Monday, February 22, 2010

Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I’ve read in several books for mood disorder children that kids can resemble Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This is true for our son. Our boy is truly a sweet, loving, caring child who’s sensitive to other people’s feelings. His smile lights up the room and his passion is contagious, this is Dr. Jekyll.

Then around the age of 7, we started to see our son in such an unfamiliar light. His smile disappeared, his personality twisted into one that was very mean, hurtful, destructive and violent. This was our Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde would become enraged with the word “no”, he couldn’t handle any opposition or change of plans. A simple “No you can’t have a granola bar, you just had a snack” has led to violent attacks on me and his brother, to the point where he was choking his own brother. This situation is in no way like the in-fighting between brothers, it was clearly a moment of our son losing all control, becoming like a wild animal and attacking anything close by. During these rages, our son screams out words of hate and tells us that he “wished we were dead” and that “I’m going to kill you”. Even typing these words seems so disturbing, but once you’ve lived it, you quickly realize that it comes with the territory.

Along with the rage, comes the depression. Our son would become upset with everything, nothing made him happy. It’s common during these times to hear things like “this is the worst day ever”, “I have no friends” or “I should just cut my head off”. Following an explosive rage, he’s often filled with regret and remorse, which he took out on himself. I clearly remember a moment after a rage, when he sat calmly, looking out the window and telling me that he wished he was dead and that he was God’s mistake. It was one of those defining moments we had early on, when I knew that something was wrong with my son and that we needed professional help.

Now this type of behavior would come and go, we never knew which boy we would have and how long he would stay, his behavior would cycle without any kind of reason. I remember one day not long ago, my son saved up all his good behavior tickets in school and instead of spending it on himself, he spent the entire amount on his brother, bringing home a toy for him. It was so sweet and kind, but his behavior changed quickly when during homework he became overwhelmed and destroyed the very toy.

Living with Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde is so hard. When my son is sweet and kind, you start to think, maybe this phase is over, maybe the meds have completely healed him, then you see the scary side return and feel crushed knowing that your son is truly ill and his life will be filled with ups and downs.

35 comments:

  1. omg! some of the things you were saying sounds just like our life. it is unbelievable when i read it written from someone else that tells me we are not alone. i am still in the process of finding out what are plan is going to be ? after three years we still dont have a plan. not sure where i went wrong but i had to somewhere to still not know how to help him. i am going to follow your blog. by the way my son is 11. i also have two daughters 14 and 4. they are healthy but also very affected by all of this.
    Rose

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  2. Rose,
    I'm glad you found my blog, you are definitely not alone. I also understand how this affects the whole family, don't feel bad about not having a plan, even if you had one, chances are it would change. I hope things get better soon for you and your family. I look forward to hearing from you again!

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  3. I am 38 also, I have a 15 year old son that started acting the same way at age 9. Couldnt handle the word "No" That is when we started to go to therapy. He has now been in a psychiatric hospital twice. Just last year he was diagnosed with mood disorder. We suspect bipolar but dr's said he is too young to say. He was hospitalized the second time just last May and now has been on his meds and going to therapy. The bad thing is he was self medicating with marijuana and from what we can tell he still is. We are trying everything to help, but he steals and lies and then of course denies it and acts innocent. We have also gone to court because he was caught at school with marijuana. He is in a drug program now that he just started last week. It hurts really bad to not be able to trust him.

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  4. I bet it must be hard to not trust your own child. It makes me so sad hearing stories of families losing their kids to this illness. I hope this drug program works for your son. By the way, what made the doctors go from a "mood disorder" diagnosis to a "bipolar" diagnosis?

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  5. You have just described my wonderful and sweet little boy who flips on me and will look at me with the most burning and intense hatred and anger I have ever seen in a person. He was diagnosed with BP this past July and we are still trying to get him stable. He steals, hoards food in his room and when you tell him "no" you'd better be prepared for the nuclear explosion that is going to follow. I am so glad I found you blog and quite a few others like it. I am so lost on what to do to help my son - I don't want him to be so miserable all the time any more.

