Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Things We Do: White Light

I'm no therapist. I don't practise meditation properly. But I read lots about meditation when I was younger and still use a few techniques to help clear my mind. I'd like to share one with you today...
I use this sometimes when I'm feeling low, or after an argument, or even in the middle of Mini having a meltdown - I can practise this in the same room as him, so I'm still nearby. Sometimes it takes just a few minutes, sometimes it takes half and hour.

This is something you can do with your children if they are willing and able. When I first started, I used to have to lay down in a quiet space, but now can do this almost anywhere with any level of noise (which is just as well, as there aren't many quiet spaces these days!).

Lay (or sit), and close your eyes. Imagine your body being full of brown light - no bones, no muscle, no organs, just dirty brown light.
Slowly inhale, and as you do, see that breath bringing white light with it, up through the core of your body, slowly spreading through your body.
As you slowly exhale, watch the brown light gradually disappear down your arms, and out through your fingers.
Inhale again, bringing more white, clean, calm light into your body.
Exhale, and feel the brown light rise out of your head, leaving your mind clear, and only full of white. As you concentrate on only those lights moving in and out of your body, your breathing will regulate.

Continue this until all brown light has disappeared and your body and mind are full of white - clear and clean.
Take a few more slow breaths, and slowly open your eyes and refocus on your surroundings.

I also use this sometimes when I can't sleep. It doesn't always help me drop off, but it stops my mind whirring quite so much.
If you try it, let me know how you get on...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Things We Do: Plan school holidays

With Easter holidays fast approaching, I wanted to share something that I do that makes our school holidays slightly easier.
It's not a magic wonder cure for all of Mini's issues. It doesn't stop the meltdowns. But, it helps me feel in control and when I feel in control then I can manage the meltdowns and other issues a little better. Especially at the moment, when I'm feeling particularly low.

Apologies to my regular readers, many of you will have read about my planning tendencies before - but for those of you new to The Boy's Behaviour...

I plan. I draw up a timetable for the entire holiday period, with morning and afternoon slots for each day. And I try to plan something in for each slot - sometimes that's a whole morning's activity, sometimes it's just an hour's craft, maybe even a ten minute puzzle together. I believe that my children need some time to use their own imagination and play without me leading that activity, so I don't fill every single minute with stuff, but I'm there all the time so that if they want me in their play, I can be.
This time I've started by drawing up a list of things that we'd like to do, including things that we already have booked - a circus skills workshop and a story telling session at one of the local theatres. Now I'll look at slotting them into a plan. Nothing (bar the events I've booked) is set in stone, and we can change them depending on the weather, other plans that might come up, illness, mood etc.

I have been known to make up proper packs, with instructions and everything needed for a certain activity - science experiments, crafts, recipes. I made them all in one go, so when it came to the holidays, I could just pull out an activity with very little preparation.

Anal - possibly. Control freakish - almost certainly. Essential to my sanity - abso-bloody-lutely!

If you're interested, I have Pinterest boards set up and regularly add to them when I find things my kids might like:
Kids games and activities
Kids crafts
Kids cooking
And lots of other things I think my kids might like...

Mini? More like a Lamborghini!

Things are bad here right now.

I'm now on anti-depressants, and I'm pleased to say that at the moment they are at least taking the edge off of the all consuming black thoughts. Those black thoughts have been very very dark at times, and it's scared me. I have been on such tablets several times before, but this time has been different. Because of the way my dad died, these dark thoughts feel terrifying. I know that I'm lucky...lucky is that the right word? Probably not, but I was able to go to my doctor, share my feelings and thoughts and get help - dad didn't, so that already puts me in a different place to him. But I feel vulnerable,  and when those dark thoughts are there, my vulnerability allows them to seep deep into every waking thought.
I have been unable to drive on my own, for fear of what I might do whilst in the car. I'm OK with the children in the car, my strong mother's protective instinct kicks in and the incessant chatter of my three year old protects me from thinking - drowning out the dark with talk of princesses, fairies and daffodils, but when I'm on my own, it's different.

We've finally had a referral to a child psychiatrist after Mini reported voices in his head telling him to
do bad things. Luckily the psychiatrist feels it's not psychotic, but a typical attachment based reaction. After a long talk, where we ran out of time, it seems that Mini appears to have what the psych referred to as a 'coercive pattern'. He's either angry, comfort seeking or fearful most of the time, but displays each one of those in the same way, and so it's super super difficult for us to read him at any time. Timing will be crucial, and the next step is to get some more support on timing and attunement. It was comforting to hear that we are not causing any of these issues, we're not making them worse, and it seems that we're unlikely to make things any better right now. This pattern is a sticky one, hard to get out of, but it is possible, and our journey will be a long, rocky one. All the work on attunement we've done before is great, but not enough.

