Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Goes Up Must Come Down

We took the boys on a fun family outing today. My son did really well, only showing a few signs of stress, but in the end, it proved to be too much for him. Once we got home he couldn’t handle the word “no” because he simply didn’t have any coping skills left. It’s kind of like a computer that crashes after it gets overloaded with too much data, it simply stops working. Unfortunately, this lead to destructive behavior that required me to hold him down. At one point during our struggle, he cried out, “I just want to be normal.”

These words hurt me deeply. It feels like he’s stuck in a deep well calling for help and all I can do is watch from above. I feel completely useless. I know he’s trying so hard and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for him. In that moment, I could see where he switches from not being sensible to understanding how outrageous the situation is. Yet he’s held captive by it, he can’t escape it and continues to rage against me.

I feel we (as his parents) are to blame, we should have left him with a sitter. I should have remembered that what goes up, must come down. In the case of my son, too much fun in a big environment is going to result in a meltdown. Sorry buddy for forgetting that.

I’m so thankful for my husband tonight. For being calm, for saying and doing all the right things. He reminded our son that there’s no “normal”. We all have issues that we’re struggling with. He also let him know that we recognized how hard his struggles are for him.

I wish I could take away these struggles and give my son an easier childhood. I wish that he understood that I don’t hold any of this against him and that I find him just as precious as the day he was born. When we’re struggling, it’s not my son that I’m fighting against, it’s this disorder. After the rage is over, I’m not thinking about the disruption, instead I’m thinking about his words, “I just want to be normal”, I’m thinking about how much I hate mood disorders and how cruel it is to my son and his family.

I’m thinking about how much I love him... as tears roll down my face.


  1. After a good nights rest and some downtime he will feel better. You are doing a wonderful job...never underestimate that fact.

  2. Thanks Girls! Today is a new day and it feels like we’re off to a good start.

  3. It is a tricky balancing act- but you have to let him have some of the good times too. The trick is knowing when to say when. {{{Hugs}}}

  4. I'm sure your son still had fun that day. It's just hard for them to handle all of the stimulus, etc and they need a let down. To that effect I think my son is one of the very few people who does not think Disneyland is fun.

    I'm sure it's harder for your son too as he can see that his siblings don't struggle that much. My son doesn't have siblings so I think he thinks everyone melts down occasionally like have no normal over here :)

  5. Even if there is no "normal," I think all of us want to go there sometimes. Hugs--it is so hard to gauge what is too much sometimes.

  6. GB- You're right about keeping a balance, it's always hard to know what direction to take. I hope we get better at it as he gets older, while teaching him how to make the judgement call for himself.

    Meg-You bring up a good point about the siblings, if he didn't see their "normal" he may not realize that this wasn't the case for all kids. I also know if I asked him about our event yesterday he would say that he had fun, he probably wouldn't connect the two parts of his day together.

    Heather- Thanks : )

  7. Kudos Mama as you took him to experience the fun despite the inevitable. Don't be hard on yourself for what is; you work with your son with grace and finesse despite the torment, and he will be a much better person for it. You know when to hold em' and when to fold em'. Sometimes we just have to forgive ourselves.

  8. I agree that it's a good thing you took him out for some fun. It really is just about knowing when to say when. But by taking him out to do things you're teaching him that though he handles social situations differently than others that it doesn't mean he should cut himself off from doing things.

    My CBT therapist tells me that all the time. I may get anxious or paranoid while doing something but instead of not doing those things I need to find a way to work past the anxiety and paranoia.

    You're giving your son an early start on learning how to deal with being bipolar while still functioning in society and doing the things that make him happy. That's excellent parenting in my book.

  9. Laddie-Thanks for the feedback. You bring up a good point about training him for his future. I was thinking, so as parents should we continue to expose him to environments that may stress him, even if he has a melt down at home? I wouldn't do it all the time, but I was wondering if we should let go of the guilt we feel about the stress he had and continue to expose him so he can learn to manage it.

    I will say he did good at expressing himself while there, and we found things to help him manage his stress, which he did, We also took steps to help make it as stress free as possible. But once he got home he lost it. I saw this as a sign of pushing him too far. Should I just look at it as an opportunity to teach him or is that a sign that we need to avoid these environments?

  10. In my opinion, if you're going to keep exposing him then consulting a really good psychologist or psychiatrist is a neccessity.

    I don't know if they have cognitive behavioral therapists who work with children but have you looked into that? My CBT therapist is very good at telling me when something might be too much for me. I'm like the cognitive behavioral therapy cheerleader nowadays. :)

    It's a slippery slope but a doctor will be able to give you a really good idea of what might be too much.

    I can only speak for myself but even though doing some things is hard for me, those things enrich my life when it comes right down to it. Also, I'm always so proud of myself when I do something that wasn't easy.

  11. I think you learned something about where his boundary currently is from this particular outing. And I think on the issue about training for the future, use the muscle building analogy. Ideally, you want to put him in stressful situations that take him just outside his comfort zone and build up his ability to handle them. Hopefully his comfort zone will expand each time.
    So a meltdown at home probably means that it was a little too much of a push and the next one should be a notch down. (and then forgive yourself because it is an art, and his comfort zone will be variable.)

  12. Oh, Mama Bear, I know how you feel! I have heard those very same words come out of my girl's mouth. Heart breaking. Don't be too hard on yourself. I agree with some of the other commenters--sometimes you have to risk a meltdown to at least give our kids the chance to experience some of the things other kids enjoy. I'm working on a post for tomorrow about our weekend that's kind of related to this, too.