Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Please Read This

Someone brought to my attention that my last post could have easily offended someone very important to me. So I just wanted to clear things up.

When I wrote that I wanted the in-home people to call my mom to validate myself, I was truly joking. I thought it sounded funny. One of my faults is that I'll do anything to make people laugh.

Of course I wouldn't lump my mom in the category of arrogant assholes at the hospital. But, we do have a history. It was probably too soon for a joke about it but I'm too stupid and clueless to notice that. (Part of my doing anything to get a laugh trait.)

Back before Taz's behaviors were truly disturbing, he looked a lot like a spoiled brat having long drawn out tantrums because we weren't disciplining him well. And I was extremely self-conscious because I thought that part of it must be my fault. No one was really seeing how hard it was to disciplining him. To make him stop, to make him change. It was easy to judge and it was easy for me to become sensitive to it.

The truth is..."mom" could have been substituted for anyone in order to get my point across. It could have been dad, in-laws, brother, church, even husband.

Dh has told me on more than one occasion that because the kids are better around him, the problem must be me. I told him that's because he let's them do whatever they want. Boom! Explosive argument.

The point to my post wasn't who was to blame for my feeling the need to be validated. Just the fact that it felt nice to get it. I'm an exaggerator. Everyone who knows me knows that about me. It's part of what makes me a writer and a good storyteller. But it can also destroy your personal life. Like hurting people you love by accident.

My mom is often the target of family jokes because...well...she's around. And that's harder than it seems. My dad was gone most of my life. My mom had to work really hard to create the life my brother and I had. I've written about my own childhood memories on this blog before, and about wanting to recreate them with Taz and Chica, so you know it was good.

Not just that but then we go and adopt a child with mental health issues that she has no biological relation to and just demand everyone accept him and deal with what comes. And she's taken it all in stride.

She loves Taz. Very very much. And Chica too of course.

I think because I'm constantly overwhelmed and everyone tells me that I need more help, I just expect that the people who are available to help should be doing it. All the time. It's my own unrealistic expectation, I know that. But I'm so wrapped up in the chaos around me that I sometimes ignore other things.

Like offending someone on my blog.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh Sweet Validation!

We've had the Intensive In-home Psychiatric Team in our house now for about 4 weeks. Last week the main clinician and the case manager came together. The case manager started out talking about some resources she's found for us. Because this is a temporary service, a big part of their job is to hook-up families with other resources that could be involved...blah blah blah...let's skip to the good part.

The good part is that they both admitted that they can't really help us.

Okay, okay...I know that doesn't sound good. But the point was that there isn't anything they can do to teach us better skills as parents. They can see we are already doing everything we can for him.

And I'm not saying this to brag, or to seem like I'm a perfect parent.

I'm not perfect. I yell. I give in. I bribe.


Taz's issues are not caused by us. Nor are they exacerbated by lousy parenting. We are good parents. We handle him very well. So well that there's almost nothing for them to do except give a helping hand.

I was beaming.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Now. Can you please call our psychologist and tell her that?

And then our psychiatrist?

And also the assholes at the impatient unit in the hospital?

It's such a burden being right all the time, isn't it?

Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Scare Away Potential Friends

Taz recently got invited to his first birthday party in a long time. A little girl from his preschool class. I've had one conversation with her mom throughout the entire school year but, hey, I'm not complaining. We don't get a lot of invites.

So just last week we ran into this little girl and her dad at the mall. The first thing Taz says to the little girl, with her dad listening is...

I rode on an ambulance!

He is, of course, talking about our most recent hospitalization. He's never been on an ambulance before that. Now, maybe you think I shouldn't feel shy about sharing the fact that my son needed to be hospitalized in a psychiatric unit for a week, and so, in order to de-stigmatize mental illness, I should have been forthcoming with this information.

You are probably right. But I ain't that noble. And sometimes my little family is more important than the rest of the world. Yes, you read that right. So, changing the minds of millions of people about mental illness is indeed important. But it's not my only job.

