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Thursday, 24 November 2016

BROKEN

How do you fix a broken life? A broken family? A broken home? A broken house? A child's broken life? I have all those things that are broken and it would hard enough to find a solution to fix ONE, but to even contemplate fixing ALL these things, well no wonder I am depressed!

My broken house is something I need a lot of funds for which I do not have. I would also need help and assistance finding reliable workers, which has always proven near to impossible in the past. We are talking major and minor repairs which affect our everyday life and most people would not be able to live with for a long time without getting repairs done. For us, we have become accustomed to such an uncomfortable way of living that it is our norm and we have adapted, but that is not to say it doesn't cause us discomfort. Leaking pipes under the kitchen sink that causes stench in the adjoining cupboards. Rising damp in one part of the house and condensation in the rest causing mould and mildew on walls, clothes, cupboards, toys everything. Broken hot water taps in the bathroom and kitchen. Broken banister. Broken panes in windows. Broken doors. Broken door handles. Broken thermostat. Rotten and leaky roof over one room resulting in the worst damp and mould. Vent in bathroom that has mud seeping through from outside. Broken blinds that need to be rolled up and down by hand after climbing on top of the kitchen counter. Broken floor tiles and worn and even missing carpets. These are but a few. So we live in a house that is cold, damp, smelly in places, with clothes and other products that have been ruined my mould or smell of mould. We have to use cold water in the sinks and the shower can only be used if we heat the hot water much beforehand as our water heater/boiler is old, and so on and so on. I have asked the local government for a "healthy home loan" that is for helping to create and maintain safe and healthy living conditions, but I was refused on the basis that my needs are not high priority/high risk. Here are just a few images to give you an idea.


                                                   Damage from damp on windowsill.


          Carpet on the stairs was so damaged I removed it hoping to keep the stairs wooden, only             to discover the wood was in damaged itself and so it remains, awaiting new carpet.



          Mould on glass jars stored in kitchen cupboard, not the only thing covered in mould.



                                                              Rising damp damage.



                           Slugs and woodlice inhabit our bathroom (and living room too)!


                                                Dishwasher drain and sink drain leak.


                                              Mould on a coat stored in coat cupboard.


           Mould in living room and most of our other rooms, ranging from white to black mould.



                                                  Muddy "gunk" seeps in from outside.


As if that were not a lot to deal with, I have a broken family. People used to refer to a broken home as a home in which the parents had divorced. My children do have a broken home due to divorce, but not only are the parents divorced, but the father is virtually nonexistent as well as the grandparents. Our family is broken though for another more pressing reason. I have no parents, only one sibling who lives over 5,000 miles away and an elderly aunt who lives over 1,000 away (none of us being able to afford the travel to visit and my aunt is too old to travel), no partner....I only have my three children to call my family. So too my children only have me and each other to call family; however, my son has not been part of the family for three years. Though I am in constant touch with him, support him, visit him etc, my middle child has not seen or spoken to him in three years and so therefore there is never a time when we are all together. My youngest daughter has increased her contact with her brother and she often comes with me to visit him, They have also started contacting each other on their phones independently from me. Obviously with my two older children being estranged from each other, this causes many unpleasant and difficult situations. This also puts added pressure on me to constantly juggle my time and respect my daughter's feelings to not have contact with her brother. It too can create avoidable delays since I often have to ask my children to wait to be picked up from school for instance, because I have to take my son back home after attending an appointment with him. It would be much easier if I would be able to pick up my daughters from school with my son, then drop off my daughters at home and carry on to take my son home (his flat, our home and school are in three different towns and my son's appointments are all in my town and not his). Weekends, school breaks, summer, holidays especially Christmas are extremely difficult for me and very upsetting that we are never together as a complete family.



                                                    Christmas 2008, happier times.



                                                                        Easter 2009



Visiting my aunt 2009


Last summer holiday together 2012, tensions were strong.


Last Christmas together 2012


March 2013, last ever photo taken with all my children together, plus my half sister.

