violent teens

Handling Aggressive or Violent Teens

violent teensParenting a teenager is a whole new life experience. Particularly for parents who face aggressive or violent teens when they are disappointed or challenged. If you are one of these parents, believe me, you are not alone. There are many mums and dads struggling, faced with the same behaviours in their teens. It’s an issue that affects families from all walks of life and economic backgrounds. Coming to know these truths prompted me to write this blog. The following paragraph from this article in the SMH explains so perfectly what often happens:

“The first act of violence, parents are so shocked and taken aback they don’t know how to respond,” Ms Howard said. “It escalates to the point where parents are too intimidated and scared to stop the behaviour.”

violent teensThe article says that psychologists and researchers have found this behaviour linked to a sense of entitlement and ‘cotton wool parenting’. While I don’t disagree with that, many other factors can play a role as well. For many, mental health issues and the inability to cope with thoughts and emotions are the cause. I’m writing from the latter angle.

In our case, my daughter, Jessie, went from being a confident, happy kid, to being volatile and unpredictable. Her friendships were becoming fractured. Her tolerance for disappointment or discipline was no longer existent. It was extremely shocking and confronting! I couldn’t understand why my violent teenparenting methods were no longer working. Neither did I understand why her reactions were so intense. I was living on eggshells, afraid to parent and at a loss. Jessie was ruling the roost with anger and violence. (No pun intended!) Things needed to change because it wasn’t any way to live for either of us. With support and learning though, homelife is way more peaceful and connected these days.

As a loving and responsible parent, safety for everyone must be paramount. Our boundaries around safety in the home need to be made clear to our teens. Consequences also need to be made clear, and we must be consistent in upholding them. Physical violence and destruction of property need a no tolerance attitude. Police should be called if your teen is acting out in a way that poses a serious risk to themselves or others. As harsh as that may sound, the fact is that violence and physical abuse isn’t acceptable behaviour, or appropriate coping mechanisms. Those are rules of life. Better our kids learn that before adult consequences come into play.

While we are standing firm on the no violence rule, we need to give another outlet. My daughter punched her pillows and screamed into them. If you’ve got violent teenspace, hang up a punching bag that your teen can take their rage out on.

As parents we can do a lot to help as well. By modelling the behaviour we want to see, we show them how it’s done, as well as demonstrating that we are strong and capable of dealing with whatever they bring our way. Teens feel safer knowing we are their rock.

Communication plays a huge role in dealing with aggressive and violent teens. Effective use of it can de-escalate the situation before things become out of control and police are required. Read my article here about communication holding the power for attaining peace. Like changing any habits, it takes practice before it comes second nature, but the pay-offs are well worth it.

What teens are throwing out to us, mirrors what is happening with them. If we can remember that they’re hurting and/or really not liking themselves, and try not to take things to heart, we can provide the best support. I think it’s important we tell them how their words or action affect us, so they learn about others emotions. However it’s most effective to stay calm and don’t react in the same ways they are.

Try and see humour whenever you can, to give you a giggle on the inside. A couple of weeks ago Jessie came home annoyed and yelling at me. When I told her it upset me when she spoke to me that way, and she replied “well I’m sorry you’re the only one here for me to take it out on!!” I burst out laughing (NOT in the good parenting book), so had to take myself off to the bathroom. I still find it amusing. The apitome of teenage thinking!

If you need help:

ReachOut.com Australia runs a FREE, flexible coaching course for parents to help us help our teens, with whatever the issues are. You need a computer and a phone, and 90 minutes for the first session. You can however make use of up to an additional three, one hour sessions. Click here for more info or to register.

ReachOut.com also runs a forum which is a supportive community of parents needing assistance or offering advice, learned from experience. If you’re feeling isolated, you will find others going through similar things, which can be therapeutic in itself. You can check out the forum here.

violent teens

Dealing With Death and Dying

dyingThey’re not topics I like to talk about. Even though death and dying are part of life, and an inevitability that has affected nearly all of us. Still, I find it so overwhelming. And it never gets easier. I’m unable to get a handle on it. Death is so final. It’s one thing you can’t change, no matter how deep the desire. It’s too late to say goodbye. Or make amends. Or offer love you wished you’d given. It’s a reminder of how precious my loved ones are, including the furry ones. That reminder gives me patience and acceptance.

Sadly today was the end of days for my parents’ cat, Suu Kyi. She was 14 and had been losing kidney function. She’d been happy enough, and was still mobile and doing her day to day things. That all changed this afternoon, and gratefully for Suu Kyi, she didn’t suffer. So we have a big gap in our family. Mum and Dad of course will miss her most. She was their baby, and a source of love and love bites she will be remembered for. Animals aren’t just animals with us, they are family members. We’ve lost some beautiful souls, but their memories live on.

