Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Auditory Hallucinations—What works?

Today I got a question from a follower under an old post, Crying After the Kids Go to Sleep and I wanted to post the question here so that those with experience can give your feedback. Here it is:

I just found this blog and applaud your openness. There are many of us out there going through this with our kids. I have a 17 year old daughter who has auditory hallucinations and is so scared that it has impacted her life in many ways. We have a great doctor who has tried many meds and alsoover 60 ECT treatments and we seem to be in the same place. If anyone else out there has experienced these auditory hallucinations and has any ideas about how to cope with them, please post a response.

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Check back tomorrow for an insightful and encouraging interview with one of my followers “In The Pink” who will be sharing her story with us as she finds balance in her adult life while living with Bipolar 1 disorder.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spray Melatonin


My son isn’t comfortable swallowing pills whole, so when we give him his nightly melatonin we have to crush it up first and mix it with a little juice. My sister-in-law recommended trying a liquid form of melatonin that you can spray in your mouth (thanks sis). This week we decided to give it a try. We bought NutraSpray Melatonin by Source Naturals at a local Whole Foods market.

So far it’s been a success. My son sprays two squirts under his tongue and holds it there for a few moments before swishing it in his mouth and swallowing. Each spray contains 1.5 mg of Melatonin, the bottle holds 80 sprays. It even has an orange flavor to make it tolerable. The price was a little higher than the tablet form, but worth it for the convenience.

Wishing you all some fun “family time” this Memorial Day.

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Check back on Wednesday for an insightful and encouraging interview with one of my followers “In The Pink” who will be sharing her story with us as she finds balance in her adult life while living with Bipolar 1 disorder.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bad Kids = Bad Parents?

I read an article on the Today show website about whether or not bad kids always equal bad parents. I had to laugh for several reasons. First, I don’t believe there are “bad kids”, but instead, bad behavior for a lot of different reasons. Any parent visiting this blog may know first hand that you can be the best parent and still have the most outrageous behavior due to brain chemistry. Then there’s factors like abusive homes and drug abuse. The list goes on and on and yes, even bad parenting can make this list. But what made me laugh was a comment in the article about good kids. They mentioned that parents are quick to take credit for good behavior in kids, such as sleeping through the night, achieving good grades and being responsible.

It made me wonder, can we really take credit for good kids? I have first hand experience that kids can be born this way. I happen to have one of those “good kids” in my middle son, he’s a star student, very caring, respectful and responsible. He asks for forgiveness when he does something wrong and feels sincere remorse when he does. He was my only child to take naps, eat the food off his plate, sleep through the night and do his homework independently without ever complaining. I can’t even remember the last time he got a timeout.

Now this son of mine is not a perfect child, he has his own faults like we all do, but I can say that he’s an easy child to raise. Had this been my only child, I would’ve thought that I was an amazing parent, that my parenting techniques were exceptional and that I had mastered this thing called “parenting”. But I can honestly say that this is not the case. I’m like most parents who are doing their best, making mistakes along the way, who happens to have a child, created by God to be easy going.

This year at open house when I met my son’s teacher, I was pulled aside. At first I thought... Oh no, what happened. You see, most communication with the school staff had been uncomfortable due to the challenges we faced stabilizing his older brother’s meds. But to my pleasant surprise, his teacher began praising me, so much so I was a little embarrassed. She said that she just had to meet me because I was raising an amazing child and was so impressed and wanted to know what I was doing to raise such a special child.

I had to laugh.

First, I will admit that it felt nice to be the parent receiving praises after so many negative experiences with his older brother acting out. But I was laughing because I knew that I couldn’t take any credit for this child. He is who he is.

If you spend any time in my home, you’ll see that our kids are wired to be who they are. I really think that there’s a lot more “nature” involved in who we are then “nurture”. Now don’t get me wrong, I really value good parenting and believe it’s very important, but I have an unusual perspective showing me that our kids are uniquely themselves. So for all those parents of “easy” children, be careful how you judge us parents who are in the midst of a nuclear meltdown, don’t be so quick to judge, maybe in our shoes, with your top notch parenting techniques, you’d be experiencing the same breakdown. We need to be kind to one another and instead of measuring our value as a parent based on how our child acts, we should just celebrate who they are.

