD is a disorder in which due to severe abuse neglect and many changes in caregiver, a child in the first few years of life especially infancy fails to bond with a primary caregiver. This first bond developed in the first year especially of life is the essential ground in which one’s brain develops in the areas of emotional growth, a desire to want to love and be loved and everything around the need for healthy relationships with themselves and others.

Obviously, with Anna’s history it’s no wonder she has this disorder. It’s extremely sad to know that Ian and Elaine were not prepared at all around therapeutic parenting and the strong possibility that any child and even infant they adopted would have severe trauma effects if not full blown RAD or similar disorder. It seemed they had no experience or confidence around the basics of relating to a child as affirm but loving caregiver, and so couldn’t possibly build on that to be able to try and use alternative parenting skills consistent with therapeutic rehabilitation of a child.

Cathy knew that specialized therapy would be needed for Anna. And as in many cases in the UK t5herapy had a very long waiting list though being in social services care did speed this up. For now Cathy could only rely on her time tested common senseaqpproach to parenting kids with “challenging behavior” which is to set clear expectations, a routine and boundaries, praise good behavior and consequence unacceptable behavior.

Normally, a behaviorist approach does not work with children from trauma, as they have no cause and effect thinking and are driven purely by overwhelming impulses. They need to start out being nurtured and bonded with as an infant would and then slowly socialized keeping in mind the child’s emotional age. If Ian and Elaine had beentaught that though Anna was technically two years old, developmentally she was very much an infant that may have helped. Though perhaps would be even more painful for them as it would bring up their greif around their first child’s death.

Cathy knew from the start that Anna had never experienced an adult firmly taking control. Where for years Anna’s parents had never gotten her to sleep in her own bed, with much patience though stretched to the limet! Cathy and her family, (the poor kids were kept up by the screaming and tantrums) were able to get Anna to sleep in her own bed earlier and earlier at night from the first week or so of the placement.

Cathy was happy about this though Anna was almost always displaying controlling and cruel behaviors and though Cathy was doing right in trying to show Anna right from wrong, she knew on some level that Anna simply couldn’t learn this until she was in therapy.

Meanwhile it appeared Elaine in particular wasn’t verycomfortable with Anna at all. It took a few weeks to set up contact and the contact was filled with Anna emotionally and physically at times, trying to attack her mother. And her mother timidly taking the abuse.

It was only once Elaine opened up to Cathy and took the advice of Anna’s dedicated teacher and contacted a couple in a very similar situation that she grew in confidence.

Just as Anna was settling in the parents made what seemed like an impulsive decision. To take anna out of care. At the parting Cathy saw the terrified child Anna really was and it broke her heart.

This book does have a very good ending. It has many twists and turns and Cathy is clear that not all international adoptions go as the story went, and that not all children have RAD from thos3e situations.

I think it was wise for Cathy to spend much of the book detailing the family’s account. It gave an in depth look at the history of the relationships between Anna and her parents, and made the rest of the book make more sense as you got to really know Ian and Elaine and Anna at the time of the adoption and then later from Cathy’s point of view.

I highly recommend this book!

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Decided to stick with this blog

Hi everyone,

Have decided to continue this blog. It’s so important to me and it started my last year of college. It makes sense that as all this strange stuff, plus the move and my new life be charted in here as well. As much as I feel like I’m a completely different person, in general but also at a more subtle level and should then start from scratch that’s not how this is. This stuff interrupted my life but it’s important to see it as just something new I’m experiencing and to continue to live my life around this experience but not let me feel I am or have to be at square one.

It’s been a week and a day since coming.

To make this a quick post I’ll list my highlights.

Positives:

Every staff I’ve interacted with has gone out of their way for me, it feels that way. Part of my trauma response on how Albany ended so badly was that I began to feel I was so “too much” that even someone taking a few minutes to listen to what I’m saying or how I am, or even fulfill a concrete request, like advocating for Jonathan to meet with me, just plain wasn’t happening. So I fussed over anyone with endless thankyous! Because I truly felt that way. I toned it down when I saw people were uncomfortable with it but it still amazes me that I can mention even a simple request like needing the bathroom cleaned more than once a week and it’s set up to be every other day. Or just, anything. Being able to get meds and meals a bit earlier than even the most “early bird” person. Just how I’ll voice a concern and whoever will work to find a solution very quickly.

Jessica has been as awesome as ever. David is his chill self.

I’ve yet to speak to clinical director Sarah and I hope to as she heard a lot from me before coming in.

The building is very very clean. The halls and common areas smell so fresh. The resident floors themselves, are organized with some resident floors on the first floor which is chaotically busy but I guess it’s for people who need the one nurse’s station close by.

One floor is all male, the fourth floor is all female and then another floor co-ed. It’s refreshing to know there are no creepy guys around. And the floor is pretty quiet. Then again we’re on the quiet side.

They have about 220 residents. And it seems for years they’ve had a policy that makes it so that each caseworker, MHP or social worker they’re called, has about 12 residents!

And they work as a team fully and completely. To that end each floor including first floor has five caseworkers.

On my floor are:

Tasha who is my caseworker, Iesha, Kevin, Kelly, and Tina.

And they really help everyone on the floor. Really everyone in the building. So you’re not feeling you must bring all issues to your specific caseworker. It’s all up to which people hopefully several you feel most connected with.

There are layers to departments. Whereas AC had the big boss admin, assistant to him, quality assurance, and that’s it.

This place had the executive director, Jessica. Her assistant. The clinical director, and I think they have an assistant. And for each group of five caseworkers there is a supervising social worker. There is another person specifically running the groups program who isn’t the4 clinical director.

Much different set up where staff can be secure in having many people to go to instead of heaping it all on one person.

This is true for every department. Rather than nursing supervising C.N.AS they have their own supervisor.

So they maintain a relaxed team atmosphere which does make you feel secure in that support is very much available.

A crisis unit. A six bed replecia of a floor but tucked away off one of them. There are meals meds and groups and a lot of one on one time when someone’s experiencing an increase in symptoms and needs time to get back on track and likely reevaluate treatment plans. The same staff from the floors take turns going down there. I don’t know how long they’ve had it but It’s really reduced the number of hospitalizations. Here it seems a lot of individual attention is given to people to prevgent a hospitalization when at all possible. And no one seems to even think about goingt behind anyone’s back which is really appreciated. Staff listen deeply to all concerns and guide people through whatever they’re experiencing. Don’t know enough about it to have thoughts on positives or areas of improvement, but I have seen a very quick intervention where if they see something brewing behavior wise they work very hard in that moment to calm the situation or person. Which is extremely refreshing. And at AC it was the complete opposite.

The food is amazing! Dietary here actually cooks! Rather than just heating up food. And they’re so acomidating about diet.

But it’s amazing to have hot really good tasting food for each meal. I sometimes would only have breakfast and barely any dinner. I think so many times during my few months of craziness I wasn’t in my body at all so didn’t feel at all hungry. Plus so much of the time I knew I’d eat nothing down there so what was the point of going?

Having emotional support animals in the building!

I do actually like having my own space in a single room and I think Jess does too.

Having licensed art and music therapists and other varietys of groups.

Having regular masters level interns present who may come to work here.

The things I ne4ed to get used to/ adjust: Simply having that much care and concern going my way after the neglect and emotional abuse in the last few months when I was probably in one of my most vulnerable stages. I do keep wondering when things will turn and they’ll get fed up with my unusual symptoms, asking for things and generally me.