The universe must currently have an opening for good souls. An old friend I read, had to have her family dog put down today as well. A loved relative of Mum’s died last Tuesday and on Thursday I’m attending the funeral of a neighbour and friend. I’m dreading it, I really hate funerals. Not that anyone enjoys them! But the sadness is overwhelming and I always cry. Sometimes too much, while others around me are more composed. Remaining dry eyed while people are hurting and crying around me, is an impossibility for me. I can’t help but put myself in people’s positions and imagine their loss. If it’s my own loss, hook me up to your water tanks, there’s a big rain coming!

dyingI can’t get my head around dying, and that fine line between life and death. That moment of death when the heart stops beating and life leaves the body. Where does life go? How can a body have personality one moment, then be completely void of it the next? What happens to “us”? Things don’t just disappear. Sorry, they don’t. Disappearing acts are illusions, tricks on the mind.

Our soul, our essence, leaves our body, I have no doubts about that. The first body I saw was my friend Steve. He was on life support for 5 days before his parents made the heartbreaking decision to turn it off. While I still visited each day and talked to him and held his hand, I believed he looked like his soul was gone then. Maybe it was the machine breathing for him, and his pale colour. He might’ve started packing, but he didn’t move out until half an hour after life support was turned off, and he was pronounced dead. There was no doubt he was gone then.

I remember after my cat Zeppelin died, sitting there for so long, just looking at this empty vessel that was not long ago him. I was so upset and I wondered if I was waiting for him to come back.

At my Gran’s funeral, I wanted to go in to the viewing room to say goodbye. I had to see her and hold her hand. Her soul had gone, but to comfort our human needs, she was made up to look like she was just taking a nap. As the tears flowed, the clash of images was confusing. I wanted to stay with her and talk to her. Maybe some clarity would come? But even your body is on a busy schedule after we die!

dyingWhen Gran was dying, we’d travelled to visit her. She was rather hazy but knew who we all were. It interested me incredibly to see Gran focusing on young Jessie in particular. She wanted to hold her hand all the time, and the way she looked at Jessie was really special and full of love. It seemed really pronounced, and I’ve always wondered if it was youth Gran was drawn to in her final stages? Could she see her younger self in Jessie? I’ll never know.

Losing people and animals we love, doesn’t get easier. It hurts. It hurts a lot. I still find it a shock when the grim reaper comes, whether he was expected or not. Dying scrambles my mind. In an instant, we, with all of what makes us us, leaves every cell of our bodies. We’re never to be seen again. Never to be hugged or cuddled again. Never to be conversed with again.

I used to feel comfortable with what I believed in regards to our souls after death, until I started thinking about them put together. Instead of creating a nice tidy connected line, my brain exploded with ‘need to knows’ and ‘but hows’.  I have so many questions. Questions there are no answers for. In reality we only have our beliefs, to help fill an otherwise void hole.

Death leaves a heartache no-one can heal. Love leaves a memory no-one can steal.

 dying

 

dating

Why Dating a Narcissist Is Not For Me


datingUn. Frickin. Believable. I can certainly attract the worst types dating. After the psychopath created havoc with our lives in 2010, I lost trust in myself and in humanity. Not wanting another man in my heart or home I stayed single for 6 years. As I was now dealing with a broken Jessie, as well as my own mind, dating was last on my list of interests.

Then I met the loveliest person. He was smart and had interesting philosophies that I liked, hence I loved talking with Him. He was gentle and warm, seemingly a beautiful, caring soul and a good communicator. I thought finally I had met a genuinely decent guy who I could actually connect with, and who liked me for me. I felt special for a little while…

The other night I was told ‘I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire to put it out’, that I ‘need a punch in the face’, and that he hopes ‘you choke on your words and die’! He wishes me to die for words he spoke. To wish physical violence and death upon someone shows an unhinged mind that I do not want around myself or Jessie.

Not only that, I am ‘just a society shit kicker’. This is coming from someone who still lives with and is supported by his parents! I’m the society shit kicker, but still He needed to bludge off me because He doesn’t work and has nothing! All after a privileged private school education mind you. He has different projects constantly – none of which have ever been followed through with and completed. But this is the mind fuck of a narcissist. Tall poppy syndrome!

Narcissists cannot cope with strong people who question them or do not buy into their crap. Abuse, degradation, blame, intimidation are their go to instincts. Fake crying, manipulation and sob stories of victimisation are then moved on to the next supply source. Taking responsibility for their own actions doesn’t ever come into the equation. Ask a narcissist – they’re perfect, they’re awesome, they see themselves as gods. They’ll tell you it’s everyone else that’s the problem.

dating
…but they need your unquestioning adoration

Communicating with a narcissist is in reality, impossible – unless they choose to play the game. I did learn that He likes to disparage those supposedly closest to him, or share their secrets. Once you are in the devaluation stage communication style follows suit. With me it consisted of disagreeing with everything I said without consideration, constant talk of His ex girlfriends and fan girl dramas, gaslighting, and egotism. The only thing He hasn’t dissed is this website, despite having no regard for its content – but then again, it was His idea. I quickly became sick of trying when He wasn’t, and sick of being in a teenage years ‘love’ pentagon – real or imaginary to him. Certainly the love triangle proved to be real. This checklist describes Him perfectly. Perfectly!!

