Please click here to watch a short film entitled 'The story of a Red Balloon parent' which captures the moving story of a former Red Balloon student and her family
Another parent's story
Sometimes you are just walking along the street minding your own business and suddenly you fall down a rabbit-hole. Only a month after you let the baby-dolls go to charity, in a nightmare version of Alice's adventures, your previously cheerful well-adjusted child starts self-harming which escalates to use of knives before you have even had a chance to come to terms with the first tentative scratches. While you are reeling and trying to deal with that, they are spending 24 hours a day shut in their room and yelling at you to go away every time you open the door. You are thrashing around not knowing what to do or who to turn to when you realise they have also stopped eating normally.
It takes over a year to piece together the story. Your child only lets out the little bits they want you to know about. For instance the hurtful rumours at school that make them distrustful of all their peers. The other bits that they keep to themselves are the most damaging ones. Resorting to the internet 'friendships' to alleviate the loneliness, online abusers who take advantage of vulnerable children. Low self-esteem becomes self-loathing. In the space of months your little girl who spent her pocket money on clothes for teddies has turned into a porcupine-monster with angry spines who can't tolerate being touched and won't tell you anything about what's really going on.
The day I discovered the Red Balloon I found a ray of hope that made me want to cry. When I visited it was so perfectly set up to help my child that I did cry. When I told my daughter about RB it gave her hope that she wouldn't have to be isolated from the world forever and her mood improved. When she visited the Centre she 'loved it'. All she has looked forward to for a year is the possibility of attending the Centre. All my hopes for a normal life for her depend on the RB. I cannot imagine the despair we would be in without it. We are so very lucky I can't believe it. Everyone with our problems needs the specialised and expert help that RB offers.
There's a ladder in our rabbit-hole now. We are standing on the bottom rung. It's nothing short of a miracle that we know that, in time, we will be able to climb up from here into the sun."