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  6. Hi Jessica,
    I’m sorry to hear about your son. I know that you must hurt in so many ways. I totally get the explosion that follows the word "no". It seems so unbelievable to those on the outside, but I know the moment when the look in their eye changes and what follows is frightening. I hope you can continue to find support here and I look forward to hearing from you again. What meds is your son taking now? Let us know how things go with your son's meds and if you find stability. The periods when we do is like a ray of sunshine peeking into our family, you get to see who your child really is for the first time. I hope you get there soon.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. I don't know if you are still reading these posts, but my son was just diagnosed with mood disorder. He has been arrested 3 times, steals from us, steals from his 9 yr old sister and from stores, has admitted to drinking, we suspect huffing, we suspect drug activity, he hoards things, he lies constantly, he tells us that he hates us and wishes we were dead, he cheats, and other things. He will be 16 in May (2011). He does not accept blame for anything. He actually blames us for everything. He is relentless with wanting things. For example, from 3pm to about 9pm yesterday, he screamed at me about a hair cut. (he had a hair cut less than 2 weeks ago) He has yelled at me about the hair cut everyday for about 4 days. If it is something that he feels he needs he will relentlessly yell at you and badger you until he gets what he wants. He also has ADHD and a mild tic disorder. He is curretly on Abilify. His psychiatrist leads us to believe that this medicine along with intense behavioral therapy will help. I really hope so. He is not on ADHD meds right now because he just started the Abilify. I know there is more that I want to say, but the words are lost for now. Thanks for reading this. ~Sad Mom in Indiana

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    1. Oh, my gosh! I'm kind of in shock. This IS my son. He also has a tic disorder. He will literally follow us everywhere and constantly complain, yell, badger etc until he gets what he wants and he wants everything! Anyway, he's 9 but we haven't got him diagnosed yet, next month. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

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    2. Thanks for sharing Steph, I hope things get better. Don't get discouraged if you don't get a diagnosis, I have learned that it's pretty difficult to diagnosis a child. Hopefully they can treat his symptoms. Hang in there!

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  9. Hi Sad Mom in Indiana,
    Yes, I read all comments that appear in any post, so feel free to comment anywhere on the blog and I'll get an immediate email about your post.

    It sure sounds like you've gone through a lot of scary challenges with your son. It breaks my heart to read your story. You must feel in over your head.

    I can relate to your son always blaming others, it's so hard to correct behavior when this is happening.

    I agree with your psychiatrist that with therapy and meds things will get better. Our therapist told me in an appointment yesterday that once the meds work, our kids now have a "choice" on how to act. Then that is where therapy comes it, it
    teaches them how to choose the right thing. I haven't gone through the whole journey yet, but I am hopeful.

    I hope you see some positive changes soon, just know that it happens slowly.
    Hang in there Sad Mom (sending you a hug)

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  10. Thanks for getting back to me. My son's psychiatrist did say that the medicine should help him to make the correct choices. We started out with a tablet that he was supposed to take, but we discovered that he would act like he was taking it and then throw it away. I would stand there and watch him put it in his mouth, take a drink of water and then I would ask him if he swallowed it. He would always say yes. We had to switch to liquid Abilify. I know that he is swallowing it. I can't tell you how awful it is to be continually lied to. It is depressing. I really hope the medicine and therapy help. He has had only 2 therapy sessions so far, but the therapist seems really nice. He does not mind talking to her once we are there. It is a battle to get him there though. I wish that I had taken him to the psychiatrist sooner, because I have felt for a while that it wasn't just the ADHD and the Tourettes. When she said mood disorder and that it could possibly be bipolar disorder that seemed to make some sense to me. I just wish we could go back and redo these last 8 or 9 months.

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  11. Sad Mom-
    That's a good idea to switch to the liquid form of medicine to make sure he takes it. Since you're only 2 sessions in, I think that you may have a lot of positive changes come your way, but it won't happen fast. I know you wish you started sooner, but you are still ahead of the game, he's still a child under your care, you still have time to make a difference before he's an adult. Let us know how it goes!

