Saturday, 3 October 2015

My Story: Mid Teens (Part 2)

Until I was 15, one night in November I had an open evening to sixth form. Mum had a hospital appointment and so couldn't attend so my dad came with me. It was his first time setting foot into the school and I was so excited to show off that he was there, the school thought he was non existent and it was great to finally be able to show him around. I got home, knowing the subjects I was going to take for my A levels, buzzing and happy.

Mum shortly got home with her friend from the hospital and sat us down and explained to us that she had a lump on the inside of her ear. It didn't seem that big of a deal so I just got on with the evening like nothing had happened. A lump on the inside of the ear was nothing. I got into school the next day and had an Italian written exam so I did the exam and finished early. I remember staring at the plug sockets and for some reason thinking of hurting myself. I was completely lost in the thought of "I need to feel something". At the end of the lesson I was pulled aside by my teacher (who was also my brothers head of year at the time) and she explained that mum had phoned and that my head of year would speak to me at some point in the day. I got angry at this, I didn't realise why the school were making a big deal of it, it was a lump in mums ear, so what?  The days that followed where full of check ups from these two teachers, "Are you ok? Are you sure?" they used to ask and I could never understand why they were all so worried. Until more hospital appointments followed and this "lump" in mums ear turned out to be a brain tumour. We were reassured by the doctors that it was benign and slow growing so it was ok. After the initial shock we got back on with life. I did however lose my sleeping pattern, focusing in school became hard and my teachers began to notice.  My school was hugely supportive, my head of year called me in at least once a week to check up on me and the situation, although I was reluctant to speak about what was happening.I didn't have any more thoughts of hurting myself, mum felt better and it was all going ok.  Until the 7th of May (I was 16 by then), the day of the results for mums next MRI. I got into the car after school, we had already decided it was going to be good news, how could it not? But mum looked at me and told me that her small tumour had nearly doubled in size in just a couple of months and was now pressing into her brain. I burst into tears, I just couldn't understand it. To make this day worst, we then had to go to the hospital to see my dad as he had had an operation that day as well but we had to pretend that we hadn't just had this devastating news as it would impede his recovery. So we smiled like nothing had happened.

The next couple of days were really strange, full of emotion. 6 days later I left year 11 ready for my exams, and with that went the constant care of my school. During my long days alone to revise I discovered self harm... first little scratches on my wrist but they soon became deeper.  I went and told my head of year one day when I was in school for an exam. I asked her to not tell my mum and due to my home situation she respected that. She gave me some coping mechanisms. But that didn't stop me. I continued until I realised that my wrist was too obvious and so I moved onto my leg. With this began my anxiety. I was constantly filled with a sick feeling and so to deal with this feeling I stopped eating. Following another hospital appointment, mum was then told if the tumour was not removed as soon as possible it would kill her. There were also dangers to the operation, it was for sure that she would become deaf in one ear but there was also a chance that she would wake up with facial paralysis. My world fell apart in this moment. I was filled with fear and so my only way to deal with it was to self harm, I couldn't sleep or eat much. This was the start of a dark hole, one that I wasn't aware would be so hard to get out of. I finished my exams and spent my days alone or with friends. I would self harm almost every day and some days it would be more than once a day. The weekend of my mums operation I was meant to stay at my dads house, but he was no where to be seen and completely uncontactable. Eventually he turned up. On the 3rd of August mum was operated on.  Whilst she was in theatre I was at work, and eventually I got a phone call once mum was back in ICU. Thankfully the operation was a success, the whole tumour was removed and she could smile, her face was perfect. Now began her recovery, the operation made mum a three year old again, she had to learn to eat and walk all over again. I told myself I would stop self harming after mums operation but this is where I realised I couldn't stop. I was addicted. The scars continued to grow. What started as little scratches were now wounds that would bleed for hours. And then one day during that summer I received an email from my head of year asking how the operation went, how I was etc. This email saved me. She asked how my self harming was and I was completely honest, I explained how bad it had gotten. I then got a reply saying that I needed to tell my mum for a matter of safety and that if I didn't tell mum she would. So I told my mum at the start of September. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but it needed to be done. Of course she was shocked. Mum offered me counselling but I assured her I was ok. Eventually I agreed to trying out counselling a couple of days later but after one session I stopped, I had also told mum I had stopped cutting. I started 6th form thinking it would be a new start but the self harming and the inability to eat or sleep followed. I carried on self harming, there was only one person I would tell but he soon started to go to tell the teachers that I was still cutting. For a couple of weeks my self harm stayed between the teachers and I. I had now moved onto cutting my stomach that way no one would see it. Until mum once pulled up my top to blow a raspberry (silly I know but I have that type of family <3) and saw the marks, she asked me to cut my legs if I really had to. We didn't really know how to talk about self harm so we brushed it off. And then everything fell apart again when I had a bad evening and self harmed and replied to an email at 4 in the morning to one of my teachers. The school realised that it was out of their control and that I needed professional help. In this time the relationship I had with my dad began to disappear. Mum was recovering well but we still had frequent hospital visits and slowly other things with mums health began to go wrong due to the amount of medication she had to take and the operation in itself had damaged various things in her throat. I was sent to the doctors where I had a counselling session. I tried to get on with my life whilst also trying not to harm myself. It was hard. The kick up the bum for me was when my mum threatened me, saying that she would take me to hospital next time I cut myself. I think in that moment I realised that things needed to change...

The last part of my story will be published shortly.

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