When we arrived at the psychiatrist office, my little one climbed into the big leather couch with his feet dangling off the side, not even reaching the floor. The doctor first addressed him asking, “Do you know why you’re here?”
My son straightened himself up and in a matter of fact tone said, “Yeah, I hear voices in my head.”
From there our psychiatrist ask about a dozen questions about the voices, here are a few of them:
“Do you hear more than one voice?”
“Yeah, I hear a lot of them. They’re kids’ voices and strangers”
“Are they in your head or in the room?”
“In my head.”
“Do they talk to each other, or just to you?”
“Just to me.”
Do they sound like your mom or dad or your brothers?”
“No, I already told you, strangers!”
“What do they say?”
“They call me bad names like idiot, stupid and tell me I’m a horrible person.”
“What else do they say?
“They laugh at me a lot.”
“They tell me to do bad stuff and if I don’t do it they’ll give me a migraine.”
From there the psychiatrist gave me a curious look and said, “Does he ever get headaches?” I answered, “Yes, more recently, in fact about a week ago he had his first migraine and even threw up with it.” With a look of concern he replied, “Keep an eye on that and let me know if that continues.”
Turning back to my son he asked, “Do the voices ever tell you to hurt yourself?”
My son hesitated for a long moment, looking down and avoiding our eyes. Then he softly said, “no... well I mean, yes.”
“What do the voices tell you to do?”
“They tell me to kick myself or to punch myself in the stomach.”
“Have you ever done that?”
“No, I know that’s wrong.”
“That’s great, don’t ever listen to that.”
After all the questions and reviewing the list of behaviors we’ve witnessed over the years, along with looking at his drawings of slaughtered dead people (with blood and numbered bodies) he turned to me and said that he’s clearly depressed. He believes the voices are possibly due to psychosis brought on from depression. If it isn’t psychosis, then it’s intrusive thoughts which are also bad and related to depression. He said that it’s clear that he’s struggling and we can’t continue with this so we need to start him on an anti-depressant, Prozac.
I felt a punch in my stomach.
Still dizzy from what I just heard, he then said, “Looking at the list of behaviors you’ve brought me, have you ever considered that he may have Aspergers?”
This felt like it came out of left field, but I had to admit, it recently crossed my mind. About a month ago when I was looking into my son’s vocal tic, Palilalia, I saw along with anxiety, autism was also associated with it. It made me ponder as I thought about the way my son never wants to play with other kids, but instead is happiest when he’s alone.
Plus there’s all the sensory issues that seem to be taking over his life, his extreme reaction to change in routine, even going out to pizza this week brought on anxiety because, “we’re suppose to go home after school, not pizza!” He’s overly obsessed with time and is extremely picky about foods.
There are moments were he goes into fits of anxiety over batteries dying, and showing him a bucket of fresh batteries doesn’t quelch this fear. A few months ago he was hiding under a clothing rack in a Old Navy store in a fit of panic because he saw some balloons and said, “The balloons have a spell on me!”
He seems to hate toys and never wants to sit with the group of kids during story time. He runs out of his classroom and lunch room because it’s too loud and this summer he ran away from a birthday party because it had too many kids.
We’ve seen anxiety over throwing trash away, how his sheets are tucked in or how his clothes are packed in a suitcase. Things like haircuts, shoes getting wet or teeth falling out have produced outrageous moments of panic.
Recently he told me that he sits alone at lunch. When I asked him if he ever wants to sit with friends he said, “I don’t have any friends.” When I asked if he preferred it that way, he nonchalantly said, “Yeah!” and wandered off like we were talking about nothing special.
This summer I found that it’s almost impossible to get a photograph of him since he seemed wary of our camera at times. Then there’s the varying moods, he definitely wakes up in bad moods and on other days he’s clearly happy, but in no time at all, he complains that it’s the worst day ever. He cries almost everyday about not wanting to go to school and homework time is painful.
He has on occasion shown destructive behavior when upset that I always felt was different from the energy his brother gave during a rage. It felt like he was mimicking what his brother did and unlike his brother, I was able to calm him down. Also, his brother’s rages always felt like someone out to get you, like a wild animal, where our youngest son just looks frustrated and overwhelmed.
We watched over the years our “playful boy” that liked to dance to music like he owned the dance floor, turn into the kid who runs and hides under the couch pillows when the music starts, refusing to participate.
And what really hurts, is seeing how he’s pushing my husband away. He just doesn’t connect or respond to hugs and playfulness as much. My husband says, “I don’t even know my son anymore.” And my son’s favorite time of the week is when his brothers leave for youth group so he can have his “alone time.”
As I look at my youngest son with a new lens of Aspergers, the list continues to grow. I can see now how this is possible.
I have to admit that my heart has been very heavy. It feels like I’m losing another child into a world I want no part of.
It’s not because he may have Aspergers, if anything that diagnosis would explain a lot. But it’s because I’m being told that this isn’t a phase. All along we have been told that our son may have PTSD because of his exposure to his brother’s rages. But this depression, this Aspergers, it’s not a phase. It’s another long journey I don’t want to take.
The thought of putting another child on medication, an SSRI on top of that makes me sick. What if it triggers a bipolar illness? What if it makes him suicidal? Our psychiatrist reassured us that we would take him off if we saw any bad side effects, but what if we ring a bell that can’t be unrung?
My heart is aching...
But as I was tucking my little one into bed last night, he was crying, saying, I’m so sad...
He told me the voices keep bothering him and he wants them to go away.
How can I ignore that.