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  12. Thank you so much for this blog!!! For the last 8 years i have felt completely alone with dealing with my son, who is now 10... i completely understand, im not sure if my son has the correct cocktail of meds yet, but plan on finding him another dr, MHMR is not working very well for us. The Dr just doesnt listen to me... not sure how to talk to them..

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  13. Hi Becky,
    I'm so glad you found this blog. It helps so much to know that you are not alone when going through this. I understand the frustration of feeling like the doctors aren't listening. We have changed doctors several times. There's this part of me that always feels bad about leaving the previous doctor, but the changes have always turned out for the good in the end. I have had a direct conversation with a doctor telling her all the reasons I felt she wasn't listening to me. I was nervous, but I was glad I was honest. We are the only ones that can be our child's advocate, so sometimes we have to be a pain in the butt for kid's sake.

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  14. Hi today my son was admitted to a mental facility. My 12 year old has always been a square peg in a round hole. The earliest events was him as a two year old banging his head and my husband and I restraining him so he didn't hurt himself. Now he lies as it is second nature and has recently been caught stealing money from me. Last week it was a 100$ nd I filed unruly child on him. He's a little kid and like yours he has such sweet tendencies but its so hard to praise a kid who does one good thing then 5 things to counter act it. We've got him in special Ed at the school cause of learning disabilities. He's been diagnosed with bi-polar, then asbergers, then today the dr was saying something about impulse control disorder and manic. He's on celexa and abilify He has a brother and sister 10 & 8 that are put on the back burner because of all the issues we have with him. I'm worried they are eventually going to resent him. Im emotionally exhausted and fed up. I'm so tired of this sense of crazy I'm desperate for help. Like all the others have said it is nice to know I'm not alone in my feelings and situation. What is your sons diagnosis?
    Was saying something about

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  15. Anonymous- I’m so sorry to hear about your son going to the hospital, we've never been through that so I can only imagine how difficult this time must be for you.

    My son doesn't have a final diagnosis. Right now they have him labeled with a mood disorder. They also have listed impulse control disorder, depression, explosive disorder. I think they just give names for each of the symptom they recognize. We've been told that they won't know for sure if it's bipolar disorder until he goes through puberty, or until he is an adult. His therapist has told me that he thinks it's most likely bipolar where his pdoc says that he has no way of knowing until he's older.

    We've been told that if it isn't bipolar then it may be depression and anxiety as an adult. I have struggled with not having a final diagnosis , but I am learning that I need to let that go because the science isn't there yet to have all the answers I want today. I've been told that in the future they will get much better at diagnosing our kids.

    As for the siblings, I truly understand your concerns. I sometimes feel guilty that the other kids aren't getting enough from us because of the illness in our family. But we can only do the best we can and let go of the guilt. It has helped to have one-on-one dates with the other kids to let them vent about the situation and get our full attention along with a little fun. Those dates really help us all.

    Do you know how long your son will be in the hospital? Do you have family to help you? I hope things get better fast, stay in touch and let us know how things are going and feel free to vent anytime, we're here for you!

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  16. This is exactly like my son, he is 8 yrs old and its only been the last year that this has been happening. I am begging for help but am not getting anywhere. I feel if I don't get him the help he needs now he will be in trouble with the police on a serious matter. I'm now going to look into this loads more and present it to my doctor. Thank you for this. Xx

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    1. Jodie-I’m sorry to hear you too are going through this, you are at one of the hardest phases, when you don’t know what’s going on and you don’t know how to help it get better. Keep looking for help, if you get no where with the first doctor, try another, there is really good help out there, but there is also a lot of bad, so don't give up if it's rough finding help. Once you get the right help, things will get so much better. Today, my son is doing really good, rages are almost a thing of the past, considering it was almost everyday, and now today I can't remember the last one, I can say our life has taken a turn for the better. Please feel free to email me anytime (address on top right side of page), I hope you find a good path soon!