Our journey was likened a little to driving.
We've been on the course, we've passed our driving tests, and we're well equipped to drive a Ford Escort. We do that with Dollop most days.
But Mini isn't an Escort. He was never going to be an Escort - with his trauma, his lifestyle, his beginnings....he was always going to drive faster and harder. He's a Lamborghini.
We've done lots of advanced driving courses, but still, getting into that Lamborghini is different. The bite point on the clutch is hard to find. The slightest nudge on the accelerator sends you from 0-60 in 2 seconds flat, and before you know it, you're driving around at 100 miles an hour, but slight taps on the brakes make the car stop dead. He is frequently retuned (as his knowledge/understanding change, recede and grow), and so you can never get used to the drive of the car. No amount of advanced driving courses can prepare you for that.

So now we wait to hear back from the Child Psychiatrist, and our Social Worker, and we continue to see our counsellor for more help. And in the meantime, the Social Worker is going to arrange some life story work too as Mini has been asking many many questions about his birth family. We can answer them, but it's felt that Mini may blame us or become angry with us if we share it, so the Social Worker will 'take the flack' instead of risking damaging our relationship.

Waiting....for professionals to get back to us.
Waiting....for tablets to kick in properly.
Waiting....for more help, more counselling, more therapy.
Waiting....all the time.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Meal or memory?

I've been trying to think about recipes and which ones are important to our family. There are quite a few - the tomato sauce recipe that I use in all sorts of things, important as it saves me time, it's cheap, versatile and the kids like it...a lot; the coveted family Victoria Sponge recipe which only my lovely Nannie has managed to perfect, she always has one on the table when we visit, and we always bring home the leftovers. I've never been able to make it like hers; the Devil's Food Cake recipe (a Nigella one I think) that Mini adores and will regularly ask for especially on special occasions. He also enjoys helping and licking the bowl; or my American Style Pancakes - always requested on lazy Sunday mornings, for pancake day, or sometimes a treat dinner. Always served with maple  AND golden syrup, lots of berries, chocolate spread, whipped butter, slices of banana, and squirty cream and far superior to daddy's 'normal' pancakes which both Mini and Dollop refuse to eat.

There are more too - special because of the occasion we were celebrating, or because of the fun had making it, some are important because they are a regular feature in our diet, or sometimes because of the exact opposite - a treat, something special that we all enjoy occasionally.

I think what's important to me is not necessarily the recipe itself - which is just as well as I have a tendency to...tweak, but the feelings that are evoked by food. Food memories are strong - how many of you remember that special holiday because of the paella you ate in that little back street restaurant? Or perhaps it was your first date with your partner and the bottle of wine you had with the pasta? Maybe you were always made to eat your cauliflower and it put you off for life? Granny's apple pie?
For me, I have strong food memories associated with visits to my nannie - there were always dairylea triangles and sliced beetroot at the buffet style lunches, oh, and the cucumber (grown by granddad) had the skin removed, there was always lemon meringue for pudding and a block of icecream with wafers, then we'd have the legendary Victoria Sponge for tea later...the way the table was laid was important, with proper cake forks, and even now, no-one else is allowed to sit in 'my chair' at the table!

I hope that through food I can make those kind of memories for my children - it's not just the taste of that tangy tomato sauce, but the smell of tomatoes bubbling away, mingled with the freshly crushed garlic and herbs, then later the fun of grating some fresh parmesan, snow-like, over their pasta that I want them to remember.
And with the chocolate cake - it's not all about eating a rich, indulgent, naughty treat, but about the tradition of the cheeky piece of chocolate that Mini always sneaks into his mouth as he helps break up the bars, and about how much he laughs when he turns the hand mixer on too fast and we get splattered in cocoa and flour, and how I always 'accidentally' manage to get icing on my fingers when I cut a have to lick my fingers.

For many of our children they've not had the pleasure of good food, for some they've not even had access to the bare minimum to keep them safe, healthy and developing. Mini, despite his sometimes inappropriate diet at times in his past, has always been fed, and has never gone hungry. I don't want him to become complacent about where his food comes from, but I do want him and Dollop to enjoy their food and realise that it's not all about sustenance.

I'm linking this post up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out at The Adoption Social.
The Weekly Adoption Shout Out