Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Smashed to Pieces

Last night, my son’s anger became overwhelming and no lemon scent was going to help. While in a locked time out, he smashed the light switch plate in his room to pieces. Since he didn’t have me to fight with, thanks to the new lock on his door, he had to take his aggression out on his room. Afterwards, he  kept yelling for me to “kill him” because he was disappointed that his happy streak had ended and he was so upset about not being able to control his anger and “ruining his room”.

This is a first for us, he’s never been too concerned about the damage he’s caused and what others would think of it. But now that he’s getting older, he’s worried what his friends will think. He mentioned last night that his friends would laugh at him when they saw his room because of the damage he’s done. I really felt sad for him, it’s not like he can learn from this and not break things again, we both know that this is out of his control, as much as he doesn’t want to do it, he just can’t stop himself.

We’ve tried giving him things to punch that are harmless, but it just doesn’t work, in order for him to feel better, he has to break something valuable. If you as a parent has figured out how to handle this with your own child, I’m open for suggestions.

The night didn’t finish there. About 15 minutes into bedtime, he came to me looking desperate. When I asked what was wrong, he just broke down and cried, he said he felt like his whole family was sad and even his stuffed animal was giving him sad looks. I reassured him that we’re all good and he would too, after these feeling passed.

Once I tucked him, seeing him smile again, it left me with one thought, is my son cycling??


  1. Ouch.

    That is one of the things that hurts me the most - watching Carter when he is filled with shame and regret after an episode. He cries over the broken toys and begs us to forgive him if he damaged anything of ours and awful feeling.

    Hoping that today is better. Quieter.

  2. I'm so sorry about your night. You're right, lemon just doesn't work in situatons like this, and neither does any of the advice our well-meaning friends give us for what they envision as a "rage". Being there for him after the storm is so hard. I hope today was better for both of you. :)

  3. Today was a better day, I do have to admit that we’ll continue to use the lemons, I'm going to try using the essential oils. As for the other advice our therapist gave, it was useless. I think it is so helpful to have things to do to prevent the rage. Sometimes I can sense it is coming and if I can take the edge off that would be great. My son has even asked for a lemon several times this week. But you are right that once the rage hits, it seems there is nothing we can do but wait for it to end.

  4. Something we learned when my daughter was in the hospital for bipolar disorder is a technique called a freezy rag. She loves it and it calms her down. If you get a washcloth wet and wring it out, roll it up, twist it, and freeze it. Then when they are starting to feel frustrated suggest that they get the freezy rag. The idea is for them to try to undo the twists and unroll the frozen rag. Something about the extreme cold on the palms of their hands and the effort it takes to unroll a frozen cloth lowers the blood pressure and helps them calm down. Hope things get better for you soon.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear this. Do you think this means he needs an adjustment in his meds or different meds? Or is this just a fact of life for our kids? I always thought if you get the meds right, then this stuff will be under control?

    Lemons didn't do anything for us the other night when Maddox was having an episode, but it wasn't the same kind of rage... just a yelling/name-calling/"I hate you" kind of rage, followed immediately by sad remorse and self-loathing. I feel so helpless when he gets in this place and I wish I knew how to handle it properly. He hasn't had a physical rage where things get destroyed in a couple weeks, thank god!

    Hang in there, Mama Bear. I wish we lived closer so I could come over and give you a hug. :(

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  7. Sorry Super Mom, this isn't a place to advertise your products.

    Kelly- Very interesting idea, we may need to give this a try. Do you just hand them the frozen rag when they go into a timeout? How do you get it into their hands without them hitting you with it?

    Gina- I was wondering the same thing, since we did just increase his meds, it makes me think that to a certain degree we have to accept it. But maybe he needs the 3rd medication the doctors have suggested, I just hate to add another to the mix. But I know for many kids, this is what treatment is available for them. I'm glad Maddox hasn't been as destructive, but I hope he finds more happiness, it's so tough to see your kids depressed. Sending you a hug back!

