As I mentioned last night in my very random blog, a few weeks ago I had a panic attack . It wasn’t my first and probably won’t be my last but, on this occassion I had a bit of a wake up call and following a few sleepless nights decided that I wanted to deal with this head on and I booked myself in to see a private counsellor.
I was really lucky in that I found someone that I felt I clicked with first try (well, second try really- I went to see someone following a similar episode around 8 years ago, it turned out to be the dad of a girl I went to school with- I felt totally alkward and it was a total non-starter) and I have now had four sessions which are going really well and I am feeling a 100% better which is brilliant.
BUT…this got me to thinking;
When I had my panic attack I was not alone, I was with my husband and, while I did not really want to go through everything that was running through my over active brain I knew I could have if I had wanted.
If I was a young care leaver I most likely would have been alone in a flat, hostel or B&B and there are few worse things than feeling alone when you badly need support and comfort- where do the thoughts go? Either deep into yourself or into a bottle of white lightening or a line of coke.
I picked up the phone in the morning and I called my mum- I spoke to her on the phone for ages and she was really supportive.
If I was a young care leaver I may not have had a supportive parent/carer to call. I might mot have had any credit to make that call or, I might have been so used to putting up barriers and showing the world how much I don’t care and how able I am to ‘cope’ I might not have felt able to tell someone how alone and vulnerable I felt.
I went up to my mother in laws and spent the day chilling on her sofa getting lots of TLC, tea and sympathy. I dozed on the sofa while she carried on around me and that was a really comforting feeling.
Had I been a young care leaver my ‘networks’ may not have been this positive.
I was able to rearrange my day so that I didn’t miss anything important. I was aware that I needed to call in sick and re-organise any tasks I had planned.
If a young care leaver had wanted to crawl back under their duvet and lock themselves away for the day would they have had the phone credit to call and re-arrange appointments? In my experience when our care leavers have any situation that knocks them off balance they might disengage for a while- not pick up the phone, not attend appointments, not go and sign on for benefits…
Most importantly perhaps, I did not need to join the NHS waiting list to see a counsellor- I physically felt that I could NOT wait to see someone so I decided to go private and pay.
If I had been a young care leaver….do I even need to start this sentence?
This is quite an extreme example, food for thought if you like.
Panic attacks, stress, anxiety or depression don’t affect all young care leavers- not by a long way. Lots of care leavers are doing really really well (one of my case load called me yesterday to say that she had achieved an average of a 1st class in her first end of year uni exams- elated is not the word) but, this is just another example of an area where we need to offer more support. I do not think that this support should be exclusive to care leavers by the way- there are thousands of vulnerable and marginalised people of all ages in our society that need support in many different areas.
Where do we start? By highlighting these issues so we can start to come up with ideas which can be translated into positive actions.
Have a lovely day now!