I remember another busy morning of what I considered to be another normal day rushing around the house. Hearing the usual excuses for why she didn’t want to go to school. Asking again for bandaids. Me; in my rush, thinking ‘gosh those blisters on her feet from her school shoes are lasting a long time.’ A few hours later; settled into my work, I recieved the call from my daughter’s school.
Please come and collect her.
I get in the car trying to remain calm I put on the radio. Playing was Alicia Keys Girl On Fire.
I arrive at school to learn my daughter has been self harming. I look at the cuts on her arms and the counsellor suggests she see a psychologist, and so our journey begins.
I’ve heard about self harm. Heck, in my profession as a school nurse I’ve had to manage it. I know the deal. Give non judgmental support, try not to show too much alarm, provide opportunities for the individual to talk about how they are feeling. BUT this individual is not some one else’s kid. This individual is mine. This is different.
We continue along with our life and with an element of underlying concern, I feel, that although my daughter has gone to this extreme, she is; after all, experiencing normal adolecent highs and lows that so many go through and I’m sure this too shall pass.
Moving forward to several weeks later and and I leave my daughter at a friends house after school. I take the time to do some shopping. My mobile phone rings and it’s her friends mother, I hear the words “razor blade”, “bad”, “ambulance”and “blood” I remember removing my ‘mother hat’ and putting on my ‘nurses hat’ as I rushed back to the house to find my daughter in the shower. Contrasting visions of clean white and blood red. Something you see in horror movies. My daughter slumped in the corner murmuring “I’m sorry.”
Wrapping her arms in towels and putting my pale and shocked daughter into the car we went to emergency. She was admitted and after sitting with her for hours I drove home and put on the radio.
Girl On Fire was playing.
No diagnosis was given. The medical profession are loathe to give adolescents a label as such. But the words ‘borderline traits’ were consistently used and my medical mind told me this was certainly an accurate assessment of my daughter.
Our journey of mental illness began. Through so many trips back and forth in and out of hospital, psych wards and specialist appointments. Times of separation from my daughter and through times for her struggling through her ongoing intensive therapy, bringing many painful memories back to the surface for her to work through. This song would often come on to the radio and it resonated with me.
This girl on fire, not backing down, fighting every day for her survival, pulling herself out of that darkest place of depression everyday, choosing to stay alive. Choosing to fight that black dog of depression.
Giving a surface impression that everything is ok, nobody knowing she is that lonely girl in what she feels is such a lonely world.
Leaving her trail of destruction in the scarred minds of her friends and family who have witnessed her catastrophic and demonstrative feelings of despair and wanting to give up.
My daughter was on on fire.
2 years later this ‘label’ of Borderline Personality Disorder was something that gave my daughter a feeling of validation, that she had a name for what she had thought was just her going crazy.
My daughter did not back down
My daughter chose to keep fighting
And while our journey continues I like to think we are through worst and we have got our feet on the ground.
Sent from my iPad