Today we got all gussied up for a trip into the big City...Well, as Cities go Carlisle is pretty small but it is perfectly formed :)
I took a couple of Milly, who had colour coordinated her outfit perfectly :) Even the whisker's matched :))
Now you may be thinking what is so special about a trip out that deserves recording... Well....It is a long story that began over a year ago... Last June our gorgeous girl was full of life and living life to the full in her own inimitable style with lot's of down time to fulfil her need for space and daydreaming time :)
She was happy and healthy and all was well in our world. One afternoon she came to me - having watched My Sister's Keeper with me a day or so before - and said she wanted to shave her hair off for a Cancer charity! To be honest I wasn't really surprised as it is just the kind of thing Milly would do. I told her what a wonderful gesture that would be but I did ask her to have a good think about it. She did so but was still very keen to do it so we set about fundraising and set up a facebook page and blog to record the journey...The date of the hair shaving event was set for 12.12.12...
Over the next month's we worked hard to get the word out and create way's to raise money. In that time Milly began to become more reserved and anxious than normal but that is only really evident with hindsight.
Milly has always been quite an anxious child but coped very well with life before school and then again once we took her out of school at eight...The hormonal changes that bombard teen's hit hard though...
I will try to cut a long story short but during a trip to London ( a much anticipated holiday and requested by Milly after we had had a fabulous trip there the year before ) Milly had a panic attack of epic proportions whilst waiting for a tube! Although she had often expressed anxiety in her life she had never had an attack. I can't begin to tell you how shocking and traumatic it was and it meant that she was then unable to get on a tube, in a taxi or on a bus and we had to walk across London to the Travelodge we were staying in.
A nightmare journey with more panic attack's on the way. In amongst all that panic and stress we were helped by some really wonderful and kind people ...I cried at the generosity and understanding of a burly doorman at the London Exchange - where a swanky event was being held... At the point we were passing by Milly was beside herself and we approached him to see if she could possibly use the bathroom, thinking that we would probably be refused access. Seeing her obvious distress he allowed us in and quickly called the manager who ushered us past all the ladies - dressed up in their finery - to the bathroom... Whilst we were inside he was talking to Alan who explained our situation and the doorman empathised and told him about his brother who also experienced panic attack's. When we came out he was so kind and understanding that it brought me to tears....
When we finally got back to the hotel after a couple of hour's walking we were all emotionally and physically drained..We gave Milly the option of getting the next available train home but the trauma had just been too much and she decided she couldn't go home until the train we had booked on the Monday... We spent three day's in the Travelodge...We persuaded Alan to go out each day to do a bit of sightseeing and he half heartedly did so.
Milly and I watched TV, read, made short journey's - bit by bit, step by step, first to the lobby, then the coffee shop down the road, and then further afield a couple of hundred yards down the road to the big Marks and Spencer. All the time allowing her time to just be and not to have to go anywhere... We spent time talking and planning about how we would get across London to Euston. Milly geared herself up to getting in a Tube for one stop..If memory serves me right we were able to walk to Aldgate and check it out so she knew where she was going and on the Monday we made it to Euston with out much of a problem. We had to leave plenty of time - just in case - and got to Euston hour's early and then to top off the trip there was a long delay and hundred's of train's were cancelled.. We eventually made it home and I have never been so glad to walk through the door..
That was just over a year ago - last October...Milly bravely decided that she would still go ahead with Shaving her hair off at the event we had organised in December...She was so very nervous in the build up but coped incredibly well on the actual night. She had a radio interview for CFM at home in the week before and was recorded for TV ( the clip starts with another little boy then Milly at about 1.21 min's in ) on the actual night.
I wrote this on the Facebook page the night before..
Well...Here we are the night before my daughter shaves her hair for charity:-) There was a time last year when when Milly contemplated having one side of her hair shaved. I wasn't surprised when she came to me with that plan and was happy to look through styles with her but then she decided against it.... I have to say I wasn't surprised when she said what she wanted to do for charity either and have been more than happy to help her reach her goal.