Being our second time around, His strange need to tell me changing stories about His girls was the start of the end for me. I tried to communicate but was slammed. Then that conversation was shared and belittled which was the final nail in the coffin. Triangulation was used in a very calculated way – a tell-tale trait of a narcissist.

Upon my departure the switch was flicked, killing emotional intelligence. I reverted to the childish behaviour he described of these girls and messaged two of them he whinged about the most, relaying his charming words. Immature I know, and the actions of someone who is a new soul and has a fuck of a long way to go before reaching their goal of a peaceful mind. An old soul would simply have walked away, peaceful and unencumbered. In saying that, if my trust was being exploited, I’d want to know.

datingBut wait! There’s more! The love triangle reared its ugly head again, with the Third Wheel concluding it was her business to contact me to give me a piece of her mind. After questioning my intentions with Him, she then proceeded to tell me about my relationship with Him and tell me who I was, what I was and why He and I broke up. All this, after informing me I owed Him an apology! It was HILARIOUS!

Naturally everything is, was, and always will be my fault, including his words and actions! And of course the two sides to this saga are His and His. Accordingly, he’s made up his story to take crying to Third Wheel who’s cravings have been met by it. And the cycle of depravity will continue – just without me! I’ve been a participant in this too long already.

datingBut I’m free now. Completely free of regret, remorse, confusion and best of all, care. I’ve had enough. I could say I’m not going to make the same ‘mistake’ again. However the term ‘mistake’ infers to me that my choices provide no opportunities for learning and growth. I choose to let go, but I also choose to learn from dating this facet of human psychology and nature. And the lessons are plentiful.

“No matter how shallow the person, they can still drown you if you let them.”

really scared

I’m Really Scared Mum. They’re So Loud…

really scared“I’m really scared Mum. I keep hearing all these voices, like I’m in a big crowd of people talking. They’re so loud and I can’t sleep.”

It’s 2.35am Friday 26th February 2017 and I’d been in a deep sleep. Tired, and voice trembling, Jessie’s standing at the side of my bed.

The voices won’t shut up. She’s hearing other sounds outside and doesn’t know if they’re real or not. Understandably, she’s frightened and confused. I tell her to jump into bed with me as I’m half asleep and dazed myself. In the past it’s always comforted her and given her a good sleep. She’s nearly 15 though, and wanted to go back to her own bed – she just wanted everyone else to go to sleep too.

This week has been a particularly difficult one for Jessie. The high of a sleepover on the weekend plummeted Sunday night although a manic component remained. All scissors had been hidden last week due to powerful urges to cut off her hair being back. Her appreciation of that fact was commented on.

really scaredWhile I was out cleaning my brother’s place, I’d missed numerous calls from Jessie. My phone rang again as I turned off the vacuum cleaner. It was Jessie, bawling hysterically whilst trying to talk. ‘Cut’ and ‘scissors’ was all I could decipher and I FREAKED! *I thought she was saying that she’d cut herself and there was blood everywhere!!! Brain spinning, I had to remain outwardly calm and reassuring while in my mind I was seriously thinking ‘I need a Police escort so I can fly home.’

I asked her if she needed an ambulance then told her to get a towel and wrap it up tight. She must’ve thought I’d really lost it this time, because as it turns out, it was her hair she had cut. We’d missed a pair of sewing scissors. If only I’d heard her first call. But I didn’t. And when things go to shit, you make compost and watch something brand new grow.

So after a big hug, a cry and a talk (or mainly a listen for me), I suggested we go to the hairdresser and have her hair styled. Not only that, we found out where we can donate her hair. It’ll be made into a wig for kids who have lost their hair because of illness. Jessie’s coped so well and willingly made something positive out of what was a devastating experience for her. Beautiful.

really scaredLast night I was in my room and she came and sat on my bed and we talked. She was really scared and worried. The sound of voices was really loud and she could feel someone next to her. The voices don’t talk to Jessie, but the way she described it reminded of the noise in a really busy pub. You know, where you can’t hear the person next to you for all the loud conversation around you? When you’re out with your mates getting drunk that might be okay, but when you’re 14 and at home trying to do schoolwork or sleep it’s a bit much.

With other sounds and voices, not knowing if they’re real or not is making her really scared as well. She said she’s frightened about what is happening to her. Naturally, she needs it to stop.