So...in wanting to keep this new trend of being invited to birthday parties, I am sad to say I did not do my duty to mankind and fight the stigma of mental illness. Sorry. It's not because I'm ashamed. It's just that telling someone who is barely an acquaintance about my son's psychiatric issues (my four year old son to make it worse) is going to guarantee a lot of questionable looks.

So what did I say instead?

Usually I'm pretty good at thinking on my feet. I've always been a good liar which is why I always appeared to be a good kid because I never got caught. And when I did, I lied my way out of it. Well, I think this parenting thing has killed a few hundred brain cells or so because I was speechless. I couldn't think of a single reason my son could go to the hospital other than psychiatric episode.

Here's how the conversation went.

Taz: I went on an ambulance!

Little Girl: What happened?


Me: Well! (spoken in my best child-friendly cheerful voice (a strategy to distract attention away from the vague answer), Taz had to go to the hospital!

Stupefied silence.

Dad: Who was the paramedic?

Me: What?

Dad: I know all the paramedics that work in (enter town's name).

Me: Of course you do! (spoken sarcastically in my head)

Dad: Was it a lady? It was (enter generic name) wasn't it?

Me: Uhh....no. We were at the children's hospital. Then...we were...transported to another hospital...to...uhh...special unit...mumble mumble mumble....

**** Pause. Anyone ever see the movie Rat Race? There's a part where a guy is getting a ride from a girl to Sante Fey, New Mexico. When she asks him why he needs to go there, he lies. He says that his sister got hurt. She asks what happened. He panics and says shark bite. She looks at him like any of us would, "Shark bite? And she's being treated in New Mexico?" So he exaggerates the lie. Yes, they have a special shark bite unit there. The best in the world. In landlocked New Mexico. Yeah, I felt a bit like that.

Dad: Oh. (Clearly disappointed and confused)

Me: What was that Taz? You have to go to the bathroom? Oh. We better go then. (Pushing kids down the hall). See you at the party! Thanks for the invite!

At least I'm prepared for next time. I think I'll use the shark bite story. That's a good one, right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lithium, You Dirty Rat!

Dh found a Lithium supplement online that requires no prescription. Dr. S (Psych) thought it wasn't worth it to try since it's probably in doses too small to make a difference. Yet he won't prescribe it so we don't really have anything to lose for trying the supplement.

We started it about two weeks ago. And guess what? It's actually kinda working. We're not seeing much depression anymore. He's having some lulls during the afternoon, more to do with needing a nap or being overstimulated. So, the combination of Intuniv (for impulsivity), Invega (anti-psychotic), and Lithium supplement (for mood), has made Taz manageable. Not perfect. He still has "issues". But much better. We're even able to do some of the fun activities I wanted to this summer. Last week we went to a dinosaur park and I was panicked it would be a disaster (it was a particularly expensive park so it was a risky move) but we had an awesome time!

In other news, Taz has learned a new phrase, I think from the hospital since that's when I first started hearing it. It actually cracks me up every time he says it because it just sounds weird coming out of a four year old's mouth. Can you guess what it is?

Yes... dirty rat.

Dirty rat. This is what Taz has taken to calling me when he's mad or annoyed. I feel like I've been dropped into a 50's gangster movie. Weird.

The recent absence of new blog posts has been party because our in-home service started and I'm waiting to hear what they think. We are also exploring a new direction having to do with diagnoses that I will reveal another time.

And....I'm writing a book. Yes, you read that write (ha ha). It's fiction. Supernatural Romance, to be more exact, but with lots of action. But no vampires. Don't lie, I know that's what you were thinking. I'm about half way done. My goal is to finish in six months and send it out to publishers. I want it published. That's why I'm writing it. But, it's also very therapeutic.

I'll update if it does actually get published.

Maybe some of you would like that genre?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Depression and Hospitals

I'm interested in what you have to say about depression.

It's such a nasty word isn't it? Depression. It just sounds sad.

But it's worse than sad isn't it? People who've never experienced it, or even witnessed someone depressed, think that it would be easy just to snap out of it. But that's not how it works.

