On the second day of the New Year my daughter gave to me, 5 minutes in her company.
Kitty has been having increasing difficulty with depression and anger. She has missed a lot of school due to "illnesses" and just plain unwillingness to work. We estimated that she lost 2-3 hours daily to her psychosomatic distress. We knew she was having a tough time. We were doing everything we could to help her, while still trying to keep her from falling even further behind (she's working on a 5th grade level and is in 7th grade). As it continued to worsen, we blamed a lot of it on med changes (trying to discontinue her anti-depressant because it is contraindicated with bipolar disorder) and of course the holidays (stressful for many).
Over the winter break she had been given quite a bit of catch-up work because we wanted her to have a complete semester when she started public school on the 20th (although she still doesn't know about public school being for sure). Her sister had some work too, although nowhere near as much. Bob figured out how many pages in the workbooks that each would have to do to be finished by the time school started back- with no work on weekends. Bob chose to take Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and work on one weekend instead. Bob had 15 pages. Kitty had 25 (on a regular school day she does 35).
Kitty had been fighting the schoolwork battle daily. Somedays she would get her assigned pages done, others she would just guess all the answers, stop without finishing, lie about it, "lose" her books, or refuse to work at all. Usually I could sit with her while she worked and keep her focused or break it down into smaller sections with rewards. Of course there was no real way she will get all the work finished by the time school started, even working over the weekend, and she knew it. She insisted she just wanted to go to public school where she'd never have homework and this stuff wouldn't matter.
So on the day before New Years, she apparently lied to me about getting all her work done (I usually check thoroughly, but had seen her working so assumed she’d done it). New Year's day I let her play for an extra hour (it was a holiday and I slept in a little) and at 10:30am told her it was time to come in from the backyard and start on school work. She refused.
Eventually I did get Kitty to come inside. That’s when I discovered that she hadn’t really done all the work from yesterday. I told her her assignment for the day with a few pages added to make up for the missing work (still less than she had to do on a typical school day). She argued, threatened to run away, cussed at us, threatened to “go emo,” pushed a pencil point into her inner arm “to kill herself” (not hard enough to leave a mark), claimed she wouldn’t have to do schoolwork if she went to public school… and eventually stormed upstairs to “do her schoolwork.”
Hubby and I immediately decided that she really didn’t need to be left alone. If for no other reason then to demonstrate that we love her and will take action to keep her safe, from herself if necessary. I grabbed a book and sat on the floor of her room. I turned the light on as I entered the room, and refused to let her turn it off again. She’d added bedsheets to her curtain and taped it to the wall to block out light. She claimed she couldn’t read if the room were light. She did a tiny bit of work, and I ignored her as much as possible (if I answer her it riles her up even more so I try to only answer direct questions and keep my answers brief). Whenever she left the room, I followed her.
Within minutes she turned off the light again and refused to turn it back on (unlike her apparently, I can't read in the dark). Rather than struggle over the light, I attempted to open the curtain accidentally knocking it down. I left it off. Kitty went to the window (second floor) and unlocked it – I assume to threaten to open it and jump out. I re-locked the window, politely asked her to move, and sat in front of it. Several times she left the room to get stuff out of another room. I followed her every time.
Suddenly she said she needed to go to the bathroom and jumped up and ran out of the room. Luckily her brother was in the upstairs bathroom (there’s a razor or two and some cleaning supplies in there - I would have stopped her and cleaned it out before allowing her in). She went to a downstairs bathroom instead. There she promptly locked herself in, turned off the light, and sat in front of the door so I couldn’t open it. I was fine with this, because as long as she was sitting on the floor she couldn’t get into the cabinet over the toilet and try to find something to hurt herself with. I heard her moving around so started to unlock the door. She immediately moved back to grab the handle.
I just kept telling her that I loved her ("Kitty, you can't tell me how I feel anymore than I could tell you how to feel. You can't tell me that I don't love you, because these are my feelings and I do love you. I always will.") and that I wouldn't leave her. That I knew she was hurting, and I wished I could make it better. Then she decided to try to flood the room (and possibly drown herself according to what she told a nurse later). I began to remove the handle from the door (couldn’t remove the door because the hinges were on the inside). She continued to hold it shut until she realized what I was doing.
Kitty ran out of the bathroom and straight to the knife drawer in the kitchen. She picked up a large knife and held it threateningly over her inner forearm. Honestly I do not think she really would have cut herself (she could easily have done it in seconds). Hubby and I struggled with her to take the knife away and she did threaten to hurt us with it. Hubby ended up holding her in a basket hold. She started struggling even more. Poor Bear was in the kitchen at the time, and it really freaked him out, he left the room quickly. He stayed calm and helped me find my cell phone so I could call the psychiatrist (it had been lost in the couch cushions which is where I searched only to find that someone had actually placed it on it's charger - how was I supposed to find it there?!). He then went outside with Ponito, Bob, (Grandma who’d we called in for reinforcements) and the neighbor kids that I had shooed out the door.