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Article from the Today Show website:
http://moms.today.com/_news/2011/05/25/6718771-does-bad-kid-always-bad-parents?preview=true

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Final Days

Recently, there was a lot of media attention about Harold Camping’s prediction for the end of the world on May 21, 2011. While his faithful followers prepared for the end, I couldn’t help but wonder what they chose to do during their final days. Today, as I looked at our school calendar, I realized that I’m in my final days of “peace on earth”. Summer vacation is quickly approaching, I only have 7 days left until my children spend their every waking hour with me. 7 days!!!!

I have mixed feelings about this. A part of me thinks... Yay! No more getting up early, packing school lunches or fighting over homework assignments. Then there’s the selfish side of me that thinks... Oh NO!!!!!! No more quiet time during my day. I’m going to be refereeing sibling rivalry 24/7. Then the practical side of me thinks... How will I get my house cleaning done and when will I grocery shop? Everything I do gets more complicated. But what I fear the most is the dark cloud of boredom that transforms my son, bringing on more challenging behaviors. Just this weekend, I got a glimpse of “it” when my son felt miserable, even while at the swimming pool, because of “boredom”.

As summer quickly approaches, I feel more prepared then the previous summer vacation. I’ve learned a lot this year and hope that it makes a difference. My son has learned coping skills and communicates so much better. Overall, I feel a lot more optimistic, even looking forward to some good quality time. But still, it’s the unknowns and memories of past rages that make me nervous. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m beginning a roller coaster ride and the car is slowly riding up the hill... click, click, click...

So, before I take the big plunge into summer vacation, what will I do with my final 7 days? Whatever it is, I need to enjoy a little peace and quiet.

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How are you preparing for summer vacation? Do you have butterflies too?

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Image Provided by:
S Brumley
http://www.sxc.hu/profile/LilGoldWmn

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Beaver—A Must See!

Yesterday, thanks to my loving husband, I got to have a “Mother’s Day redo” since my family was sick on Mother’s Day. In our house, it’s a tradition that on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we celebrate the day by having time to ourselves doing whatever makes us happy. For my husband, it’s always a day of golf, but my day is usually a variety of stuff like window shopping, eating lunch alone with some peace and quiet, a visit to the bookstore and always a movie.

This year I saw The Beaver staring Academy Award winning Mel Gibson and Jodi Foster. I have to say, the only thing I was disappointed in was seeing the movie alone, I wish I had someone to talk about this film with after seeing it. I thought it was an outstanding film, deserving an academy award. I read in one fan review that what A Beautiful Mind did for Schizophrenia, The Beaver does for depression. I’d have to agree, adding that this movie is more about mental illness than depression alone, even the word mania is used to describe some of the behaviors seen in the main character.

Without giving the movie away, I’ll withhold the details so that you can experience the movie the way I did, not knowing what to expect. I felt the movie gave a fresh, smart perspective on mental illness. You can see it’s affect on all the characters, without being predictable. They did a great job of bringing in the heredity aspect of mental illness through subtle and not so subtle moments in the children. There was a moment that was very intense, I was seriously holding my breath so that I wouldn’t sob out loud. Yes, you’ll most likely cry, but it’s still a very entertaining movie. There’s a wonderful message underneath all the dark emotions that no matter what happens in life, even if it’s bad, you’re surrounded by loved ones to help pick you back up.

I would strongly encourage you to see this movie if you like these types of films. I regret that this film is doing poorly in the box office because of the negative reputation of Mel Gibson and his personal life. Though I find it ironic that one of the messages in this film is about helping and forgiving those with mental illness, considering that he himself said in an interview, “I had really good highs but some very low lows,” Gibson said. “I found out recently I’m manic depressive.” (Ref: www.smh.com.au)  For those who don’t know, manic depressive is the former name for bipolar disorder. Regardless, and whether you’re a fan or not, Mel Gibson’s performance is fantastic and deserves to be acknowledged.

