Category Archives: What About The Children

Neil Morrissey – Care Home Kid

I was fortunate enough to catch this moving and for me, heart wrenching account of Neil Morrissey’s life. I always had a soft spot for him, there is something about him that I identified with and now I know what.  He spent a lot of his life lost,  bewildered and not feeling like he belonged.  He put on a great front, was a way-ward person, has abandonment issues and has had a sting of relationships,  deep inside he was troubled.  Now we see the softer, gentler side of a man, who for so long has been haunted by his past.

I spent my life feeling lost, but not knowing that is what it was, it is only now that I am begining to put the pieces together and realising that I never felt really like I belonged. When I did, it didn’t last for long, someone always came along and took it away.  My mother left when I was 3 and a half, but long before that I had been seperated from her she had to work long hours and I had one nanny after another, four in total before I was 9 months old and it had a huge impact on my life and my feeling of belonging and connection, lack of it. My father was married 6 times and my mother was the second wife so I had a succession of step-mothers to contend with.

I felt, and still do sometimes bewildered and just put on a brave front and get on with it, that is getting less and less now and the reality of it all is hitting me, which I am finding pretty painful right now.  Like Neil I was rebellious, had families I went to, to help me through. I have no real connection to my family now, and I still do feel very lost sometimes. There is so much unresolved crap that most of them don’t want to talk about that we just end up in our own little corners, doing our own thing, which I think is pretty sad.

Fortunately I have a son who I am close to and so we are begining again, which I am so grateful for.  The pain and yearning in me is still there for my mother and a family that will be all together, but it is something I have to let go, as painful as it is. I also realise that we are building it for ourselves. That is a great thing to have.

In this moving two part documentary Neil Morrissey explores the reason behind why he was put into care at ten years old because of stealing and how that has effected his entire life.  He visits prison, where 60% of the in-mates in the wing for young offenders have been in care.  He talks to people who were in care and who still are in care and explores the horror stories of abuse that still haunt people’s lives 40 years later.

Neil describes how the way he coped with the situation of suddenly being taken from his family was he just got on with it and was never really encouraged to discuss his feelings, never explored what was going on for him, and that is how he has lived his life.  On visiting a children’s home in Scotland, Lothian Villa, Neil finds a supportive environment for children in care, a far cry from most of the ones he is visiting and hearing about. The way they help people at Lothian Villa is to encourage the children to deal with their feelings of ingrained hurt, anger and distress so that they will no longer remain mad with the world, because they will unless the feelings are dealt with. He credits a lot of his fortunate experience in the children’s home to a house mother who was loving, firm and kind. However he did not learn to deal with his feelings, he says he ignored difficult feelings and made the best of it. He was one of the lucky ones by all accounts.

Most of the people he interviewed and indeed himself came to the conclusion that being in care had, in one way or another, had a devastating impact on their lives.  Neil was put into care because his parents did not properly care for their children and he was caught stealing on a regular basis and he and his brothers were left to run wild, with few boundaries and were often left alone to fend for themselves at night with no parents there for them. How his mother could barely cope with the housework and how his father spent time at the working man’s club because his home was so dirty.

The people who suffer are the children, one way or another, from neglect, abuse or just that feeling of being unloved and without love and support it is so hard to make it in the world.  I was a single-parent and often found it hard to cope, it was very hard. We lived on welfare and I was terrified to ask for help because I always thought that they would take my child away, because that is generally what they did if you were not coping as a single-parent.  I knew that there were many women out there who were also not coping being a mother but they had husbands and family to support them, I did not.

I struggled on and it was only when I finished my degree I felt less vulnerable, for some reason I thought that if I was a single parent with an education they would look more favourably on me.  Little did I know, I had depression which I was self medicating with alcohol, I had a mental illness which was at this point un-diagnosed and it was of course effecting me and how I was parenting.  I was desperate for help.  I now have such a clear insight into so many of the problems, people need love, support and encouragement, not punitive treatment, if parents are not coping they need support to help them cope.  Taking children away from their family and their parents can leave long term damage and worse. If we were to look at things differently and support instead of punish struggling parents, we would be supporting the parents and the children and healing lives. I stongly believe that if you support the parents, you support the child, it is not rocket science.

Recently I spoke with two friends of mine, one from Africa and another from Turkey, interestingly they could not get their heads around the concept of adoption or children’s homes, for them, they had a community and a family who would help out so that if the mother was not coping or on her own for whatever reason, they would all chip in.  It seems that this is a very British thing to do and it raises the question for me, why? Sadly I do not have the answer, but it is such a relief to know that this is as abnormal in other countries as it feels to me, it feels like an insane thing to even consider.