  8. I have been following your blog, my son is 11, with similar syptoms to your son. We put him on triliptal, and it was amazing, at first like with your son. We quickly needed to up the dose, and again it was miraculous. But each time his anger and rages seemed to get worse. Our psychiatrist suspected the medicine was at first sedating him, and then actually worsening his symptoms. We were sceptical, but it turns out she was right. As soon as we titrated him off of it, he was better (although not cured!) We are currently trying abilify, with success so far, but we are only two weeks into it.

    Perhaps you want to talk to his doctor about the possibilty that the triliptal MIGHT be the cause of his current symptoms.

    I know everyone responds to medicine differently though...It kind of feels like trying to put your finger on a piece of mercury (I did that as a kid before we knew it was toxic).

    Good luck, you'll get there.

  9. Which two meds is he on now? Maddox is on the risperdal and it's working beautifully so far, but I'd be hesitant to add a third medicine if I were in your shoes. Maybe you can try the risperdal in place of the trileptal... the person who posted above me seemed to have some great insight.

    WOW, this blog has an amazing wealth of information!

  10. For my daughter, the hospital introduced the kids to the idea during a group session and let them try them out. Since she has been home we keep several of them in the freezer and when we see the frustration starting to build, we suggest she go and get one to try and relieve the frustration before it turns into rage. Usually by the time she has managed to get the thing untangled, she is much more calm and then can use the washcloth to wash her face which further calms her down. This was the one valuable thing we walked away with from our hospital experience. Hope it helps!

  11. Wow, really great info on this thread, thanks everyone for being so helpful!

    It's good to know about the Trileptal, right now my son is taking Trileptal and Tenex. We've seen a lot more stability in mood overall, impulses have improved, nightmares are gone, anxiety and sensory issues have greatly decreased, and the rages are less frequent, but as he gets older, they become more difficult.

    The third medicine we were told we may want to try is Risperdal, they said it really helps with rages. Is Risperdal a mood stabilizer? I ask because I definitely don't want to remove the mood stabilizer unless it's replaced by another. When we tried removing the Tenex he became very impulsive.

  12. I believe Risperdal is a mood stabilizer. We are using it with minimal side effects and good results. We are also using Lamictal as a mood stabilizer.

  13. The Child and Adololescent BiPolar Foundation has great website with lots of good information and they also have on line support groups that can provide some useful information.

    Risperadal is used as mood stabalizer, and it is often used to treat rages.

  14. Risperadal (aka risperidone) is an atypical antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia (including adolescent schizophrenia), schizoaffective disorder, the mixed and manic states associated with bipolar disorder, and irritability in children with autism. My 6-y-old daughter has been taking it for two weeks ... 1st week and a half were bliss in our house, but rages have started to creep back in this week (in a milder form than normal).

  15. Heather-
    So do you think it is worth adding another drug to our list? Our fear is that we'll add more drugs, without the payoff. I would hope that your daughter's rages would be gone for longer then 2 weeks, even if it is more mild. Maybe I expect too much....

    Are there weight gain issues with this one?

  16. Our psychiatrist said there was risk of weight gain, but only at higher doses for longer periods of time (she is only taking .25 mg). This is the only med she is taking and was the first one recommended by all docs involved. We were disappointed with having a rage after two weeks, but it was a stressful day (long car ride, ending a four day visit with relatives) and I guess it's unrealistic of me to expect all symptoms to disappear like magic with one little pill. She was back to the happy girl this morning and we'll see how it goes.

    I definitely can't recommend one med over any others, as each of our kids will react differently and each has slightly different symptoms. Plus, I don't have much experience with these meds since this is our first and only. But, it's working for us and might for you as well.

    Good luck! I'll keep you posted on how it goes from here.

  17. Just another little update ... my daughter's pdoc just increased her does from .25 mg to .5 mg, since she showed such a remarkable improvement and then a small backslide. Fingers crossed!

  18. Heather- I hope this increase does it, crossing fingers for you!