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Article about Mel Gibson saying he was diagnosed Manic Depressive:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/stay-in-touch/mel-gibson-talks-about-bipolar-struggle/2008/05/14/1210444527205.html

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References:
The Sydney Morning Herald
Elicia Murray and Garry Maddox
May 15, 2008
http://www.smh.com.au/news/stay-in-touch/mel-gibson-talks-about-bipolar-struggle/2008/05/14/1210444527205.html
Date Consulted: May 23, 2011

Video Source:
Uploaded on You Tube by  on Dec 3, 2010

Friday, May 20, 2011

“Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?” A Novel About a Family’s Journey Through Bipolar Disorder


I just finished reading the book Where are the cocoa puffs? by NAMI board member Karen Winters Schwartz. This is a fiction novel about a family’s journey with a teen daughter diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Overall, I thought it was an interesting look inside a family, giving the unique perspective from each person’s point of view. First, there’s the teenage daughter, who as the center of chaos, exposes a young mind being captured by bipolar disorder. Next, there’s the father, who as a psychiatrist treats patients with this illness, but now must face seeing his own child suffer. I actually found his character fun to read because I’m always wondering what our doctors are really thinking. Then there was the mother, who thinks her husband is too quick to diagnosis their daughter, while fighting her own shame that she may have caused her daughter’s erratic behavior. To complete the family, there’s a sibling in the form of a younger sister, as well as a boyfriend who’s in over his head. And finally some extended family to represent the views of outsiders.

Overall, the book does a good job of showing a range of emotions and experiences a family faces when coping with bipolar disorder in the teen years. At times, I felt like the emotions could’ve gone deeper because some moments felt too simplified and rushed. But at the same time, I think it does an excellent job in showing those unfamiliar with bipolar disorder the number of challenges confronted and how this disorder affects more than just the person suffering from it.

Even though my child is much younger, there were elements that were easy to relate to. For myself, a moment that was very profound was when the mother was sharing her struggles on how to parent her daughter. The mother says, “Would you slap your two-year old for spilling milk? No. You’d give her a sippy cup. Of course, it just felt wrong giving an eighteen-year-old woman sippy cups of acceptance, but it was as it was.” (Schwartz, 2010, p. 200) 

Wow!! I love what she wrote here, it perfectly captures the subtle challenges parents face when raising children with mood disorders. To the outside world, we look like we’re letting our children get away with stuff, but instead, we’re giving them “sippy cups of acceptance” because we know that’s all they’re capable of.

Check out this book for yourself or refer it to someone who’s looking to understand how bipolar disorder affects the entire family. True compassion begins with understanding.

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Find it on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Where-Are-Cocoa-Puffs-Disorder/dp/0979875560/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1305906455&sr=8-1

References:
Where are the cocoa puffs?
Karen Winters Schwartz
2010


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It Scares Me

My son pulled me aside and told me that he had a bad thought of wanting to hurt himself. He didn’t have a reason for it, he didn’t have a plan of how to do it or why the thought popped into his head, it was just a passing thought.

After he told me, he said he felt better and was ok. I encouraged him, as I’ve done in the past, to always tell me when he has these thoughts and told him it’s best to be around others and not alone when he feels this way. I tried to explain that it’s just his brain making a mistake and sending him the wrong information and that it was so important that he never acts on those feelings.

He seemed to feel better by letting me know and was ready to play again. But for me, I felt sick to my stomach. I felt scared for him, terrified that these random thoughts could slip into his head. He wasn’t depressed, angry or feeling embarrassed or ashamed. He was just hanging out watching tv.

That’s what scares me, that we won’t see it coming and can’t help him when he needs it most. I’ve read personal accounts of where people commit suicide when things appeared good on the outside. Is this what happens to them? Do these bad thoughts just pop into their heads?

I’m scared for my son’s future, what will he do when he’s older and living alone and a bad thought of hurting himself comes to mind, will he act on it? Will these thoughts he has today, become much more threatening, lingering for hours or days? Is what I see today a precursor of something much worse tomorrow?

I know that I can’t be by my son’s side every minute of the day, but I’m still his Mommy and I want to protect my son in every way possible, even if it’s from himself. But at the end of the day, I honestly feel like I’m not enough when it comes to protecting my son, I feel completely inadequate against a disorder that strikes in unexpected ways at unexpected times, I feel like I’m up against an invisible monster that’s trying to take my son away and it scares me.

Can you relate?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Proud Moment

Our family is starting to get back on our feet after a series of illnesses, thanks to my mother-in-law’s homemade chicken noodle soup and a lot of rest watching all those recorded DVR shows. I have to admit is was nice to slow down a bit.

Last Tuesday, I took the boys to open house and as expected, it was loud and crowded. My son did a great job of removing himself from the classroom when it became too much for him and would patiently wait outside. This was a big step in seeing him manage his stress all on his own.

After the event, we got in the car and my son started thrashing around in his car seat. It was like there was a fire burning inside his brain. He started wincing in pain, saying something was wrong with him and he wanted to destroy something. As I drove us home, I calmly told him to put his head on his knees to block out all sensory input.