I read a great article by Andrew Mosley that about sums it up really, this is not the Neil Morrissey we have all come to know.  I have to say, I am so grateful to see this side of  him, it gives me hope. Hope that once you face the pain of your past you begin to heal. He has done a lot of good and spoken out for thousands of people who are still suffering, what a great way to use your fame.

He is also now in a committed relationship with his lawyer girlfriend Emma and says that he does not believe in dwelling on his past, and when he was in the children’s homes he always had a dream for a better life.  I personally believe we have to go back and face our pasts and the pain that is there in order to move on, I am in the process of doing that myself and am looking forward to the life the other side.

Domestic Abuse discussed on Loose Women 27/1/11

Should domestic violence cases just focus on the physical? On the show today the ladies are discussing domestic violence.

“Following a ruling yesterday by the country’s most senior judges, you will now not have to be physically attacked to be recognised as a victim of domestic violence. The Supreme Court has widened the definition of abusive relationships after ruling in favour of a woman who left her husband because he shouted at her and she was too scared to confront him. So her local council now has a duty to provide housing for her. This means there is now a legal precedent that domestic violence can now include psychological or emotional abuse”.

If you have been affected by domestic violence in any way and would like further information, please call one or both of the numbers below:

The Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327

Refuge: 0808 2000 247

This discussion today was brilliant, all the women on the panel were so informative and Sherrie and Colleen were particularly insightful about the long-term effects of emotional/psychological abuse from childhood and the long lasting effects it can have on us as adults.

Coleen Nolan described how when she was growing up there was always shouting and it has taken her a long long time to stop flinching everytime her partner is angry.  Sherrie Hewson describes in great detail the effects that her abusive relationship had on her.  “In the end you do believe it is your fault and because you do you don’t tell people” It erodes the soul, as I have mentioned in previous writings on the subject.

People need help, families need help, these behaviours are passed on from one generation to another and it takes recognising you have a problem to get help. If you think it is normal, it is hard to know it is not, if that makes sense.  I am grateful on a daily basis that I am begining to heal from the effects it has all had on my and my son’s life.

One of the other things that was said on the show was that if women don’t ask for help it is very hard for a friend to interfere, it is, and when friends of mine were telling me it was abuse I had not idea what they were talking about. One thing Iwould say though, I am very glad they told me, it showed me they cared and I look back now and I am very grateful to the ones who did.

If you do have a friend in need, please tell her what you see, she may think it is normal to be treated like this. I know it is hard, but it so helped me, even though I did not like it at the time and I thought that my friends did not know him, how lovely he is really. It sowed a seed and I am beginging to see what they meant.

The other very important thing is that emotional/domestic abuse is also between parents and children, this is called child abuse and the child so often then grows up expecting to be treated like this, we have to stop the cycle.

This is a very timely debate as due to Government cuts my Domestic Abuse outreach worker has had to stop seeing me, and because they can now only see very urgent cases, those who are actually in the relationship and in physical danger here and now. The follow up has to be done by phone.  What is happening out there?  I have been seeing her for 3 years to help with the impact of the emotional abuse I suffered, it is slowly getting better and I am slowly begining to see the light, some days are better than others.  The waiting list at the NHS therapy services is a good 5 months on average and then they are not trained in specific Domestic Abuse psychology. It takes a long long time to un-pick the patterns of a life-time and when you do get to see somone you are very often only offered six sessions!  I hope that awareness is continued to be raised.

If you need help or know someone who does need help call

Women’s Aid Same number as above 0808 2000 247

Should We Train Our Children Like We Do Dogs?

The debate this morning on Sunday Morning Live was facinating.  Unfortunately I tried to get the link on here for anyone who missed it but alas for some reason it cannot be viewed.

Edwina Currie, always an interesting character, says Yes, absolutely., children should be trained like we train our dogs. She believes that children need to know who the boss is and that they should do as they are told, without question in their early life.  This, according to Edwina helps them to feel secure and safe and to know that they do as she says.

It opened up a facinating debate and for me personally, I know that boundaries made me feel safer when I got them kindly put in place, not slapped on me for no apparent reason. My son is grateful that I stood by what I said and he knew, without me saying so, that I would be consistant in what I said and did. But we discussed it and he knew why, I did not just bark orders at him.

I also know that that almost sometimes victorian approach has led to my own personal lack of self esteem, because, I felt, when growing up, that sometimes my views did not matter and I felt confused and not sure what I did and did not do.

I personally feel that children need to explore within boundaries, be naughty, test themselves and push you as a parent a bit more and more to grow.  To know that, when I was growing up my ideas mattered, my opinion was heard and then things were explained to me as to why not, would have helped my cognition development far better than do as I say and that is that.

