Podcast Episode 47. The job of a parent is to be there whatever and whenever for your child – those are the rules! That certainly applies to Claire Sutton, this week’s podcast guest. Claire shares her truly inspiring, but sometimes heart-breaking, story. Her daughter Jade, who is now 14 years old, has ADHD. The road to getting Jade diagnosed was drawn out. As Claire put it, Jade “slipped through the cracks of the education system.” Her early school years were a struggle and it wasn’t until year 5 that she was formally diagnosed. Claire and her family moved across the country and enrolled Jade in a much smaller school that was better equipped for Jade’s needs. Unfortunately, even though Jade seemed happier, her struggles continued.
By the time Jade started secondary school, Claire had discovered the heart-breaking news that Jade had been self-harming for over a year. Jade had managed to hide this from her family, and when it was discovered Jade was adamant that she didn’t want any external help. This is when Claire realized that she needed, as she puts it, “to be the light”.
Claire talks in depth about what being the light really meant in terms of listening to how Jade was feeling and hearing some things that parents never want to hear from their children. She talks about the need to stay calm and not get drawn in to what she calls the darkness. Although a lot of the things Jade talked about were quite dark and upsetting, Claire knew she had to be her rock, so she couldn’t let emotions get in the way of that. Claire was determined to be the light in her daughter’s life and get her through the darkness.
Claire talks about how she would constantly reassure Jade that they would get through it and that there was light at the end of the tunnel, and they were heading for it no matter what. And slowly Jade began to gravitate towards her mother’s light. Claire’s ultimate goal was to help Jade see the value in herself again.
Claire talks also about the need to shift the focus to something more positive in situations like this. Jade was a fan of pageants, and although Claire had her concerns, she soon realised that modern-day pageants are less about physical appearances and more about showing off the beauty inside a person. Jade loved the idea of competing in a pageant and Claire talks about these as a key part of her daughter’s recovery.
Being a contestant has also meant that Jade had to do a lot of charity work, and give back to the community. So Jade began focusing on a new project that helped other kids her age who struggled with similar issues. She went and talked at assemblies in local schools about her experience with ADHD and depression. This project is now growing, and Jade has appeared on television in the UK, talking about her life and how she has come through the other side. She has now become an identifiable role model for other young people going through similar challenges in their lives.
Finally, Claire talks about the three main areas she focused on with her daughter to bring her back to a more positive, happier place in her life:
1. To value herself again
2. To set inspiring goals
3. To give back
These 3 things have helped her daughter not only come to the light but also to be a light for other young people struggling with the same challenges she has faced.
Both Claire and Jade are inspiring individuals and remind us all what love and perseverance can achieve.