For one thing, everyone else gets neglected. Bill (my other half) and I talk about nothing else. We seem to think that somewhere, hidden away in all young Glen's pain, is a solution to his huge sadness. And if we can only find the problem he'll be on the way to peace.
Glen came to us a week ago, a teenage man with depression. Mild to middling probably, and very passive.
I've been reading everything I can on what can go wrong with a young person's state of mind.
Psychiatrists are just like any other bunch of professionals, they want to promote the idea that the latest thinking is the best and if you're not up with it you're yesterday's shrink.
So; once there was dementia praecox, then there was manic depression, now there's 'Bi-Polar disorder' and it looks like they're moving on again so that the trailblazers can lord it over the left-behinders whose thinking is old hat.
It's the same with Sigmund Freud (Above - although the sketch looks more like David Baddiel to me); I bought Freud's "Interpretation Of Dreams" and found it brilliant, only to discover that every other Californian 'practitioner' with a surefire quick-fix "How to Mend an Angry Child" ($9.99 hurry, only a few in stock) begins their book by saying "Of course, now that Freud has been disproved..."
Actually all Freud said is: "Many problems are bound up in people's childhood when their development through the stages was thrown off course. There's not a lot you can do, but getting them talking about themselves seems to help." This seems about the mark whatever the diagnosis, talking + medication.
I reckon half the pop-psychiatrists with their "5 Stages To a Happy Teenager" haven't read a word of Sigmund, I was quite taken with him. Plus I feel proud of myself for sticking at it.
Like I was saying, we talk about it disproportionately. But then; a) Glen is new and new placements always hog your attention don't they? b) he is vulnerable, needs help and support and it has to be right.
That last point is the hard one, getting everything 'right'. We seem to be treading on eggshells all the time worrying about whether to say something and if so what. What should the exact wording be?
For example, one piece of advice we've been given in no uncertain terms is that this is our house and our rules apply.
Glen is always getting up and walking off and leaving his empty teacup, orange peel and crisp packet dotted around where he sat. He seems to be settling in okay and getting tuned into us, so the time has come to risk saying; "Glen, in this house we clear up after ourselves."
But then we tie ourselves in knots saying to each other;
We tolerated this behaviour for the first week because we didn't want to tip him over, now it'll look as though he was getting special consideration because...he's vulnerable.
Then again, is he 'vulnerable'? or 'depressed'? or 'dealing with mental health issues'?
Is he 'upset'? or 'going through a bad time'?
We know we're in it for the long haul, young people his age in foster care are probably in care until they reach adulthood, and these days that can mean age 21. Maybe beyond.
I suppose if I was someone advising me I'd say; 'Take the long view. Instead of worrying about his mind in the present, start planning where it would be good for him to be in three months.'
Good trick imagining you're your own counsellor.
Which reminds me I need to find a way of finding out what his counsellor is doing with him, but I know in advance that's not allowed.
And I'm scrupulous not to ask Glen when I pick him up from the Centre, even though I'm aching to ask.
The other children, our own and our other 2 placements, are fine by the way, lest I forget.