This year has been one of huge contrasts. We’ve had sun, and snow; progress, and backlash. We’ve gotten through all of the days, good and bad, and all the while the Earth has been turning, bringing back the sun. Spring is finally here.
Ollie is racing ahead. Physically, he’s doing phenomenally well. His weight has stayed on track. He’s growing ever taller – now an inch above me, he’s on the 90th centile for height. Ollie’s attending school four days a week, and is relaxing into a near-normal pattern of work. He’s playing football at the weekends. He’s looking healthy. Puberty has hit, right on schedule. To think how far he’s come in a year is just unbelievable.
Mentally, the progress has been what can only be described as “lumpy”. Now thankfully free of the PTSD flashbacks, overall Ollie’s on a more even keel. However there are still challenges, and daily struggles. Ollie’s perfectionism is holding him back, and he’s obsessively checking things all the time. He checks his bag, over and over; he checks the time a dozen times an hour; he checks what everyone else is eating, what his friends are doing, and his school work, repeatedly, mechanically, sometimes almost manically. His therapist is working with him to address this. He has a lot of work ahead.
Ollie eats. He’s able to have a little bit of flexibility with his snacks, but the three main meals have to adhere to his meal plan. It’s not “normal”, but it’s near enough. Until recently, he had been eating in a very anorexic way: taking tiny bites, cutting his food into minute slivers, making sure he was the slowest, checking the time. It was infuriating to watch but we tried to ignore it. Our older son finally lost his temper and the boys ended up fighting, at the table, about whether this behaviour was acceptable. As parents, we felt like the anorexia was creeping back in. But a fortnight ago Ollie had an epiphany of sorts, and for Mothers Day, he had a surprise for us: he began to eat normally. Normal size bites, normal pace. He needed time to come to that himself.
Other challenges remain: Ollie’s temper is fiery and his language can be spectacularly foul. If he loses his temper, things are often thrown, smashed, sworn at – sometimes those things are inanimate objects, sometimes it’s us. We try to stay calm. We don’t always manage to.
Ollie doesn’t retreat into silence any longer. Or rather: he hasn’t retreated into silence for a significant period. We hope that he won’t lapse into it again.
Ollie, then, is climbing the ladder at a decent rate. I’m lagging behind, tired, suspicious, somewhat broken. I’m working with my own therapist to address some of the traumas that we’ve been through. We’re now nearing discharge from the specialist hospital, back to our local CAMHS, and although it is absolutely the right time for this, I’m still reluctant to leave. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we can certainly see the edge. There’s light ahead, spring is here, it’s all there for the taking.
It’s all so positive. Yet I’m so tired. I feel battle-weary, my confidence bruised, my trust in my own child dented. I no longer have a job, but as Ollie is gaining strength, I don’t need to be on call 24/7. I don’t really know what I am, apart from being in need of a long holiday.