‘Unless he is a danger’

    By the time my younger son Christian was a teenager I had
    already been to the GP twice about his behaviour. My husband put it
    down to him being a rebellious teenager, saying he took after him.
    My son’s thoughts were all over the place and he could not follow a
    reasoned argument. The GP told me he would grow out of it and that
    I “worry too much”. At first I put it down to raging hormones.
    Christian would disappear for days without letting us know where he
    was or who he was with. When he was at home he was hostile; he
    wasn’t sleeping much yet I couldn’t get him up in the morning.

    I vividly remember the moment I knew something was terribly
    wrong. It was pouring with rain, that relentless rain that hits the
    ground violently and then bounces back up again, and Christian
    stood in the middle of the lawn, his head hung down, his long dark
    hair stuck hard to his face. He didn’t know what to do or where to
    go. The following morning I broke down at work, a friend of mine –
    whose brother had schizophrenia – made an emergency appointment
    with the GP.

    She explained to the GP I’d tried everything to get my son to go
    to the doctors but Christian’s reaction was that there was nothing
    wrong with him. The doctor kept saying he could not do anything
    unless Christian was a danger to himself or somebody else. At this
    point, I found the courage to tell the doctor Christian walked out
    in front of cars and we had to pull him back to the kerb.

    I also told him a few weeks previously Christian had bought a
    trials bike having never had a driving lesson. Every night he’d go
    out on it and we were unable to stop him. One night he said “Don’t
    stop me Mum, riding the bike blows my thoughts away for a

    Then I told the doctor about when Christian had an accident on
    his motorbike. In hospital they put 16 stitches in his ankle but he
    was oblivious to how worried we were.

    Yet again the GP repeated “unless he’s a danger to himself or
    somebody else…” and my friend immediately interrupted him. She
    asked if he believed Christian was having a mental breakdown and to
    my amazement the doctor replied “I’ve no doubts at all that he

    Raising her voice she asked how he could expect Christian to
    make a rational decision. Her approach worked as a few days later
    two social workers informed me, after 20 minutes alone with
    Christian, that he was very poorly and within a couple of weeks he
    would have been sectioned. He is six feet two inches and weighed
    eight stone two pounds. I could have screamed when one of the
    social workers said “He is very thin Mrs Wakefield, surely you
    noticed this?”

    The next step was about to be taken – we had to make an
    appointment with a consultant psychiatrist. Looking back now, some
    16 years on, we did not know this was only the beginning.

    Georgina Wakefield is a carer for her son who has

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