Monday, May 31, 2010

The Balancing Act

I've been wanting to write a post for a week now about medication and an update, but then things change so quickly that I end up staring at the computer not really sure what to write. At first the Abilify seemed to be working. But then Taz started getting really irritable in the afternoon and crying for several hours at a time starting at around noon every day.

We added a second dose of Abilify last week and kept the Risperdal as just a PRN for when Taz starts getting manic. The afternoon crying spells seemed to clear up but now he is just irritable all day with some stable times in between. The "good" thing is that he is not manic much anymore. When he starts heading that way the small Risperdal dose brings him right down. But the whiny irritability is fluctuating daily. On Sunday he whined for literally 5 hours about going to the beach. We couldn't go that day but went on Monday instead. On our way to the beach on Monday he whined about wanting to pet a horse. It seems like nothing makes him happy.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. I will report all of this to the psychiatrist either this week, if it gets really bad, or at our next appointment a couple weeks from now. He mentioned last time about adding an anti-depressant if we can't find anything to treat the mania without causing the depression.

I'm now realizing just how much of a balancing act medication is. It's just like a scale, to keep things in balance you have to have the exact amount not to tip it one way or another. It's a very delicate task to keep the scale perfectly even. Same with medicating a child with bipolar.

And right now I feel like it's an impossible task. Think of just how many combinations of medication, dosage, and timing there are. And just when we may find something that works, Taz will go and have a growth spurt and we'll be starting all over again. What's the point? Is it really worth it?

I'm hoping so. The alternative to continuing to try is to give up. And what I know about not medicating is that we're guaranteed a tormented, out-of-control little boy. With medication I wake up every morning hoping this will be a day where we see our bright sunshiny boy! And sometimes we do. Not as often as we'd like. But still enough to keep us going.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Things You Never Wanted to Know About Me

I got my very first blog award! Whatever that means. I'm honored, even though 14 other bloggers got the same award. Anyway, now I'm supposed to tell seven things about myself. I am not as creative (or have as many working brain cells right now) as Adrienne at No Points for Style who picked at theme for her seven things. So let's just say my theme is "Random". And here are seven random things about myself that you probably didn't want to know.

1. I have 5 tattoos.

2. If I could have any super power it would be to eat whatever I want and not gain weight. Yes, I realize this is incredibly selfish. But I love food. And it doesn't love me.

3. I am a spelling and grammar nazi. And no, I am not an English major. But when my facebook friends write status updates with misspelled words it takes all I have not to leave a comment correcting it (and sometimes I do).

4. I'm obsessed with hand lotion. I have sensory issues and hate when my hands feel dry. I also can't stand chalk, felt, baby powder, and sand paper.

5. I was once hypnotized in a comedy show and thought I was Aretha Franklin and sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T in front of a crowd of about two hundred.

6. Dh calls me a job hopper. I've never kept the same job longer than 2 years. My most interesting jobs have been selling cotton candy at the circus, painting ski lifts in Vermont, and massage therapy. My favorite job was working at a school for kids with autism. Second runner up - Dairy Queen.

7. I'm pretty well traveled, some of my favorite places include: Glacier National Park in Montana (most beautiful), Amsterdam (coolest city), Puerto Rico, Mexico (nicest people), Mammoth Lakes California, Brussels Belgium (most tasty treats), and Horseshoe Beach in Bermuda. The saddest place I've ever been is St.Petersburg Russia.

So there you go. Seven random things you didn't want to know about me. If you have any complaints, take it up with Adrienne ;)

Oh, and I'm supposed to tag 15 people except that the only 15 people my blog is linked to (which only has to do with mental illness) have already been tagged by others. So I'm just gonna be lame and end it here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The first question my husband asked me after we talked about the most recent med change was "how many eggs are you putting in the Abilify basket?" What do you mean, I asked. "I mean, are you going to be disappointed and fall apart when this doesn't work?"

Am I?

I don't think so, but we'll see. I'm not like Dh. I'm not a man (no offense). I can't turn my feelings off. I can't just resolve myself to the fact that Taz has a hard life or that there's not much we can do. I refuse to give up. So, yes, I have some of my eggs in the Abilify basket. But not enough to be depressed if it doesn't work out. I've gotten rid of the idea that medication will be our magical solution.

