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my 11 year old is having a breakdown

(117 Posts)
secondarycrisis Sat 18-Nov-17 12:12:18

I perhaps should post in child mental health but there doesn't seem to be much traffic there.

My 11 year old has just started secondary school. It seems to have triggered some major mental health issues. There is no bullying at school though he is rather lonely. His symptoms revolve around a fear of being sick (emetophobia) but have become totally overwhelming and almost like a psychosis. I took him to A&E last weekend and we have an appointment with CAHMs next week. In the meantime we are facing the following:

many panics attacks a day
covered in bruises and scratches from self harm
cannot sleep - four hours upright on the sofa last night, has not slept in a bed for a long time
fears being alone, even for seconds
fears the dark
not eating well, losing weight
not drinking properly, scared to swallow
terrified of walking - says it gives him motion sickness
terrified of going in a car - has tried to leave a moving vehicle on a couple of occasions
will not go in a lift (this was a major problem when we took him to hospital)
finds it hard to sit down and relax, he is often standing and pacing

His symptoms change on a daily basis and are getting worse, particularly over the last week. I have been into school and they are being very supportive. He has had some absences but mostly he is keen to go to school because he finds the lessons distracting. However, I can't help feeling that schools is the cause of this stress and I should stop him going. I am in a position to home educate for a few months at least.

Developmentally he is a completely normal boy so this is a surprise. However, school recently gave us the results of some cognitive ability tests (CAT) and they were very high - top 10% and top 3% in some areas. They have described him as having an 'active mind' and clearly think this is at least part of the cause. He has two younger siblings and I instinctively feel lack of attention is a contributing factor, historically he has been 'the easy one'. God knows he has our attention now.

I just don't know what to do next. Should I home educate or will this exacerbate the phobia? Has anyone been through this or similar? Any medics?

I am desperate and just heartbroken about it all

secondarycrisis Sat 18-Nov-17 15:50:06


Sirzy Sat 18-Nov-17 15:56:38

No advice really but couldn’t just read and run.

I would hold off making any major decisions until you have been to see CAMHs hopefully they can help you figure a plan of action even if it is one which may change daily.

For now I guess the most important thing is to get him hydrated and rested. Can you sleep in his room short term? Not ideal I know but may lead to a better quality of sleep?

Good luck

CiderwithBuda Sat 18-Nov-17 15:57:51

Oh poor boy. It sounds horrendous. I've no advice but didn't want to leave you unanswered.

Have you suggested him not going to school? How does he react?

My DS is older - 16 - and we are going through some issues with him and daily migraines which seem to be triggered by school. We had the same last year and he was off from Nov to end of the year. Did GCSEs at home. Went back in September and all seemed fine but they have started again. So I understand a little of what you are feeling. It is so hard and stressful for all concerned.

Copper1122 Sat 18-Nov-17 15:58:36

That all sounds so worrying. I am sorry you are going through such a tough time. My 11 year old is also struggling with secondary. I would say not sleeping must exacerbate everything. My 11 year old is currently in my bed every night. Would your ds get more sleep with you?

Mishappening Sat 18-Nov-17 15:58:49

Poor lad - I do hope that CAMHS will be able to help. You must be frantic with worry.

CiderwithBuda Sat 18-Nov-17 15:59:57

Actually this might sound bonkers so ignore me if you like but I just wondered about hypnotherapy. The dehydration popped out. A friend had hypnotherapy to deal with issues with drinking water and it really helped her.

No wondering if it might help my DS. We've tried everything else!

BeachysFlipFlops Sat 18-Nov-17 16:00:01

We’ve been there over the last 18 months, although my ds is older.
When you see Camhs, make sure you mention everything you’ve said here, especially trying to leave the moving car as that may indicate suicidal thoughts. Sounds callous but it may move him up the list sad

For now, it’s just being there all the time, like being with a toddler. Warmth, love, food.... try to get your dh or family to step in for the other two if you can.

We didn’t ask many questions, just were there iykwim. Let him sleep in your bed, if he wants.
Try to get a system going with school so he can leave at any time, maybe so he just sends you a quick text saying ‘get me’ so he knows he can come home whenever.

It’s so tough, so tough, but we are on medication now and had some talking therapy. We are not through it, but we are over the worst, for now, I hope.... flowers

Vitalogy Sat 18-Nov-17 16:01:35

Would he consider trying meditation at all.
Sounds really stressful OP. Poor lad.

ChoudeBruxelles Sat 18-Nov-17 16:01:47

My ds is 11 and the change to secondary is hard. Can he sleep in with you just so he can get some rest. Not a ling term solution but maybe til his appointment.

secondarycrisis Sat 18-Nov-17 16:02:06

Sirzy thanks for you message. our appt with CAHMS is on Wed so I'm thinking perhaps keeping him off school Monday Tuesday and seeing if that leads to any improvement in his condition. He will be having Wed off anyway. We are already taking it in turns to sleep in the same room as him though this is usually the living room.

Cider. sorry to hear about your troubles too. I suggested taking him out of school until XMas to him this morning and he cried for an hour! in general he likes learning and wants to go to school but I can't help feeling it is all too much for him

BabyDreams2018 Sat 18-Nov-17 16:04:10

No experience of this but I would contact the out of hours Doctors or A&E and ask their advice. You can't wait until the CAMHs see you. He needs to see someone now. There might be a mental health crisis team for weekends to bridge the gap?