It’s a shock to have all these people genuinely caring when you’ve lost so much trust in the MH world in general.

Codes:

“Doctor Helper” for behavior “Dr. Heart for medical.” Cute Jess still misses the code yellows.

We would have behavior codes maybe a few times a week. If we had several in one day that would be huge. And while technically you’re supposed to clear the area unless there’s a particularly intense code, many simply stand around and watch or just watch the staff run around while they go about their business. Codes often happened when staff didn’t address situations at the start of happening. And then things built up.

Here you have a code and the entire hallways on whatever floor need to be cleared. Everyone has to go into another room and wait usually around twenty minutesfor it to end. More ofthen then they’ll say” clear for transport between 1 and 4” So all those halls have to be cleared.

They say it’s for confidentiality and safety. Which makes sense. Many of the residents here are younger, on far less medication so much more behaviors coming out, and would I can feel deeply intentionally hurt others if given a weapon. Which is why knives aren’t allowed. Someone said due to cutters, which I highly disagree with. But as of last night, and maybe all my emotions on it came together, I see it much more seriously. If some of these people had so much as a butter knife they would use it against others. It’s that high level of aggression that provides a very tense atmosphere.

When the process of coming back into the building yesterday was stopped by a code in progress so needing to be stuck in the activity room after a long day I started to get agitated. It makes the atmosphere feel like a locked facility for really intense behaviors or the hospital or something.

I totally trust the staff are doing their very best and using more progressive methods. And I had a great conversation with an intern who really could see my side of things, which is a very deep raw response to life.

Today at breakfast I learned that before you can talk to the Nurse for a PRN, like ativan or klnopine you have to speak to a social worker, any, about the issue. Apparently it’s so they know what’s going on right away. Iknow that AC staff had a vauge practice of prcs becoming away of residents taking more PRNS than usual and should in theory follow up but that never seemed to happen.

All the changes hit me today this morning. The perception of the resident’s constant aggression or just barely held back anger. These rules that feel so controlling and are designed it seemed for this population which seem to be younger very street wise, (would really harm you on the streets) people with huge behaviors.

I honestly just couldn’t take it. Tasha to her credit listened, after I said there was noway after finally deciding to get a PRN I was gonna go over what was going on with whoever was around. That lead to all my other feelings.

I wanted to talk with Jonathan. Since I did see Sandra, post on that later, I wondered if I needed to could I move back.

While Tasha was figuring that out or trying to no one answered big surprise, Jess and I were going over everything step by step. She pointed out how all these things should have been going on for years like they do here. And how Albany staff just plain didn’t reinforce anything. Our safety wasn’t their priority neither was preventing crisis. Often their first and only intervention in a crisis was putting you in the stressful observation room, being stuck with staff in a hot PRC office and then hospitalized.

Here it’s not like that. They actually care if you’re starting to have a rough time and will step in right away to help or at least know about things.

Then we went over the huge list of things AC doesn’t offer. Basics like proper food, staff that listen and don’t just shut you down. And so after a half hour so of talking I was convinced to stick with it. I am after all still recovering from a cold and have only been here a week and a day.

Will write another post about Jenny who I think will be a very important person in my life. Talking with her was refreshing and I feel very connected to her.

So it’s basically like coming from nothing and a hostile environment to a very warm caring and firmly structured environment. It’s a total shock to the system. And witnessed people’s universal shocked and very disappointed reactions when I talk about the last three months brings home just how neglectful and emotionally abusive, Jonathan in particular was.

The best part of today was going up to the fifth floor which is very quiet and playing with the guinea pigs that were donated a some months back. Coco and Orio. Haven’t held one since resis. I quickly got into it and remembered everything about what he liked to eat and his many medical problems. CoCo I guess not one to just sit on someone’s lap I think as I and others have said he sensed he had to be gentle with me. And it was such a relaxing hour petting and feeding apples. Definetely a sign I need to stay.

In addition to these furry friends. Residents have emotional support animals. Can have. Can bring if they have one likely, but Jessica helps with that process but only when the person is really ready.

We have two dogs, two cats, fish and a hamster. There used to be a bird but they moved out with their human family.

Animals are so therapeutic that it’s amazing they can get this into the program.

Today I started out feeling like I was ready to just go back to the familiar neglectful environment be4cause the new actually healthy one was feeling so overwhelming. But I connected with an awesome staff, intern to be exact who really put me at ease. More than Tasha did although to her credit she did listen to what I had to say without making many comments or sprining something on me like needing to sit somewhere for “my safety” or asking endless probing questions or acting like I didn’t need to feel this way. So that was fine.

She gets things done quickly too. I just can’t put my finger on the disconnect I feel towards her. Other than the good listening her manner and voice remind both Jess and I of a couple caseworkers at Albany. And we don’t need to have that reminder.

We’ll just play it by ear with her I guess.

Very tired. So much more to say but will tomorrow.

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not feeling well lately my body likely under major stress `

So unsprisingly I haven’t been feeling the best in the past week.

The shock of moving from one environment where I was stuck in this place of no one caring, not eating properly and everything else, to here as I said in one of my recent posts shocked my brain out of the pattern of intense symptoms I was experiencing right up to leaving.

Maybe my body is showing them in other ways. I’ve had very upset stomach since Friday. Like spending a lot of time in the bathroom kind. Jess and I figure it’s stress, plus food. So yeah. I barely ate at Albany Care. Here I now have three meals a day with a lot of food that’s actually good quality. The first few days I was also drinking milk almost three times a day and I know that threw my stomach off as I did not drink milk at Albany.

I was hesitant to ask nursing for anything. I didn’t know what alerting them to anything physically wrong would do. The possible what I would feel as over concern wouldn’t make things easier. I pictured that thorough gay nurse doing stomach tests in the office
!

But finally last night I asked. And he happened to be there along with the standard two others. Before coming to Albany Care I actually didn’t know there was medica5tion for upset stomach. When I first got there and was having similar food and stress related problems and told about pepto bysmal and it worked I was like wow!

But he said I couldn’t have that. He said I could take chewable tums or Mylanta. I tried Mylanta once and gagged for like an hour. I know tums is fior heartburn and I didn’t have that.

So I was like ok fine whatever. He gave a little speech on how he’s had to take stuff in his life he didn’t want to in order to feel better. I was like ok bye.

After having the same issues last night and up to lunch today I was desperate and resigned to taking either of the things I knew would make me gag and hope it worked.

Strangely I didn’t have to worry. A complete other set of nurses was there. I told them the problem and I got pepto. I was like ok? Guess who’s on shift makes a difference! And as I knew would happen I was good. It also helped that Jess convinced me to ask dietary if I could have something like light on my stomach. Well we didn’t even ask, we just s said the problem and they said they’d make me chicken broth. I asked for Jello and they had it! Not a good flavor but still! You have to realize this happening at Albany, they’d fuss the whole time or totally forget if you asked in advance for something different or just say eat part of the meal that was there.

These people actually care about your health.

So now I have a normal stomach.
W Wish I had asked and gotten the right thing in the first place. But it’s hard to trust new people with that kinda thing, and their ways of doing things are so different and I’m just very stubborn

But now well for the past couple days I’ve had a dry sore throat. Jess also has a slight cold w3hich I think I got. And she probably got from stress/ plus germs here.