So before you start rolling your eyes about how "poor me" this post is sounding, I'll just give the facts. Dr. S is gradually going to replace the Risperdal with Abilify. I am definitely curious to see if we see positive results.

At the appointment Taz was in full hypo-manic mode. He was grabbing at everything in sight, very sensitive to Chica (who is becoming a handful in her own right), yelling nonsense words, oh- and masturbating on the floor!'s that for embarrassing? I left this 20 minute appointment covered in sweat (despite it being 50 degrees outside) and feeling as though I just wrestled a wild animal.

The way things are right now I feel like I'm parenting 2 year old triplets. Chica is at that stage where she gets into everything, plus she's very smart and adventurous. And Taz counts as two 2 year olds just because....well....he's Taz. So if there are any triplet moms out there, I totally get it!

Number 1 - this picture is hilarious. Number 2 - it's a pretty accurate representation of what keeping up with my kids feels like right now.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where I've Been

In crisis, that's where. Okay, well, that may be a little dramatic. But it has been not so fun around here. Taz has been completely unstable. So much that I called the psychiatrist on Friday morning and demanded he do a med change over the phone. He wouldn't. But he gave us an emergency appointment for tomorrow afternoon.

But alas, sometimes life hates me. And after Friday, Taz has totally mellowed out. He had a great weekend and a pretty good day today. But such is the way bipolar works. We get week of hell then a few days of sunshine. It feels great but also has me on edge waiting for the fall-out. Well, tomorrow we go see Dr. S and I have a feeling he is going to switch the risperdal for abilify. Honestly, I am eager for the change. Risperdal seems to have almost entirely lost it's effect and Taz went off the Depakote a while ago because he was in a depressed state pretty much all the time while on it. Not to mention gaining 5 pounds in just a few weeks.

So...we're probably back to square one. I'll update after tomorrow's appointment.

Oh, by the way. My posting might be a bit sketchy this next week or so. We are in the middle of moving this week and it's been a little hectic.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How I Became a Mother

I think I was always a mother at heart. I used to treat my baby dolls as if they were real children that were mine. I loved to babysit and would smile at all the children in groceries stores. And kids have always loved me.

I used to want lots of kids. Even as an adult I wanted seven of them. Secretly, ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be the Von Trapps (from Sound of Music). I was in love with the idea of having a large family with lots of kids, lots of activities and chaos (ha!). Obviously I had no idea what I was talking about.

When Taz came along almost three years ago, he redefined my version of motherhood. In reflecting back on my journey in being a mother, I realize what a hard transition it was for me. Not at all like typical mothers who have a flood of warmth and emotion for the newborn that looks like them and is so dependent on them for love and affection. In fact, my child hated me in ways I couldn't understand for the first six months of our life together.

At that time Taz was a mystery to me. At 15 months he had his own personality, his own story we knew nothing about, and his own emotional turmoil we couldn't comprehend. We loved him, yes, but we didn't know him. I remember after becoming a mom, friends and acquaintances asked me constantly how I liked it. It took all I had to smile and say I love it! when inside I felt like collapsing in a pile of tears. I felt like a huge failure. Like I had been preparing my whole life for something that, it turns out, I sucked at. I sucked at being a mom!

After we figured out that Taz had a legitimate problem, not caused by what I thought was sucky parenting, I began to relax a little. I looked at myself differently. I saw that I was actually a very patient and loving mother, even though I didn't feel like it. I didn't suck at this mothering thing, I had been dealt a hand I was not prepared for. I had a tough kid. Really tough. Who came from an even tougher circumstance. And I don't think Taz would have fared any better in another home, as I had previously thought. In fact, I think he would have done worse. He ended up right where he is supposed to be.

If Chica had come first instead of Taz, I would still have that dream of seven children. Chica is my idyllic version of motherhood. She is perfect and normal and healthy. She is loving and well-adjusted. She is calm and easy-going. She is everything I thought having a baby would be. If she came first I would begging my husband right now to adopt another. My entire mothering experience would have been different.

But that's not what was meant to be. I am happy and thankful for both my children. Parenting Chica has been marvelous and magical; full of joy and cuddles. Parenting Taz has been full of challenges. But he's taught me more lessons than I ever knew I needed to learn. He taught me about what's really important in life. He's taught me grace, forgiveness, selflessness, patience, unconditional love, and my own inner strength I didn't know was there. I've matured and gained wisdom beyond my years because of him. Having to fight so hard for his love and trust has bound us together indefinitely.