Sirzy Sat 18-Nov-17 16:05:01

Would School send some work home for him (obviously work load carefully monitored?) or if he is too ill to attend school more long term he would be entitled to home tutoring so that may be an altering

secondarycrisis Sat 18-Nov-17 16:06:43

Cider hypnosis does not sound bonkers and I'd do it tomorrow (and so would he) if i could get a reputable recommendation

secondarycrisis Sat 18-Nov-17 16:09:54

BEachy sorry to hear about your troubles too. How old is your child and what medication are they on?

Good advice about treating him like a toddler. We are doing a bit of that and he is always welcome in our bed! he is also watching masses of TV which he finds calming

our referral to CAHMS has come through fairly quickly i think because i told them about the trying to escape from a moving vehicle amongst other issues. he is clearly a risk to himself.

secondarycrisis Sat 18-Nov-17 16:11:54

Babydreams we have already been to A&E and seen a duty psychiatrist. This is how we have a referral to CAHMS so quickly. They didn't feel it necessary to keep him in hospital though I did mention the possibility to him and this made him cry too sad

JsOtherHalf Sat 18-Nov-17 16:26:12

Have you heard of young minds?

Call the Parents Helpline: 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm, free for mobiles and landlines)

OneInEight Sat 18-Nov-17 16:33:42

flowers. We have been through similar with ds2 who is doing better since we home educate him. My top tip would be to take two adults to his appointment so one can sit outside with him whilst you discuss the problems as this is one thing that caused ds2 a lot of distress.

Gemini69 Sat 18-Nov-17 16:39:43

OP how does he travel to school ? is it on a Bus.. is the motion of the Bus affecting him like the car does ? causing anxiety ...

his symptoms sound awful and highly distressing .. I hope you find something anything that can help alleviate his anxieties... and fast...
Wednesday is a long few days for him and yourself to wait ... flowers

TeenTimesTwo Sat 18-Nov-17 17:24:59

It sounds terrible.

My concern with keeping him off school, is that gets him out of the house 5 days a week, and he must get there somehow.

If you keep him off do you run the risk of him becoming so anxious of walking / car that he will refuse soon to leave the house?

Wellmeetontheledge Sat 18-Nov-17 17:26:12

Big hugs to you both! I developed OCD with a focus on emetophobia around the same age as your son is now and had very similar symptoms. Every person is different but there was a logical reason behind everything I did; didn’t eat as if there was no food in me I couldn’t be sick, didn’t sleep as then I wouldn’t know if sickness was coming, self harmed as the pain from that distracted my mind from the fear etc. However, my parents were going through a tough time already and I think the thing I found hardest to deal with was their reactions to me. They couldn’t cope with me being ill and told me up basically pull my socks up and stop being ‘pathetic’. By being open and accepting of your son and his difficulties, as you clearly are, you will already be more of a support to him than you know. smile
I’m now 24 and, although I’m still scared of sickness, am so much better at dealing with the heightened levels of anxiety and work with children. This is something I thought i wouldn’t be able to do as small children vomit unexpectedly! You and your son will be stronger than you think and ‘this too shall pass’. Best wishes to you all xx

TheApprentice Sat 18-Nov-17 17:46:22

Hi. I felt that I needed to post as my son , who is 10, is also going through a period of heightened anxiety (although not the severity of your ds) and he too has just received very high CAT scores. Likewise his teachers think that this exacerbates the anxiety as he over thinks everything. My son is still at primary , but everything has rammed up at school this year and I'm pretty sure this is the cause. His school have also been great. However your son needs some relief now because it doesn't sound as if he's in any fit state to benefit from anything the scool might put in place just yet. Could you take him out just fora couple of weeks so that he has time and space for his body and mind to calm down?

Anxietype is a bugger. You can't just magic it away and your ds may benefit from talking therapy or the like but probably not right now while he's so unwell. I've decided not to pursue that route for now with my ds (although I may well do so in the future) as theres so much else going on for him right now . Your poor ds. Please reassure him that he's going to get better and I hope you get the help you need soon.

PossumBottom Sat 18-Nov-17 17:55:03

I would get him outdoors somewhere on a regular basis. Wrap him up and go somewhere peaceful and calming.

LuluJakey1 Sat 18-Nov-17 17:56:19

I wouldn't take him out of school if he wants to go. He will just be more isolated and it will be difficult for him to return as the class will move on academically and socially.

I would send him on Monday and Tuesday.

Hard as it sounds normal life for an 11-16 year old is school 5 days a week, other activities like sport, art, dancing, scouts/cubs or whatever, making friends and learning to develop independence. He needs to maintain as much of this as he can, it will help him in the longer term. He is telling you he enjoys having his mind distracted in lessons so let him do it. It's a good managing technique. There will be no quick fix and CAMHS will encourage him to be in school.

rockofages Sat 18-Nov-17 17:58:38

I feel for you, your son and family. This must be all-consuming. Like other posters I recommend keeping whatever parts of normality going that you can so if he is wanting to go to school let him but make no demands of him doing homework, activities etc. School should be very supportive and allow him to opt out of anything that cause worry such as going in the canteen or assembly for example. I wish you all the best on Wednesday, you will need to push for as much help as you can and join a group or phone an advice line to get help from others in the same boat. God bless.

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