And there’s the whole air temperature thing. With the heat on a very strange timer, and when it is on blasting hot dry likely unhealthy air. And then having to turn on the AC to try and compensate. And then having it freezing cold.

I’m hoping this doesn’t go into a full blown cold which I rarely have. On Tuesday Jess and I both have therapy appointments with Sandra Jess’s therapist. Mine is an intake. It will be our first time out of the building and I think a good break. But if I’m sick I won’t enjoy it very much.

Also the new routine is very jarring and funny if you know me.

Morning routine at Albany:

Get up at like quarter of eight or eight or somewhere around that time. Have C.N.A bring up breakfast, yes I’m spoiled old habbit. Take meds all on our floor so am in PJS. Nap til elev3en or longer if I skip lunch. Get dressed whenever. Only go downstairs if have dinner and again meds can be in pjs about a few feet down the hall.

Here:

Jess spends five or so minutes repeatedly waking me up before eight. Throws clothes at me. I have to take my cane. The first day I said I was too tired. Gay Nurse said “You can never be too tired not to have your cane.”

This sounded so much like something my dad would say except he’d call me meathead at the end so now it’s our joke.

At Albany I wouldn’t bring me cane anywhere except like if we were leaving. Even though I should have.

Anyway drag myself down there. Get meds in very busy line. Well we actually go down early to avoid busy line. Still ugh.

Have breakfast which is actually very quiet when we go down there and how they do it.

Go upstairs and take my nap. Have to tell staff when Sammy’s nap time is.

Jess wakes me up and we go down to lunch.

Same routine for dinner and 5:00 meds.

Night time I’ve often taken my bath before meds now have to do it after.

Miss all day PJS but am getting used to it.

Don’t go near me next week or so when it’s “that time of the month” and I have to do it!

Will keep you posted.

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Initial observations of clayton

Hi everyone,

So it’s the end of my first weekend at Clayton House.

I thought I’d write my initial observations of what life is like here.

I have to say that absolutely the people are as genuine as they were on the tour and as Jessica, David, and Sarah have been over e-mail.

I haven’t met one staff who I consider fake or condescending. One of the nurses Wendell, is well I don’t know just weird, but he does respect my choices when I say no to things like the health sake ( think insure) that I was unknowingly prescribed, or taking tums for an upset stomach when I never have and knew I needed something f else.

So yes that in itself is a huge relief and much needed change from being at Albaqny Care.

So things I’ve noticed so far in no particular order:

You have a lot of staff working in very small spaces and I don’t know how they do it!

You have 220 residents in a five floor building. They seem to have it well organized as possible, with many of the admin staff having their own offices on the fifth floor so that’s good.

Butfor the 15 or so caseworkers, MHPS they’re called here, they have five per floor all squished into one fmall office. They are totally open to holding meetings with residents wherever they feel comfortable. Tasha has held our meetings in my room no problem without me even asking.

There is only one nurse’s station. It is positionedright in the middle of all the traffic flow, with the hallway to the dining room and elavators right there. Not sure where would have been a better place to put it but it measn when you get your meds you can hardly hear to talk to the nurse, and people are running by at top speed. So it’s a very anxiety provoking environment. Jess and I are used to the quiet privacy of a nurse’s station with a more open blan, you could just walk right into the room there here it’s secured with a keypad and the window doesn’t open very far at all and they get upset if you stick your head in but I’m like I don’t feel like I’m talking to you otherwise!

But the nurses d do totally respect privacy and I’m sure if I had something I needed to gtalk about I could go back there. In fact we did once, even though we’re not supposed to. At which time the nurses on that shift said wholeheartedly that they wished for a design like other places where they had only one floor at a time.

There are three nurses per shift which is a lot of different names and styles of working/ personalities to get used to.

I like how the social work department is organized. They have the executive director Jessica of the whole place. Then the clinical director Sarah. Then under here there are several supervisors for a group of different social workers/ MHP
S and it seems like they’re spread evenly.

So rather than like Jonathan, the ADSS, and then the PRCS and that’s it, you have several supervisors so that everything is more balanced and staff actually have different people to collaborate with rather than depending on just one person.

They also have different staff from the social workers doing groups. In fact there are some people, group leaders, who their only job is to do groups. Then there are a couple of peer specialists who run the peer focused groups.

They aqlso have the art and music therapists who come in plus a licensed mental health therapist. Plus they have masters level interns who do initial testing and therapy not sure about groups.

But it’s funny and surprising to hear for example Tasha my caseworker, say that she had no idea about how different groups are run whenat Albany Care all the caseworkers just ran groups so all knew about how each one went. On the other hand the material for the groups was all very much bland and general and no training beyond something initial on group leading.

They also have a crisis unit. Which is an area that’s locked on the second floor. For up to six people and has everything a regular floor has. They get meals and meds, obviously, and have a tv room. Different RSAS, resident assistants like c.n.as take turns monitoring on the unit as do the MHPS. It’s a step between here and the hospital and so I’ve heard, cuts down significantly on hospitalizations.

Codes. All places like this, or a hospital, have codes so people know about certain emergencies right away. Over at Albany it was code yellow3 for behavior emergencies and code green for medical.

Here its “dr. Helper “ for behavior and “Dr. Heart” for medical which is kinda cute.

There is more of a serious urgtent attitude to codes here than over at Albany which is obviously a good thing, but compared to years especially recently of living with Albany’s very laid back almost not caring style, almost a bit over dramatic.

When they call code yellow over there you’re technically supposed to clear the area. But unless it’s a huge code with someone really going off usually p people kinda stand around and watch the action from wherever. Or continue what they were doing. I mean codes aren’t like full on physical fights or anything, though I guess it could happen. Mostly verbal aggression or some situation where a PRC needs backup. They just to me weren’t given as much “OMG this is a big deal!” energy and dealing with that type of aggression for years I’m kind of used to it.

But here. They call the code and literally everyone has to clear the area where the code is, even if it’s something that’s lasting like a se4cond. Like they tell you to go into your rooms and everything. Then if they’re walking the person from one floor to another like from downstairs to the social worker office on whatever floor or their room, they say something like “clear for transport from 4 to 3” or something. So both those floors need to have everyone out of the halls.

Then they all clear it. Like I said I guess if I were coming in here never knowing whatdifferent people dealing with different mental health symptoms can be like, I’d be really afraid and really appreciate all the safety measures. Living in a place where everyone yells at each other, knocks into each other, and staff let it go til it’s at a high point, it’s just strange all the attention put into it.

The food is amazing! Like really good. Actually hot and cooked right. The only bad thing is the desert you get is like a doll size.

But I am so happy about this. My stomach hasn’t been because I hardly ate at the end of being over there and now am getting in all this good food! The dietary director is amazing too and seems to really want to meet all people’s needs. Like I said that’s true across the board.

They even care about people knowing their way around before being able to leave the building. When you get here you have to take a group that’s offered two times a week, hopefully only one day long, where someone in activities I think, shows you around like whe4re the stores are and everything.

The thing is even when you’re off the first few day restriction, until you take that group you have to go out with staff and can’t go alone.

In a way I find this very annoying and treating you like a child. But on another way I guess it makes sense. Like they actually care whether you get lost or not.

There might be some other controlling hidden agenda here but I can’t see it other than just that they care about your safety. Like legit care.

They have emotional support animals! Allow them and help you get them. So far I know about two dogs, two cats, and a hamster.

They also have the guina pigs upstairs that someone donated.