So you can see from above, a broken home, a broken house, a broken family. These are contributing factors to my broken life and of course my son's broken life. I need not go into detail about my broken life and the other contributing factors, such as losing my mother, ill health as a child, loneliness, bad marriage, unemployment and my unfortunate last relationship, since I have discussed them at length in previous posts. However, adding to the list my children not being together, my household in disrepair etc, it is all too much to consider. The feeling of being overwhelmed by ALL these issues as grown and grown and been there for so many years, I do not know what to do about it. A big factor of course is that I have to think everyday how my son went from those images above to this:



He is alone, excluded from society and his family, both his immediate family and his extended family. My ex husband has a virtually non existent relationship with his children, and yet on those rare occasions that he does make contact he expects his children to be complacent and unquestioning. He never hears what they are saying to him, especially when his son speaks to him. The grand parents are not much better. There was a time when they seemed to have a preference for their granddaughters, not having much time for their grandson. Now the opposite is true. They went for a few years of  having near to no contact with any of them. Now they make contact with their grandson, but not at all with their granddaughters. The last time they saw my youngest,she was 7, she is 11 now. They saw my middle child 2 years ago for 10 minutes in the streets of London when my daughter took her exchange partner to do some sightseeing. They now see my son every couple of months! However these visits must be due to some sense of duty or guilt, yet that does not seem to be equally felt for ALL the grandchildren. My son was visited by his grandparents this week and they said they will not be able to see him over the Christmas holidays, for reasons my son forgot but he thinks it was because they will be busy. His father phoned him last week and since my son was drunk at the time he answered the phone, which he would not normally do if he saw it was his father calling. His father said he can see him Dec. 20, but no suggestion about having his son over for Christmas, which he has never done since we separated 10 years ago and more importantly, never since my son was told to leave home. This will be the fourth Christmas my son is not part of the family, two Christmas he was homeless, and NEVER ONCE has his father or grandparents taken him in over Christmas. I have had him over for a Christmas meal, but with my daughter "hiding" in her room and therefore I can not have him stay a night or two. However, there are no reasons stopping the rest of the family from taking him in for a few days over Christmas and yet there has never even once been an invitation. My daughters have been included in "their" Christmases before but not a good many years. This makes them feel unwanted and more broken.

My son had me on the phone for 2 hours last night, from midnight to 2 a.m. because all of his brokenness came bursting out of him. One of the things that bothered him the most is being "cut off" from his family and not being allowed to come over when he feels like it regardless of the fact if his sister is home and for her to be a part of his visit. He misses his family, misses the "old days" and wants to be together again. I agree with him, it adds to my brokenness as well. I can understand how this happened, yet my son can not. I fear that if they ever agreed to sit down together to discuss their feelings my son would get angry and aggressive which would only fuel my daughter's reasons for keeping him out of her life. 

He has not continued in education, has been homeless, slept rough in the winter, been in hospital numerous times, has a criminal record, has had a drug problem since his mid teens, has no friends, no social interactions, no family interactions, believes his sister hates him, no work prospects, anxiety and depression, in temporary accommodation, living on benefits with no hopes or dreams for a future and does not want to exist. He had an emotionally abusive and also emotionally absent father. He is full of sadness, regret and painful memories. He is broken and appreciates that we all are, yet he wants me to help fix it and I want to fix it because that is my job as a parent, but I can not fix any of it.

Before hate, anger, damage and bitterness set in.

The photo above represents a time before drugs, before chaos, before self harm, before we broke completely. It does not represent a perfect family of well adjusted children, my son was being regularly insulted and shouted at by his father and his sadness was already there. My daughter was living with the consequences of her club feet and constant medical care as well as a father who shouted at her often. My baby girl was still innocent and pure cuteness. If I stepped in then, and made real changes maybe it would have prevented some of the terrible things these children have since lived through. We can not go back unfortunately, and of course I would like to look forward, but have got to the point where I can only see this existences continuing until it ends......

















