Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We are fine here except a nasty hurling virus is sweeping through the house. I'll be back when we all recover, make that, when I recover. LOL.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weepy? Me?

I'm a bit weepy today. I am rarely weepy. Usually, I am able to compartmentalize things until I can deal with them privately. I keep finding myself thinking about my kids that aren't here. I filled up with tears when I saw Country Strong was on again, when I saw a post about Soul Sisters meeting up, Emma told me she cried at her friend's house last week because she missed me, and now as I write this. Not sure what is up.

I know it hit me hard when I got a second call about my son this weekend from the RTC. He has had to be restrained twice and he received another shot. It breaks my heart. They said he pushed all the kids buttons looking for a fight until he got one. We've seen that more times than I care to admit. I miss him enough to forget how awful his behaviors are and how hard they are on our family.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Is It Really?

We have a sitter and are going to the Visitation set up for tonight. We couldn't manage the funeral because the kids would come home alone and we all know THAT wouldn't turn out well.

On a completely different note, I spoke with Michael's family therapist yesterday and it seems after our meeting last Friday, we are closer to all being on the same page. They were missing key information and I shared some things that made them look at the whole picture. Some of the confusion is that he mostly hallucinates at home. He rarely shares what he is seeing because he thinks they are real, unless they are scary ones. I have learned to read him and ask a lot of questions to figure out what is going on. They thought it must be PTSD flashbacks since it was happening at home. I had to explain that his meds are controlling his hallucinations and that they do reappear when he is under stress. He is stressed at home because home with his siblings trigger stress for him. He is only sharing with me because I ask the right questions. He would never offer it up to anyone unless he was frightened and looking to be reassured he is safe. Flashbacks should be exactly that, a flashback to the traumatic event. He sees things he has never seen, talks to people that say things he has never heard, he thinks things are completely different than other people around him do. He is not in our world sometimes. He has different players than we do. He is shocked and surprised and you can see it on his face. They are not flashbacks.

We also discussed that when you are surrounded by a certain disorder, you tend to see any symptoms familiar with that disorder as that disorder. They are surrounded by RAD and PTSD. They see his behaviors that relate to that more clearly and may miss the others. How could he not have it? He lived through a childhood with numerous foster families, all kinds of abuse, and severe neglect. The psychiatric hospital that sees my son when he is having scary commanding hallucinations because he is psychotic, sees Schizophrenia. Another doctor in the beginning saw PDD-NOS because he made no eye contact, wasn't social or able to read social cues, was delayed developmentally, and didn't play like other kids. Another felt his hypervigilance and lack of attention must mean ADHD. His speech therapist thinks his inability to process his thoughts is a speech disorder.

So who is right? I don't know. I know I see RAD, PTSD, BiPolar, MR, and Schizophrenia. I'm not a doctor. I do know my son. I know he wants so badly to be a good boy. He wants to be "normal". He wants to learn. He wants to feel love. He is terrified of being loved. He is tormented by the people and things he sees. He can't catch up in school and doesn't try because he feels hopeless. He was traumatized in his first family's home and thinks about it often. He sabotages himself. He is depressed and withdrawn because he can't connect with others. He becomes aggressive and violent when he is frustrated. He has a strong family history of mental illness. Does it matter what it is called? Does it matter if it is from trauma or a mental illness?

I go back and forth on that. Truly. Sometimes I need a name for it. I can put off all his difficult behaviors on that. It's not his fault. It makes it easier to accept it all. Other times I feel if we just figure out a way to make it better for him that it doesn't matter what it is is. Ask me tomorrow and I'll feel differently. It changes constantly. The only thing that hasn't changed is his symptoms. He is very disturbed and whether or not I have something to call it, he is miserable and struggling. The professionals can't agree or figure out what the Hell it is so how are we supposed to? He is the one suffering. All I want to do is make him feel better so he can grow up in our family feeling loved because he deserves at least that.