With her thoughts come fear for her too. As she said, if she can cut off her hair which she really loved, what else could they make her do? We’ve battled cutting her hair for six or more months now. Jessie asks a reasonable question. That she comes to me because I am her rock and hold all the answers is an honour to hear. To have to admit that I don’t have the answers for her on this one, was the regrettable response I had to give. But, I was thinking just now that she already knows I don’t have all the answers. However she does know that I will find out and that I will do what it takes to get the best solution for her. Maybe that’s all she needs…not perfection.

really scaredAll I could do at the time was increase her Seroquel dose and talk to her about the strength of her mind. I really do believe that she needs the antipsychotics to allow her a quiet mind. This isn’t something inconsequential. I do also think it’s worth a try practicing standing up to that noise and those voices. My theory is that it’s somewhat a conquest of power. This may actually be the only circumstance in which I not only endorse but encourage bullying. When the voices are loud, they have the power. Your voice becomes muted. Unmute your voice, take back some power. Get louder and louder, taking back more and more power. By doing that, and bullying the voices into submission, in theory, should quieten, if not mute, them.

Jessie’s going to test it out. We’ll see how effective or otherwise the power of one’s own voice can be in this particular situation.

really scared

*Does your child’s most frightening behaviour remain your default fear and assumption? 

I ask this question after my reaction to Jessie’s state and the only words I could pick out. In hindsight, the cutting of hair wasn’t a new urge. I heard ‘cut’ and ‘scissors’, however didn’t consider the possibility she had cut her hair. I deducted that she had self harmed and frightened herself. Was it purely the level of panic and distress in her voice? I’ve never wanted to be somewhere else instantly so desperately before…

little steps

The Little Steps That Mean Big Things

little stepsWe’ve had a surprisingly positive start to the year. The little steps Jessie has decided to take, mean so much more than just the actions themselves. To read that Jessie had finished her first day of schoolwork, on the first day of school, before I got home at lunchtime that day, doesn’t sound huge. But for us, it is. And we’ve had a few of them.

Getting Jessie to complete all schoolwork – and with some effort – was a bit of a battle towards the end of last year. With only being required to complete 12 weeks work, I had expected that. As contradictory as I know that sounds, it’s strangely not. Over the Christmas holidays she kept saying she didn’t care about school. So I was dreading the start of Year 10. It was such a massive relief to get home and see work completed on day one. I was SO proud of Jessie. Each days work has continued to be completed and I’m loving her sharing what she is learning with me.

little stepsEducation was something we’d talked about a lot on different occasions, for which I was ‘finger waggled’ by Jessie’s counsellor. I have to work out my own boundaries though. I’d explained to Jessie how important Year 10 is to her future. Without it she would find it hard to go to TAFE, which she wants to do next year. But I went on to say that she is the only one who can achieve what she wants out of life. I can’t force her to study, I can’t force her to do the best she can – she is the only one that can make that choice.

Sometimes Jessie needs a reality check. I’m happy with the balance I’ve found with her however it can be a fine line at times. Naturally I want her to have a better life than the life I’ve been able to provide her, opportunity wise. Plus I’d love her not to meet her future partner in the queue at the dole office!

She is busily planning her future in education though, so something got through. The current goal is to do nursing. She’s put a lot of effort into researching how she can achieve her goal, and is communicating with the Career Advisor from school. That’s another little step meaning big things. Last year she refused to communicate at all with her teachers. This contact is via email, but still, it’s contact! So at this stage she wants to do a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE next year. Apparently she needs to be 16 to attend uni, so will apply to uni the following year. She has it all thought out. Here it comes again – the mum happy dance with disco moves!!

Back tracking a little to the start of the school holidays. I’d accepted the fact that we were having Christmas without Jessie. It wasn’t a good sign as to where she was at. I saw it that way anyway. I’d begun to worry that her isolation might go on for years as it does with Hikikomori. In my eyes that would be disastrous.

little stepsBut the first little steps were made early on this year. And they have continued. Jessie had a couple of friends stay over in the holidays. She ventured up to the shops, they went swimming, we went to the beach. She’s even come with a close friend to her Nanna and Pop’s a couple of times. They went swimming there and another time played tennis. It’s the most time she’s spent outdoors in over 12 months.

Jessie is back at tennis, which she is really enjoying and looks forward to each week. I’ve always asked if she’d like to go back at the start of each term, and her response this time was unexpected and definite.

She’s coming out of her room more and more to talk to me. I’m loving her communicating her trust and faith in me. It’s pretty special that my girl, who can be quite unwell at times, puts me on a pedestal. She’s chosen to re-engage with her mental health care team and is proactive in her own daily management of her issues.

Jessie’s growing up and I’m seeing the strong foundations of an incredibly aware, balanced and empathetic young woman building. I couldn’t ask for more.

This has taught me to always have hope – you never know what’s next.