So they’re pet friendly.

When the nurse did has initial check up OMG it felt like I was having a physical! He did everything in the book. Including weird tests like put my thumbs to all my fingers, stick my tongue out a certain way, move my legs this way and that and who knows what else.

But yeah he checked me over for everything. Looked at my feet, and teeth (said I need to brush more) listened to my chest, like everything you go to the doctor for. He was even gonna give me the flue shot again! Even though I told him that I did have it and he eventually did find that out, though he said it’s ok to take twice a year.

He did that painful TB test thingy. Which is normal.

But I was totally impressed and taken aback.

He also funny enough, gave me this whole speech about sex and HIV and all that. And he said, which I disagree with and I hope he doesn’t judge sexually active people fo5r this, when I said I’d never had sex he said that it was the be4st way to prevent any sexually transmitted physical things, and that it’s the best thing for your mental health. Because “sex makes relationships more complicated and if the person breaks up with you after having sex it can make your mental health issues worse.” I assume he means the normal course of emotions that would come with a breakup? And he said that if I ever wanted to have sex I should talk to my social worker about it first. And they had condoms and birth control. It was kinda weird hearing this from a male nurse, who by the way I think is gay. Not that that has anything to do with it, but just yeah. It makes it sound like they’re discouraging sexual relationships which like why?

The heater is on a very weird timer. So sometimes it’s burning hot in here, and sometimes it’s likely as cold as it is outside. Once we had a huge issue where a C.N.A helped us turn the heat off when we came in here and it was like a sanna, and then it got freezing and we couldn’t turn it on again!

Maintance was extremely responsive though as is housekeeping.

The tubs are very old. They have one of those old fashioned plugs that actually comes out of the drain hole and weird shower knobs. At first one of them fell off when you turned it on but again that was fixed very promptly.

Of course you do have some getting the unintentional run around where different people tell you different things. I am not happy with either Dr. Gil or Dr. Patel as I said in my previous post so will be trying to look for an outside psychiatrist.

And while they say this is our right their policy around who they will work with is very narrow and I guess many doctors don’t want to do it. Basically admissions said talk to nursing, nursing said talk to your social worker and Tasha said talk to nursing!

The director of nursing seems truly caring but put out all the options, of any of the doctors including the one who goes to St. Jo’s, or the outside psychiatrist as having their drawbacks. So not sure how that will work. May end up just staying with Gil only because I don’t feel like talking Patel through any med changes. But I won’t give up easily on it. Though their thoughts on hospitalization seem to be having it as a very last resort and they seem to have the resources, a series of increasingly more frequent room checks, staff support and then the unit to make that happen.

I’m really glad I don’t self harm anymore because I guess they have a ton of people who do so much so that we’re not allowed knives at all and the people behind the counter cut your food or I guess it can be cut with a fork. I think this is over the top and I hope they realize it won’t stop people who need to cut from cutting.

Will ask about that.

But yeah it’s mentioned like a million times in the resident manual about self-harm and all the “extra supports” put in place. All of which I know the me from back then would have fought tooth and nail against.

There are way more young people here like my age. They even have a young adult support group.
So far I am planning to go to art therapy, music therapy, journaling, and “emotional recovery” Which
Tasha recommended to “build my coping skills.” She uses the words coping skills so much I’m going to tell her to stop. It’s just annoying how she says it, and that she says it. She seems so authentic and then when she says “coping skills” or “self-care” or “take it one day at a time” she sounds so scripted.

So yeah. I guess the whole experience is about me coming from a place where when I left literally no one cared how I was doing at all. To going to a place where everyone seems to genuinely care and be kinda like just there all the time and things are actually taken seriously well organized as [ possible, and everything and it’s kind of a shock.

But it’s certainly a much needed change.

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A very scary tim3e that I think might be over

Hi everyone,

Hi everyone,

Something unexpected but really amazing has happened since moving.Rather than my odd trauma symptoms getting worse or me having some kind of new breakdown as I’m no longer needing to hide things as I did at Albany Care, it seems all the symptoms have gone away. I couldn’t believe it at first. But then aqs I started trying to describe the symptoms to staff I found it was a hard thing to do. Because they didn’t even feel there at all. It felt like I was describing another person’s situation.

Especially when I would say I had these problems “now” like the trouble talking, stiff body, and other brain issues it just didn’t feel true.

On %Thursday I met with my supposedly new psychiatrist. It’s such a small world with psychiatrists who come around to these places. That actually two psychiatrists who come to Albany, and actually one medical doctor, my old one, also come here!

And all three doctors I wanted to get away from and have. I have a doctor now for medical called Dr. Kingra. He has a strong accent much like Dr. BK Sha. And he did a lot of “talking about me” rather than to me which I didn’t like. But really I’m finding that I’ll sadly never get a solid and agttentitve medical doctor is such places someone said once we’re lucky to see any at all. Many just refuse to work with such places. Psychiatrists in particular hate working with these places because of the requirements they have to follow.

Anyway so for psych, one was Patel. Ya know dense woman I had to walk through a med change that she then screwed up. I had the hospitalization where she supposedly admitted me but never knew about it or cared. And she never actually looked at my meds particularly my buspar, which should have been done when all this started.

So anyway, the other dr. is Dr. Gil. He was the second one I had, where his NP was named Sharon and she was very very good. He however isn’t. Thorack is a horror show complete with rats, no understanding that a blind person needs some kind of stimulation and you can’t take everything including something like a stress ball away, and putting you on one to one for weeks on end. He also pushes meds and specific diagnosis like bipolar II. His NP even admitted this!

There is a third psychiatrist that goes to St. Jo’s hospital which is the closest hospital to here and happens to be the first unit I was ever on. I really trust the place and they really understand blind people’s needs over there as there was a psychiatrist who went to friedman and hospitalized there for years.

So I was thinking that I’d get him. One of the big unexpected stressors was hearing that he wasn’t taking anymore patients. Though I’ve heard mixed things on that some saying no some saying he’s shifting people around so maybe. Tasha who seems so far to be a great cvaseworker in terms of getting things done, said she’d “pull out all the stops” to make it happen.

Though I haven’t been hospitalized in forever, minus the screwed up one, I do not feel comfortable in Gil’s care at that horrible unit where even his own staff are afraid of him.

What’s good about how they do things here is the director of nursing actually sits in with you on your Dr. visets so good care actually has a better chance of happening, and for someone like Gil it keeps their power trip in check.

He was actually nicer than ever but I’m sure it was due to Mani the DON being right there.

But for once Gil’s med pushing worked in my favor. He said that I wasn’t on the therapeutic dose of buspar. He said mhy dose is too low to be effective for anyone which I find hard to believe because I’v obviously been on it three years and it’s worked. But I said ok. So now I’m on 30 mg instead of 10 mg per day.

And the more I think about it, the more I’m like LOL why didn’t they do this in the first place? It should have been their top priority especially as I was having panic attacks. They could have just had me see Dr. Patel and advocated for that rather than ignoring me and allowing that hospitalization to happen where meds weren’t even looked at in spite of two or three panic attacks while there.

It’s kind of like finding out after waiting forever with tech support that the problem was your computer wasn’t turned on! All this every single thing that happened was triggered by these huge paqnic attacks. Similar to how you’d address severe depression if it’s triggering being suicidal and other things biochemically first, it makes complete sense obvious if you understand psych meds even a little, that a long acting anti anxiety med should even this stuff out. Especially if this guy is actually right and I wasn’t on the therapeutic dose, which actually a friend who has been taking the med for years said I wasn’t.