Monday, August 15, 2011

She Opened Our Minds

My hubby and I knew a young woman years ago that was dx'd in her late teens with Schizophrenia. She was the only person I knew that had a mental illness that didn't try to hide it or acted like she had any shame for it. I'm not sure if she actually felt that way but it looked that way. I asked her many questions over the years and witnessed a couple of breakdowns. My hubby was closer to her and dated her one Summer. She shared her fears and thoughts openly with him.

Without knowing it, she has had a huge impact on the way we feel about mental illness and how it affects our family. We teach our children they have nothing to be ashamed of. You don't need to whisper when you talk about it. It is no different than having Diabetes or any other chronic illness. The symptoms are much different but they are just that, symptoms. They require meds to keep it under control. They need family support to find the strength to keep trying. They are under a doctor's care to help guide them. It is nothing but an illness.

We lost touch with this friend over the years, as most of us do. We talked about her fondly. Her and I reconnected last Fall during our chaos and I had the opportunity to get her advice about the illness. She told me her dx had changed over the years and symptoms came and went with stress. She was very supportive and helpful. She felt we were on the right path about the shame and had some thoughts about that. Her paranoia about being watched was shared but she wasn't clear who was doing it and I didn't ask.

She shared she had married and has children. She is mostly stable and felt she was on top of things. She gave us hope. We saw that our children may have quirks and struggles but they could lead a "normal" life that could include a spouse and children. A hope that we desperately needed. She promised to bring her children to our big birthday carnival this year so we could catch up.

My husband woke me very early this morning by shoving his cell phone in my face. He was frantic. He couldn't read his FB on his phone without his contacts in and all he saw was a status update with her name in it. She had recently deleted her FB account and we had wondered numerous times what happened. We still aren't sure why she did that. The update was letting her friends know she had passed last night.

There was no going back to sleep after that. Worry set in. A selfish worry. One of the biggest concerns we have is the suicide rate for people with Schizophrenia. We are terrified one or both of our children will find life too hard and take their precious life. For a couple of hours I cried for her family and ours. Then I got a response from another of my hubby's ex girl friends telling me that wasn't the case for her. They think it was her heart.

Nothing can make her family feel better about the loss of their mother, sister, wife, and daughter but I wish they knew just how she helped our family cope with our life. The strength we found from our long ago friendship when we first heard the dx for our children. Knowing her and her struggles made the unknown with our kids seem possible.

I know in my brain that her life has no real connection to how my children live out their life. I know that. Her illness is different because every one's is. Yet, somehow, even her death has given me a tiny bit of hope for my children. She will never be forgotten. My children will continue to hear stories about the girl that taught their parents about mental illness and how to look past that illness and see the person. She made us better parents to our very special children. She taught us patience for people that seemed different. We are eternally grateful to have had the privilege of calling her our friend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Visit

We knew there would be fall out. The RTC decided they are liable for my son on visits and have stopped this weekend's visit. I completely understand their position but at the same time, I KNOW we can handle him. It's not that it is even just him, they are also concerned about Ruthie. I get that, too. I see her reaction last weekend as progress.

Maybe a weekend off would help them both but what if they feel it is a consequence for her being honest? We all know that no matter how hard I try to convince her otherwise, she will continue to believe whatever she has built in her mind. For what it's worth, I'm very proud of both of them. Life is hard for them and each time they make any effort, it should be rewarded. Most people would give up and die. The fact they keep trying and want to feel better says amazing things about them.

Ruthie has been sick and vomiting this week. My hubby is thinking this is psychological. Since he usually doesn't notice these things, I blew him off. (I know, bad wife.) Now I'm wondering if he wasn't on to something. (See, I do value his opinion and thoughts. It was only a temporary lapse in judgement.) No one else has been sick and usually it runs through here like a wild fire. Time will tell.