He did it!

This was a big deal! Usually, I give suggestions all the time, but he ignores them, especially in the car. He typically chooses to express his pain in a destructive way, but to my surprise, when I peeked back to his car seat,  he was quiet and had his head on his knees! (Hey, you have to celebrate the small stuff, right?)

Once we got home, we put him in a bath and afterwards he came out feeling so much better.

When his Dad asked how the event went, he said, “Kinda fun, but it was too loud and too many people.”

I was so proud and filled with hope to see him taking these small steps to feel better and especially proud of how hard he’s worked to get through 4th grade. It wasn’t an easy year, but he did it!

I was one proud Mama Bear!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bummer...


Well it looks like Blogger lost my saved post that was ready to post for you today. They’ve been having some technical difficulties and are currently working on it.

Things around here have been a little unusual. Both my husband and son woke up sick on Mother’s Day morning. My husband came down with walking pneumonia and my son got an ear infection. Needless to say, I was sitting in the doctor’s waiting room on Mother’s Day, but I have to share how impressed I was when our doctor’s office gave me a Mother’s Day flower. It was a nice touch for all us moms who were tending to sick kids instead of eating breakfast in bed.

Then this morning, I found out I have strep throat, just in time for the weekend! Be glad that you’re far away from all the sickness in our house.

In the meantime, I’m going to lay back down before I pick the kids up and if I’m lucky, maybe Blogger will give me back my saved post, or I’ll find the energy to write it again.

Hope you have a good weekend!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Police Pepper-Spray Misbehaving 8 Year Old

I saw this story in the news last month and was wondering if you too had seen it. What do you think, do you think the police went too far?

I personally find it hard to believe that there wasn’t another way to diffuse the situation. As a parent of a child who rages, I’ve been trained by our therapist on how to handle these moments safely. When he was 8 years old, I was taught to put my son into a hold until he was able to calm himself down. I know from experience the situation is very scary, but these are police officers, you’d think they’d be able to handle an 8 year old without inflicting harm. The ironic thing is, if I sprayed my son with pepper-spray while he was violently raging (something I would never do), I would most likely be charged with child abuse and have my children taken away.

So, what are your thoughts? Would you be upset if this was your child?

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In the news:
Colorado Police Pepper-Spray Misbehaving Boy, 8 - ABC News

Video Source:

http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/national/colo.-police-pepper-spray-8-year-old-misbehaving-boy
Posted: 4.6.2011
Consulted: May 10, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother’s Day!

I want to wish you all a happy mother’s day. Thank you for being there to support me through the rough times and encourage me with your own stories, I feel blessed to have found so many courageous, resilient moms here, you’re an inspiration.

Thank you to my own Mom and Mom-In-Law for all your love and support.

Enjoy this video, it’s going to make you smile, I promise! For those of you who have boys, you may relate to this video more than you like to!

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Video Source:
Uploaded on YouTube by BaratsAndBereta on Apr 19, 2006

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth



I saw this news story on the Today show and found it pretty interesting. If anything, a little encouraging. I’ll be honest and say that I’m very concerned about how my son is integrating in the social world at school. By no means do I wish him to be popular, but when I hear that he’s alone at recess, I get so worried for him and concerned about what impact this will have on him in the future.

In this news story, Matt Lauer interviews the author, Alexandra Robbins of The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, about her new book that takes a look at why some kids fit in and others don’t. In her interview, she shares that the kids that don’t fit in, most often become the most successful after graduation. She explains that what makes you different and an outcast in high school is the same thing that makes you stand out in a positive way as an adult, she calls this the “Quirk Theory”. She explains that these individuals are brave enough to be true to themselves and bring creativity to the world. She encourages us to look at examples like Bill Gates and Bruce Springsteen who claimed to be an outcast in high school, they’re now shining examples of the “Quirk Theory”.

I don’t know what lies ahead for my son, but I pray he survives the tough school years ahead to show the world how truly magnificent he is.

So, do you too have concerns for your child’s social life and how they’re fitting in?