Between the med change and having a fresh start in a new environment, I really really things have been pushed in the right direction. Maybe the stress of the move broke the cycle of all these symptoms and balanced things somewhat. Certainly on an intellectual level I know this place is a million times better than Clayton and no staff I’ve met so far has any kinda hidden agenda.

I’m certainly not jumpy, or over sensing things, or feeling spaced out.

I still do lose time, and still do have alters coming out but I try to just let that lie.

I’m hoping in time if things do settle down the alters won’t need to come out and hopefully can fade back to wherever all this stuff came from.

Maybe all these things were a manifestation of anxiety just in big clusters and with kind of strange ways of presenting. Like I said when I try talking about these symptoms it honestly feels like they were never there in the first place. Which is a good sign.

So I am overjoyed. I feel it’s too good to be true as I’ve wished and wished for this for all this time every day. Maybe I should take the advice of a C.N.A who works here, who totally reminds me of Ms. Billy, to just leave what happened back there and have every day be a new day. Usually I don’t fall for that think positive stuff. Everything is just too layered and nuanced and just not fitting that mold for me and trying to do so is actually unhealthy for me particularly. But in this specific case I tend to agree. Clearly my brain and body are finally relaxing and feeling normal. It would be wise to take this as a fresh start and go from there.

So I think I will say it was just a very very scary strange completely out of anyone’s understanding period in my life.

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moving on lots ofchanges and maybe new blog

Hi Readers

I have a lot to say.

Many know I haven’t written in a few months. That’s because I’ve gone through some stuff that is so painful and confusing and intense I could barely live through it day to day moment to moment, never mind write for an audience.

Basically December 15 or so, the day I went on my second tour of Clayton House, I had a major panic attack. Several in one hour. I was with Jonathan at the time in one of our rare meetings.

He said it was due to so much anxiety and other emotions built up that it was expressing itself physically.

For those who don’t know a panic attack is usually, a sudden full on response of the body and brain being so overpowered they act as if preparing for major threat. The heart rate goes up you feel out of control of your body shaking sweating can’t speak and other symptoms. Everyone experiences it a little differently.

For reasons still unknown that I may never know, I experienced mine as an intentional physical attack. Often people feel like they’re “going to die or have a heart attack” when they’re having them it’s that physically compromising.

I didn’t. I was afraid I’d be sent to the hospital for difficulty breathing when I knew it wasn’t medical. What I did feel in my whole being was that this was all caused by someone “trying to kill me.” That they were going to kill me, were purposely doing this and this would certainly stop when Jonathan stopped the attacker.

He didn’t get the significance at the time of the difference be4tween “I feel like I’m dying” and “Someone is killing me you have to stop them.”

But it became quickly very important.

I have no physical trauma, physical abuse, sexual abuse, birth trauma that I know of. The only thing I can think of is being born 24 weeks premature and being in the incubator, as well as the many operations I had on my eyes as a baby.

But even that I don’t think explains what happened next and what my daily life is now full of.

Somehow this experience of being physically overpowered resonated with a whole lot of different r3esponses internally. Like an earthquake or hurricane had hit my brain/ body connection, that place beyond rational thought. And uncovered many things that I never ever thought I would face. Would have to face as I never thought I’d experienced the trauma to cause them.

I won’t go into it. That’s why I haven’t been writing here. All symptoms are quite controversial and as I know many read this who have known me awhile, even as a blog reader, I don’t want to trigger you.

One very overwhelming thing is that as with my suicide attempt at an attempt in 2013 what I’m going through now is so “not me” that not only do I have no ability to face it and put it in the context of myself, but others close to me can’t put it in the context of me that they have known. Even if they’ve only known me a couple months online.

Because this is so “not me” they like me r to deny it, to try to get me “back to who I was.”

This made things more confusing for me, and emotional because I quickly was getting that this stuff was not leaving, and that I absolutely could not control it. I could try. And certain things I could and can hide simply by withdrawing in whatever sense to have the energy to do it. To make my mind go into another place where the experience that’s so overwhelming that I might show this stuff because of, is no longer an issue.

Called generally dissociation. Which is a lot of it. I have a whole lot of dissociation. Way way more than I ever thought I would. And those who know me ever thought.

So I’ll just outline things.

Along with dissociation I have what I call “brain based” symptoms. Where my brain gets so overwhelmed for whatever reasons I still can’t grasp that processes that we take for granted get short circuited. For me this includes “trouble speaking. I either can’t untangle what I want to say from all the words in my head, though this is less now. A huge one is that the feelings in me, the scope and depth of fear in particular but also anger/ sadness, or pure happiness when someone does understand me, are so big I can’t adequately express them in words. I feel the natural urge to add physical expression to my words, in gesture. And I feel signing will and does already have a place here. The third thing is that the process of speaking itself is overwhelmed. Mostly slower, I kind of stutter and can’t pronounce things clearly.”

My body will freeze up, my legs in particular become stiff and hard to move. In the beginning I was constantly sore all over from all the tention. This could also affect arms and legs. Muscles contract randomly.

Along with talking I have trouble listening. Taking in the information taking it apart and then applying it to me. Again this was more an issue in the beginning. If someone asks a really broad question around a subject and I’m emotionally charged I can’t answer it right away. The multiple answers and feelings are just too much. And then there’s a point where it’s just plain difficult to organize my own thoughts even to myself.

Sensory stuff, again all this stuff was hugely overwhelming in the beginning and has slowly stabilized. And even writing about it now I can tell that some of this stuff is better than it was even a couple weeks ago. I think it’s because I had the amazing support of two very intuitive trauma survivor peers to guide me through at least some aspect of all these symptoms, to put them in a larger generalized trauma response while naming what they might be individually. So with that reference point to go on I could better develop at least a very general framework for what might work. Haven’t been able to test that and will say why in a minute but it’s some kinda starting point that I badly need to feel I have some kind of control and knowledge of this stuff.

Anyway sensory stuff either fe3els too distant/ numb, or too “on high.”
There for awhile I couldn’t wear headphones. The feeling of them on my ears was too overwhelming. The sound of anything being directed right in my ears was too much like how I did experience sound in the outside world. Which was like that I always had headphones on.

I touched something hot but that shouldn’t have been too hot and it left a pink mark. Sometimes someone would pat my arm and I barely felt it, other times it was like they’d reached under my clothes and under my skin.

Certain sounds really got to me and still deo. Music, generally. Unless it’s something well known to me usually voice and piano of someone’s voice recital. But even when I was listening to my recordings of stuff I’ve played for years some of it still sounded like greating on my last nerves.

Funny enough clapping is really harsh to me. The vaccume cleaner is another one. Whistling. Certain people’s voices. Definetely a lot of people talking at once.

So all of that as you can imagine directly affects everything at the most basic level.

Then you have the dissociation and what goes with it, which put simply affects memory and sense of time as well as sense of self.

So all this over a panic attack? I’m sure it doesn’t make sense to anyone else as it doesn’t to me. But the two amazing people who have walked alongside me for the past month and a half and other strangers on facebook say that it might.

No cognitive memories whatsoever, being assaulted by physical sensations and other symptoms that this is more common than you’d think.

There’s speculation, discussion of other disorders within the general pattern or even outside of it particularly with the brain based stuff around communication and sensing.

