Shaking hands with the devil….

5 Sep

I made a really difficult decision last night, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

I’ve decided to take Sully to the doctor and see what our options are for kiddie meds. This makes me cry just thinking about it…. but we’re now at that “red light flashing sirens going off danger point”, and it’s our last option.

As I’ve stated before in previous postings, I think that pharmaceutical aid with mood and behavior should be used when all other alternative and natural resources have failed. I think that meds are abused in our culture (especially with kids), and it should be a last resort. But with my little Asperbergers /Oppositional Defiant Disorder child, we have had him in behavioral therapy for years, he’s in a therapeutic classroom at school, we’ve tried homeopathic aids, he’s on the GFCF diet, aids and para’s at school, therapists, structured environments, routine charts, every reward system that has been imagined- you name it, we’ve tried it and tried it and tried it and tried it. Years and years and years of working with teachers and shrinks and doctors in a desperate attempt to get through to him and teach him to help himself by behaving in a positive and constructive manner. Nothing has worked. We’ve seen glimmers of progress here and there…. but none of it sticks or really sets in. I’ve never expected miracles- but a little hope here and there would be a nice thing to feel. All his behavior issues started when he was about 3, so for the past 7 years I’ve been watching my little angel struggle and rage and fight and fail- and that’s a heartbreaking thing for a parent to watch happen to their child.

So yesterday, my brain cracked wide open and then shattered into a million pieces. I went to pick my little fella up from school (it was only his second day of 5th grade because the schools out here just started), and I walked in to find him with that “look” on his face. That “look” that immediately tells me “Oops, sorry Mom. I fucked up my day and we’re going to have to have long talks”. My heart sinks to the depths of hell every time I see that “look”, because it means that I have to tread VERY VERY lightly around him because his venom could come flying at me if I handle anything the wrong way. The problem is, “the wrong way” can change from moment to moment. One second he could be fine and logical and take in everything I say without incident… and the next second, complete chaos and screaming and tantrums. It’s really draining to have to watch your step every second of the day, and know that an emotional explosion of nuclear proportions could go off at any moment. And once it goes off, there’s no stopping it… ya just gotta ride it out.

We’re leaving school, and having our calm-and-soothing-yet-firm talk about how it’s only the 2nd day of school and he needs to be using the tools he’s been taught to handle stress and frustration, etc etc etc…. and halfway home, Hurricane Sully hits. There’s this shift in his eyes whenever he’s about to go off- it’s so very subtle, and is as quick as a flash… and that’s all the warning he’s gonna give anyone before he unleashes his terror. Then it’s on. Big time. Screaming, crying, throwing sick and horrifying insults… the whole time I’m trying to remind him to take deep breaths, focus on things I know are calming to him, but firmly reminding him that he is never allowed to speak to people this way or treat them this way.

We get home, and he is sent straight to his room to calm down. He refuses to go. This is his new thing- physical defiance. He is 10 years old, 5ft 1″, and weighs 90 pounds. I’m 5ft 3″ and weigh 115 pounds. We’re almost the same size, but thankfully because of years of yoga- I’m stronger. But not by much… and not for much longer. And since I told him he has to go to his room, I have to follow through with getting him in his room. A HUGE thing with him is consistency and follow through… so if an adult tells him to do something and he gets out of it by throwing a tantrum- that adult is forever screwed because he knows they have a breaking point and he will nail it every time. I also have to get him in his room because he is my size, and it’s no longer safe for me to be around him when he’s in a rage. So I have to physically get him into his room and lock his door behind him (obtaining 3 big welts from him in the process).

Once he’s in there- the throwing things begins. As well as the mind games. He has the manipulation skills of a veteran serial killer. He can con and scam the pros. This is where his frightening intelligence really works it’s magic. He’ll pretend to calm down just long enough to get me to open his door, then he’ll try to engage in another debate about his current predicament, and then I will usually have to dodge a toy that he sends flying at my head. Ya never really know when it’s safe to open that door… ever. This is just one example of his tantrums. They have been much much worse. And because of his size now… it’s just frightening because he could easily hurt me or himself… more than just giving me a few bruises. But the thing that tears me to shreds is that when he calms down, he is filled with so much guilt and regret and shattering sadness over how he acted. He really cannot control it.

