I’ve been holding this concern for sometime now, but haven’t had the heart to write about it yet. I’ve been concerned that my youngest is developing some issues. About a year or two ago I took him to our therapist when he started to show some anxiety. He started to regress with his toilet skills and had problems sleeping alone. He was scared a lot of the time. It seemed like a no-brainer since my oldest was going through a period of violent rages. To say the least, they were very scary, so it seemed obvious that my youngest would have a hard time processing what was happening and according to our therapist, was most likely developing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I understand that some readers may be thinking... “that’s ridiculous”, but you have to keep in mind that his exposure to unpredictable violence started when he was around 2 years old. Over the past 4 years, I specifically remember many occasions where my small child was terrified by his brother. There were times when our oldest would go into a rage and my youngest cried while covering his eyes with his little hands, trying to block out all that was happening around him. Other times, he would witness me being attacked as I yelled at him to go hide in his room. There were the nights where he would hear a rage for hours on the other side of his bedroom wall, flinching in fear at the sounds of destruction and the pounding that rattled his own walls. He’s been a victim of his brother’s impulsive behavior and now is conditioned to run whenever big brother appears upset.
So is it any wonder that he’d develop some fear and anxiety? I think most families living under these conditions would have some form of PTSD. Even today, I feel my pulse quicken when my son raises his voice, even if he isn’t getting out of control, my body seems to overreact.
But were starting to see more than just anxiety and fear in my youngest. At 6 years old, he recently went through a phase where he would repeat any sentence he said in a whisper right after. (Exactly like the boy in the tv series The Middle). It goes something like this:
Little Brother says: “I’m going outside to play.” then whispers, “I’m going outside to play.”
We’ve also had issues at school where he overreacts to other kids, gets angry over change and he appears on edge and screams a lot at the small stuff. He also experienced night terrors when younger and has had sensory issues for as long as I can remember.
But this past week, I’ve seen for the first time him having tantrums beyond normal behavior. It was like his brain gets stuck on something and he’s overcome and goes into meltdown mode. It’s not the same as a rage, it’s very different. He’s never malicious to others or exhibits predatory behavior like his older brother, it’s more like a child that has to have things a certain way to feel secure. For example, last night while tucking him into bed, he had a meltdown and couldn’t go to sleep because his fitted sheet wasn’t fitting his bed perfectly. To my observation it looked fine, but something was wrong with it and he couldn’t sleep because of it. This same scenario can revolve around his shoes, the carpet square he sits on in class or the foods he eats.
So today I made the decision to call our therapist. His response was, “It sounds like he’s developing the anxiety disorder OCD, lets schedule him an appointment.”
A part of me feels relief because I’ve been at a loss on how to help little brother and I look forward to getting some guidance. But my stomach twists as I write to you now because I feel sad and guilty as a mother. Could I’ve done a better job of making little brother feel more secure while handling big brother’s rages? Did all those hours of holding big brother during a rage or trying to keep him in a timeout leave little brother neglected emotionally? Was this unavoidable due to our family’s genetics? Or is this an aftershock of bipolar disorder in our home?
Either way, we’re moving forward to help this little guy and thanks to older brother’s recent stability, we can.