But I won’t go into that.

There is another trauma on top of this trauma though that’s very important. It is how Albany Care in general and Jonathan in particular responded.

Which is surprisingly as poorly as you can imagine. Though not at first.

At first Jonathan witnessed the panic attacks session. The following meeting which was on a Monday he witnessed the unfolding of the whole dissociation based stuff. And seemed fine with it. Actually has last words to me about it were “you let a lot out today.”

And I’ll always remember how pleased he sounded about it and how he said he wasn’t upset.

So then, of course this didn’t just all stop. I tried to keep it under the radar but it took more energy than I had to face the environment, and I just couldn’t. So all this stuff started coming and the next two weeks were extremely chaotic particularly with the dissociation but also the other things. Everything was just on super high. If everyone’s scale of experiencing stuff internally goes up to ten mine was probably twenty million. Or it felt like that at least, or zero LOL

So as is the case here caseworkers are coming and going like crazy. Jonathan had been on a downhill slide for a good several m months now anyway. And of course it effects morale of the staff and how things work on that level.

So it ended up that I saw my current caseworker who I only had for a couple weeks once and she witnessed the stuff.

Then it was new years eve. And weekend staff found out about all this stuff more intensely as someone was very anxious about it. They should have come to me first. But they didn’t. They took this person’s word, and twisted it to suet their clinical impressions and then jumped the gun and did a disaster of a hospitalization. Totally not warranted. I was not suicidal, self-harming, taking drugs drinking, manic anything. I was just experiencing a lot of very new intense stuff going on. And actually on that very day I was feeling some stability.
And I was supposed to see Jonathan in two days anyway.

Well absolutely none of that mattered and I was hospitalized. And paperwork wise it was a nightmare. Patel didn’t even know it happened they had nothing writt3en up in the books here. Every single professional I told about how I was quite stable and was honest about what was going on as best I could, turned my words against me. Totally did not even care they couldn’t understand even enough to say I did not need to be there since I said a million times I was no threat, and just made everything about me needing to be admitted. Found out later that the unit at St. Mary’s, was under quota for their patient numbers. No wonder they wanted me!

So I spent four days basically sleeping. No one talking to me about much of anything. Very dense psychiatrist put multiple personality on my record first then bipolar clearly he didn’t know and didn’t even speak to me.

My parents and I were quite upset because they called and called here with no response from anyone.

So I came back here besacially quite traumatized around the people who I had felt the most safe with for five years. That instead of being supportive like always they had totally used their power as professionals to make a decision that affected everything I did for the next week in spite of my reasoning with them begging and then getting quite understandably emotional. Nothing worked. It was like because I wasn’t acting like Sam I wasn’t Sam.

And of course the same happened with every professional I came across from here through being admitted through being in the unit. Anyone I tried to open up to even a little did not understand, would not admit they didn’t and used the information against me in some way.

I’ve known others who have experienced this to a much higher degree than me. While I tried to empathize it was overwhelming to hear about those who I considered mostly to be well intentioned if not always on target care providers, abusing so openly.

Well now I knew. And so with my senses on complete overload anyway it was made a million times worse by this. Every sound was magnified. For a good few weeks my first priority was getting through the day without alerting staff to me at all. At first Dayle, my by then caseworker seemed to be someone I could talk to. But like everyone else she was unsafe.

Through all this I still c considered Jonathan safe and was willing to forgive most everything, though would still need to burn off the high emotions. I knew that we would problem solve all this step by step.

And so I waited and waited and waited some more. Dayle said she’d contact him but I did not trust her. I kept trying. Then finally I got through.

Guys, it was like he never knew me. Completely was the exact opposite of anything remotely related to the person I’ve known for five years. He was extremely cold and detached and I would say I would not take the kind of demeanor he had from a stranger on the street without feeling threatened.

After I managed to get out that I was stable but struggling and we needed to meet he said quite coldly that he needed to refer me to someone because of the dissociation. That because of the dissociation at a basic level it appeared that I wasn’t myself. I could do several posts on that but he was basically saying he couldn’t handle it. Without even really trying. When even back then I knew the biggest issue wasn’t the dissociation. The dissociation was and is actually a good thing. I can consciously or notkind of emotionally and generally switch gears and like reset my brain sometimes, or enter very deep emotions but be able to emerge very quickly. Or just step outside things and get a wider perspective, or have parts of my brain rest awhile.

You get the point.

To me the one thing he can do well that I needed and need is help with retraining my brain and body either not to get stirred up to the point these huge floods of body sensations are hitting me, or how to let them cycle through when they’re happening. There’s a specific trauma therapy, somatic experiencing that directly deals with that I have been searching for a way to get that and I can’t. They’re not on Medicaid and I have absolutely no money to pay them. I will be seeing a therapist soon though.

Anyway one way to help with that is helping the person by physically contain their body, giving a hug holding them very intentionally in some way. He can do that with amazing sensitivity and gentleness. And actually there was one moment where he saw me shutting down and brought me through that releasing something, and then I could actually be calm because I let something out.

Many therapists just won’t do it. They don’t get it or don’t know how.

So that’s what I needed and something we’ve done forever.

While I didn’t have words for all that, I did try and say basically we don’t have to work on anything that’s too overwhelming for either of us. He basically just kept repeating quite coldly that he didn’t have the time, and he couldn’t work with this stuff I guess generally. He ended by saying he had another facility on the phone and maybe I should “process” what he said.

I processed all right! Now on top of this place, my home, in general being unsafe, one of the most safe people in my life relative to recently, now became honestly abusive to my mind-body at a deep level.

So even if I wanted to talk to him, even say goodbye I’m physically terrified of the man.

Jess tried to talk to him, he was just the same. We saw him in the loby and he stood across the hall and only spoke to Jess he did not speak to me and I was in a very overwhelming position where my body wasn’t sure if I’d shut down have a panic attack or go try to hug him.

So obviously this has become an unliveable situation for me. Anhd moving to Clayton House hasn’t come soon enough. But I was extremely terrified that they wouldn’t accept me because if here didn’t that says a lot. Well they did officially. And they have been very open to my endless anxious e-mails and questions around what I’m trying to face as my needs now. Which is taking e4verything I have. And which I never would have done4 had I not connected with these few peers who have experienced everything I am generally. And they’ve really walked with me in important ways. They were the only ones to objective evaluate things, try to name things and most importantly show me I could live through this stuff and adapt. In almost three months no professional has done anything around any of this. None. After the assault of hospitalization and shut down, it’s been pure neglect.

So I have had no support but peers. Including an amazing means everything to me person called Jess. We fought to estaqblish a new relationship and almost lost each other.

So I’m entering a whole new place in my life that I still want to deny is there. I want nothing more than to just wake up with the confidence, and clarity and readiness to transition where Clayton was really seen as only a step down towards living independently. Where now just living through the4 day is hard. It’s easier because I trust Jess but Jess is the only one who’s bothered to try connecting with me in person. No one else has really. So I’m trying to anticipate my needs when I really haven’t had a chance to figure them out in a safe relationship.

It can’t be worse than how I’ve been treated here. And people at Clayton do seem genuine. And I feel safe going to the therapist I am going to.

But I don’t think I can blog here anymore. I am so much a different person. It’s not like having moved from friedman to here and just picking up even though it was a huge change.

I’m not the person who started the blog, had the moves ETC. I’m someone totally new.

Not sure when I’ll be writing again.

