I’m feeling exasperated and highly disillusioned with Jessie’s mental health care team at the moment. Jessie’s been wanting a medication review for ages. She’s not feeling stable on what she’s been on and is really struggling with her mood, anxiety and continual thoughts of wishing to be dead. She’s had two weeks off TAFE, an overnight hospital stay and been brought home by Police recently.
This was our second attempt at a review. The first one ended badly, leaving Jessie’s world upturned. She was in tears and in a state of complete confusion. Her psychiatrist decided it was a good idea to tell her a) that she didn’t have bipolar, and b) the reason she was having these troubles with her mood was because I didn’t keep her safe as a baby so her amygdala hasn’t developed properly. What she thought she would achieve by saying these things completely baffles me!! What better way to undermine a parent and give cause for conflict in the home, even if what she said were true! I had a happy, confident, outgoing kid until her trauma at age 8.
It’s not the first time it’s happened with CYMHS though. When we were regulars at the hospital a few years back there were two incidents that still blow my mind. One time Jessie had a meltdown because I popped her balloon. She kept hitting me in the head with it. I’d warned her that if she did it again I’d pop the balloon. She hit, I popped. We were told that I was going to buy Jessie TWO balloons on our way home. My arse we were! On another occasion Jessie was asked what would make her happy and she said a dog. I made it clear we lived in a unit with 2 cats and to boot wouldn’t be allowed, but we were still told I’d get her a dog! That caused problems for a long time.
Coming back to present day, I was still reeling from this latest appointment and its immediate repercussions, when the counsellor rang not long after we got home. They’d checked Jessie’s records from Prof. Kenneth Nunn at Westmead Children’s Hospital, learned of Jessie’s diagnoses and now agreed with them. We’ve only seen this psychiatrist a handful of times, however we’ve known the counsellor for over 6 years. I had hoped she’d been aware of why she was seeing us!
As medications still hadn’t been reviewed, we were back last Friday. Jessie was articulate in explaining what she was experiencing as well as why she thought she needed a change. On top of the usual, she’s also highly anxious about her first upcoming work placement. We all agreed that her current medication or the dosage she’s on, isn’t right. We didn’t all agree that Jessie should go unmedicated! With her schooling history, recent troubles and current anxiety, I’m both dumbfounded and angered by the psychiatrist’s decision. As Jessie said, if she doesn’t get through this course she has to go back to school which will mean repeating Year 10. I don’t even need to think about it – that will not be an acceptable option for her! And then what?
This is a crucial time for her and I’m really frustrated and upset that instead of helping, they’ve just compounded the situation. The memory from the last time they took her off medication remains very clear to Jessie and it’s not something she needs to be fearing at this time, let alone experiencing. She would much rather not have to take medication, so I’m proud of her for placing need over want. And she needs to be encouraged to empower herself instead of being dismissed for what she is saying.
As parents we place our trust in these professionals. They have young lives and the sanity of families in their hands. We go to them for help and support but I feel in this case they’ve failed Jessie dismally. She only had today at TAFE this week, is suffering headaches and head spins, is absolutely exhausted, having whopping mood swings, and then a panic attack this afternoon.
After 8 years I’m worn down, frayed around the edges and living in a state of hypervigilence which can send me a bit batty. Because of this, I’m needing her counsellor and psychiatrist to work with me, not against me.
I’ve written an email voicing my concerns and asking for qualification around some of the statements made to Jessie. What I’m hoping will come of that I actually don’t even know. We do need to find someone new, that I do know. Jessie has so much potential, I want her to have the best opportunity to have a content and fulfilling life ahead.
“Eat. Sleep. Hurdle. Repeat”