It has been a bit like when you get a pet and the initial days are high excitement and lots of time is spent with the pet then gradually Mum and Dad end up taking over I knew that when we set off though - it was a long road with the date we set being six months in advance and I expected to be the one doing the day to day stuff with Milly doing the most important part tomorrow:-)
In conversation today someone said to me that she must be a very confident young lady. That made me think that there are many of you who don't know Milly and I thought now might be as good a time as any to give you an insight into a teenager who is happy to shave her hair off.
Milly is a normal teenager with all the insecurities that this time of life throw at us. Some days she is confident and happy with herself and other days less so. Mood swings are a day to day part of life just now. She is also very gentle and loving.
She has always been a very sensitive and empathetic child and feels things deeply. She is a delightful daydreamer with a head full of stories . Sometimes she has a maturity, wisdom beyond her years and amazes me with her perception and take on things. She can also be very childlike, loud and giddy and has a sharp wit
Some weeks ago Milly experienced a series of panic attacks and since then has found it very hard to leave the house. We are working through that with her and are helping her to overcome her fears. This means that tomorrow night is challenging to say the least.
Milly is determined to go through with it though. She is so very excited to shave her hair off and is not at all anxious about that. We have all worked together to find ways that will ease her anxiety. She will be surrounded by family, friends, a bunch of new friends and people who have come along to support her fundraising...With the dancing, the excitement and the steps we have in place we all feel hopeful that she will enjoy herself.
Milly thought she would feel less awkward if people knew how she was feeling. She has written something that Alan will read out for her that lets people know about her anxiety and explains why she might need to get up during the hair shaving.
So there we have it.... not necessarily a confident girl at this moment but a very brave one. In the words of one lady who commented on a post.... a top bird :-))
Alan and I are so very proud and our hearts are full of love for her. Can't promise there won't be tears tomorrow
Here she is before and after...
She raised £1849!!
This last year has been difficult to say the least. She has been very low and has not been out much. Gradually - a little like we handled the situation in London - bit by bit and step by step we have helped her in her journey. She has been in control and has found her own way through... We felt instinctively that it was vital that she was in control and trusted that she would work out her own coping strategies. It wasn't at all easy and we ( Alan and I ) made mistakes and the fear we felt - about 'what if' she 'never' got through it and the feeling that she was missing out on so much - meant that there were times we lost direction...
Luckily I was able to talk to other's who had been through it and that was invaluable. We have supportive and understanding family and friend's who - although may have had their own ideas on how we should have dealt with thing's - listened to us and gave hug's when needed :)
I also had masses of info on group's that we could contact should we need to. I researched and felt confident - most of the time ;) - that the way we were approaching it was the right way for Milly.
Over the last month or so MIlly has turned a corner and has been asking to go out!
She has travelled over to her friends home in Northumberland and been into town with her best friends... This outing today was arranged at her request and we were meeting my Mum ( who Milly adore's ) at Milly's request. In my mind that is a day worth celebrating and recording here :))
I didn't mean to write so much...Couldn't tell half a story though :)
I have asked Milly and she is happy for me to share this.
Here are some images of our lovely day out together :)
Not a very good shot of the Christmas lights! But a very good shot of my Sister and Brother in Law's beautiful shop, Alternative. Can't recommend it highly enough if ever you are in Carlisle :)
A treasure trove of wonderful gift's...
Fish and chip's in a cafe, then onto present buying for best friend El and a then a rucksack spotted by Milly that she fell in love with. I was going to go back later - without her - to buy it for her for Christmas but they only had two and were unlikely to get more in so I bought it for her today as a very early Christmas present and she had it in use within minute's of being home as she went out ( again!! ) with Alan to do the weekly shop:) Granny treated Milly to her favourite frapachino in Starbucks whilst I went off to do some shopping. Then back to my Mum's to see Grandad before setting off home...
The music during our journey's today included amongst other's, Pink, Paramore, Ariana Grande, Mcfly, and Milly ( DJ in the car! ) put a CD made up of music from my era that my ( other ) Brother in law put together for my Surprise 50th birthday party. Can't beat Shanga lang and a bit of Mark Bolan :)))
Obligatory car selfie :)
A lovely day in great company!
Such a normal occurrence for so many but such a milestone event for us all :) Who knows what the future holds.... Milly is not miraculously cured of her anxiety but we are certainly in a better place and she is learning where her limit's are and stretching them when she feels able.
Whatever happens, today was a fabulous positive experience for her to bank and remember.