He will always be my mystery.

But he is also my heart.

He is the reason I am a mother.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bipolar Mysteries

I'm sure most of my readers have already seen Bipolar Mysteries on Discovery Health last night. I DVR'ed it and watched it this morning. I was crying like a baby.


One, because it's heartbreaking to see those kids (and parents) hurting so badly.

And two, because that is our life. That is SO our life. From the little girl Sammie crying on the floor to Chase raging in his bedroom to the older children saying they don't fit in or have friends. If someone were to come in and videotape our existence, that is what it would look like. Wow. It was eye-opening and incredibly sad.

What was interesting to me was that out of the four families, 2 were adoptive and 1 was a grandparent raising her grand-kids. And in two of the families the kids had been abused. Which proves my point that mental illness is a far greater risk for children in foster care.

What did you think? Did anyone else see themselves in that show?

***Does anyone know where I can find the entire show online? I want to send it to some people to watch.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"I Need Superman to Help Me"

I have grand aspirations when it comes to Taz's extra-curricular activities. I think I have to start getting that out of my mind. I signed him up for soccer. It's specifically for 3 and 4 year olds. It's only an hour per week on Saturday mornings. Dh takes him and a lot of his preschool friends are there. It's simple games like red light green light, kicking the ball back and forth with a parent, following simple directions, etc. They don't actually have scrimmages or anything.

I thought Taz would do well at this because it's outside. There's lots of room to run around. And it doesn't really matter if he gets it right cause all the kids are just learning.

Well I was wrong. First of all, Taz is beginning to see the differences between the other kids and himself. I didn't realize at the time of registration just how hard this simple process would be for him.

Number one, he has to tune out the cars going by on the road next to the park. Then he has to tune out the other kids practicing on the field. He then has to focus long enough to listen to the coach's directions, and then process what the directions are. Then he has to coordinate his body to do the tasks which requires a great deal of effort for someone with sensory issues. During each task he has to maintain attention, repress his other sensory needs, and tune out the distractions around him. For us that may be easy. But for a kid like Taz, it's incredibly difficult. It's no wonder he only lasted 15 minutes.

Not to mention the fact that he felt pretty bad about himself when he realized he was the only one who couldn't keep up. He actually said to Dh I want superman to come help me. makes me so sad to think of my poor baby struggling just to keep up with a fun recreational activity like soccer. Like I said, he only lasted 15 minutes. And that was with Dh pushing him. We are going to keep trying every week, leaving when he needs to but challenging him to keep trying.

I wasn't disappointed in Taz, it's not his fault. But it makes me incredibly sad that all the other kids can at least attempt to follow the directions and have fun. And then there's Taz. Walking along the perimeter of the field, anxious and unsure, feeling bad and needing superman to help him. Poor guy.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I've been kicking around the idea of homeschooling for months now. It's getting to be more common everywhere, but also in the special ed world. Parents are finding out that there aren't adequate programs out there to teach our difficult, complicated children. Some districts are great and have plenty of services. Others (like ours) aren't so great at even educating the neuro-typical kids. Taz wouldn't stand a shot. He may even be out-placed to a therapeutic school, for some not a bad thing, for me, a tragedy (because of a bad experience I had working in a therapeutic school several years ago. I haven't gotten over it and I have a personal vendetta against them).

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe public school could meet his developmental, educational, emotional, social, and sensory needs. Wow. That's a long list of needs isn't it? I'm barely able to meet them and I have only one other child to look after and no pressure to pass standardized testing. I have all the time in the world to study him and understand him and all the motivation in the world to help him succeed. But even with all that, even with being his mother, I can't always do it. I can't always keep him interested in learning or motivated to challenge himself. I can't always keep him focused for longer than 2 minutes on a task. If I can't do it, how can a teacher with at least 10 other kids to worry about do it?

So I have decided to homeschool. And I fully admit I might be out of my mind. This may not work. I might go crazy. I may not be able to teach him. Taz may not be able to learn from me. I don't really know what's going to happen. But I'm going to try. And he's only four. So if it goes horribly wrong, it's only preschool right? Right?