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Richard's Story

Talking to other parents is what has helped the most. You realise you’re not alone.

Richard* gave up his own business in order to help his eldest daughter, Chloe*, on the long road to recovery.

Aged 14, she took an overdose at school and went on to spend close to a year in the Ida Darwin adolescent unit at Fulbourn.  Now back at school and living with her family in Huntingdonshire, her self-harm episodes are subsiding.  And with regular counselling for Chloe, family therapy sessions, plus support from other parents at Pinpoint’s group, Richard is hopeful for the future.

“It all started back in September 2014.  I was self-employed and got a call from Hinchingbrooke School saying Chloe had taken an overdose.  

“I dropped everything and rushed to the hospital and within the first 30 minutes in the emergency room, my feelings were all over the place.  I wanted to cry, hug her, then shake her – violently.  Looking back, I am ashamed of my behaviour and how I was feeling but I was angry and scared. Even though I’d been in some dark places myself and battled my own addictions in the past, I just couldn’t understand why someone would want to do that to themselves.” 

She tried it again on home visits

“Chloe refused to come home from the hospital saying she didn’t feel safe.  So they had to find somewhere for her and they told us it could have be anywhere around the UK – maybe London or Manchester.  Luckily for us, they found her a place at Fulbourn.  A whole series of incidents and various issues followed and on home visits she attempted more overdoses.  So in total, she spent 11 months at the unit.

“It was hard to see her struggling.  She has some complex medical issues as well and initially I blamed myself for what had happened. But as time went on and I read more about self-harming and met other parents, you learn the number one lesson: it’s not your fault.

“Hinchingbrooke School – who have been amazing – put us in contact with Pinpoint’s support group for parents of young people who self-harm.

"Talking to other parents is what has helped the most. That face to face contact is really good because you realise it’s not just my family who’s going through this, there are other people in the same boat. I have even taken my Mum along as she was finding the whole situation difficult to cope with. And it was an eye-opener for her too, hearing how other families are managing and dealing with it all. 

I've changed my work hours so she's not on her own

“Through Pinpoint, I’ve been able to find financial advice about benefits because I gave up work so that we could be there for Chloe.  But since January, I’ve been back at work and I have a very understanding and sympathetic employer. I’ve been able to organise my hours so that I can get home after school so that if Chloe’s had a rough day, she’s not on her own.

“Getting back to work has been fantastic and it’s been good for Chloe to see me enjoying my job.  She still needs help and support but things have improved.  Chloe is so much stronger and building her self-esteem. And I don’t doubt that Chloe will be a better person for all of this.  She’ll be a compassionate adult because of where she’s been herself.”                    

*names have been changed to protect anonymity