We are all excited about a day visit with their Aunt Michelle and Uncle Floyd at the lake. We have barely seen them since Ruthie came home and nothing since his accident. He is home now and is back to reality. He remembered his wife, family, and life. He is walking again and is able to care for himself during the day. Of course, as we know from my hubby's 2 traumatic brain injuries, this will be a life long struggle for them. They are up to it. It may have saved his life. He has since quit drinking completely. We wish nothing but the best for them. We are all excited to give them some giant hugs Saturday.

Monday, August 08, 2011

But He Didn't Get Violent

Life has changed here so much since this time last year. I can barely speak of the kids we lost. The pain is still deep and fresh. Right before we lost them, Ruthie, Patches, and Michael entered 2 local residential treatment centers for intense therapy and interventions. Patches and Ruthie were at the same one and were released WAY too fast. The RTC didn't take the time to wait out their honeymoon and see their behaviors or get to their intense feelings. They let them down.

Luckily, Patches learned a few somethings from her brief stay outside our home that did make up for their lack of ability to treat her. She learned that she would come back here because we love her and she is a part of our family no matter what, we aren't as bad as she thought, we are safe, we do what we say we are going to do, we aren't the only family with children that struggle, and she never wants to leave us again. She used to throw fits that lasted hours and screamed things about never loving us, never returning to us for Xmas, wanting to die or kill us, and other things trying to express how deeply hurt she was feeling. To say that her feelings were over the top for the situation is an understatement. These episodes were happening because her sister moved her shoes to her room or she was asked to take the trash out. Anything could trigger these events that would usually end in a restraint to protect her or me.

Ruthie's return wasn't so easy after she was released. We had safety issues to work through. We did just after the holidays last year and she has been here since. She, too, learned many of the things Patches did.

Michael still has not returned home full time. We are transitioning him now. The hospital is hesitant to release him because he is still having some serious issues. He is aggressive, delusional, impulsive, and is hallucinating again. I'm sure most people would think, "Why would you bring him home then?". While they RTC is hesitant, they agree with us that this is probably the best he is going to be able to manage. This is his life. He deserves to be in a family. He is a good boy. We aren't your regular family and can handle his issues safely here. We are prepared and willing.

To say our home and lives are drama free would be a lie. In comparison to our lives prior to their hospital stays, it is calm. Patches is stepping up in ways that bring tears to my eyes. I never thought we would get to a place that I could trust her to make a good choice, be responsible for another person, or want to help her family. She chooses to be a part of us, has taken ownership of us, and wants to protect me. Huge stuff for her. She's not perfect. She has moments and stress gets to her much worse than your average gal. She pushes through. Ruthie is talking. She is sharing her feelings and thoughts. She wants to feel something for us. She is trusting me with her scary stuff. She is taking direction from me with minimal homicidal/suicidal threats. We still see deep anger come out but she moves past it quicker. Michael has been a model son (our version of a model child, of course). No violence on his visits.

He maintained that this weekend and that is huge for him. Keep that in mind when I tell you about his visit. No violence is big, it's progress.

He was off from the moment he set foot in our home Friday. OFF. Nearly every interaction with his siblings turned into a squabble. We all have our days so I tried to help him through it. Then he turned on me. He kept saying, "everybody is lying on me". It turned into the theme of the weekend. We are used to crazy lying here. He commonly accuses others of attacking him or turning situations around and becoming anger that they are lying. I witnessed him "misunderstand" all of us over and over. He began to seem deeply hurt. That was new. He remained calm. he talked through it every time. He was very confused. When I say this happened 30 times, it may be an understatement. He eventually asked to go to bed. It began all over Saturday.

I could see he was escalating and was concerned we would have to take him back early. I called both of his therapists. They had some great advice and we were able to salvage the evening by watching a movie quietly. Sunday was great. He sat at the table with his Dad and put together the coolest Lego tank that shot crap at us. He thoroughly enjoyed shooting us with tiny spear things. We ate dinner and he and Ava played some more while the table and dishes were being done.