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You can read the prologue to her book here:

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References:
Today
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Alexandra Robbins
Date Consulted: May 5, 2011

Video Source:
Provided by MSNBC

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Missed Melatonin Dose

Last night we forgot to give my son his nightly dose of melatonin, but it didn’t seem like it was such a big deal because he fell right to sleep after a fun evening on a slip and slide. But sometime in the night, we were reminded of our mistake when he woke up frightened because of never ending nightmares of him being killed by a murderer. Then this morning, he plopped onto the couch saying, “I don’t feel so well.” A moment later he said with tears in his eyes, “I feel pathetic.”

This was certainly a good indication that the melatonin is making a difference on not only how he sleeps, but how he feels the next day.

Sometimes, I find that when my son is taking a certain medication for a long period of time, and we still see mood swings come and go, it’s hard to realize the positive affects the medication is having on him. The medication gives him a “new norm” and how bad he once was is easily forgotten.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Mental Illness Happy Hour


I’m a huge podcast fan. My family will testify that I’m often wearing my headphones, hmmm... maybe it’s a survival technique as a stay-at-home mom. Anyway, I recently started trying out new podcasts when I came across one called The Mental Illness Happy Hour. It’s a weekly, hour long podcast hosted by comedian Paul Gilmartin (A host of Dinner and a Movie). It’s an entertaining podcast that focuses on depression, addiction and other mental illnesses through honest interviews with those in the creative industry.

So far, I’ve listened to the first 6 episodes and I’ll say it’s been very interesting. The show doesn’t dwell on mental illness, rather it’s a peek into someone’s life. So sometimes, it shares their history or relationships with parents that suffered with mental illness, other times it’s about how their illness has moved them forward in a career or how therapy has helped them overcome a challenge. It can be pretty funny, or at times, a little sad, but it’s real life and I enjoy hearing how adults are thriving with whatever they bring to the table.

The host, Gilmartin, does a good job of keeping the interview interesting and funny while showing that he cares for the guests. It’s also pretty fascinating seeing so many creative individuals fighting one form of mental illness or another. Some of the guests so far have been Adam Carolla, an Ex Con Murph, a voice over talent Grey Delisle and comedian friend Jimmy Pardo.

The underlining purpose of this podcast is to reach out to others who are suffering so they know they’re not alone. As its website mentalpod.com states, “This site is not intended to replace the need for medical diagnosis... It’s not a doctor’s office. Think of it more as a waiting room that doesn’t suck.”

Check out his website that includes a forum where you can chat with others at:
http://mentalpod.com/

iTunes Free Podcast:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mental-illness-happy-hour/id427377900

Happy Listening!

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References:
The Mental Illness Happy Hour
Paul Gilmartin
http://mentalpod.com/
Consulted: May 3, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Coming Off Ativan

On Friday, my son had to do more blood work to make sure his current medication wasn’t damaging his body. Because he tends to react violently to needles, we’ve had to use a lot of calming tools to get through the test safely. You can read about how we did it in my previous post, Surviving Blood and Needles.

One of the tools we used is Ativan (Lorazepam), this medication does a fantastic job in relaxing his anxieties, helping us avoid a violent rage. This day in particular, my son really noticed how good he felt, at one point he asked me why he didn’t take this medication everyday. I have to admit, he appeared to be really happy and completely stress free, his blood test went by quickly without any problems.

But hours later, we all paid the price for the Ativan. As it started to wear off, my son became very irritable and explosive. He started pacing the house, like a lion ready to pounce on someone. He had no control on his emotions and was very intense and impulsive, he even complained about feeling too much energy inside. As the day passed, we started to see rapid cycling, he would start to sob for no reason, then a second later look up with tears in his eyes and begin to laugh uncontrollably, before returning to his crying a moment later. No matter how many times I’ve witnessed this behavior, I still find it so bazaar, it just seems so unnatural to have your mood change so quickly and be felt so deeply. I could tell it’s just as startling to him too.

We found that during these mood changes it’s best to keep him away from others. He was ultra sensitive to his brothers and could be easily agitated by their smallest movements or sounds. By the end of the night, he was worn down from it all and cuddled with me as he drifted off to sleep. I couldn’t help but reflect on how tough things are for my little guy and how it seems nothing ever goes easily for him.

Two days later, we’re finally starting to see some stability again, it was a tough journey to here. Unfortunately, our psychiatrist couldn’t give us any insight other than, “It was most likely the Ativan that caused the mood swings,” followed by, “we just don’t know for certain.” I’m beginning to learn that our psychiatrist follows with that, at the end of every call I make.

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So, have any of you seen this kind of reaction when coming off Ativan or any other type of medication in your children?