We had a father who listened sometimes, a nanny who did, a step-mother who did not listen at all and when we saw our mother, a mother who thought that her way was the high way and there was not space for discussion.  I was the most respectful to our father and nanny who eventhough we were disciplined, we were also able to discuss things with and listened to, on a good day. When it happened I felt loved, heard and that I mattered.  I felt that unconditional love that eventhough I was being naughtly I was ok and that they cared.  Unfortunately it was not consistant, but I did get a bit of it.

If a child says no, there may be a very good reason for it, they are not you.  They have different likes and dislikes, they have their own set of feelings that if we are fortunate enough to listen to, we can learn a lot.  I have always said my son is my teacher and he is.  He tells me when he thinks I am out of order and I am able to listen and take it on board, for this I am really grateful.  He also tells me when I do good things as well and what he agrees with and disagrees with.  I have been told by many people that he is one of the most rounded people they have ever met, we talked, he explored and he learnt of himself within the boundaries.

One of the other panallists was Elizabeth, a Religious  Broadcaster and ex-nun.  She made a beautiful comment that children are our gifts, we do not own them, they are a precious gift.  That as parents our role is to be a midwife, to bring the beauty of the child within out………….I don’t think there is space for that if you are treating and training children like dogs.  Boundaries, yes, they keep us safe, and tough sometimes, yes, but love is the most important thing, with boundaries and listening and nerturing.

I know many many people, including myself, who were raised in the way Edwina is suggesting and it did not work, their self esteem is on the floor because they never felt their voice mattered and they never felt heard either by one or both parents, it is not conducive to intimacy, in my humble opinion.

Raising Questions

Raising Questions About Mental Illness

When I first heard about Raoul Moat running around shooting people, I must say I didn’t really know what was going on or take that much interest.  I had my own stuff going on and I was absorbed in that. A friend of mine, Sherry, called me up and we started talking about it. She mentioned that there was talk of him having asked for psychiatric help and not getting it. I asked her to send me any links and here they are, have a look and see what you think. http://www.itv.com/news/exclusive-moats-anger25784/

Slowly information filtered through and someone mentioned a bit more to me. I said I felt sorry for Moat, that he must be in a lot of pain to be doing what he was doing and what is being done to help him and those around him? Not a lot by all accounts.  The more awareness that is being raised about the lack of facilities for people with psychiatric, mental health isues, the better. The Raoul Moat story highlights what can happen when someone is not taken seriously. It is a tragic loss for everyone. I found this article very insightful  http://news.uk.msn.com/uk/articles.aspx?cp-documentid=154126009

Little did I know the extent of his psychological problems and that he had been asking for help for a long time and not getting it.  He has been described as aggressive and in a way it is understandable.  I am not for one moment saying what he did was right, far from it, he clearly lost the plot. However,  I do want to respond to the distress suffered by so many people at the lack of support available when in dia need. How many people do loose the plot under such extreme stress and it is at high cost to themselves, their families and society. People can get so lost and so far gone they cannot see a way out and something just snaps.

I have also come across a website of a book by James Bartholomew who has written about this same subject, commenting on the fact that Raoul Moats last words were ‘I’ve not got a Dad, no-one cares about me’.  Here Bartholomew raises the question that Moat was abandoned by his father and then his mother met and married another man, leaving him alone and feeling unwanted.  I will be writing more about this subject for myself in a later blog, it is a subject very close to my heart.

I have been out of re-hab now since the 19th April.  Have been to see a psychiatrist who assessed me, then told me to come back a month later with no offer of support in the meantime, then telling me there is a community psychiatric nurse who can help me at which I freaked out, I had had one of them before 14 years ago and know they cannot help with assessing me, giving me therapy and moving me forward in that area. I was then offered lithium incase I had borderline personality disorder or bi-polar……I am still waiting for help.  I was told I was aggressive, I was asked to calm down, I was scared and there were no answers for me……….I then went to see my doctor who suggested I tried anti-depressants to see if there is infact a chemical inbalance in my brain, so I am trying them.  I feel wierd, tired, distant, a bit zoned out..apparently it takes a while to kick in, and I am still waiting to see what the community mental health team are going to do. I have been referred to a Psychologist, with only one in the area, there is a big waiting list, in the meantime, I wait.

There are hundreds of people out there who are being left to rot, drugged up to the eye balls with no way of getting help.  I would be one of them if it had not been for some help from a friend so I can get to see someone. I was desperate and I needed help.

In the next few months I will be starting a series of interviews to highlight this exact problem, what can be done.  It isn’t ok scapegoating people saying they are aggressive. When people need help and cannot get it,  ask for it, knowing there is a problem, it is sometimes little wonder they feel frustrated.  I know I felt very scared indeed.