A day in the life

My alarm is going off at 6.40am. I’m awake enough already to switch it off; not quite awake enough to hit snooze instead. Luckily, I have anticipated this and set a second alarm for 7am, which is when I absolutely HAVE to get up.

I think I only woke once last night, to get up for the loo around 2am. I’m not sure if it’s my sleep apnoea or my age, or just stress, but I don’t often manage to get through the night these days. It’s unusual for me not to have woken again around half five, dragged to consciousness by the shouting in the next room. Perhaps Husband has done well at keeping Tickle quiet this morning, or perhaps I’m so tired I just don’t remember. We have been trying out something new lately, trying to teach Tickle that morning really doesn’t start at 4am, that his bedroom light stays off until 6am whether he likes it or not. We’re having mixed success. Well, I say ‘we’, but I really mean Husband, as he is the one who sleeps on a mattress in Tickle’s room. It’s been almost a year since we regularly slept in the same bed.

It’s my job – when I can keep my eyes open – to get Fairy up and ready for school. This morning she’s already awake, but when I go in to her room she’s got a look on her face that I’ve learned to dread.

“I don’t want to go to school.” She says.

She’s done really well at secondary school so far, and has managed three full weeks without any refusals. I can’t actually remember the last time that happened, but I’m pretty sure it was a year ago or more. However, she seems to have exhausted her supply of emotional energy; this week she was in late on Monday and Tuesday, and today she is insistent that she is not going to go in at all.

I can’t force her. We’ve been here before and I know from experience that if I force her it will just get worse. As an adult I take mental health days when I need them, and I have to trust her judgement to tell me when she needs to do the same. I’ve had a few difficulties with this in the past, mainly with ‘other people’ who are of the opinion that an eleven year old should not be making that sort of decision for herself. She’s not like most eleven year olds though.

She tells me school is confusing. She doesn’t like it. She doesn’t understand it. She can do the work, once she understands what she is being asked to do, but often the task is delivered in a way that doesn’t make sense to her, so she has to try and work it out, or ask someone. She struggles with friendships as the unwritten social rules of pre-teenage girls become ever more complex. Two of her friends have recently seen a counsellor at school to help them with a bereavement. Hanging her head, in her quiet little voice she says “I don’t understand why no one is helping *me*.”

I have to go to work. So I leave her in her pyjamas, and Husband in his, with Tickle having been wrestled in to the taxi for the day. Husband has not worked in over a year. He was signed off with stress originally, and although he has come a long way he is still not sure he’s ready to work full time again. I am doing my best to work as much as I can, but with my own health problems it isn’t exactly plain sailing. Thankfully Husband had a life assurance policy which is paying out, though we don’t know quite how much longer it will keep doing so.

Before I go I pop in to see Fairy. She tells me she has been researching Mental Health, and she thinks she has some of the symptoms of depression. She says she doesn’t want to hurt herself, but she does sometimes feel like life is not worth living. I say to her that if she feels like that she needs to find a cat to stroke immediately, and she laughs. She’s OK, because she knows I’m not making her go to school today. She knows I am trying to get her help. She also knows that she basically has to fail to cope with mainstream school before anything serious will be done.

I drive an hour and a half, to spend 35 minutes in a school teaching them a song. Such is the life of the freelance musician. I have arranged to pop in and see my friend afterwards, as she lives near the school I am working in. As I leave the school I get a text telling me I’ve gone overdrawn on my bank account – it turns out that they have taken a direct debit payment for my credit card even though I had made a manual payment a few days beforehand. They tell me this is normal procedure now, but not to worry, it will be returned and I won’t get charged. I just hope that nothing else tries to come out of my bank before they put the money back. I get to my friends house and sit in my car crying for ten minutes before I can get myself together to go in.

Eventually I get home at around 2pm, having given up on the idea of going in to the office and getting any more work done. I make myself something to eat and then I get in to bed. This seems to be where I’m spending most of my time at the moment.

Tickle gets home at half past three, and the noise begins again. Today at least he seems relatively calm; some days we’re not as lucky. Today he actually manages to get through dinner without throwing something or screaming at someone, so I’m left in relative peace until it’s time for me to go out to work again – ah yes, the life of a freelance musician. On the days that we’re not so lucky I might spend a fair bit of my afternoon/evening sat with Tickle on the bed, because he has hit Husband, or won’t stop screaming. Although Husband is doing the majority of the childcare at the moment (and he’s doing an excellent job of it) there is just something between me and Tickle that gets him to calm down quicker when he’s gone off on one. I wish I knew what it was, so I could teach it to Husband.

I will get home from work at around 10pm tonight, and I’ll be up and out by 7.45am as I’ve got four schools to go in to tomorrow. At some point I will probably also have to fit in the weekly phone call with Tickle’s teacher, to hear how many people he has hit and bitten this week. Mind you, I spent an hour with her yesterday morning talking over strategies so she may have had enough of me for one week.

My hip is hurting at the moment, and it’s going right down in to my leg. I know that it’s got worse since I haven’t been able to do as much exercise – my endo was playing up all summer and I spent a lot of it in bed – but lately I’ve been struggling to force myself up and out. I have also realised that I am on the autistic spectrum, which explains a lot of things I find difficult, but requires a lot of processing. It’s a weird time for all of us at the moment.

I don’t really know how to get myself out of this place. I can’t see a way of changing our situation that we’re not already trying, already working on. We’ve got a great therapist, but Tickle isn’t managing to attend sessions at the moment. Husband has referred himself in to Talking Space, CAMHS are trying to get Fairy some CBT for her anxiety, and her school are brilliant, even if their hands are pretty much tied just at the moment.

At least I’m going to have a good sing tonight.