Little steps, one foot in front of the other… 

little steps

bipolar

Bipolar Disorder: The Effects Of Early Onset

bipolarIn 2011 my daughter Jessie was diagnosed with Severe Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder which is the precursor to Bipolar Disorder. She was 9. The effects of early onset bipolar seemed to hit quickly, impacting on daily life dramatically. The psychiatrist believed that being predisposed, it was triggered by a sexual assault the previous year.

During that previous year that same man had been making threats against both Jessie and me. One night he made a particular threat against Jessie, and I rang my parents to come and get her. It really unsettled me, so we decided it would be best for Jessie to stay at my parent’s for a little while. We enrolled her at the local primary school, but within a few weeks mum and dad started having problems her. She wouldn’t shower, she became volatile and so angry.  She started having some social issues at school, and her behaviour at her grandparents became increasingly challenging. Each weekend she would come home and sending her back was upsetting for her. We stuck with the routine though, as my ex’s threats had continued, plus I wanted Jessie to finish the term where she was for stability.

It came to the point though that they couldn’t cope with her behaviour any longer. Jessie was dropped home one weekend with all of her belongings. My parents were at the stage of never wanting to see her again. They had required Police to attend home, and Jessie had been taken to hospital and been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. They had tried their best, but after raising 2 children themselves, one a very difficult teenager (me!), enough was enough.

None of us had any idea what was happening. Although on one hospital visit mum did talk to the doctor about some of Jessie’s concerning behaviours. The doctor said that it was classic behaviour of a child who had been sexually abused. The following year she did disclose to me, but not to the JIRT team (police who investigate child sexual abuse), which they said wasn’t uncommon with younger children. It’s the most sickening feeling, then came the anger. Oh my god, that was intense anger, with no resolution but acceptance, and that took a long time. Guilt then takes over. How could my judgement be so bad that I could allow a paedophile into our lives? I don’t let it rule me anymore, but the guilt will never go away.

Jessie came home and started back at her old school. She was so happy to be home, as I was. I’d missed her so much, saying goodbye on Sunday’s was hard. It wasn’t long though before I was faced with some testing times. Nowhere near to the extent as mum and dad at that stage. Needing police intervention at home was something for the future.

bipolarThere are two incidents in particular I do remember from back then. Both because Jessie’s pain was flowing from every pore and it broke my heart. The first time, she had been having what I thought was a temper tantrum. As a result she slammed her wardrobe door shut, and the glass shattered everywhere. With her reaction to that I didn’t need to say anything. She was absolutely devastated, she shattered like the glass. The sound shocked her too I’d say, and all I could do was hug her tight while she cried and cried.

The second experience played out at school one morning. I’d walked her into school, said goodbye and went to leave. She started crying and wouldn’t let go of me, wanting to come back home. Being clingy was a new thing I’d noticed since she’d come home. This was a hard one because I knew I couldn’t take her back home with me or the next day would be harder. She needed to push through and stay at school. I finally got her ‘unclung’ and left her standing there in the playground screaming and crying, it was AWFUL. No teachers offered any assistance, and I spent the day worried about her. That last image of her as I left the school has stuck with me, she was broken and lost.

Even as a baby Jessie wasn’t one for tantrums or sulking.  My girl had always been so happy, confident, self assured and outgoing. She was popular at school and was renowned for her contagious laugh, by kids and teachers alike. Neither aggression nor temper outbursts had ever been part of her make up. I knew something was wrong. She started having social problems and falling out with friends. Kids were quite cruel about her outbursts, and Jessie’s self esteem was quickly disintegrating.

We relocated, which meant another change of school for Jessie. She found it difficult to make and maintain friendships, and her schoolwork was suffering. One day out of the blue she told me that her uncle was safe because he didn’t know where he lived. The look on her face was pure relief. I asked her who ‘he’ was. Before answering she realised he no longer knew where we lived either. ‘He’ was my ex, and we were all safe now. She disclosed what he did and said. Threatening her, he had said if she ever told anyone he would kill her and her entire family. End of conversation, she was done.

I felt nauseous to hear it with my own ears. I really had to take a minute to process what I’d just heard and try and comprehend it. What a huge burden she had been carrying. She had been frightened all that time, and too scared to talk. Way too much for a child, my poor darlin’.

I took her to see our GP who gave us a referral to see a child psychiatrist. He was an old doctor who, after asking very few questions, diagnosed Jessie with ADHD and gave me a list of foods to avoid for her. Funnily enough, red foods were on the list, and a food colour Jessie had always refused to eat – apart from light red apples and red meat. I convinced her try a strawberry for the first time in her life at age 13! Everything was automatically smelt before it was eaten as well. Funny kid.

