This morning was the first time Becca didn’t make it to school. Unfortunately it is one of those times that comes every so often where the clothes she insists on wearing are wearable no more.
Since starting Secondary School in September Becca has insisted on wearing the shirt she wore in Primary School. It was just a happy coincidence that white shirts were again required. However at 11 years old now and rapid growth showing no signs of slowing this particular shirt now fits where it touches and is no longer appropriate for wearing out in public. We have been aware that this may happen for some time and have tried to make the transition to another shirt but to no avail.
Nothing ever felt right and even if she tried on a shirt in a clothes shop it was no guarantee that she would be successful in putting it on for school and unfortunately it hasn’t. When asked how it feels she has no answers apart from ‘it tingles so much I can’t concentrate on anything else and it makes me cry’. I’ve heard accounts from adults who have grown up with tactile defensiveness who describe the sensation where clothes touch their skin as being like the raw uncomfortable feeling when you cut your nails too short…but for them it doesn’t go away after a short while, it stays until it becomes unbearable to wear the clothing anymore. No wonder Becca didn’t want to keep the shirt on for more than a few seconds!
So we’re at home, she is at on her laptop reading about fashion designers, she loves fashion! She has a great eye for putting outfits together that has been utilised by many family members and friends and all her spare time is taken up looking at clothes or anything else to do with that industry, I know… major irony to an almost cruel degree! But she is not deterred, even though she shows signs of depression.
She won’t accept any help. When things like this happen she holes herself up in her room on her laptop, reading or watching DVD’s. She fears her friends knowing what she’s going through in case she’s labelled a ‘freak’ or some other derogatory term that girls often pin on others that are ‘different’. For this mind set I blame the ‘professionals’, they are the ones that have made her feel like there is nothing that can be done and all she can do is accept her lot.
I can’t think like that for Becca’s sake, I have to keep trying, unfortunately too often Becca isn’t ‘with me’ on that. She’s adapted her lifestyle to that of almost a hermit just to keep her issues secret from the world and it is heartbreaking watching this happen and not being able to get through to her that she is missing out on so much. She finds she can rarely go outside and play with friends unless they catch her on a good day, and good days are getting less and less frequent.
Oh well, tomorrow is another day.
However, if there’s one thing that is our saving grace for allowing us to get ‘out and about’ and have some mother and daughter time it’s going to the cinema.
So we can’t go on holidays, that’s a given now until we find the right help for Becca to be confident enough that she’ll be able to handle the sensory overload. It’s enough of a minefield for her staying in Britain but in a hot country, no way! Well, not yet anyway! So we go to the safe haven that is the local cinema, nobody cares what you’re wearing if you go at the right time, Becca has fun, feels safe and knows she’s only a few minutes from her bedroom where she can relax and chill out. It’s dark so if she’s stressed about something nobody else can tell and we can deal with it without strange glances that make her paranoid.
The best thing about the cinema though is the way it makes her feel afterwards. When we get lost in the world on screen for that little part of the day Becca looks the happiest I’ve ever known, and if it’s a film she’s especially enjoyed she carries that over into real life, even if it’s only for a little while.
You can actually see the change in her, she’s more open to things, she’ll try things she never would at any other time, and off her own initiative. It could be something as small as keeping on a pair of jeans for more than half an hour, but she does it, and its that lift of a couple of hours of escaping and losing herself in something that makes the difference.
If only we could bottle that feeling…