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.
While 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.
Last 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.
All 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.
*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…