Long story short (too late)… yesterday I snapped. I’m tired of him feeling like he’s failed every day. That’s no way for a child to feel. And he’s now at the point where it’s going to start destroying his self-esteem. And I can’t live in fear of my child, and he has no concept of just how much harm he could possibly do, because he is only 10. So in tears I called a doctor, and set up an appointment for today. We’re going to try out some sort of meds to maybe control the anger and impulsive behavior. Maybe if we can get a handle on these things, it will allow us to work on the rest until he’s got a bit of maturity and self control under his belt… and then we lose the meds. I talked to his teacher on the phone last night, and she has totally backed me until this point about not using meds… but just what she’s seen in the past couple days, she agrees with me (she’s the same lady who worked with him all last year, so she knows him really well).

But I found this doctors group that deals with adolescents, and the beautiful thing is that all the doctors are women, and they are moms. All the nurses are women, and they are moms. That’s comforting to me. The intake nurse I talked to has a child just like Sully, and when I started to tell her what was going on, she immediately put me in with one of their doctors who is great with kids like Sully, and knew exactly what to do and what I was going through. And she got me an appointment today… no waiting because she knew I was about to jump off a bridge.

So this is where we’re at. I don’t know what the doc is going to say or do. I don’t know if anything they prescribe will work… but I figure that if I’m going to try everything- that means EVERYTHING. And if the meds don’t work, then at least we’ll know and can be done with it. The whole thing makes me very uneasy and upset….. but we’re now up against a wall. Big sadness. I’ll keep everyone posted on what happens.


11 Responses to “Shaking hands with the devil….”

  1. juliet September 5, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    ok, so this is non of my business, but I needed to chime in because I feel your pain. I have and 11 yr old girl who went through this whole thing too. We put off meds as long as possible, thinking that was a cop out to drug my kid, but as soon as she got physical and even threatened to kill herself becasue she felt so out of control, we realized this had to be chemical and we needed medical help.

    We took her to a doc and tried a med. It wasn’t right, so we went back. This happened 3 times, and we have now found the right dose and time lapse, and things are looking up. Her confidence has improved a ton, she feels more in control, and can concentrate long enough to write a paragraph! No phyical violence and she passed the 5th grade! (what is it about 5th grade?)The principal even complimented her. Amazing.

    So, it took a few tries, but we have found her some relief. She goes right back to being manic if we forget to give her the meds though, my only wish is that this could “fix” her.

    I wish you luck, becaue I know how hard it is.

  2. Kristen Ferrell September 5, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    Thank you so much, Juliet!!! I feel so conflicted about the med thing, that your encouragement really helps!! He’s threated to kill himself while he was in one of his meltdowns… as well as threatening to kill me and my husband. Granted, when he’s calm, he’s the sweetest and happiest boy I’ve ever been around… but when he gets mad, there’s no predicting just how far it will go.

    It really helps to know that there are other people out there who have gone through this & have had some positive results. Because I’m SO SO SO desperate for things to start getting better. THANK YOU!!

  3. Lex September 5, 2008 at 8:12 pm #

    Hey, my best friend here had to medicate her son, on the other end of “the spectrum”. Different than Aspies of course, but I understand. I have the trifecta actually, ADD-OCD-ODD. This is really, really hard…my friend could possibly tell you what works and what doesn’t. Her son is 17 and some meds left him drooling staring at the floor, some did nothing, it’s constantly adjusted since he’s still growing.

    We’re doing the fish oil route right now. My husband won’t let us medicate, but the tantrums nor the diagnosis are anywhere near to Sully’s. My eldest is just like me though and I finally understand my Mom’s pain in raising me (and with me still). I can barely tolerate any ‘brain meds’ personally so I just dance around now when the music moves me. I really don’t care if people think I’m nutso, but it does affect how the other moms treat my kids unfortunately.

