Thursday 10 October 2019

Mental Health: #ChooseKind

Today I started to write a short post about World Mental Health Day for sharing on social media, but then I realised I just couldn't. Couldn't keep it short, I mean. So many thoughts and feelings running around my head. 
me looking out at the sea
I've not been writing many blog posts on here for a while now; using lack of time as an excuse but somehow finding the time to write shorter, more frequent posts over on my Facebook pageLast year I wrote this post about how the system contributes to poor mental health: World Mental Health Day: the system affecting SEND families.
It still rings true today, but there's always more to say.
girl looking out over balcony to sunset
I love this photo of Sasha, taken during the summer holidays whilst staying with my parents, and the one of our eldest below, taken this morning as she left for school. 
teen silhouette by front door
Completely different times, different thoughts going through those minds, and completely different needs, but the mental health of each girl is equally important to me. 

My girls make me happy; my reason for living, my point in life. Sasha has asked a few times when she's been down recently 'but what's the point in life?' and it has been difficult for me to give her a good answer. 

I'm sure that at the age of twelve, I had no idea what the point of life was, but I also didn't stop to think about it because life just, sort of, 'flowed' I guess. I was one of the lucky ones, my path through life fairly smooth and typical, a loving family to support me. Mental health was not something that was talked about back then; many of the same issues existed but we didn't have this whole new beast of social media pressures to contend with.

For a long time, I've been telling others that blogging is free therapy for me. It's been my outlet for nearly ten years now; a way of getting all of those thoughts out of my head. A diary of family life too; the way I've used this blog has evolved over the years, from early thoughts on autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance through a period of reviews of anything from toys to household items and days out and then back to more serious information about PDA. 

The main purpose was, and always will be, to help people understand our younger daughter who has different challenges in life to face than many others do. A happy knock on from that is the help which sharing our story offers to many families also living and working with children who have PDA. I'm always willing to try to help others who message me with their concerns, and along the way I have greatly appreciated the messages of thanks which I have received over the years.

So many parents and carers of children with additional needs face a huge amount of extra stress on a daily basis. Particularly those living with PDA, whose lives are turned totally on their heads as they constantly walk on eggshells trying to walk the very fine line between happiness and extreme distress.

I guess I could call myself a strong person mentally, even though that's not the first thing which would come to mind if I was asked to describe myself. I count myself lucky; I don't think it's something I've taught myself or been taught, just how it is. I'm all too aware though, of how things could change. At various times in my life I've been there for others close to me when they needed support, and I'm sure other people could say the same. I do have to make a conscious effort not to let myself get overloaded though. Sometimes when I want to help, I know the knock-on effect on my own family would be too much and so I have to step away.

If we could pick just one extra topic for children to be taught in school, I think most would assume my suggestion would be for them to learn about PDA. In reality, I'd go for #choosekind. A lesson in life. Thinking about and respecting others around you, regardless of what issues or challenges you can see on the surface. None of us know the full extent of what others are facing in their lives in any one year, month or day, and anything can tip the balance. Offer a listening ear, offer a hug, be quiet when you need to be, be in touch when you can be.

If you're considering therapy but still not quite sure about it, I recommend reading this post 'What is therapy like?' from Who's The Mummy? 

Along with any talk about mental health I think the word suicide should also be mentioned. It shouldn't be taboo. The more suicide is talked about, the more which can hopefully help all those in that position. We went through the pain of two people close to us dying by suicide in recent years and I think I'm not alone in wishing we could have done more to help them overcome their challenges, to help them see that life was worth living. Jenny from The Brick Castle has written so eloquently about this topic several times; honest, raw, but ultimately helping many others by sharing.

So let me end with sharing these resources for those who find themselves struggling with mental health. I'm no expert, but here are some starting points:


Time to Change

Young Minds


There's also some great suggestions in this article: How to support a friend this World Mental Health Awareness Day.

To find out more about our experiences, please check out our 'About Us' page. If you are looking for more information on Pathological Demand Avoidance, the posts below may help.

What is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)?

Ten things you need to know about Pathological Demand Avoidance

Does my child have Pathological Demand Avoidance?

The difference between PDA and ODD

Strategies for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Pathological Demand Avoidance: Strategies for Schools

Challenging Behaviour and PDA

Is Pathological Demand Avoidance real?

Autism with demand avoidance or Pathological Demand Avoidance?

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  1. It's a fantastic post Steph. Thank you for mentioning me, but so sorry you have also lost people to suicide. Hopefully someone will find help here - and regain their own hope :) xx

    1. Every post you write about this is so poignant and obviously I can't imagine your pain. But I do know how much you have helped others by talking about it x


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