The psychiatrist recommended checking her in at the mental hospital. I called 911 because Kitty was too upset to be safe in our car. When the (luckily female) police officer arrived Kitty was still in a restraint - unable to calm. She politely answered the officer's questions, but occasionally still struggled and tried to bite and scratch Hubby. The CIT person arrived per our request. Kitty calmed down enough not to need handcuffs and walked by herself to the transport vehicle.
We talked in the car. She is afraid this means she is turning into Bear (with his long history of anger and hospitalizations). I assured her she is not like her brother in that way and she seemed to believe me and be comforted. She was calm on the ride to hospital and calm during the entire 7 HOUR intake! I was worried that they would send her home and think we were psycho parents, but at one point the social worker asked her some questions when we weren’t in the room and apparently triggered Kitty a little. Kitty talked about her obsession with black and dark, hating and hurting her sister (although she hasn't physically hurt Bob in almost 2 years she always talks about this as though it were last week), issues at school, and who knows what else.
While talking to the doctor, she rested her feet across my legs as she often does (deliberately even less gently then usual of course). I tried to rest my hand on her ankle, which she sometimes allows, but that day she wouldn't let me touch her.
Kitty was more upset about the cats not being able to come and not being able to wear her tennis shoes then anything else. She was upset that I was taking her shoes home and even peeked into the bag they were in for a final goodbye. She walked away from me without looking back. When the nurse took us back to the room where Hubby was and told her to say goodbye, Hubby tried to hug her and was pushed stiffly away. He pulled her in for a hug anyway and told her there was no way she was not getting a hug. She then walked up to me, and I opened my arms for the hug she seemed to be positioning for, but she straight armed me away too. I didn’t have to struggle as hard as poor Hubby to hug her, but it was like hugging a mannequin. Again she walked away without looking back.
On the second day of New Year my daughter gave to me, 5 minutes in her company.
So today we met with Kitty's new psychiatrist at the hospital. We only had to wait less than 30 minutes! They are completely stopping her anti-depressent (they’ve already put her at 25mg and will stop it completely in 4 days). They are planning on increasing some of her other meds, and possibly adding Lithium. They are talking about increasing her Concerta to deal with the ADHD better – which they think might be more the issue than the bipolar, or switching her to something else. They mentioned Vyvanse which is the med that caused Bear to completely lose it after one dose (severe body tics, out of control behavior and movements, vomiting, dizziness…). Of course everyone is different. They did “fuss” at us for not administering her Geodon with food (she’s been on this since day 1 with us and no one ever said anything about that!). They also divided it into a morning and evening dose.
The psychiatrist walked out during our 15 minute meeting to talk to the psychiatrist. His assistant (?) stayed and asked us a few more questions. Nowhere in the paperwork did it ask anything about Kitty's history (except had she ever been in a mental hospital before – yes, twice). I brought in a piece of paper with her diagnoses, a tiny bit of her history (placement and adoption dates mostly) and what meds she was taking. I had a hard time getting anyone to even take it (although they were interested in the meds).
Kitty appears perfectly happy at the hospital. She got to stay up until 10pm (her usual bedtime is 8:30pm). She would have gotten to sleep in until 8am, but they woke her up at 6:45 to draw some blood. We were allowed some time with her after meeting with the psychiatrist. She asked about what clothes we had brought her, was surprised when I mentioned Bob missed her, talked a little about the kids she’s met on the unit and her roommate ("she’s 14 and really cool. She’s adopted too and likes animals" – just like Kitty does! I’m so glad Kitty’s making friends. Feel free to pause in your reading now and wipe the sarcasm drips off the monitor.)
Of course no one there will insist Kitty do her schoolwork, and the school district where the hospital is doesn’t start back to school until Tuesday (they are supposed to have schoolwork brought in and of course I brought Kitty's in today, along with her extra clothes). So Kitty wins.
Kitty spent less than 5 minutes with us, then stood up to go back to group (no prompts from us or staff, she was just done). She did give me a hug, and a one armed hug to Hubby before she opened the door and walked out - without looking back.
Hubby is convinced that Kitty is the one with RAD, not Bear. I think he’s wrong, but it’s still tough seeing her care more about a pair of shoes then us.
Sunday we have family therapy – I hope they don’t try to blame all this on poor parenting skills (at least not on ours). We’ve been holding up pretty well. It helps that I have a friend who’s daughter has been placed in in this same hospital's children and adolescent ward 10-12 times (all her kids are emotionally disturbed).
It's been a long year!