Supporting and promoting the well-being of mental health carers and their families.
Mental Health Carers Austalia.
28-10-2017 07:24 PM
I have just signed up here I had a read of some othsr posts and i may be a different type of carer than a lot of you but let's give this a try
I am a foster carer, well I used to be. my husband and I found it to be a challenging experience but it was rewarding.
this story may be long I apologise in advance
one particular young man we cared for came to us as a teen, he spent the first 14 years of his life living with his parents who were extremely abusive and neglectful. I hate putting it this way but in the short time we looked after him he was a handful, persistent attempts to run away, yelling, screaming, many threats made, there was lots and lots of anger inside him. The support we received from the organisation we cared under was minimal. Unfortunately my husband and I used all attempts to support him with the resources we had and he was moved on from our care after 4 months.
He is now 22 years old and contacted us 6 months ago asking to be in his life as he doesn't have role models or people he feels care about him.
He said the impact we had on him was huge and he thought his placement with us was the only one he felt supported in.
So we have been getting to know each other again and he has just grown in leaps and bounds I am very proud of him. he has been getting to know my children and grandchildren now and he is a welcome part of our family. He has his struggles and i don't doubt that for a second. The things he has been and still is exposed to are traumatic. as far as I am aware he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Generalised Anxiety.
I have unfortunately noticed the last few weeks he has been very off, my husband and I have both tried mentioning this to him but tends to brush it off and change the subject or says nothing is wrong . he has gone very quiet and doesn't say much to any of us now, he visits us regularly we have a weekly lunch together as a whole family, he comes along but will sit quietly on his own until the food is ready or will just play with the children. The reason I'm posting this forum is because I'm concerned about him and would like to know what next steps there are. I want to support him as he needs it from us but lacking direction
28-10-2017 07:45 PM - edited 28-10-2017 07:52 PM
Re: New here
A very warm welcome to Sane. What wonderful people yourself and husband are to care so for abused children giving them some chance in life. I so admire you both. You touched this man in a special way in his darkness moment in such a profound way he has made his way back to you. Very special indeed. We need more people in the world like you and your husband.
I came from a similar abusive family background to this young man (I am female), and have been diagnosed with PTSD and severe anxiety at one stage.The mental scars do hang around and this young man is still struggling. Is he currently under the care of a psychiatrist/psychologist?
This young man came back to you because the love and care you gave him worked, helped him heal - it actually "kept him alive". He grew leaps and bounds as a result of the seeds of love you sowed. Keep doing the same as you did before when he is quiet - reassuring him, letting him know how much you care. When he is quiet keep things normal and talk and act like you normally would. Tell him you are there for him whenever he needs you and if he ever wants to talk you are all ears. And then leave this with him. This constant reassurance and acceptance of the way he is at present will give him the moral support to work things out for himself.
Talking about things that are very painful is hard - especially for males as they then believe they are appearing weak. Encourage it perhaps subtlety now and then by asking questions like how was your day? What did you do today? Are you okay? What are your dreams/goals etc? - and if he is still non responsive just smile and hold his hand for a bit, then change the subject. When he is ready to talk he will. The best thing for him is to know you are both proud of him and accept him the way he is for now. He will continue to grow one day at a time with your love, support and assurance. It's a journey.
Thank you for sharing your story here - others will also pop on soon and share their experiences with you that may help. Hope to see you around the forums 🤗
28-10-2017 07:55 PM
Re: New here
Unfortunately I am a little out of my depth on this one but I'm sure that someone will drop by and be able to give you some valuable advice.
I just wanted to say what a testament it is to you and your husband that this young man has come back to you both as a source of stability and love considering how broken he was in the short time he was with you.
I have seen the struggles foster carers experience and the lack of support recieved (have family members who are foster carers) and how angry and lost some of these little people can be so understand what you mean there.
28-10-2017 11:04 PM
Re: New here
Hi @Stars ..... I found you .....
Our younger son has developed anxiety and depression and is under treatment by a psychiatrist. Becoming withdrawn is a sign that something is wrong. Can you ask him to have a chat with his gp ? I believe that is the starting point to working out counselling and treatment.
29-10-2017 06:47 PM
Re: New here
@Stars ..... then I imagine he is doing some soul-searching and inner-dynamic re-building ..... and he is continuing to seek out the company of your family as his solace ..... likely with some sadness and thoughts of “why couldn’t I have been born into something like this ??”
It might be helpful to be able to say casually enough ..... “I am so glad life brought you into our home and our hearts ..... and I am so, so glad you took hold of the courage to come back and find us again”.
31-10-2017 12:55 PM
Re: New here
I am glad that you posted. It triggered me a lot reading and I needed time to reply. I was always greatful for being showed how to polish my shoes properly, though another foster father was abusive of me.
I was in foster care between ages of 6 - 8 and so were my siblings. I did a course with anglicare but in the end decided that though I cared about those in the upcoming generation in foster care I could not "give back" in that way.
I am so glad you have an open mind about him, despite his testing behaviours. I know adolescent kids in care can be extra difficult. Hopefully with his psychologist he can work through his particular issues.
It is difficult to know how to proceed, but if you intend to adopt him as a close family friend, think for the marathon not the sprint, monthly, quarterly get togethers etc.
Also sharing meals together is great, but I am thinking because he is male, and had anger issues, if you can do something more active with him, maybe less often than weekly if it is hard to organise. Maybe football or twice per year camping at beach etc??? depends what you all like
Being more active with people he respects may help him access his feelings of energy and enthusiasm.
I am in groups for people who have left "care". He needs to know that people do survive these types of experiences and create families and careers etc.
A little bit of being thoughtful and a sorry for being a handful is good, but you are right if he goes too quiet and depressed, feel guilty or turn his inner critic on himself or the world. We need our critic for judgement to be able to choose paths and actions in life.
It is a very difficult position for him. I never felt my foster carers really understood me,and my brother felt the same, but I could see which acts were caring acts and appreciated that. I would say dont stretch your resources, be kind and available long term.