The more research I did into ADHD, I began to disagree with Jessie’s diagnosis. There were definitely similarities, but she wasn’t attention deficit and her outbursts weren’t just hyperactive. Jessie suffered extreme highs and extreme lows, it just didn’t fit.

bipolarJessie’s behaviour started really escalating. She was flying into rages, throwing things, damaging things, smashing things. I couldn’t stop her or settle her. I’m not a big woman, and when she is in a rage she is much stronger than me! She was extremely abusive, swearing at me and constantly calling me names. She would follow me around the house, relentlessly pushing my buttons and bullying me. I have numerous stab marks in my bedroom door after being chased with a big kitchen knife. While she was refusing to go to school, I didn’t get a break from it.

It got to the point one day where all I could hear were the trains on the tracks behind us. I felt like a complete and utter failure as a mum, and her torment took me straight back to her father. She didn’t know him, but I couldn’t get over how alike him she was behaving, so one morning I made the hardest decision of my life. Not coping I rang the Police to come and take her, believing she would go into foster care as my parents had already tried.

Being in the suicidal state I was in, Police by law had to call an ambulance and I was required to go to hospital. Only to be given the details of a counsellor and sent home again. That was the point though that I sought help for myself and the learning process began, that would in time see us in a much better place.

bipolarJessie spent another 4 months with my parents, with numerous police visits and trips to hospital. She was having social problems at school again, and her violence and aggression continued to escalate at their home. I had a call one morning to go over there. Police were on their way, and again Jessie was taken to hospital. I went with her in the ambulance, to Westmead Children’s Hospital this time, thankfully. My parents were at the end of their tether, and were worried about me if Jessie was to come back home again, so it was discussed with the mental health team that she would need to go into foster care. When it came to it though, I couldn’t give up on her. Those heartstrings are strong, and as worried as I was, I wanted her to come home.

Early Onset Bipolar changed both of our lives forever.

Dr Ken Nunn, Head of the Dept of Psychological Medicine at Westmead Children’s Hospital, took us on, which was such a blessing.

Jessie was properly diagnosed and medicated. Ken was great with her – Jessie doesn’t suffer fools or adults who she intimidates. She has told one of her counsellors to fuck off, but Ken knew exactly how to form a connection with her. And so began our little family’s long, challenging road we’re still on.

We have been lucky enough to have found some truly remarkable professionals who have been invaluable to us. Without their help, support and resources, I wonder where we’d be.

bipolar

 

narcissistic

Narcissistic Personality Disorder – NPD

narcissisticNarcissism is actually a mental health condition called ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder’. It’s been very interesting learning about this disorder. It has given me clarity and understanding, so I thought I’d share. Hopefully my article will give someone else the same. Once you are aware, a narcissist is so easy to pick.

A narcissist has an over inflated sense of self-importance. Admiration is highly craved, however they lack empathy for others. Despite their outwardly over-confident appearances, narcissists have very low self esteem and are extremely sensitive to any criticism. It’s sadly a personality disorder that starts in childhood or the adolescent years. The cause isn’t exactly known, but it is thought to be complex, as with any personality disorder. Narcissism is believed to be related to a mismatch in the parent/child relationship – excessive spoiling or excessive criticism. It is also considered likely to be linked to the connection between the brain and behaviour and thinking.

The narcissistic personality experiences problems in all areas of life due to their desire for, and expectation of, admiration. Their lack of empathy and deliberately argumentative attitude can make them very challenging to be around. In saying that, they are the loveliest people while you are providing the attention they require. As soon as that ends, or they perceive it has, they can become very cruel, derogatory and spiteful. Narcissists are incapable of love, but desperately need to be loved.

They cannot cope with partners who think independently of them. They will abuse and try to extinguish their partner’s sense of self in an attempt to take back control. Without control, they themselves feel out of control, but narcissists will destroy then blame without a second thought. The insanity of their condition is that they need love, but they despise you for being stupid enough to love them. However, they desperately need you to feed their egos. They will always have others groomed to take your place, as they are terrified of being alone.

To fit the diagnostic criteria for personality disorders, the following areas must be affected by problematic behaviours:

• perception and interpretation of self and others
• intensity and duration of feelings and their appropriateness to situations
• relationships with others
• ability to control impulses

There are 9 traits listed under the DSM-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition). 5 or more need to be satisfied to distinguish Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognised
as superior without reasonable achievement.)
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
3. believes that he/she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other
special or high-status people (or institutions).
4. requires excessive admiration.
5. has a sense of entitlement i.e unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic
compliance with his or her expectations.
6. is interpersonally exploitative i.e.  takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9. shows arrogant and haughty behaviours or attitudes.

narcissisticNarcissism was a term I knew but I didn’t fully understand it’s meaning until recently. I have a friend who’s husband was a narcissist. As such, he left her while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Consequently I knew narcissism involved personality traits of self-centredness and complete lack of empathy. Apart from that, I wasn’t familiar myself with narcissism until recently. Or if I had been subjected to it before,  I wasn’t really aware. And I certainly didn’t know it was a personality disorder and mental illness.

