The only unusual behavior we’ve seen lately, was an evening where as we were heading up to bed, my son became overwhelmed with an impulse to clean. It started out with him vacuuming the whole house. I thought that after he was done he would’ve released some of that energy and be ready to settle down, but the opposite happened. He went though the house picking up anything he could find, then tackled the playroom with a vengeance. His moves were very fast, almost frantic, he had a clear compulsion to clean. At one point, it seemed like this compulsion was controlling him, he couldn’t stop himself, even complaining of a headache, but said that he couldn’t stop, “I NEED to clean!”
When I asked him what would happen if he stopped cleaning, he said that he would do something bad, he would wake up his sleeping brothers and hurt them, so he needed to keep cleaning.
After about an hour, he started to slow down and agreed to take his evening dose of Melatonin. Thankfully, that put him to sleep quickly.
After this episode, I thought about all I had seen and his response that he couldn’t stop or he would hurt his brothers. It made me wonder... could this be the more mild form of his previous rages? Could all his past rages been a form of “too much energy”, even a short episode of mania? And now with the addition of Lithium, he has greater control of these episodes and is able to choose a better way to burn off this energy?
His therapist agreed that this was possible, but as usual, our psychiatrist didn’t put a label on the behavior. Either way, having him exert energy in ways that don’t hurt others is a step in the right direction.
On a positive note, my son has proudly taken up skateboarding. In the past, he’s always been too worried and stressed out to enjoy this activity with the other kids, but now that he’s feeling better, he’s trying new things and liking it.
You should see his smile!
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