Thank you for your support and input.

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Book Review: Will you Love me by Cathy Glass

I just finished rereading one of my favorite Cathy Glass books. It’s especially touching as it tells the story of Lucy from the beginning of her life through coming into care, living at Cathy’s and then becoming part of their family forever.

I’m sure all foster carers struggle with moving children on either back to parents or to adopted homes or long term care. So it’s especially amazing to seewhen based on whatever circumstance, a child comes into care and into the hearts of the foster family and then gets to stay and have their own family at last.

The social services were able to piece together a lot of Lucy’s history including before coming into care. So the story begins with Bonnie, only20 or so living in an unfit a apartment above a Laundromat. Where there is no heating or hot water, and everything is falling apart. Bonnie worked in the Laundromat and so was able to live in the apartment but it was like living with hardly anything to hang on to. She worked long days and into the nights and had little money in the end because this greedy manipulative owner would take whatever he could get from her.

She had no choice then to leave Lucy a few months old in the apartment by herself. She cried so loud that the people next door would hear her.

When the book begins Bonnie is visited by Lucy’s father who is Thai, who says he’s just going to leave and that’s it.

He makes her give him all the money from that day in spite of her begging him not to knowing that the owner would throw her out and might physically attack her if he knew.

She then went upstairs where Lucy was fighting a stomach virus and was covered in being sick from it. Bonnie cleaned her up as best she could with cold water and not much in the way to be able to clean with. She did have some milk for a bottle but put mostly water in it.

She knew she had to leave and so the next day she packed up what little they had and quickly left the shop.

She had to go to the pharmacy to get something that I would think of is Gatorade or something to put the electrolytes into someone’s body after having been so sick.

The pharmacy workers were very concerned about Lucy being in an unclean carrier and just how she looked in general.

They made a call to the social se4rgvices but by then Bonnie was on a train to her aunt’s a hundred files away.

Her mother wanted absolutely nothing to do with her and it was clear that Bonnie’s life of running away, having a child young and being unable to develop basic life skills were due to a very difficult past.

Bonnie and Lucy stayed with her aunt for several months. When the aunt found an apartment nearby and set Bonnie and Lucy up in it things only lasted a week before going downhill. One of Bonnie’s biggest problems seemed to be depression and she simply would not leave the house or let anyone in.

A social worker visited where Bonnie had originally lived. And was very disappointed she couldn’t have come earlier.

A health visitor saw Bonnie and Lucy at ther request of the aunt and a social worker was called in. She observed Bonnie’s morning routine with Lucy and was able to see the state of the house, unkept with minimal food or belongings. And how Bonnie interacted with Lucy which was quite distant.

It appeared they didn’t do very much each day and Bonnie admitted she was only just coping.

When the social worker said she’d put a plan in place for them by next week Bonnie fled again.

So this was Bonnie’s life with Lucy. Lucy neglected and underdeveloped being shuffled along with Bonnie.

All too soon she’d thankfully come to the attention of social services. Social services would come in and provide support. Eventually when Lucy was three however Bonnie did admit she really wasn’t managing and would be ok with Lucy going into care under a “section 20.” Where the parents have full rights and can take the cfhild out of care at any time.

To me this situation should only be used when the social services are actively working with the family, and the family is totally or as much as possible, on board with getting their life straightened out and having their child back.

The first foster home Lucy went to was with a wonderful woman named Annie and her family. Lucy went from absolutely terrified of people and the outside world to bonding very well with Annie and her family and experiencing an actual stable period in her life for around a year.

Meanwhile, while Bonnie was suppos3ed to be working with the social services she barely attended contact and was as depressed and distant with Lucy as ever.

She would also often just take off and no one would be able to track her down.

Then suddenly Bonnie called with no social worker to run interference, and said that she wanted Lucy back. That she had a new boyfriend/ who became her husband Dave and they were settled.

So with a day’s notice Lucy was ripped away from the only family she’d felt settled and was cared for with.

I’m not blaming Bonnie and neither did Cathy. Many abused and neglected children sadly grow up to be young adults who have no idea how to handle life, turn to drinking, drugs, and suffer with depression and other mental illnesses. They are just as vulnerable and in need of support, particularly when they deo have children, as their children.

However it washorrible to read about the pattern of Lucy’s life from then on. Which consisted of periods of time with Bonnie and Dave, which were filled with domestic violence and physical abuse by Dave.

She also would stay with Dave and his various girlfriends who she was made to call “aunts.”

Interspersed with times where she was brought into care and then taken out again by Bonnie.

At eleven her life had consisted of so many moves she couldn’t count. She had no confidence in herself. All she knew was rejection and social workers, who claimed to help her but had failed her.

The last carer she had been placed with before Cathy was a carer only meant to look after babies. But there were no others in the area.

She spent three months with them hardly saying a word. When she was told she had to move again she exploded and locked herself in the bathroom.

Cathy worked with this carer and was very carefully able to make an emotional connection to Lucy over the phone.

Lucy came to Cathy’s when Paula was nine and Adrian was 13. It was obvious that Lucy had been through a lot. At first she was on her best behavior. One thing that Lucy couldn’t hide from the start was her anxiety about eating. Other carers had wondered whether she had an eating disorder like anorexia. It seemed that by controlling what she ate this was the one thing Lucy could control. She explained it as that she just wasn’t “used to” having full meals.

Not too soon into the future Lucy’s anger started to show as she felt safer with Cathy and her family. All her angr was directed at Cathy, and physically at her room. She regularly trashed her room and was made to use her allowance for the broken items and have had other priviliges taken away.

The trigger most of the time was any talk about social workers and specifically Stevie.

Stevie was an older very abrupt woman. She was mixed race as Lucy was. This colored a lot of her envolvement and interactions between her and Cathy. Though to Lucy, and in fact Bonnie when able to give her opinion, being part Thai really wasn’t a part of her identity (she always considered herself british) to Stevie it was everything.

She wanted FCathy to put up a Thai flag, which she did though it caused a lot of embarrassment for Lucy and was taken down, and she was constantly saying how they were looking for a long term carer to “match Lucy’s cultural needs.”

While cultural needs are of course very important, in this case it was clearly about Stevie’s feelings than Lucy’s.

As time went on Lucy did settle down. She had pushed at Cathy thinking she would send her away like the other carers had. Cathy’s resolve caused her to soften and lose much of her anger.

Even when she had been testing the boundaries, she had seamlessly fitted in with Adrean and Paula like no other child had.

As the months went on Lucy continued to make a lot of progress in school and expressed a few different times that she wanted to stay with Cathy and not move again.

Cathy tried to explain how this couldn’t happen but it started to sound hollow even to her.

She asked Jill her support social worker if she could apply to foster Lucy long term. Jill said yes. And Cathy was so happy. She didn’t tell Lucy at that point and it’s a very good thing she didn’t. As while on Jill’s end the application was going fine, Stevie 100 percent vetoed the idea statting about Cathy not being Asian.

Cathy was furious about this. As it really was no consequence in this situation and practically, it meant that Lucy would be waiting for a family that might not be a good match for her in any other way than them being asian.

Things changed when Lucy got another social worker Lily. Lily was very interested in hearing Lucy’s needs. She and an independent reviewer on the case were very concerned that Cathy’s application hadn’t been taken seriously. And so quite quickly it was.

It meant the world to Lucy that after all the upset ande unfcertainty in her life she was able to bond so quickly inthis family and finally have a safe stable home.

