Yesterday was a good day for my son and so today I will try to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives which is all too easy to do when living with addiction, mental illness and dysfunction.
One of the consequences of both my son's addiction and mental disorientation and anxiety has been the poor management of his limited funds, resulting in escalating bank charges. We all know what a vicious circle this can be: not enough money in the bank, unintentionally being overdrawn, results in bank charges, resulting in less money and so on and so on. This had become so bad for my son that he was being charged £58 a month from the bank and his incoming is only £72 fortnightly. The longer this went on, the more stress and anxiety it created. The initial discussion with the bank did not go well and more confusion and lost letters and hiding from the problem continued. The levels of anxiety were so bad that it created panic attacks and in fact some of my son's delusions during his psychotic episode were around money and banks calling the police on him.
Since becoming more lucid it is obvious that the two man fears of my son is his poverty and fear of the bank as well as his housing situation and fear of homelessness. It is something we have discussed with the staff at the mental health unit he is in and they have offered to write letters explaining his vulnerability and poor mental health if needed.
On a few occasions when I have taken my son out for a few hours we had planned to go into town and his flat and try to deal with some issues, but it always created such fear, anxiety and anger within him that we could not continue. Yesterday was a different story though. Together we went into the bank and my son said he only wants to go in and tell the bank he has lost his new bank card but still has his old bank card and would like to know if his old one is still active and also what is his balance. Upon investigation it was discovered that my son only ever had one bank card and never received a second one and that the one he has in indeed active and always has been. This confused my son, but I was secretly thinking, this is actually a good thing because it does illustrate his blurred reality. He was happy he had a card that worked and was all set to say thank you and good bye when I spoke up that there is one more thing they could help us with!
I told the woman who was helping us about the bank charges and my son's ongoing problem with managing his money and that he is not in education or employment, lives in supported housing and has mental health issues which has ended him up in our local mental health hospital which he is still in and if there is something that can be done to stop further charges and possibly come to an arrangement where we can pay off the charges in smaller increments rather than taking it all and living him without enough left over. She was very sympathetic and said she would go see if one of their advisors could speak to us. I knew that if we went into the bank with the plan to do this my son would become too anxious and when faced with it in front of others "on the spot" so to speak, it would be easier for him to manage.
We spoke to a lovely and understanding young man, and reading in between the lines of his comments, he has had his own personal experience with mental health issues and straight away got busy on his computer and told us he would explain everything when he finished. While working on my son's account we chatted a little and he was telling my son that his mental well being is priority for him and he does not need to be stressing about bank charges, I was hopeful that he would be able to help but was not expecting the end result when he finished! My son and I were blown away when he explained to us that there was £57 of charges being taken from his account today but he stopped that. If that were not enough he refunded the last two months of charges so in total he refunded £171 into my son's account! He also made a note in his diary to check my son's account weekly to make sure that no more charges are taken and that he stays in credit. He gave my son his direct number and name and told him to call or pop in whenever need be. Most importantly he continued to reassure my son that his emotional well being was paramount and that hopefully without this added worry hanging over his head he can focus more on his recovery. My son was so grateful, I have not seem him smile so big and so genuinely in a very long time! My son shook his hand and told this lovely man, "Thank you. I mean thank you, I am not thanking the bank, I am thanking you!". That made us all smile.
Earlier that day I encouraged my son to ask staff if he can see the worker from One Support (a floating support service offering help with housing, preventing homelessness and trying to increase life skills). My son said he did not have an appointment, and since this person only comes onto the ward once a week (Wednesdays) he probably couldn't talk to him and he just wants to go out. I gently persisted that he just ask and if he was indeed fully booked, he could ask to see him next week. My son gave me the classic, "yeah, yeah, ok" response. I was not convinced that he would.
As agreed I went to pick him up after lunch and when I got there I was told he will be a while because he was speaking to Brian from One Support. Great! Of course I will wait, well done I thought! So I was kept entertained by one of the other patients having almost the exact conversation I have with her all the time! The conversation usually revolves around cigarettes and will I buy her some. My son came out and we said our hellos and goodbyes and left. Once in the car he told me that Brian had phoned the manager at the supported housing in which my son is being evicted from and put some difficult questions unto the manager! Good, glad to hear it! Brian will also see if he can get a referral made to another supported housing which offers help to people with mental health issues, which is actually very near to my home. Again, good, glad to hear that as well! Brian also told my son not to worry because eviction generally takes 4 weeks and it will go to court and the court may indeed over rule the eviction giving the circumstances and that my son was not actually breaking any rules of his tenancy! Exactly, glad to hear someone is actually up to speed on things and offering my son some support. Let us hope that he gets a place in this housing scheme which offers a higher level of support and that the eviction does not go forward or get accepted so that my son does not have on his permanent record with the council that he has been evicted from a housing project.
All in all a good day really. Small victories in some ways, but very big ones in other ways.
And for me, well I still feel like I have contributed to having messed up kids with big problems to deal with and we have to deal with them alone (again something I am responsible for) but at the end of the day, I can not change that now. I have tried and failed over and over and over again to help my children and provide for them a happy existence. I have failed myself in providing the lifestyle that I would have liked and have failed to provide a loving and nurturing family that consists of more than just one very over wrought mother. And I have failed in realising my dreams and finding love and friendship with someone who will be there for me when I need them to be. But then sometimes I feel the joy of a small victory! Sometimes I am awestruck by people's random acts of kindness! Sometimes I have a moment in which I do feel loved. And sometimes thanks largely to these other small and infrequent moments, I become more hopeful in the future and believe, even if just briefly, that things will indeed work out for us. I must remember the good times with special friends and of course my children, because there have been good times and I have spent time with good people. Everyone has their battles and as I believe and always have, we have to be there for others while they are suffering even if we are suffering in our own battles. We can not become consumed in only our problems, we are always capable of giving, that is part of the beauty of being human!