Out of no where, he got rough with Ava. He began to kick her and punch her. She half laughed out of shock and he took that as confirmation it was ok to continue. We starting talking about why he decided to do that. It became clear when the other kids chimed in that he had been doing it to them and they didn't say anything because he wasn't angry when he was doing it. They felt like he was roughhousing and even though he isn't allowed to touch them, E.V.E.R., they felt like they handled it. It quickly turned into, "you are all lying". He didn't get violent. He didn't agree with anyone and was again, confused. He kinda stomped off into our dining area. My hubby could see him and we heard him throw the Lego tank to the ground and it shattered. When my hubby cried out, "WHY?" in his frustration, Ruthie began to lose it.

Ruthie has a history of attacking me when her brother is out of control. She is triggered and becomes psychotic. We can't make her understand he is safe, that he needs our attention right then, or that it is him that is having the issue, not me. I can't reason with her. Most times, I have to move from Michael to keep Ruthie safe from herself. I fully expected that from her last night when she began to cry. Our attention as a familoy turned to help Ruthie since Michael seemed to be holding his anger in check. SHe expressed anger towards my hubby for the first time. SHe talked about what triggered her. How she was feeling. She even decided to separate herself from the situation to calm down. How is that for amazing?

Michael took this very moment of progress and bolted out the door. Usually, when he gets agitated, we turn on the door alarms to all our out going doors. He seemed to be fine and it never even dawned on any of us. The kids saw him run up our back drive. I ran out to find him but he was gone. I had to call the police and the RTC to help. He was found a ocuple miles up the road getting dangerously close to the interstate. We live on a major road and he has run into traffic in parking lots so I was a mess until he pulled up in the back of a cop car.

Poor officers never know what to expect about why these things happened. They have to consider he was running from an abusive home. They kept him separate from us and spoke to him about why he left. Having such a severe processing issue and speech disorder, they kind of gave up. He ran to my arms and began sobbing into me. I comforted him and asked if he was ok. I told him I wasn't mad and was so glad he was safe. I pointed out this may have not gone well but no one was hurt. One of the 4 officers began to chuckle, "I guess he's alright here.".

When everyone calmed down, I took him back to the RTC. He acted like nothing happened. With all that drama, all I kept saying was, "but he didn't get violent". I'm really proud of him for that. Now I get to spend time on the phone with his therapists. We have to figure out what the heck is going on with him. I refuse to see this as anything except a moment of success for him. He is changing. He may never have things competely under control but I see a light.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Poor Daddy

We recently made a decision to put a tracker on our 15 year old's cell phone. There wasn't anything going on that we were worried about, we just thought it would be a good way to keep up an eye out for problems. We were shocked to discover texts revealing some previous scary activities. We thought things were worked through and discovered there were other things to worry about last night.

I won't go into details but will say that we are so glad we caught this pattern of behavior. This is a child that is respectful, attached, and genuinely a very sweet child. She has worked hard and we couldn't be any more proud of her. With all of our love, support, and work to build her self esteem, she found it extremely hard to avoid the path so many sexually abused children go down. We are in the process of helping her realize she is worth so much more than what she thinks she is.

I hate that her world has to be so small to protect her from herself but that's the only way to keep her safe. The things that stands out for this child is her ability to see her mistakes for what they are, listen and follow our advice, and want better for herself. She will work through this. We all knew there would be growing pains during the teens years. The only person I'm concerned about is her poor Daddy. He wants to strangle any boy that "takes advantage of his baby" even if there is proof and admissions that is isn't a victim at all.

I spent 2 hours at a neuro psychiatrist today for Michael. This lady really listened and described my child amazingly well. She will do an evaluation to figure out how to help him overcome his intense processing issues this October. At the end of our appt, I made one for both Patches and Ruthie!

Ruthie has already been taken out of regular classes! Her case manager/special ed teacher is awesome! Ruthie came home yesterday crying that she felt so out of place. Her teacher had already spoken to the asst principal this morning when I got there to change her to the resource room for all subjects. Ruthie came home very relieved today.
I wanted to announce, I'm working on a book. Who knows how long it will take but it will eventually come. I'm scared to death!