To mark the end of Mental Health Awareness week I am going to publish Part 1 of a series of blogs from the very heart of a family in crisis.
These are not my experiences and they will not be my words. They are the experiences and words of someone whose family have been dealing with the trauma of mental health issues for many years.
I have not edited the words – I have just serialised the story in terms of breaking it into parts.
The author will remain anonymous and all the names within the blogs have been changed. I know that the author has been working on this for a long time and I hope that the exercise of writing it and having it shared is cathartic. I know it has been tough and emotional to do this and I admire the bravery shown in wishing to publicise this.
This is about as raw and emotional as it is possible to get. This is reality.
After my initials – all the words are those of the author.
I,m not your usual blogger and to be honest I,m finding it difficult. That’s because my debut into blogging is about a hugely personal, enormously emotional subject! The reason I am writing it is really just to share a real life experience of how such an ordinarily “normal” family can have their lives turned upside down by a loved one’s Mental Health! “There but for the grace of God go I”
I have changed all the names for obvious reasons but everything you are about to read really did happen.
Here is our journey…………
LIVING WITHIN THE RIPPLES
An ordinary family’s story of how domestic abuse and mental health can destroy lives.
The day started the same as any other, nothing spectacular, a normal day at work. My mobile rang, it was my youngest daughter, Jessie. “mum, our Sarah is missing” she yelled! She was upset I could tell. “OK love, don’t worry, I’m sure she will be fine” I arranged to meet her at Sarah’s house a couple of miles away.
On my arrival it was chaos. Sarah’s husband, Dan, was in the living room with a can of special brew in his hand. The three boys, ages between 7 and just 2 were running around creating merry hell. They were filthy dirty, smeared with chocolate and sticky lollies they had been given to keep them quiet! The two smallest just had scruffy t-shirts and nappies on!
I tried to get some sense out of Dan while Jessie rounded the boys up and cleaned them as best she could. The house was a state. “Dan, please tell me where Sarah is” I asked. “She went out last night and I haven’t seen her since” he slurred!
Oh my god, I was panic stricken. There was something about the situation that gave me a nagging fear in my stomach! I asked Dan if he had reported her missing at all, he hadn’t!
I told him I was phoning them immediately! And I did! They were there very quickly, a missing young mum who may be in some distress was a priority to them thankfully!
Jessie and I told them what we knew, very little really! They then spoke with Dan and he beckoned one of them into the kitchen.
We waited, wondering what was going on. Next minute the radio crackled into life, the officer stood by me walked away listening intently. Dan staggered round the living room, he was wrecked and it was only 6pm!
Eventually the police officers returned to me, “we know where she is, Dan told us and we have had it confirmed. Sarah is in the local hospital, she has taken an overdose! Dan let her go off by herself”
I was mortified! Not only was my poor girl in hospital all alone, he, Dan, had known all along and he let us suffer and worry and report her missing knowing full well where she was!!!!
I was livid! I told the police officers I wanted to take the boys home with me because he was pissed and not fit to look after them! Dan argued and said I would take them over his dead body, the police officers said fine, lets do that! They would take them into protective custody unless he agreed to let me take them and then they would hand them over to my care anyway. Dan finally said “do whatever”!
Jessie and I rounded up the boys with a few belongings and took them away, they never went back!!!!
Jessie and I went to my home with the boys. We bathed them all and settled them into nice clean cosy beds with lots of cuddles.
The Police Officers had said they were going to the hospital to speak with Sarah and to firstly tell her the boys were safely removed and in my care and secondly to try to encourage and support her with any domestic abuse issues she may have.
They called later to say she had refused to see them but the nurses would tell her where her boys were and she could call them at anytime.
Days went by and there was no word from Dan, thankfully!
Sarah was admitted to the local mental health ward for assessment as she was “very low” in the words of the staff there!
I was desperate to see her but I think she was embarrassed and ashamed of what she had done! She had left her beloved boys with a drunken wife-beater!!!! (her words not mine)
And then the real battle began……..
Sarah was detained under section 2 of the Mental Health Act! This is the first stage, a 28 day assessment period. I had to return to work but I didn’t know how I was going to do that with three small boys!
Time for a family pow-wow!!!
I called Jessie and asked her and her husband to come that evening, I also called my eldest daughter, Nicola, and her partner, Katie. We all sat down and debated what we could do and how we could do it! Who can help??? Social Services??? Isn’t it their job????
Well, apparently not but more about that later!
Nicky & Katie said that they would look after the youngest two as they could blend and bond with the two they already had of their own! And, the eldest boy was a real out of control handfull!!!! Jessie and her husband worked full time so they would help at weekends to give us a break!
He was to stay with me, go to school and they would collect him and keep him till I got home, after all this was only a month, till their mum was well again?????
I guess we were very naïve! I truly believed that she would come out fixed and they would all be a happy family again, Sarah and her three beautiful boys!
Then the worst news possible. Dan wanted the boys!!!!!!!!…………. Oh my god please no!
I panicked……. what should I do? Could he just take them???? Time to seek advice.
Nicky and I went to a local solicitor, he was great, fitted us in straight away. He told us our rights, Dan’s rights and Sarah’s rights. He wanted to speak to Sarah immediately and arranged to do so that very day, he told us to return at 2pm.
We waited………… 2pm on the dot we were in that office, pacing…..waiting……checking the time…..pacing again……… at last, he was there!!!! “Right, quickly, we are in court at 3pm! OMG! Court? Why????
He literally ran us across the road to the local family court……. “go straight in he’s waiting for you” said the usher, a kindly lady in a twin set, it’s a very small local court, one room only!
In we went, Nicky and I were nervous as hell……. things were running away from us! The judge was a kindly man with white hair and a beard. Our solicitor stood up to speak and speak he did! Suddenly he knew everything that had been done to Sarah and the boys and why she had tried to take her own life that night, she had felt it was the only way she could escape from this cruel oppressive man she was married to!
He told the Judge that Dan had been found drunk in charge of a minor by the Police and how he had lied to Jessie and me and let us suffer that night he said she was missing! What cruel games he had played! He told how Dan had not been seen or heard from for several weeks, yet suddenly shown up demanding to the the boys away, only HIS two of course, not the oldest who Sarah had before she met him!
The judge didn’t need long to make his decision……………… he stamped a few papers and muttered something incoherent to the solicitor and then we were ushered out and back across the street, Nicky and I had not uttered a single word!
Back in his office I wrote a cheque for £1000……. alright for a days work eh!
The next day I visited Sarah……………..
Oh how my heart broke………..
She had stitches from ear to ear where she had cut her own throat…………. on the ward……………….. what can I say…..I wept!
Further parts of this serialisation will follow in the coming weeks