Friday, 4 November 2016

An Average Day Part II


My Son went to a concert the other evening, Again, quite a normal activity especially for a young man. Nothing too difficult to grasp, no consequences to digest afterwards except for maybe dealing with a hangover. This of course is not the case with my son. Going to a concert is hardly a normal activity for my son who on most days wont even go outside despite not having any food at home or being on his emergency electricity. He would rather go hungry and go without power than walk out to the shop to get food and utilities. Going to a concert in London and travelling on trains and the underground with many people to someone who has no social interactions besides with me, is anything but a normal activity.



There have been many concert tickets my son has bought in the past, some very expensive tickets at times, to some amazing one off gigs as well as some less exciting gigs, and he never attended because of anxiety. This time however, there was no anxiety and no over medicating himself to make him feel capable of going, no running late, no missing the train home, no losing anything....everything went smoothly. He went and enjoyed himself. He talked to some people and even exchanged numbers with another young guy who he chatted with. All was good. In fact I saw him after the gig because I told him if he managed to get a train and get to my town, I would meet him at the station and drive him home. I offered because I did not want him to miss the last train and have to stay up all night or sleep rough in London, as had happened before. This is what we did and he was clear headed, not wasted at all and very positive. Anyone would think that this was a really positive and encouraging step forward and that hopefully more positives steps can be made since this would surely motivate him to strive forward. Not at all! We are too deep in our dysfunction and abnormality.

The concert was a few days ago and my son has plummeted into more depression and anxiety again. One of the things triggering this was that the guy my son exchanged numbers with txted him and it caused so much anxiety in my son that he could not even read the txt and still has not. He has also felt much worse about his life, He said to me he enjoys going to London and going to gigs and has no problem, once out, to talk to people and be more "normal" yet he does not want to leave
his flat to go to the shops or talk to people. Phone calls, txts, messages, e-mails, facebook etc all cause him anxiety and makes him downright panic stricken.



The depression he felt was largely due to the fact that going out and doing something "normal" only highlighted how "abnormal" hid life is. When you are in a rare position to do something normal, after months or years of doing nothing, it makes you realise how sad your everyday existence really is. The sharp contrast is made evident and though you might be on a very short lived high, enjoying that rare moment, later when it is over you see how much you do not like your "normal" everyday life. How much you are missing out on, how much you have indeed missed as the years roll on as you are stuck inside your four walls and stuck inside with all the demons and fears that are inside your head.

It is easier to go far afield like to London, to step out of your space and jump into anonymity and enjoy yourself because you have escaped your reality. No one knows you, nothing reminds you of your problems, no one wants to ask how you are doing etc. When you are home you are reminded how lonely you are, how boring life is, how many "issues" you have. The only reason you have to go out is to walk to the shop for some food to feed your body, not ingredients to create delicious meals that you would enjoy. Other than that the only other reason to go out is to top up electricity so you can go home and watch TV. You have hours to spend without hearing a word from another living soul except for the noises you hear from outside of the "normal" people, chatting and laughing. You go out at night to the shops to avoid the daytime crowds, but then see young people with their friends or on their way out which depresses you because it reminds you that that is lacking from your own life and how you do not like how you live. Yes much easier to be at a gig with many people who are lost in the moment and everyone is enjoying themselves and everyone is more or less the same.

Ironically,  most "normal" young people would live their "normal" everyday lives pretty much sober, talking to friends and family and co workers. They would eat and enjoy their food. They would go out to the shops on the way home from work or school and maybe visit with people and make phone calls or txt and chat. Then every once in a while they will go to a gig and drink more or do drugs because it is a special occasion. My son took less drugs than on some "normal" days when he went to the concert so he could enjoy himself without putting himself of risk. On his "normal" days however, he will often do more drugs and drink more just so he does not have to think how unsatisfactory his life is, and escape his mind and thoughts and reality since he can not go to gigs several nights a week every week. Doing this does not really help of course, it makes it worse, but depression, anxiety, dissatisfaction with your life and feeling helpless have nothing to do with logic or rational thoughts.

