The truth about me

Be­com­ingB a mum re­vealedr so much...

Chat - - Contents - By B Ab­bie Am­brose, 36, from Ip­swich

As I ran into the kitchen af­ter play­ing out­side, I went to grab a choco­late bis­cuit.

‘No, Ab­bie, you’re not hav­ing one,’ my mum Wendy told me. ‘Why not?’ I screamed. It was 1988 and I’d just turned 7, but al­ready my tem­per was be­com­ing un­man­age­able.

‘You won’t eat your dinner,’ she said.

Most chil­dren would walk away, de­feated and stroppy.

But in­stead of leav­ing it there, I went into a rage.

Yelling, thrash­ing, punch­ing Mum.

Later, she was black and blue.

This wasn’t a one-off – I reg­u­larly acted up.

‘I’m go­ing to jump,’ I told Mum one day as I stood on the edge of my bed­room win­dow.

Sit­ting in the gar­den, she had a friend round.

She ig­nored my at­ten­tion­seek­ing threat, so in­stead I threw a shoe out of the win­dow to scare her.

Hear­ing her scream sent a shiver up my spine – she re­ally thought I’d done it!

Mum was con­stantly at the end of her tether. Any­thing could set me off. I’d be play­ing hap­pily, then the tini­est thing would hap­pen which sent me into an over­whelm­ing fury.

I was in and out of care when Mum strug­gled to

cope. Who could blame her?

As I got older, I found I strug­gled my­self.

Why did I have such vi­o­lent out­bursts and why was I so de­pressed?

Mum took me to var­i­ous doc­tors, but they all as­sumed I was just a naughty child.

As I grew up, my rage never dwin­dled.

Want­ing to get an­swers, I went for pri­vate treat­ment. I de­scribed my symp­toms and my be­hav­iour to a psy­chol­o­gist.

Af­ter tests, he di­ag­nosed me with bor­der­line per­son­al­ity dis­or­der.

Bor­der­line per­son­al­ity dis­or­der is a long-term pat­tern of ab­nor­mal be­hav­iour – which nor­mally shows through un­sta­ble re­la­tion­ships and emo­tions.

He ar­ranged cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy (CBT), but com­ing to terms with the di­ag­no­sis was hard.

The stigma, the shame.

Mum still felt aw­ful, too. ‘I should have got an­swers years ago,’ she said, blam­ing her­self un­fairly. While the mood sta­biliser they gave me had no ef­fect, a year and a half of ther­apy re­ally helped. ‘It’s like the dark clouds are clear­ing,’ I told a friend. An­other ray of sun­shine came when I gave birth to Phoenix in 2007. ‘He’s so beau­ti­ful,’ said Mum. Dark hair and a gor­geous face – he was our lit­tle an­gel. Then, when Phoenix was 2, I started to see a scary change in my boy. ‘Stop that,’ I’d say as he threw his toys across the liv­ing room. To be­gin with, I just thought it was the ter­ri­ble twos – but af­ter a while, I knew it must be some­thing else. He often lost his tem­per. And when he did, I’d recog­nise that look in his eyes, and know how he was feel­ing. When Phoenix was 4, Neo was born. And by the time he was 1, he was the same. Short-tem­pered, an­gry, up­set at the slight­est thing. Out of con­trol. Just like I’d been. In 2011, I met Stu­art, now 47, and three years later, we mar­ried. We were head over heels

Why did I have such vi­o­lent out­bursts?

in love – but I took my rage out on him, as well.

‘You don’t have to stay,’ I’d tell him over and over again when we ar­gued and I lashed out at him.

Placid and car­ing, he never did.

He just un­der­stood, and helped me to get sup­port.

Then, at 5, Phoenix was di­ag­nosed with ADHD.

‘We think Phoenix has autism, too – he’s show­ing signs,’ said a wor­ried teacher.

‘We need to get help – for both of them,’ I said to Stu­art when Neo was 2.

We were re­ferred to a pae­di­a­tri­cian.

It wasn’t easy to get it con­firmed – months went past without so much as a re­fer­ral let­ter.

Mean­while, life was as hard to cope with as ever, for me and my boys. So I rang up the Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety.

I told them about the boys, as well as my his­tory.

‘Are you sure you don’t have autism, too?’ the woman there asked. ‘Women are often mis­di­ag­nosed.’

What? Had I been liv­ing with a wrong di­ag­no­sis this whole time? Look­ing into the symp­toms, we re­alised that it fit­ted ev­ery­thing | I suf­fered with – the se­vere mood swings and de­pres­sion.

‘Was this the an­swer all along?’ I asked Stu­art.

In 2015, I had a screen­ing for Asperger syn­drome and was di­ag­nosed.

It was nice to fi­nally un­der­stand who I was and why I am the way I am.

They also di­ag­nosed Phoenix with autism and Neo with early signs of autism, too. Ap­par­ently, there’s a strong ge­netic link. Mum cried when I told her about our di­ag­no­sis. ‘I knew I wasn’t a bad mother,’ she said as I hugged her. And as a mum to kids with the same con­di­tion, I fi­nally un­der­stood how she’d felt. But now both of us know not to blame our­selves. Liv­ing with autism can mean very dark days, es­pe­cially with two chil­dren that have it, too. I wish there were more sup­port groups for chil­dren with autism – we find it hard to do things as a fam­ily as the kids get over-stim­u­lated. But hav­ing a di­ag­no­sis is a comfort. At last I fi­nally un­der­stand who I re­ally am.

Stu­art – so un­der­stand­ing

Ge­netic link Neo and Phoenix have also been di­ag­nosed

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