    Write if you want a contact who has been through all of this and much worse, actually. Or write me about which meds are being considered. After my chemical lobotomy I know many of them, and my friend just about all from experience. I hope we can help or at least let you know you’re not alone. It’s painful being a Mom, isn’t it? It breaks your heart so frequently. Sigh….

  4. Kristen Ferrell September 5, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    We’ve been giving him the Omega 3 fish oil for a while now, and that with the combination of the gluten-free diet seemed to do some good for a while (and at least the meltdowns aren’t happening once a day anymore)…. but when they do happen, it’s so fucking scary!! They think he’s got some ADD stuck in there too (we just had him re-evaluated and we’re getting the results next week). So he may have a little trifecta of his own. The doctor today referred me to a neurologist that she says is great, and she’s waiting until his new evaluation comes in before she starts to think about any meds.

    I really liked the doctor today. She totally understood my apprehension about meds, and she wants to start really slow (unlike a different doc we took him to a couple years ago who met with him for 10 minutes and then wanted to dope him up like crazy… even though he passed all her tests with flying colors and she said that she didn’t see any signs of problems).

    So we’ll see.

    But I would LOVE to get some info on the meds they’re using today… because I’m sure they’re much different than the ones I was given when I was younger. I’d like to do my own research before taking Sully back in to the doctor’s next week. Any info you’ve got would be amazing!!!
    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. brandi read September 6, 2008 at 1:09 am #

    I know how you feel. Peyton was on concerta for many years for ADHD before I finally weaned him off it because he was having some terrible psychological side effects. It’s a tough spot to be in. No advice here.

  6. Yardley September 6, 2008 at 3:53 am #

    Kristen my heart goes out to you and Sully both. I can only imagine how hard it is to watch the love of your life struggle so frequently/ I completely support your decision (not that my support was needed) and totally agree with what you are saying. Medication has become so abused, at the first sign of hurt we run to pharmaceuticals to ward off any pain and doctors are only too happy to hand them right over. The worst part of it (I feel) is that in some circumstances, for the right people, medication can actually help and this over prescription phenomenon has made it impossible to discern the difference (which was already difficult to do) between those who truly need it and can benefit from them and those who don’t. The FDA doesn’t help by pushing medications (e.g., zyprexa) through faster then normal without truly knowing what side effects will occur and who the meds actually work for.

    You are doing (and have been doing) exactly what I think should be done. I always feel that medication needs to be used as a last resort and then in conjunction with therapies (or in your case routine charts, therapeutic classrooms, etc). And also, does not always have to be the end all, be all… the goal being to use the medications as a tool so that work can be done that otherwise wouldn’t be possible, getting the person/child to a place where they no longer need medication– but a place that may have not been possible to get to with out them. I am kind of rambling and my mind is a bit fuzzy as it is past my bed time, but I wanted to respond to you as I know how heartbreaking this must be for you… You are a phenomenal woman and mother and you and sully are so lucky to have each other in this world.

  7. Kristen Ferrell September 6, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    Oh Yardley… thank you so much for your wonderful words!!! And yes, one of the things that makes me so nervous about meds is the side effects… not just the immediate ones but the long term ones. Little kids’ brains and bodies are growing so quickly, and we have no idea the effect these chemicals will have on their bodies 10 or 15 years from now because they are pushed through so quickly and I really don’t think enough testing is done. The older drugs, like Ritalin and Wellbutrin, have been around since I was a kid (and they’re the ones that I was put on when I was little) so they’ve been able to see if long term effects are there. The whole thing is just really scary to me…. but the alternative of not trying this out and having Sully’s self esteem destroyed and him struggling everyday just to cope with simple things is much scarier and more heartbreaking. It’s the lesser of 2 evils. I so desperately want him to be happy, and feel success, and have friends, and thrive in the way I know he can. so we’ll see.