Jane Darling, who works with personality disorders, has given me so much insight. Looking back the signs were there right from the start with my ex. And with each of her articles I relate. The understanding really makes me so glad I have stood my ground and gotten away from somebody so cruel and heartless.

I have been called a ‘retard’, told I’m ‘crazy af’. After hating on me and saying some really nasty, derogatory things, told me he didn’t want to say goodbye. Insanity! But that is the brain of a narcissist. They will accuse you of doing exactly what they are doing to you to deflect and confuse. narcissistic

I’ve copied this article but also provided the link. Jane sums up the narcissistic personality perfectly –  Can a Narcissist Fall In Love? – Jane Darling

“Pathological narcissists love ‘falling in love’. They need the chemical arousal , a constant source of validation is secured.

They lack any capacity to love. The creative emotions are missing which is why so many enjoy cheating, something they do readily. Poor impulse control and shallow affect are real. This is a person with no empathy so doesn’t care.

They are never loyal, caring or imaginative. Relationships are carefully managed down. You will in time bore a narcissist, you are a pretty plaything to exploit. Emotions are always exploited.

They feel claustrophobic in committed relationships, which tend to be on/off until you escape.

As predators, relationships with partners, children and friends are based on dominance. Love is about power. They bring you into a game, the prize is compliance. The ever moving goal posts keeps others confused, playing the game is ‘love’.

Narcissists won’t end the relationship unless a new opportunity has arrived. They’ll discard you by text, although they will attempt to keep you in their harem. They can’t risk being alone so letting you move on won’t happen.

They are leading double lives, online dating and porn sites are their addictions. Throughout relationships they are predating online, at work etc.

Being two dimensional, paper thin, and without a conscience, their partner won’t know about any of this activity. They can pass a polygraph test and enjoy their duplicitous behaviours. ‘Dupers delight’.

Whilst hoovering ex partners & potential leads all in tandem provides the ‘risk’ excitement they crave to quench their inner void of not feeling anything other than lust, your fear, they are flattened.

Their needs are insatiable, never satisfied long term.

When a narcissist withdraws it indicates they are being flattered elsewhere. A silent treatment is passive aggressive punishment, it’s part of  your devaluation and conditioning, it serves 2 needs.

They are pathological and lying is their pleasure. All live in plain sight and are very convincing.

They compartmentalize, disassociate, use hints, jokes, or are busy with work. They’ll let you know about themselves in ways to confuse you rather than an honest conversation. They will say ‘I love you’, this is the greatest lie of all. They can’t and they know they can’t. This lie causes further hurt down the line when they reveal callous disregard for your emotions.

If you stay with a narcissist you can expect the famous rage, some cheating, and plenty of  lies. They lack morals. You’ll be destroyed deliberately in a cruel manoeuvre which they’ll deny and blame you for should you protest.

Narcissists victimise deliberately, they feel entitled to be cruel. They’ll do it prove superiority and mitigate their crazy behaviours & explain cheating. They never apologise, have no remorse and reframe their behaviour as the conclusion to somebody else’s actions. i.e. ‘You were late’, ‘you wore the same dress’, ‘you shouldn’t have said that last month’.

Narcissists are insane, unstable, unreliable. It’s only possible to predict them when you recognise the disorder. Then they are predictable and you can protect yourself from further abuse by not reacting or engaging. Most victims cannot fathom what just happened after time spent in their world.  (Yep!)

No, they cannot love, they can own and control. We are extras in their production, they wrote the script. When you deviate, get a line wrong, they will plan a horrific revenge. It’s not headed, it’s emotional rape which is unique to narcissistic or psychopathic abuse.

Let a narcissist be the one who ends the relationship, it’s much safer.

Avoid being sucked back in. Never believe a single word from their lips however much you want to. Remind yourself it’s fake and you are being manipulated.”

narcissistic

Everyone in their life is specifically placed, all chosen to fulfill the narcissist’s own selfish needs. Their false self is the caring, affectionate and warm persona. Their true self is self serving, cold and calculating. They are dangerous people, as anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of being with one knows only too well.

Psychotherapy (talking) is the usual treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Medication can be prescribed in conjunction if deemed necessary by the treating therapist. But how would you get a narcissist to  admit to their condition and get help? Their arrogance and ego wouldn’t allow them to admit the truth – even though they are completely aware of what they are doing.

I would like to extend my thanks to Jane Darling for her permission to share her informative articles.

Because the narcissistic personality can be so deliberately nasty and has no care for what they do to you, I have provided the number for Lifeline. They provide crisis support and suicide prevention. Please call them if you are struggling to deal with the consequences of a narcissist.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

The fluidity of relationships

The Fluidity of Relationships

Relationships: “It is extremely short-sighted and ultimately very mistaken to think that anyone is permanently or inherently our friend, enemy, or stranger.

