How to stick your stick like Backstrom
How can it be that everyone knew that my mother was an alcoholic and a drug addict, even before she was pregnant, and nobody did anything? The 24-year-old Sandra * cannot and does not want to understand that. For Sandra, all of these are the employees of the social welfare office, the youth welfare office, the doctors, the family, the neighbors; basically everyone who saw and experienced them.
She read about herself in the written documents that this must have been the case. Only when Sandra was completely neglected, malnourished and with a bad head injury at the age of one year she was handed over to the Leipzig hospital emergency room, action was taken. "I was in such a bad condition that you weren't even sure if I would make it," says the woman from Leipzig, "my mother only fed me sweets."
The little worm Sandra struggled through and ended up in a children's home after the clinic. From there it went to her aunt, who had children of her own with her husband. After three months she gave up overwhelmed by the situation, because Sandra needs special attention and participation. Now two years old, Sandra came to foster parents. Finally calm returned. The foster parents, who could not have children of their own, gave everything to make Sandra well and develop well. “I grew up very sheltered,” says Sandra.
BUT! Then it comes up immediately, this inevitable BUT when it comes to alcohol during pregnancy, whether consumed in large amounts or in small amounts. “I had a lot of problems and they got worse with age,” reports the 24-year-old. It started with behavioral problems: high levels of aggressiveness, extreme outbursts of anger, emotional roller coaster rides, poor short-term memory, constant discussions about everything, listlessness. In addition, there were sleep disorders, the difficulty of keeping the focus and disturbed emotional perception. “I bit as a child to show my affection,” recalls Sandra.
At school it soon became apparent that the girl had great difficulties in math - mental arithmetic, for example, is still not possible because Sandra cannot imagine numbers. Dyscalculia was diagnosed. Spatial thinking is also clearly underdeveloped, as is the feeling for time. Dealing with money became a tiresome topic. Sometimes it works, then all of a sudden an imaginary switch flips, she says. On top of that, she likes to offend Sandra because she has a pronounced sense of justice, sees many things differently from others and makes this all too clear.
Unsuspecting and well-meaning as the foster parents were at the time, the mother, a teacher, put the girl under pressure to perform. You should at least get the secondary school certificate. “My mother actually wrote my grades,” admits the 24-year-old.
The constant pressure to perform was not without consequences. Sandra rebelled more and more, could hardly be tamed. Doctors suspected ADHD based on “minimal evidence”.
The relationship with her foster mother became noticeably worse. In addition, Sandra’s biological mother died. A severe blow for the then 9-year-old, because she always had the hope in her heart that one day she would be able to return to her birth mother. “I was never properly explained what was going on with my mom. You didn't tell me the truth. And they didn't let me grieve in my own way, ”complains Sandra.
Only now did she find out how much her mother was ill with drugs, that despite her addiction, she had three more children and had two miscarriages. “My foster parents wanted to protect me”, Sandra is clear today, “but it was the wrong way.”
This led to Sandra leaving her foster parents' house. She opted for an assisted girls' shared apartment, which she stayed in until she celebrated her 18th birthday. The shared flat did her good, the young woman sums up, as it showed her all facets of life. Here she learned to be independent, to grow up and to master everyday life.
Sandra’s personal problems, however, remained. Only her tantrums decreased. For this she got severe depression and nervous breakdowns, which increased in intensity and quantity. She was given antidepressants. A bad trip for Sandra: "I mutated into a zombie." She then refused to take medication.
The young woman can hardly believe that she successfully completed an apprenticeship as a saleswoman after graduating from secondary school. “It felt like I wanted to stop five times,” she recalls. But she struggled through and then hired for temporary workers. She lasted a year and a half in the last job. Then suddenly her body went on strike from now on. Sandra collapsed while working. “Since then I've been unemployed,” she reports, “I can't take any more pressure”.
Sandra now lives alone with her dog in a one-room apartment. As she says, he got her out of her deepest crisis. Responsibility for him alone motivates her to leave the apartment every day, no matter how badly she feels. And he always feels when she is not doing well. Then he gives her closeness and affection and tries to cheer her up. Talk therapy, which she goes to regularly, is also good for her. And finally it is finally becoming clear what the cause of all their misfortune is. “I'm just about to be diagnosed,” says the 24-year-old.
It was her foster father who had heard of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome a year ago. He began to deal with it intensively, attended seminars and persuaded Sandra to see an appropriate doctor: Come on, we'll try it, otherwise you will always be shoved into the drawer that you are lazy, stupid and depressed.
Finding a fetal alcohol syndrome diagnostician and getting an appointment as an adult is easier said than done. "If you had come earlier, we would have heard," reports Sandra angrily. In the meantime, the foster father and daughter have been accepted into the Erlangen University Hospital and it looks like the foster father's suspicions will be confirmed. Sandra was particularly impressed by one of the tests: “During a color test, I was confronted with so many different colors at the same time that I suddenly said purple, even though there was no purple at all. My brain was completely overwhelmed and pulled the emergency brake. "
Is the diagnosis a relief for them? “No,” clarifies Sandra, “it's just an explanation. It's difficult to accept. I'm still reflecting. It takes time to process all of this ”. For the 24-year-old, “every day will be a struggle” for the time being. However, she hopes that an upcoming medication will help her to get a grip on her emotional roller coaster rides and her sleep problems in particular.
* Name has been changed at personal request
Author: Dagmar Elsen
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