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  17. This almost describes my High-Functioning Autistic son to a T. He is the kind, sweet, example student in the classroom. Fast forward to getting off the school bus and entering the home... it's like a dark shadow passes over him, or he takes off his school mask and puts on his home mask. The school says there is nothing wrong with him and won't offer any help. He was diagnosed with Impulse Control Disorder but not Mood Disorder... however the way he behaves (from a past Behavioral Health Specialist's point of view), I see this as demonstrating a Dr. Jeykll and Mr, Hyde type personality.

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    1. I bet you are frustrated by all the conflicting view points, it's so hard for us parents when we see something so clear in our kids, but others don't see it. Our son had the label impulsive control disorder in the beginning, it took a long time of seeing the patterns of behavior, with no triggers before they added mood disorder. Sometimes I see small spectrum traits in my oldest, but not enough to be autism. In the end, I don't know if we’ll ever know for sure, so I try to focus on treating the symptoms. I wish this was easier.

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  18. my son has been diagnosed with adhd and odd. he is now 11. He can be so sweet.... but then there is a side of him that is dark and scary. I'm fearful he will hurt his two year old sister and it is causing a tremendous toll on his father and I relationship. I don't know what to do anymore. Can u please please please give me advice? Hotcoffeesd@hotmail.com

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  19. Hi reading your story i cried. I felt like i was doing something wrong. My 10 year old daughter is an angel 1 min then can be very cruel violent the next. She also sees sad. I didnt know you can take meds for this. Thank you so much for sharing. I was losing my mind. Thanks

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    1. Hi Snowflake, I recommend taking your child to a psychiatrist to be evaluated. You may want to start charting the mood changes so they can evaluate if there is a pattern of behavior. This helps in making assessments. Just put the date, time, and what behavior happened and how you responded. Thus is also a tool used in therapy. Sometimes therapy alone works for some kids. It depends upon what the cause is. I wish you luck!

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  20. After a struggle with my four and half year old daughter this morning, I came across your blog. I call her Jekyll and Hyde as well. She used to be the sweetest baby and toddler. And now it's a struggle. The moment she thinks she's in any amount of trouble (even saying do t go that way) and she shuts down, throws tantrums. This happened once and she threw herself face first into the road chipping her tooth. She hates preschool. This morning she was perfectly happy and the second we entered the doors, started crying and throwing tantrums. Teachers tell me she cries for maybe a minute and then will play and she comes out fairly happy, but just going into preschool is a struggle. The other day I gave her a quick lecture for not listening to something I asked. After that she went around the house saying how much she hates us, how she's going to mess up her hair/bedroom/the car, just anything to get another rise out of us. The sound of her baby sister crying absolutely grates on her and she screams at her to stop crying, and she will start to break down if she continues to hear the crying. She is also a bright girl. We think maybe she's bored and feels too old for preschool so we are pushing her ahead to kindergarten. We hope that helps. Other than that, we do t know if this is a middle child stage or there is something wrong with here. Sorry, just had to unload as the preschool drop off wears me out. Tired of being the parent to the 'problem child'.

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    1. You're always welcome to unload here, I totally understand the feeling of being the parent with the "problem child" it can be pretty difficult at times. I hope you find that she moves past this and you get your happy girl again.

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  21. Wow... I am speechless at how much this sounds like my life. I am currently trying to get him in for another evaluation after having him diagnosed with ODD and now DMDD - nothing has worked, and we are all at our wits end....

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  22. I know this is a very old blog. But this sounds like my life with my now almost 8 year old. It started when he was 6 and has just gotten worse. I miss my happy little boy, he is so loving and caring. He hates himself after his outbursts. He told me he should be in this world anymore and honestly reading this made me cry. I am at my wits end and really dont know what to do anymore. The mental health system in NZ is horrible and I cant get him seen by anyone

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    1. My heart goes out to you, it must be so difficult when you clearly see a problem with your child yet, there is a lack of resources and mental health system available. I hope you keep searching, there are things that do help our kids, it may be different for different kinds of kids, but there are things that do help a lot.