I've been depressed. I know how it feels. And now I have to watch my 4 year old feel it. It's horrible. All day yesterday he cried, hysterically, off and on for no reason. Nothing particular happened, there was nothing wrong with him. Nothing except the enormous feeling that the world is against you and nothing can ever make you happy again.

He says over and over "no one likes me". He doesn't want to play with anything he normally enjoys. He just lays around whining, crying, or sleeping.

It's heartbreaking to watch. He comes to me for comfort, which I can give, but help I can not. I can't fix what's organically going on in his brain. All I can do is hold him and tell him I'm sorry he feels so sad. And that so many people love and like him. I'd love to be able to pick him up and put a band-aid on his boo-boo and that that would be enough to make him feel better. But depression is a big boo-boo. Too big for a band-aid.

It hurts me when he gets this way. I wish I could feel it for him. I wish I could take away the pain and sadness. At least I would know that it doesn't last forever. That eventually the mood lifts and you see the sun again. To Taz, it feels like the world is dark and lonely. He doesn't know if it will ever end. It hurts my heart and my soul.

Speaking of depressing...the kids in the psychiatric hospital with Taz. Until recently I hadn't even known such places existed for children. Entire units of hospitals set aside for children with mental health issues. I don't know why all the kids were there. I can guess. There's only two ways to get a spot in a psych hospital. You either have to be in danger to your self....or to others.

We went to a parent's support group at the hospital while Taz was there. One 12 year old boy had tried to light his parent's house on fire. Like, he had actually poured the gasoline around it and everything. There was a 5 year old boy that sounded like Taz. He had tried to stab his mother with a knife.

One thing that will be ingrained in my mind is how many of the kids were sound asleep in random places every time I visited. It just doesn't seem normal. I suppose it's because of the medication. The doctors and nurses told me that because they raise the doses much faster in the hospital it tends to knock the kids out, until their bodies adjust. But every time I visited there was a kid sleeping on a chair in the day room. Or a sleeping child being carried into their bedroom by the nurse, including Taz. It just brought to mind the expression "drugged up". And a lot of them were. At least the little ones.

But it's a reminder of where we are...and why. Sometimes you look around and see normal children doing normal children things. Playing video games, watching cartoons, teenage girls doing each other's hair. Then you hear screaming and swearing coming from one of the seclusion rooms and the normalcy is gone. And you remember where you are.

I don't think I'll ever forget the experience. Not just the trauma of having my son there (cause we all know how traumatic that was for me as written here), but just that such places exist. That such places even need to exist. As I walked through the hallway and looked at their faces, it made me incredibly sad. Sad that we live in a world where children can get so sick. And little ones who are so innocent by nature can have such big problems. Problems that most adults can't even handle. Then we expect little children to not only handle these big feelings but also control themselves, learn in a classroom, make friends, and generally act like typical children.

It doesn't seem fair.

And worse, it seems likely we'll be back there someday.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Give Peace a Chance

First of all, thank you so much for your overwhelmingly kind and supportive words after my last post (I've responded to most of the comments below). I was really surprised so many of you understood what I was trying to express. Which is more than I can say for....others. But enough of that.

Anyway, the last few days have been really good actually.

Taz is still having mood swings (anyone surprised?). He still has periods of hyperactivity mixed with periods of depression/anxiety. BUT....

When he gets upset he is recovering faster.

He seems to be better able to control himself.

He can tolerate being around Chica most of the time.

He is using his words more.

He is still having violent thoughts but he is expressing them and moving on, instead of fixating or acting them out. He is also describing some pretty scary dreams so I told him to put daddy in his dreams to protect him and he hasn't complained since.

But he seems to be doing pretty well on this med combo (cross your fingers). I'm trying to enjoy this time without worrying too much about the future.

I'm waiting for it to wear off but at the same time hoping that we'll have a few months of this peace. Well, this seems to be as peaceful as it gets in our house. But it feels good.

Speaking of feeling good. This is totally going to be me on Saturday. It's our anniversary and we're getting a couple's massage. I'm so excited. Looking at this picture I can almost hear the sighing now. Ahhh.....