Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Aftermath

I’m on the verge of tears as I write to you tonight. My house is a mess, chairs are tipped over and everything is disheveled from an episode my son had tonight. What hurts the most is the knowledge that my son is struggling and I don’t know how to help him.

After an amazing time with his Grandparents, my son felt his anger coming on and let it all out within an hour of being back home. Even though he had a great time, he talked about how much he missed me, as he punched at me. He talked about how much he missed his brothers while he ripped up their stuff. After about 1 1/2 hours of anger, he started to melt into sorrow where he repetitively cried out, “I want to go home”. I tried to comfort him, letting him know that he was home, but it didn’t help.

The best way to explain this episode is to compare it to a computer that malfunctions when overloaded. Even though he appeared to be having the time of his life while away, his body was holding in a good amount of anxiety that he needed to get out once home. During the episode, I saw anger that was violent towards me and towards himself as he bashed his head into the door. At times he was calm, but very mouthy and appeared to be having fun taunting me. Then other times, he was trying to scare me, followed by moments where he was agitated in his own skin. The episode ended with him feeling deep sadness and confusion.

Then he fell asleep.

I thought we were done for the night when I was able to get him into a warm bath and feed him dinner, but before I could even finish my own meal, he was up and messing with his brothers. For the next hour he struggled with feeling too much energy and acting mean, as he complained, “I feel like I need to hurt someone”, then writhing on the floor, desperately begging for this feeling to pass.

At one point, I was on the couch, silently crying as he laid on the floor, questioning when this will ever end. He shared that the doctors don’t work, the medicine doesn’t work, nothing is working.

Before he drifted off to sleep, he allowed me to hold him in my arms as I reminded him that there are peaks and valleys and that when he’s in the valley, there’s a peak around the corner. He just has to trust us to help him through it because we love him and will never let him go through this alone.

I wish the story ends there, but after he was asleep, I have two younger boys who are living in their own aftermath. Both are upset and heart-broken after counting the minutes for their brother to return home to then experience a meltdown so soon. My middle son explained that he felt so bad he wanted to punch someone in the stomach, but he knew that would be wrong. So I used this opportunity to teach my little ones to “let it out” on their pillows. So the boys began punching their pillows with every bit of energy their little arms could give, when I told them to, “Knock them out”, they began laughing uncontrollably, because “Mommy, it’s just a pillow!”

I was glad to see them recover a little from the day, but I know that it isn’t over. Just as my son said, “the doctors don’t work, the medicine doesn’t work, nothing is working.”

This is long road and I’m afraid we’ve just begun.


  1. Oh Mama :( This just breaks my heart for you guys. Since your pdoc has kind of abandoned you and you have no real plan to get your son stable at this point I would really consider taking him to the hospital the next time this happens. At least he will get some kind of help there and he will be safe. Reassure your son that something will work for him and he will feel better at some point so he does not lose hope. But you need a new strategy. Asap.

  2. Thinking of you all.....xoxoxoxo

  3. I agree with Meg. When his next meltdown comes take him to the hospital. It maybe your saving grace. If need be they can stabalize his meds and maybe you'll get lucky and find a new pdoc. Just be honest with the hospital and let them know you think he is not getting quality care with his current pdoc.

    Praying for your son and wishing you the best.

  4. Oh Mama Bear, hugs for you. Even through the tears, you are handling your son with love and grace. He may not seem to see it in the moment, but he is aware of it. Your love for him will help him find what does work.

  5. Oh Mama Bear, how I wish we were neighbors. My 11 year old had the same sort of day and I'm in tears reeling from the abuse. He lost it at the dinner table when his older brother very kindly asked that he respect him when he was not invited to join in on an xbox game. We tried to just have a rational conversation, but he kept escalating it until he was around the table, choking me. Then he hit me as hard as he could. I'm bruised...and sad beyond belief. My 16 year was so furious when I was hit that he then flew over the table to defend me. It was awful. I HATE when they aren't rational. Plus I hurt physically from the event. I'm so sorry for you. I promise I get it. I really do. I've written to you several times before...all three of my boys have mood disorders. There's no way to explain it to someone unless they've lived it. If we lived near each other, I'd take you to lunch or something and let you vent it all. Just know I'm there with you. Not that it helps, but some of us know what a rage really looks like. Much love my friend.

  6. big (((hugs))). i know it is so hard to see them like that. hang in there. praying for you and for the rest of your family!

