Stories from parents, carers and family members of those who have used our services
"To a parent
From a parent
Whether a planned or emergency admission taking your young person to Forest House is probably one of the scariest experiences you'll ever have.
I remember driving into the complex on a cold and rainy February evening, after two nights of sleeping on my daughters feet in hospital, not knowing where we were going or what we were doing, how could this be happening to us, to our little girl! You arrive and search for Forest House, you park in the car park, wander over to a dark building and buzzer on the buzzer, wondering what will happen, not knowing how life will change.
Forest House is an adolescent mental health unit that can be home for up to 16 young people at any one time. They all have their own room with ensuite facilities, you may get to see their room but this very much depends on the young people who are there and their needs.
Initially your young person will be watched one to one, 24/7, this helps the unit staff get to know everything about them. They're observed all the time, in the bathroom, when they interact with their peers, even when they sleep. So you know, as you walk away on that first night, that nothing can happen to them, they are safe.
For me the first 48 hours were the worst, I had the guilt of feeling relieved that I didn't have to be on red alert, the feeling of failure that 'my child' had been admitted to hospital, the uncertainty of not knowing what was next but worst of all was the grief, grieving for the childhood she should have had, the family life I thought we had but didn't and selfishly, I thought then, I cried for me!
No one on the outside can understand what it's like being the parent of a young person with mental health issues. No one can explain the feelings of sadness, frustration, anxiety or elation you experience on the journey.
Nothing can prepare you for visiting your child in a hospital where they and you are watched, where your whole world is opened bare for people to see. Nothing can prepare you for the excitement but also the anxiety when your young person comes home, into your new reality, for their first 'sleepover'! Nothing can prepare you for any of the journey on which you are about to embark but please believe me when I say that the most important thing is that they are safe, they are looked after, they will be helped, they will improve, it may take a while but they are one of the lucky ones who are receiving help.
Don't be scared to call and ask how your young person is... if your lying awake at 3am worrying and counting the hours till it's an acceptable time to call, pick up the phone and call. The team are there 24/7 looking after the person who is most precious to you and they understand your worries and concerns, they've dealt with hundreds of parents in this position. They want to support you as well as your young person, they are here for you all.
Use the time and facilities provided by Forest House to help you, sleep, rest and gather your strength. Don't feel that you need to keep quiet about it, tell you parents, siblings, friends and colleagues... they are your support, they are the people who will help you through.
I would like to say it gets easier but in my view it just changes... we become stronger and more knowledgeable, we learn how to cope in a different way, we learn to accept help! "