Sunday, January 16, 2011

Turning the Corner

Well today we’ve turned the corner. Our son has returned to his normal self, you can see it in his smile. He’s been polite, very aware of his limits and asking for help when he needs it. He also greets me with a big, happy hug whenever I return home.

I think we just witnessed a complete cycle of moods. I don’t know if they’ll present themselves like this in the future or if it was just a single incident, but I’m curious if we’ll see this pattern again. It all started last week with him feeling sadness at night for a few days, then anger the next day, followed by a mix of feelings that just confused him. Yesterday, he came up to me crying and before I could respond, he started cracking up and laughing out loud. Then he returned to his normal self with no explanation for his mood shifts.

Today, he’s back to his normal, sweet self. It was like a tornado of emotions, scary to watch, I can’t imagine what it must be like for him to live. During his entire cycle of moods we tried to remain very calm, act as if this happens everyday, reminding him that his brain was making lots of mistakes and soon he would feel good again.

The day after his episode of anger, we spent a little time addressing what happened and discussed solutions for the future that will help him get control back. I think for us, getting him to take a hot shower is our best shot of calming him down, along with me keeping my mouth shut. The more I talk, the more things escalate.

That seems easy enough, but when he wants to hurt us, both of those solutions are pretty hard to do, but we’re going to give it a try. We’re hoping that as he gets older he’ll get better at recognizing his mood shifts and taking steps to control it, but I know that we’re at the beginning stages and it’s going to take a lot of practice to master.

We also have to recognize that his anger is part of his illness, there will be times when we have to wait it out and if it gets out of our control, we’ll need to add another medication. But for now, it’s baby steps...

I can say that today during a playdate he asked if I would send his friend home because he could feel his anger coming on. I did exactly that and my son was able to relax again, with no explosive behavior. That I feel is a step in the right direction!

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For those that recognize their child’s cycles of behavior, does it typically appear in a group over several days? Does it usually start with the same symptom (like depression)? Have you figured out any patterns with your child’s mood shifts? I would love to know!


  1. My son still has mood swings but he does know how to manage them better and we know how to help him manage them better. That said, rages (to me) are an unacceptable extreme of mood swings and need to be addressed and prevented with medication. The medication will help give your son more control of himself and his life, relationships, self esteem, etc. It took our pdoc a while to convince me of this as I went into my son's diagnosis very very med weary. But the pdoc was right. Rages are destructive not only to your son's brain but to his self esteem, his self image, his safety, the safety of others and his relationship with others. And as puberty begins in the next year or two, all of the symptoms your son has now will ramp up big time. If my son raged now like he did for a while before we had him stable, he would have to go immediately the hospital via restraint or police custody. At 13 he is bigger and stronger than everyone else in our family and he's only getting bigger. And hauling your kids off in restraints to the hospital in a crisis or calling the police on them is the furthest thing from ideal - in so many ways.

    It's a lot of pressure to put on your son to manage his own rages without the right meds. And I only say this because we tried and if I had it to do all over again I would have used prevention rather than waiting until he needed to be 51510'd.

  2. My second oldest had predictable cycles. She would rage for three days, then be fine for two weeks, then it would be range time again. And since she wouldn't take meds, nothing interrupted her cycle. On the other hand, GB was an ultra-rapid cycler and before she was medicated, multiple rages and multiple manias, each day, was the norm. Putting her on Atypical antipsychotics, shortly before her 4th birthday was the BEST decision I have ever made for any of my kids. As long as you trust your shrink, I would try to get him more stable before puberty. As Meg said, having him hauled off to the hospital in handcuffs is far from ideal. We have had to do it and I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

  3. My son's cycles are not really that precictable, so I can't speak to your question. But oh boy, can I relate to the need to keep the mom mouth shut. Very definitely it is important to do, but not so easy at times!

  4. Meg- You bring up some very good points, we definitely need to discuss this with our pdoc. If your son was to have a rage, would you immediately adjust the meds or is a rage here and there to be expected?

  5. If my son was starting to have a rage now I would make him take another Seroquel to prevent it from going full force. Occasionally he asks for one when he can feel his mind getting too wound up and that is good because he is learning to prevent himself from getting out of control. Please know though that you and your pdoc are the only ones that can make decisions for your family. You know your son best. I am just sharing our experience (and it sounds like GBs Mom has had some similar experiences) and trying to save you the drama that we endured because I was too scared of medications and I thought my son would be able to control himself better simply out of self awareness.

  6. Our son doesn't really have predictable cycles. He blew today and was violent, throwing things, etc. It took him about two hours to come out of it. Then he's very remorseful and feels badly about what happened. I have been looking for triggers to see what makes him go off. I haven't quite figured that out yet. I am looking forward to the day I do.

  7. Regarding the question whether a rage here and there is to be expected, I think the question is more about intensity. From what you described, your son would not be able to keep himself or those around he safe with considerable physical intervention from you and your husband. You have gotten used to this, but it really is far beyond what you or your son should be expected to deal with.

    My son still has small rages, but with medicine, the intensity really decreased to the point where is can have some self control.