How We Survived Our Difficult Child and Learned to Thrive


SKU e-book Category

158 in stock


By Freda Malian

ISBN: 978-1-84747-777-4
Published: 2008
Pages: 160
Key Themes: undiagnosed disorder, ADHD, family, relationships



This is the true story of Ben, who has an undiagnosed disorder, which manifests itself in unpredictable behaviour. It is told by Freda Malian, a practising psychotherapist for over 30 years, with the help of her husband, various relatives and friends.
The book illustrates in chronological order their mammoth struggle from Ben’s birth to the present, 35 years on. In it, Freda shares how she and her husband survived many years of turmoil and suffering, learning so much about their dark sides and how they discovered their untapped strength and stamina. On their journey with their son they often sought professional help. They never abandoned Ben because they loved him and he was their son forever. In some strange way he became the glue that bound them and they are grateful to him for all he has taught them.

Freda Malian’s intention in chronicling Ben’s story is to provide insight and hope to both parents and professionals by offering a unique, reflective account of her struggle to understand her son who does not fit the norm but who nonetheless has deserved her loving attention.

About the Author

Freda Malian is a wife, mother, grandmother and practising psychotherapist. In her spare time she enjoys playing with her grandchildren, walking either alone or with friends, singing, reading and hanging upside down in a Pilates studio.

Book Extract

Where to begin? Perhaps before describing Ben’s birth I need to fill in our background. Richard and I met in 1970 at a New Year’s party given by Richard’s landlord when I was twenty five and Richard thirty one years old. Richard had been living in a room near Hampstead Heath since breaking up acrimoniously with his wife after three years of marriage. I might not have gone to that party because it was snowing and I had to get a taxi from my flat. Also, my flatmate did not want to go with me, so I wouldn’t know anyone there. But I did make the effort and at the party met Richard who made me laugh and entertained me for the evening and then took me home in his mini.

We started seeing each other, discovering our mutual love of folk music, films, novels, poetry and art. After several months Richard moved into my flat and my flatmate, Annie, moved out soon after. Richard had a three year old daughter called Astrid and seeing Richard as a really attentive and loving father moved me. I had lived in London for four years with four years of analysis under my belt and was ready to get married and have children. Richard, on the other hand was not so keen to get married again. I proposed to Richard on a boat on the Serpentine but he agreed to it only when I promised him that nothing would change! Little did we fathom how much our lives would utterly alter and what challenges lay ahead. So much for naiveté and love’s blinkers!

Richard’s divorce came through in 1970 and we were married in Winnipeg, my hometown, in Canada in the summer of 1971. The following year we travelled there again. On a very relaxing summer holiday I was able to conceive. When we arrived back in London, we were delighted with the news of the pregnancy.

I worked as an English teacher at a stage school for children ages five-sixteen, until the Christmas break of 1972, having decided to take a few months off before the birth of the baby. However, I continued to be a Weight Watchers (WW) lecturer and attended a psychotherapy course of seminars one evening a week. I felt well throughout the pregnancy, energetic and healthy.

With the help of my widowed mother and Richard’s parents, we bought our first house, a small two bedroom cottage with a large garden, in a leafy north London suburb, a month before the birth. We loved the suburb’s leafy roads, open spaces and woods where I envisaged myself being very happy as a mother of small children and Richard could do his long runs. I was filled with hope and very much looking forward to the next phase of our life together. My nesting instinct was in full swing when we moved into our new home. I was so fired up that I insisted on helping Richard sand the floor of our little lounge, kitted out with mask and hat. Little did I know that I would go into labour that evening, but by midnight I was having strong contractions. We called an ambulance which took us to St Mary’s hospital at least eight miles away. The protocol in the seventies was to shave women in preparation for labour. A huge black woman did the honours. I didn’t relish the experience one bit! I cannot recall much about the labour itself, (a memory loss that surely helps women have more babies) but I do remember welcoming the gas and air offered me to help with the pain. Ben was born at 5.38 a.m. on the 20th of April 1973.

Richard was present throughout the birth and very reassuring to me, given that everyone else was a stranger. In a letter to my mother, he wrote:
Ben’s birth was very beautiful and I consider it a milestone in my life. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes at the special moment when Ben was born. Both are now blossoming. Freda’s feeding of Ben is going very smoothly and he, in turn, seems a very contented baby. Certainly not a moaner, he does perform tantrums when he is hungry.


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