Here’s a letter I plan to send to no-one in particular, but am leaving here for the world to see, it’s a partial summary of the bones of my situation – and I hope something to look back on and laugh about in time to come.
Dear (Social Worker/MP/Doctor/Lawyer/Hack/Samaritans/Guru/Therapist)
I am writing to disclose to you the details of my current dilemma. I have been fighting the good fight for almost 36 years now and I have decided to admit defeat. I need help, guidance, support and sympathy but will settle for the catharsis of letting this out of my overworked system.
Where to begin…should I start with the present and take you backwards, or from the start and write an essay that could take a long time to finish?
I think a summary of the most pressing details should suffice, and I can always furnish you with more if you care to ask.
OK, here goes.
I am living in a one-bedroom flat with my teenage daughter, who has recently been formally diagnosed with ADHD. She has been self harming for approximately 2 years. (It came to light just before her 12th birthday while she lived with her father who took me to court repeatedly for custody in 2006.)
I work full time as an orthodontic nurse. It’s not the worst paid job but I know people working in lower responsibility jobs who make more than I do in fewer hours. Since April last year my daughter has been living with me for the first time since she was 6 years old.
In the intervening years I commuted from here to the Sussex coast to see her two weekends per month. Most of the time since the court cases I lived in unstable accommodation, but in 2011 I was fortunate to be desperate enough to qualify for social housing. I’ve enjoyed a slightly more stable existence since then, weighted against the doubling of monthly outgoings and the stereotypical behaviour we are exposed to in our council estate.
I enrolled my daughter in the local secondary school and gave them a good picture of what we are facing. They were momentarily sympathetic and then proceeded to exclude her indefinitely and call me in from work for a series of ‘this is all your fault’ chats.
She’s been out of full time education since last November and currently attends 45 minute sessions two or three times a week at the local Pupil Referral Unit. We’ve been heavily involved with the social care system (CAMHS and children’s services) since she came back, and to be quite honest it’s largely done more harm than good. At it’s worst – their involvement contributed to my daughters first serious attempt at ending her life, at it’s best, a charitable donation provided me with a bed (my old one only had 3 legs) and a fridge freezer.
The Health & Social Care system is too crippled to actually help us, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s best to pretend we don’t need any help, and try to prevent their blunders and typos having any further influence on my daughter’s future.
In the background, the father lurches between promises and recriminations. I’m under pressure to pursue him for money via the Child Support Agency. Doing so will inflame his venomous persona and most likely any cash he relinquishes will be snatched back from the child tax credit or through some other penalising device.
Before all of this kicked off, I was an inspired and aspiring Community Enterprise director, managing a social venture. I was helping socially excluded individuals on a one to one basis in developing start-up companies with a direct social or environmental benefit. I raised tens of thousands of pounds in funding and had it all diverted away thanks to unscrupulous councillors and executives who felt threatened by our potential.
I just recently took the bull by the horns and re-registered the company, as a private entity this time, and snapped up a web domain – you will have just been there if you are reading this. I hope to find someone with the skills to resurrect the former interactive site and a mobile app to realise the vision. I know it will take time but I still have a little inspiration left, how long it will sustain against the pressure of external stresses I can’t say for sure.
Right now all I am doing is ricocheting between my day job and my exhausting home life, punctuated by meetings with social (life-killer) workers, consultants and counsellors. I am broke and being hounded by the DWP for a fictitious sum they claim was overpaid to me in 2005.
At times I feel depleted, exhausted, ready to retire. But I can’t and I know I must persist. Is there anything you can think of to help us get back from where we were to where we should have been by now?
A Mother interrupted