If these three positions are so temporary and variable – then who is the proper object of our attachment or hatred?”  

 – Geshe Kelsang, Buddhist Monk, meditation master, scholar and author.                                                                                                                                        


relationships

 

Relationships are as fickle and varied as humanity itself, which is no surprise. Some personality combinations work, others do not. Some relationships bring out our best, and others, our worst.

Whatever the relationship though, they are all fluid. Effective communication, compromise and love are the basis of all successful relationships. But as I’ve learnt with Jessie, when things do fall apart, it’s about how we repair. We are human, we all have good and bad days. If we can learn to flow with the waves and build on trust our relationships have a better chance of success.

I like Geshe Kelsang’s quote and appreciate its meaning. People come and go in our lives, nothing is permanent or static. Some people we don’t like when we first meet them, yet they can go on to become good friends. Some relationships start off with a bang and fizzle quite quickly into nothing. Other relationships go through transformations, some we may feel we have lost come back to us.

I think we’re all searching. Searching to belong. As hard as it can be to see at those times when emotion takes over, I do believe we have all that we need right in front of us. People come into our lives for a reason. We have something to learn from each encounter, as well as something to teach. My hope is to learn, to become a wiser and less encumbered friend, partner, mother and daughter. I want my relationships to be free from past negative vibrations, so I can freely be present and enjoy what love in all it’s forms has to offer.

Studies show the importance of the bond between mother and baby. Her love and care directly dictates the future abilities of the child to form close relationships, have healthy self esteem and self confidence. If we get it wrong, we immediately negatively affect our kids. No parent deliberately tries to screw up their children, but we do. They then turn 18 and we shove them out into this world. All we can do is hope we’ve given them enough skills for them to swim and not sink.

relationships

Whatever the relationship, it’s the quality of each relationship during it’s lifespan that sticks with us and forms our opinions.

The need to weed out unhealthy relationships before you have given anything of your heart is necessary to maintain a positive opinion, particularly when you’re a sensitive person. The need to appreciate and nurture those fulfilling relationships is just as important.

think

Do You Know What Your Kids Really Think of You?

I do. My daughter and I are very close (most of the time) and she loves sharing her thoughts with me. She is also very honest and can’t be bothered with false niceties. It can be very enlightening listening to her thoughts. Communication is the only way we know how and what our kids think. I love having those lines open with Jessie.

Jessie is either silent or she talks without drawing breath. She can literally talk under water. Literally! This morning she felt like talking to me while I was in the shower. Something she hasn’t done in a very long time. She was telling me about her favourite shows, and then got into how much her tastes have changed as she’s gotten older.

She’s used to like The Vampire Diaries, but thinks it’s so lame now. She said she cringes to think that she once loved it. Then she said “it’s like when old people think they’re cool but they’re not.” There was silence. I wiped the steam off the shower screen and I looked at her. She looked at me. We started laughing and I asked her if she was talking about me. Silence again!! Hilarious! Then – “yeah Mum. Sorry, but you’re not cool.” I tried to convince her that I am actually very cool, but apparently my generation can’t be cool. She just doesn’t understand the real meaning of what it is to be ‘cool’!

ThinkI used to be a punk for christ sake, with my spiked hair and my hardcore skeleton buckle boots! I’m cool goddamn it!! The eyes nearly rolled out of her head. Imagine how embarrassed she would be if I still looked like that. It’s so funny that I’m just seen as Mum, not as a whole person who’s had a life before motherhood.

So on she goes with her conversation. I’m hearing all about her shows and who she ‘ships’ and why – something I wouldn’t understand she tells me. I started laughing again and said “oh my god, so I’m uncool and stupid?” Thankfully I was corrected – no not stupid…just cringy. Cringy!! I’m not to take it personally though, because most of my generation is cringy, with the mum jokes and the dad jokes and the general embarrassment we can’t help bestowing on our kids. So phew, that’s a relief. She was kind enough to acknowledge that her kids will no doubt be embarrassed of her at some time too. She’s very thoughtful like that!

I’m out of the shower by now, getting dressed in my room and she was looking at a photo of a pregnant me that I have on the wall. She says to me “you were so pretty when you were younger Mum. Not boasting but I think I’ll be pretty when I’m older. I’m just worried about when I’m 50 and ugly.” I’m 46… Getting close to the end of that timeline and that ugly stick’s going to be coming after me! I guess 60 = fugly? 70 = fuglyas? 80 = fuuugly? 90 = hopefully in my grave.

thinksThis afternoon I had my first impromptu lesson in Why Mum’s NOT Cool. Jessie asked me why I did something, I can’t remember what, and I said “coz that’s just how I roll.” She immediately said, in a flat tone, “And there it is – cringy”, before disappearing into the smelly depths of her cave. Snap.

Luckily I know she loves me more than everything else she loves put together. She makes me laugh hard. Today was a good day.

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