Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What a difference a year makes!

The following is a desperate please for help I posted on a "Parents of Bipolar Children message board last May, almost one year ago. Reading it again was nearly a trigger for all the hopelessness and FEAR I felt back then. This was our life, pre-proper psychiatric care, and pre-bipolar medication, and after 3 years of therapy, behavioral modification, research, advocacy and and intervention. How can anyone, after reading this, and knowing we are successfully medicating our child for bipolar disorder, say it is no longer a valid diagnosis in children? Or a temper tantrum disorder. It is so, so much more:

I am mom to a 6 (almost 7) year old boy who has been dx with ADHD, anxiety and PTSD. He was adopted from foster care at age 4. He's the light of our lives, and a beautiful, charming bright child who has bonded well, despite his neglected, chaotic and abusive past. It has been a long, difficult struggle to help him though. Yesterday he became so violent that we had to call 911. That was the breaking point for us. We have to do something to help him as our family can not survive like this. He has ALL the flags for bipolar, except for mutilation, fire-starting and animal cruelty. We learned that there is a biological family history of generational violence, bipolar, depression and generational alcoholism on both sides. His "old school" psych has refused, for reasons beyond my comprehension, to evaluate, consider or treat him for BP, but is treating for ADHD (SA Ritalin) and sleep disturbances (Clonidine). He recently prescribed tricylic antidepressants as well because son had been threatening suicide (during a depressed cycle), but after much personal research (and our suspicions of BPD) we chose not to give him those for fear of psychotic/suicidal reaction. One of the main warnings of that drug was not to give to patients if there is even a possibility of BPD. It's the one medication decision WE made that goes against the pdoc. We are presently acquiring new insurance so that we can switch psychs and hopefully get a better evaluation.

I read The Bipolar Child searching for answers on my own, and it was as if a light switch had been turned on. THAT was MY CHILD.

I am not able to work as I never know if he's going to get to school on time (or even get out of bed!) or need to come home, or sleep at night, and we have lots of therapy appts, I have to help him with homework which takes hours at times, and generally, raising him has consumed my entire life. My son needs constant supervision because of his impulsive and dangerous behaviors, but we also walk on eggshells at times to not "trigger" him. Often, no matter what we do, he's spinning out of control and verbally and physically assaulting mostly ME, his mother. He rules the house when he's "spinning". Literally spinning. In a rage, he destroys property and has tried to hurt himself by banging his head, throwing his body against the walls and kitchen counters and hitting his own self. When he's depressed, he threatens suicide and says he has no friends and is stupid and withdraws. He does fin in school. The minute I pick him up from school and he feels "safe", often he starts begging for food or candy and being aggressive and oppositional. Most outsiders and friends don't see this side of him. He begs us to hit him. There are other times when it does feel normal and we can do normal family things (always keeping in mind at any moment we may have to try and head of a meltdown or rage, or leave an activity all together), but as time goes on, that "normal" is less and less and his behaviors are more severe and frightening. He has threatened to stab me and cut my head off while in a rage. His pupils are so dialated that his blue eyes are almost black and he seems "not there". He is very remorseful when an episode is over. Sometimes, he doesn't even recall all that he's done. He describes how he feels when he's cycling as his brain "is a computer and it has to much stuff spinning around in it". His life is miserable and we don't know how to help him.

This can't be just ADHD. He has a wonderful therapist, but there is only so much she can do. I just wondered if anyone else had this kind of struggle getting proper help and dx for their child so young?

Sad, scared, tired, beat up, mommy...
May 7, 2009 at 9:59am


marythemom said...

Oh I'm sooo glad your son is getting the proper treatment. I'm also glad you trusted your instincts and fired the p-doc. It's so hard not to trust doctors. You're son is one very lucky little boy!

Mary in TX

tetisheri said...

Obviously the people who want to downgrade bipolar in children have never had to spend any time with a child who has bipolar and is not medicated. They would change their minds PDQ.

tetisheri said...

Tetisheri=Clara, Dawn. Just so you know.

mgreene2 said...

I just left you a message on adoption voices and then visited your blog - which is great. You express so many of the same feelings I have, its a great relief, frankly, to hear someone else who has a child who basically behaves at school but not at home (the school tells us we're crazy and says it must be a parenting issue).

I sure hope you get to read at least some of mine as I could use a friend like you. We have so much in common with the ups and downs of our children. I think perhaps some of your sunnier attitude may be that you knew the problems prior to the adoption while we discovered them after? Or quite possibly, you may just be a much better person than I - ha!

Thanks again! Mary

PS: Where in FL are you? I live in NY now but grew up in St. Pete & went to UF - undergrad and law school. Go Gators! :-)

PPS: Re the meds too: our son is on so many (lithium, tenex, risperdal, periactin, lamictal) but every time we try to take him off one, he backslides - in a big way. I could go on and on but I'll stop now. Promise.

Megan said...

Sometimes we look back and the pain comes back too, fresh, the feelings as you described of such fear and exhaustion. Great blog posts. Keep writing!