  8. Michelvis September 6, 2008 at 4:53 pm #

    Kristen you are such an amazing woman, all the way around. I have read your blogs, seen pictures of you and Sully living an amazingly creative life and as you know, been thouroughly captivated by your brilliant artwork for quite some time. Your outlook on life, your talent and your obvious great parenting skills leads me to believe that you know exactly what you need to do to make your childs life a great one. Reading about these trials you are experiencing is further testament to how much ass you kick. No matter what don’t feel like you have failed in any way. You have provided a far more creative, loving, patient environment for your family than, unfortunately, most of the people in the world today ever could. I just wish that families everywhere gave as much thought and consideration to their childrens wellbeing (even the ones without any extra issues). If the average family was as involved with the caring for one another as yours seems to be I truly believe that there would be so many more options, understanding, research, support systems, etc. out there for when we do need them. It does sound like you have a pretty good care system outside your home for Sully than would be available for most of us, compasionate programs full of warm mothering care givers. That’s AMAZING!

    Don’t forget about YOU in all of this. Keep your head up, cry when you need to, vent and celebrate and sing and scream! It is way too easy to forget to nurture yourself when you see your child sufferring. So once again you ROCK! And you are a ROCK. Don’t forget it.

  9. Kristen Ferrell September 6, 2008 at 7:00 pm #

    You just made me weepy!! Thank you!!!
    You know how scary it is to be a parent… and I don’t know about you, but I second-guess every move I make, and I feel like the worst mom ever when I do hit the end of my rope and let my frustrations take over. And I never know if I’m making the right decisions, or if Sully will grow up to hate me because I screwed him up. I’ve only got the one kid- so I want to try to do all this mom-stuff right. I honestly don’t know how people with more than one kid do it… I’d be a complete mess!!
    But thank you, lovely! I do feel in my gut that trying out the meds right now is the right decision (which I never felt before), so I’m going to just follow my instinct and keep all fingers and toes crossed that something good comes of it.
    We’ll see!!

  10. Cassie September 8, 2008 at 5:46 am #

    I cant say that I know what your going thru, but I am 100% behind your decision! If your gut is finally telling you its time, then its good to listen. You are a fantastic mom! I truely admire you and I hope that I am even half of the great mom you are!
    I second guess my decisions with raising Lily every day. She is an only child as well and sooo smart and I worry that every decision I make might possibly screw her up.
    Keep you chin up and follow your heart. Sully is so lucky to have a mom like you!

  11. Tawni September 13, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    I’m late catching up on these, but I hope you are getting some relief- for your sake as well as Sully’s. I think you have exhausted every other option obviously, and I love the slow approach you’re taking. I think you’re so smart to try to give the little man a chance to step back from his emotions and bring the logical side back up a little so he can look at his mood swings more objectively and use that amazingly intelligent brain to help rather than hinder his coping mechanisms.

    I say this because when I was having some serious postpartum depression/exhaustion/major life adjustment mood swings a few years ago, I was given an antidepressant and it really helped. I won’t lie- it had some yucky side effects, like ear-ringing and complete loss of my appetite, but it enabled me to pull myself completely out of the storm cloud of pure emotion I’d been trapped in and tap back into my logical side. Suddenly everything seemed so simple and less formidable when I took the stress, sadness and anger out of it. (“Oh… that’s what I’m getting so upset about? Hell, I can deal with THAT!”) My head cleared and I realized I was letting the strong emotions completely dictate my choices. I got off the drugs after 2-3 months and was able to pull the rational thought process I’d now developed over with me to the “other side.”

    I’m babbling, but what I’m trying to say is that Sully is really smart, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does the same thing I did. I hope medication can help him regain his logical, less emotional side, too, and reconfigure the process he uses to deal with life’s disappointments (and whatever has been triggering the outbursts). Maybe the behavioral therapy can finally work and really stick if he has a chance to get his head above emotional water for a while.

    You have my complete and total sympathy, from one momma to another. I send you so many hugs and happiest bunnies. oxoxoxoxxoooooo.

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