Friday 28 April 2017

The elephant in the room / The insult in the street

It came as quite a shock to Tina and me to be insulted, denounced and verbally abused by a woman in the street last weekend. It was insulting to have our love for our daughter questioned. And insulting to be told that we did not understand our daughter. This sort of abuse hasn’t happened to Tina and me for quite some time.
It’s funny how many people tell us: ‘I don’t know how you and Tina cope. I couldn’t!’ with regard to raising and loving Mui.’ Well it’s not that funny, I suppose, because Tina and I were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder towards the end of last year as a result of coping with our daughter’s psychological challenges. Such is life. We are not complaining and nor is such a diagnosis an excuse for us to stop laughing. We just shut down our emotions. Bottle them up.
From the life changing challenges of her past that inspired her to help others, Tina’s dictum is the Robin Williams quote: “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.” Mine comes from Bill Parcells: “Blame no one, expect nothing, do something (positive).”
Stress, depression, breakdowns, post-traumatic stress etc tend to be the “elephant in the room” when it comes to coping with a son or daughter with special needs. Because support and understanding for the chaos of psychological challenges still comes a poor second to having a visible difference or raising and supporting someone who has. We know both sides of the coin. More than one friend has severed ties with us when discovering the psychological challenges faced by our daughter. No doubt more will follow. We accept this and as a result tend to keep such stigmatized pressures to ourselves.
But what we don’t accept is being insulted, denounced and verbally abused in the street and having the sincerity of our love for our daughter challenged, or having the challenges our daughter faces belittled. It is shocking ignorance.
In response to the woman insulting Tina and me, Mui says:
“Yes, I have battled with my parents about going, but I have been attending sessions with a specialist and we are working through a lot of issues. I may come across as fine and chirpy but I do have psychological struggles. I have a lot of deeply rooted issues. Ones that I don’t have any desire to inform the whole world about. I would only mention the struggles in our book and not discuss them on other platforms because I would feel even more uncomfortable than I already do because it’s such a personal topic. My parents and I are making mental health decisions that work for us as a family. Please respect my family and our choices.”
Of the woman Mui adds: “She has repeatedly screamed at me that I just need to follow her advice.”
As a family we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Dr Lauren Bramley as well as to Sir David and Lady Tang.
Nevertheless, we do not expect support so why share all of this? Because as a result of our Family Talks and our Facebook page: The Girl Behind The Facewe have come to appreciate how sharing our story might be of help to others.

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