To me watching my son and I both being in the same mindset at times and having the same low opinions of our lives is strange and it somehow annoys me when he takes drugs which will alter his mood or make him forget things that are "wrong". I get irritable when he suddenly becomes "happier" because I know it is artificially induced. The last time I pointed this out to my son he said that I sound jealous. I understand how he can interpret it this way, but it is because it is unfair that I have to endure it all without any help whether real or artificial. Also it takes the responsibility away of trying to solve the problem. Of course it is his "anti depressant" and I understand why he does it. Who would not want to escape such an uneventful existence?



After my son was at death's door, literally gurgling at that door , before he got pulled away from death, I promised him and more importantly I promised myself that I will find a way to make life worth living. I would show my son, through example of my own life, as well as helping him, that life can be happy and good and rewarding. I would find a way to make all of our lives worth living. Almost 3 months have past and I have found nothing and there has been no change and we are still in the darkness of mere existence. I asked my son recently if he could be anything in the world, what would he be. His answer broke my heart, just as it would any loving mother's heart who carried her child, gave birth to them and nurtured them. My son's answer was, " Nothing, because if I could be anything, I would rather choose not to exist, to have never existed",

This is what people need to know and understand why many people who are addicted to drugs are not dirty, undesirable lowlife junkies who do not deserve help or funding for that help. They are normal people like you and I, who have problems, problems they do not know how to fix or change and they are doing the only thing they can to diminish some of their pain. I am no different from my son except I do not have "mother's little helper" to get me through the day. We both deserve help and health and happiness as do my daughters. The only thing I wish for is that we all find it before it is too late and we can all be happy together and within ourselves once again!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

An Average Day Part I

I took a shower today. To most people this is a normal daily activity that is not even given much thought to. To me it is a chore, something I can not be bothered to do, do not have the motivation for. I go for a very long time without a shower (I will not say just how long because there may be people that I know and come into contact with who read this and that is just too much information that I am not comfortable sharing with them.)  I do I feel slightly better after a shower but also feel it was such an effort. I also feel worse because I am ashamed of my myself. One of my promises to myself is that I will shower more often, how depressing is that? That I need to try to promise myself to be motivated enough to have regular showers and I can not even manage that? Well, yes that is exactly what it is, depressing because that is what I am, depressed.



I can not remember when this reduction in showering started but it is not a recent problem. I can not recall if it started as a result of many practical issues, or was it just my low mood and lack of motivation. Which came first is hard to say but I suppose both reasons help to feed the problem.

The practical reasons for not showering  is because of our financial difficulties. We do not have the type of boiler that only heats the water when you use it, it either has to be on constantly or on a timer. Well I can not afford to have the water heating on timed when no one is using it. No one can use the hot water in the kitchen or the bathroom sinks because the taps are broken. So when my daughters need a shower, they turn the hot water heater on for 20 to 30 minutes before they shower. I often justify my lack of washing as saving money as I do not need it, I do not go to school daily as they do, I do not go to work either. Sometimes I justify not showering because there is no hot water when I "feel" like having a shower, or that when I think of having a shower it is often late in the evening and I do not want to wait a half an hour to have hot water. However, if I had a constant source of hot water, would I shower more often? I think that I would not because I honestly can not find the motivation.



This lack of motivation applies for much more in my life other than showering: changing clothes regularly, doing regular household chores regularly, going out regularly, talking to people regularly, doing just about any "normal" "regular" activities that emotionally healthier people take for granted or do not think about and they just "do".  If these normal everyday activities are a rare achievement for me you can imagine how difficult bigger things are for me to cope with: dealing with my debt, dealing with all the home improvements that need doing, dealing with my children and all their constant wants and needs, dealing with my son's addiction and social isolation, depression and anxieties. Dealing with all the many many things that a normal life has to deal with as well as all the many issues that a very unhealthy, dysfunctional and demanding life has to deal with has all become much too heavy for my shoulders to bare all alone.