      For us, medication and therapy helped. Maturity also helped, our son is better able to control his responses and use coping skills, along with communication, but along with that, medication and therapy continue to be essential.

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  23. Thank you so much for putting this out here for other families. I literally googled 6 yr. Old jeckle and Hyde. You described my son perfectly and it feels like we carry around this dark secrete because his behavior is always at home and only in front of his siblings and me and dad. I never thought that he could be the one to break me into a mom who yells. Thank You!

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  24. So glad my story can help you not feel so alone. My son showed his worst behavior at home too. I had several doctors over the years explain that he did this because he knew better to not do that behavior, must due to his brain’s inability to cope with stressors, needed to explode, and he chose to do it at home because he felt loved and safe there. Usually by the time school was over, he was maxed out and finally at home where he can safely let out the stress of the day. This behavior is not due to your being a bad parent, but rather, it is because you are a good parent he has a safe place to land when overwhelmed.

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  25. I also google'd this as well finding your site; our son is 5 and has had a very difficult time within the past 2 years. Aggression towards other children to be the main point. He is finishing pre-k this year and I'm really not sure how he made it throught the year, the teachers and principal have been very supportive to us; we constantly get letters home of him kicking, punching, pulling hair being loud, lying etc...at home he tends to destroy all his toys when he doesn't get his way he is seeing an occupational therapist as well as a child psychologist being he is still young he cannot be medicated at this point. He shows no signs of any learning disabilities just really bad sensory/impulse issues. Still early in the ADHD department from what our doctor says; we continue to try the positive reinforcement technique but sometimes even the positive praise he doesn't care about.. its disheartening to not be able to have your child be in organized sports, activities not listening, being disruptive having another parent tell me he doesn't feel comfortable having my son around his child. He can go a few days with great positive behavior but them flip a switch and be very disruptive. We have gotten help early since we don't want this to be a continuous issue in school and at home at well. We are worn out parents!

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    1. I appreciate you sharing your story, it is so difficult, and yes, it wears you down as parents. It's really great that you are working at looking for help and solutions at such a young age, that will help a lot. We had a lot of aggression when our son was young, but thanks to medication, behavior modification and maturity, it did get so much better. I say that to encourage you that by staying with it and working with doctors & therapists, you can see positive outcomes in your future. We found success with a book that was given to us by our doctor to help modify behavior. It took a long time and wasn't easy to do, but staying with it was worth it and resulted in positive changes. If you are interested, you can check it out:
      https://www.amazon.com/Raise-Winning-Kids-without-Fight/dp/B00AZ82FD2

      I wish you the best!
      Mama Bear

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  26. I googled this topic and found your site. I have a 5 1/2 year old grandson who I'm raising on my own. I don't know where to turn or what to do for him. He is an sweet and happy child one minute and so angry the next. He is getting in trouble at school almost everyday for not listening or following direction. He threw a tantrum today at school and was very disruptive which he has done with me when we have been at the store or other places. I try talking to him about his behavior and he tells me he doesn't know why he does this. In his good moments he knows right from wrong. I don't know how to help him. I am a grandma who loves her grandson looking for anyone's suggestions.

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    1. I’m sorry to hear about what you are going through. Unfortunately, it is hard to determine what is causing a child’s behavior. It can be temperament, health issues, anxiety, sensory issues, anger issues, mood issues, etc. A good first step would be to meet with your doctor to have him evaluated. Make sure he is healthy and then talk about next steps. Also, meeting with teachers to see what they are seeing in the classroom can be helpful in finding out triggers. Also it's helpful if you keep a log to track the behaviors, what happens, what causes it, how you responded. This will create helpful data as you look for the source of the problem. There is no harm in seeing a therapist for an evaluation. I doesn't mean there is a mental health issue, they can possibly rule that out too. But if they see something, they may be able to help.

      For behaviors of acting out, we found a lot of helpful tools in this book, we used it to help with behavior modification and found it to be a game changer for us.:

      https://www.amazon.com/Raise-Winning-Kids-without-Fight/dp/B00AZ82FD2

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