Lucy appeared in many books before Cathy told her story. And it was a very interesting one, and show3ed a fuller picture of the struggle of the parent to support the child and themselves and the complete rollercoaster of social services.

As Cathy said and any reader would agree, Lucy should never have been left under the Section 20 for more than it was apparent that Bonnie couldn’t raise her daughter. I’m sure there are still situations like this and the older the child gets the more cemented the feeling of rejection and emotions that build up. The child can become a teen who doesn’t know how to cope other than through anger, and depression and may have other risky behaviors.

Lucy on the cups ofbeing a teenager was embraced by Cathy’s family just in time.

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Book review: Cut by Cathy Glass

I recently finished rereading Cut by CathyGlass. It’s the story of Dawn Cathy’s second foster child.

She started fostering at a time where there was no record keeping accountability on the social worker’s part, or support. Foster carers were given an introductory evening, an hour or so interview and then just given a child basically.

Cathy and John found out about fostering through an add in the newspaper about a picture of a adorable child asking if you can give this child a home?

They had been trying awhile to have kids and knew that they would have to reunite the children with their parents but they would feel it was very rewarding.

They were assigned to care for teenagers, as they lacked experience of any kind with children. Cathy teased that the social worker must have thought they couldn’t “screw up” teenagers!

Little did they know what they’d be in for.

Their first child was a very standard case. The teenage boy was in care while his mom and stepfather sorted some things out in their life. He didn’t pose any problems beyond the usual teenage issues. And fit in quite well.

As was the case at the time Cathy never heard from his social worker beyond when she first met the child, he did call to ask how things were a couple times but that was it.

By the end of the placement, Cathy discovered that she’d in fact become pregnant.

She and John had much to celibrate, as this new point in their lives was starting and they felt quite confident in fostering.

Cathy took some months offfostering because of Adrian being born. When he was about six months old a frantic abrupt social worker Ruth called basically demanding that Cathy take a 13 year old girl named Dawn who was currently at a teenage unit and badly needed a carer.

Cathy and John were taken aback but agreed. From the beginning there was something odd about the case. Ruth and Dawn seemed to have an unfriendly unhealthy dynamic, where Cathy would think Ruth would be more supportive. Ruth made a sarcastic remark about Dawn not attending school which Cathy didn’t feel was appropriate.

Ruth then left Dawn with a meeting with her mother scheduled for the next week to draw up a behavior contract something new in the last several months.

Cathy was shocked on finding out that Ruth hadn’t even told Dawn her name.

The first night went very well and Dawn seemed very sweet and polite.

However trouble started that very night when they woke up to find Dawn in a dazed altered state standing near Adrian’s crib. She was sleepwalking and John and Cathy had never seen anything like it before. They were able to get her back to bed for somehow she was able to navigate her way from the room to her bedroom once physically turned in the right direction.

It scared them both very much and happened again that night.

They were exhausted in the morning but put it down to anxiety.

It didn’t stop in fact got worse. The worst was when they followed Dawn during a sleepwalking episode to the kitchen where she mimed cutting herself and striking a match.

Cathy ended up researching sleepwalking and was reassured that she had handled the situation right, but it did say this could be a sign of mental health problems if very severe.

The meeting between Ruth Cathy John and Barbara and Dawn was another huge red flat of the issues. Cathy saw the very tense relationship mom and daughter had, how she prioritized her boyfriend Mike over her daughter and seemed not to care about Daw2n and gave her no boundaries and just let her be out at all hours, skip school and smoke and drink.

John and Cathy were horrified at this of Dawn so far from the sweet polite teen. But more horrified when Barbara offhandedly mentioned cutting and how the bad crowd that Dawn hung out with did it. If that wasn’t enough John and Cathy could tell there were things Ruth and Barbara and Dawn weren’t telling them.

This was a theme that appeared and reappeared over the course of the book. Dawn doing shocking things that in spite of all the methods and stratagies Cathy in particular used to turn them on continued. Only to hear from Barbara or Ruth that this happened all the time and there wasn’t much anyone could do about it.

These things included cutting, skipping school, getting drunk and being brought home by the polece, going missing for days and likely other things I’ve forgotten.

Just when Cathy would think she made a connection with Dawn, a real place of beginning to connect with the deeply hurting girl who could only expre4ss her pain through cutting and other behaviors, another incident would happen.

A suicide attempt a few months into the placement should have gotten Dawn the help she needed right away. Sadly it didn’t. Her mom appeared not to particularly be moved, or at least didn’t change her ways around not giving Dawn the time of day when she visited once a week which had been a factor in the attempt. The list for therapy is terrible in England at least it seems worse than the US. She should have started therapy or medication urgently. But couldn’t get a appointment with a psychiatrist for another six months!

Mweanwhile all Cathy and John could do is try to keep Dawn as safe as possible. They had to resign themselves to keeping their expectations low, and praising what they could. The days that Dawn did attend school were praised, other days she didn’t attend, well they’d worn out their lectures and Dawn her promises. So they just dealt with the situation quickly and as a part of life for the family. It’s the only way they could get through.

The first appointment was a disaster as Dawn claime4d the bus broke down. Whether that’s true or not isn’t known but Cathy expected not.

Months later Cathy drove her to the appointment. Afte4r which Dawn stomped out saying she’d never go again. And apparently there were no mandates to force her to, not that you can force w someone to get help even a teenager. But perhaps with the practices in place now around social worker accountability more could have been to keep a closer eye on Dawn and refer her to a resource right away if needed or at least give Cathy and John more support.

Sadly thi9s did not happen and when things came to a crisis point a year after she came to live with Cathy it was revealed how Dawn came to be as she was, due to an extremely traumatic childhood so traumatic she dissociated from it and her actions were the only way to express her pain.

It frustrated Cathy and John to no end that all this vital information was kept from them particularly as there were specific issues around Dawn and a friend caring for a baby. And at least that part it was felt by Cathy should have been relayed to them for Adrian’s safety.

Thankfully Dawn was able to get the help she so badly needed.

Though this experience was a huge rollercoaster, I and Cathy by no means had any support that she should have her instincts and love for the children showed her through as they always do. Dawn couldn’t have had a more committed and resourceful carer.

good day today set up second tour with Clayton and ice cream social

So today was good. Had an awesome nap and then hung out. David the admissions director wrote us this morning. We scheduled a tour for Friday at one thirty. Jess and I can’t wait to meet as many people as possible and hopefully see the rooms, ones with and without bathrooms.

Just so thrilled with how well this is going!

At thre there was the monthly ice cream social. With real ice cream not just the cheap cups.

I had two bowls of strawberry and even stuck my face in the bowl! Wish we could have taken a picture of that. Jess says I’m a chow hog!

Anyway other than that not much. Sadly can’t meet with Jonathan tomorrow. He had to take an unexpected day off. Wonder if some resident reported him so he has to be away for that mandatory time period. You never know. It really makes me mad when he and other staff are falsely accused. They know the investigation will turn up nothing but I’m sure having to do it many times must really wear them down emotionally.

Over heard on the phone Wednesday about court coming up for someone. Maybe it’s that.

I’m just grateful he did contact me. I sent him an e-mail copying Shemiah confirming the time so everything is on record. That will be my procedure going forward so there are no doubts about me “not communicating as much”

Anyway we set it for Friday at ten thirty. Which will make Friday a very long day but I’m sure productive.

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