  7. Hi Mama Bear, I'm sorry you all had so a rough day. I know "rough" is an understatement. It is so hard to protect the siblings and to draw lines in the house. You are giving your little ones the tools they need to work through their frustration and that is a wonderful thing. I agree it may be time to look for a new pdoc.

  8. Mama Bear, I'm just catching up on your blog. I can't really add anything to the good advice already given. And like the other commenters, I'm just so sorry for what your son, you and the rest of your family are going through. Maybe one of the doctors at the Stanford conference can advise you on how to help your son at this point and/or put you in touch with a good pdoc? (I realize you may not be able to wait that long, but just an idea.)

  9. Hi Mama Bear, I think that you handled the situation really well and that sounds like a really scary and painful situation all around for everyone including your son. I would likely agree on if that happens again taking him to the hospital. I saw earlier in the blog about possibly trying risperdal. Did he ever try that? My daughter had really good success with that on a low dose and it works very very quickly within one day it took her from a close to manic episode and within a few days was quite stable again. We have her on that .5 2x a day and lamictal. I know the lamictal didn't work out but perhaps with a different pdoc perspective you could see if possibly they went up to fast on the lamictal? That is a med that has to be given in very small increments. SW

  10. Thank you all for your loving, supportive words of encouragement! You really are the best! Today has been a good day, as usual, yesterday is a thing of the past. I did send messages to both his therapist and Pdoc. His Pdoc said that he did recognized from my message that his moods and impulses were unstable and is going to try and see us on Friday.

    Meg-I get what you're saying about taking him into the hospital. But I also recognize that it's a 25 minute drive, and it wouldn't be safe in the car, and at this point, I'm afraid to bring him in an ambulance for fear of the damage it will cause with all his anxieties. But I hear you loud and clear, and once he gets too hard for us to handle, I know we will have to take this step. (dread) If they decide to hospitalize him, we are unhappy where he will be sent, it's not even close to our city! Thus another reason to leave Kaiser. How old was your son the first time you had to do this?

    Redbird & Dawnelle- Love you sisters!!!

    Vicki- Wow, you must be one tough Mama to have 3 children struggling. I'm so sorry to hear about what happened to you, that sounds pretty rough. Not only physically, but emotionally, it must be devastating. I do wish we lived close together and could support one another, but I feel your love and support even now, thank you so much! I'll be praying for you tonight!

    To everyone else, thank you from the bottom of my heart, your words really lifted me up, thank you for being there when I needed it!

  11. HUG HUG HUG HUG HUG.....I am so sorry he is in so much turmoil which causes turmoil in everyone else's lives. HUG HUG HUG. It can't rain all the time Mama Bear.

  12. Mama, the hospital is never a great option but sometimes it can be necessary. My son was 6 the first time he was hospitalized and 12 the second time. Both times he was completely manic and out of control and we didn't have the know-how we do now. When he was 6 he arrived at the hospital looked right at the staff and told them he wanted to kill himself as he literally could not sit still. At 12 we had to trick him and tell him we were going somewhere else and he tried to jump out of the car while we were going 50 mph on the way there. But we made it. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to keep them safe.

    Hopefully you will get a good plan with your pdoc (push on them really hard and don't hold back about how bad it can get) and can avoid the hopsital. You might remind them that the recommended APA treatment plan is to deal with the symptoms at hand (the rages for you) and put out that fire and then look for long term stabilization. Not the other way around. It is the first priority to keep the patient safe to themselves and others. That is what the are there for.

    Love you guys!

  13. SW- I just saw your post today, thanks for the feedback. No we haven't tried the Risperdal yet, though it has been mentioned by our pdoc several times. We see him tomorrow morning.

    Meg- Thanks for the insight, I'm going to push for a plan tomorrow.

  14. Has anyone ever mentioned heavy metal poisoning? Have you ever had anyone look into his blood-work. What sort of environmental factors could there be associated with where you live?

  15. Anonymous-Those are fair questions. Yes, my son has had blood work, we even put him under anesthesia to have a brain scan to make sure he didn't have a tumor causing his symptoms. As for his environment, we’ve tried modifying his diet and we've tried different parenting techniques. We also have two other children exposed to the same environment without a mood disorder, but we do have a family history of mental illness in the family tree that my son may have inherited.

  16. I feel very saddened by your son's situation, all I can say is that I will pray for him also and I wish you and your family only the best. I will keep checking in to see how things work out for you guys but in the meantime I will do some extensive research to see if I can find anything that may help explain this. May God bless you and your family