Was I depressed before all the problems started? No not to this level. I was unhappy many times in my life but never as apathetic as I feel now., because depression and being unhappy are not one in the same. I was happy with my children when they were young and was always active with them (well mostly my son, and also with my daughter but less so with my youngest). I taught my children, again mostly my son, to enjoy life when they were little, to see the beauty life has everywhere, to laugh and be silly, to be good and kind, to always smile despite how hard life can be and ironically it has had very little long term affects in their lives, again, especially for my son.

Someone I know often tells me that I must stop being so depressed and apathetic for my children sake. Nothing could annoy me more. It annoys me for two reasons. Firstly, if it was so easy to stop being depressed and to start being more energetic and proactive simply because you are a parent, then the world would reduce mental health issues by more than half! It is as ridiculous as telling a parent to tell their children to stop taking drugs or any other dangerous activity. Or indeed, it is as unbelievable as telling a drug addict or alcoholic to just stop using! Yeah, ok, I have kids, I better not be depressed anymore, I better start looking after myself and my family and I better make everything wonderful! If only life were so simplistic.



Secondly, it annoys me because I have done that so many times in my life and it seems that life just keeps getting worse. I have fought and worked so hard in so many differing situations for my children to help them or to attempt to make our lives better and actually each and every year our lives get worse and worse. Through it all I always managed to put a smile on my face, make my children laugh and point out some of life's beauty. Unfortunately it did not have any lasting positive affects on my children.

I've always tried everything I could for my kids. The biggest thing I thought I could do for them was to get out of my unhealthy marriage which was also affecting the children because my ex was also a very unfit parent who caused our children a great deal of emotional pain. That is when I thought I was was taking a big step and I would make life better for  my children; however it did not happen. Shortly after that my son was taking drugs and eventually excluded from school for drugs. I made it my full time job to learn all the education guidance for exclusions and contacted many organisations, attending numerous appeals etc until we "won" the fight and my son was reinstated. However the results when he was reinstated in school were more negative than positive. I again fought my son's corner to get him enrolled in 6 Form and helped with course work and supported him and attended meetings when it was evident to the school that he was struggling. I once again made phone calls and fought and explained and helped, but in the end despite all the support he quit 6 Form as his drug addiction was making it too difficult for him to function. There are so many other examples that come to mind in which I spent my time trying to get help and support and did all I could do to try to make my family better for my children. All the times I did not "allow" myself to be so "selfish" to be depressed. I even made my vulnerable son move and essentially made him homeless to ensure the best home environment for my daughters and possibly to somehow facilitate my son seeking a new clean life. That did not happen and since then my daughter has had many mental health issues, has self harmed, attempted suicide and is not closer to me or her sister, refuses to see or speak to her brother and is often emotionally distant. I sought help through services for her, attended meetings, groups, made phone call  further just as I did for my son.  However,  we seem to have many more issues and the previous years seem less distressing as they are now.



I began this entry with I had a shower. A simply activity that illustrates how anything other than normal my life is and how complex the issues behind my depression is, One of the most frustrating elements is the fact that people simply do not understand and misinterpret my behaviour as antisocial or indifferent. I still care about people, I still like people, I just feel more comfortable alone and it creates to much anxiety, sadness and depression to be around people at the moment. People do not understand and expect you to change everything on your own or not to take the problems so seriously that it affects your life so much. Or they thing that having children does not give you the right to feel this way because you need to do better for the,  Some people take it so personally they do not contact you any more. Some get annoyed and express it by telling you off, "Why didn't you tell me it was so bad? You didn't tell me any of this", well no, because I can't but when I say I am in an unhappy place and do not want to be around people that was my way of telling you. My son has many of the same issues so my next post will be a PART II and continue with how there are so many similarities. I was going to here, but I think it is best to write them as two separate posts.

Life is hard for most and everyone goes through ups and downs. For others life is more than hard, but a struggle and there are very few and infrequent ups to balance out the downs, making life one big downward struggle ending in death eventually with very little success or happiness to show for the life we were given. How to change that is beyond me and it has been an exhausting exercise to wait and try and hope for better days, so I go to sleep.



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