This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kitty Meltdown

We have got to figure out a way to get Kitty more therapy treatment (her attachment therapist only has an opening every other week). We’ve done about all we can with meds and she refuses to participate in EMDR therapy so we’ve had to drop it. I’ve been dealing with my own depression and stress so I haven’t been able to devote as much of myself to helping her as I would like. I’ve increased my medications so I’m better able to handle her, but I’m still not 100%.

Yesterday Hubby had a meeting so I was taking care of the kids by myself. She had another episode that led to a restraint, property damage and some pretty severe bruising on me (she of course is totally fine). There were many triggers, so we’re not totally sure how to handle it from here.

Triggers:
1. Kitty had stayed home sick with a sore throat.
*Change in routine AND she doesn’t feel good.
2. I told her she wouldn’t be able to go to my sister’s house last night for dinner because my dad and stepmom are visiting and his health is fragile (I didn’t want her to get him sick).
* Jealousy because everyone else got to go, and more importantly FOOD – Grandma S doesn’t cook with whole wheat noodles and has sugary desserts.
3. She rode in the car with Grandma to pick up Bob from school and Bob insisted Kitty move to the back seat (they take turns sitting up front and consider it a huge privilege).
*Issues with Bob getting something she wanted

4. Because she’d gone with Grandma, Ponito turned off Kitty’s movie and I wouldn’t let her start it again right when they got back because Ponito was in the middle of a show
* Issues with Ponito getting something she wanted
5. Once Ponito’s show was done she started her movie again. The minute she came back in the room (she’d left while Ponito’s show was on) Kitty started arguing with me again to get to go to eat Grandma S’s spaghetti and for me to punish Bob for her behavior in the car. I continued to refuse. She began cussing and yelling.
* Cussing is something Kitty only does when she’s out of control. I think it scares her. I also think she was escalating because in her past if she pitched a big enough fit she got what she wanted. Each meltdown we’ve had seems a little more extreme then the last one because we are not giving her her way.

6. I let her know that she was demonstrating that she was not capable of watching “The Addam’s Family Reunion” after all. I’ve taken away most “scary” movies because they upset her, though she insists that I’m wrong of course.
* I really do think the movie could have triggered some issues.

7. She was not calming down and was getting irrational despite my remaining calm and trying to keep her calm. I finally put her in the FAIR Club.
* Definitely fear. Being put in the FAIR Club triggers her every time too.

8. Kitty left the room angry and stormed upstairs to her bedroom. I didn’t go after her.
* Issues with me. I’m sure she saw it as I don’t love her.

9. Kitty found the phone number of one of Bob’s best friends from the private school while in her room. She thought Bob didn’t have it so she dialed the number and invited Bob to talk to the girl. Bob did.
* Bob didn’t act appreciative (because she already did have the girl’s number). I’m sure this triggered an issue with Kitty because she wanted Bob to be grateful.

10. Bear started insisting that Bob get off the phone so he could make a call. I fussed at him, saying Bob had a right to talk on the phone too (he’s on it almost all the time!). In the meantime, Bob accidentally knocked off Bear’s glass which shattered. She and Bear started arguing over who should clean it up. I told Bob to clean it up.
* Kitty was in the living room with me while this was happening in the kitchen. When I raised my voice to tell the children in the other room what to do I’m sure it felt like I was yelling which I’m sure triggered some issues – even though I wasn’t really yelling and it definitely wasn’t at her. Plus, Bear was being bossy and “parenting” which again even though it wasn’t directed at her, triggers issues. The glass breaking probably surprised her as well – I know it did me!

11. As Bob started to hang up, Kitty wanted to talk to the girl. This is Bob’s best friend and she didn’t want to share so she said no (according to Kitty “really meanly”).
* Kitty is so jealous of Bob and her friends. She feels that Bob is poisoning girls’ minds against Kitty (which Kitty does often to Bob). She can’t stand it that Bob is not miserable and friendless. Plus part of Kitty's identity is being the "friendly" one and she hates it when Bob does anything that is in Kitty's baliwick.

So long story short (ha ha!), Bob stormed off to her room and slammed the door. Bear was on the phone. Kitty went into the kitchen, opened the sharps drawer, pulled out a pair of scissors and held out a chunk of her hair like she was going to cut it off. I stood nearby, but decided not to interfere. When she realized I wasn’t going to stop her, she held the scissors to her wrist, and paused again. When she realized I wasn’t going to stop her, she said "I know something I do have the guts to do" and ran to the stove. Last big meltdown she had, she’d threatened to burn herself on the stove so I stepped a lot closer, but again didn’t interfere.

Kitty tried to turn on the burner that didn’t work. Then she tried other burners, but turned them past the lighting point (gas stove) so they didn’t ignite. There was some gas being released so I turned them off and asked her to stop, but didn’t stop her physically. Finally she got one to turn on and immediately turned to a nearby cabinet to get out some spaghetti. I turned the burner off. She began threatening to burn the house down and saying she wanted us all to be in it. She kept turning the burners and I kept turning them off. She finally grabbed my arm and tried to bite me. A little more struggling and I felt I needed to restrain her. I tried a standing basket hold, but she began kicking me, and then she deliberately collapsed to the floor so I held her in a sitting basket hold.

She of course continued struggling and trying to scratch me. At one point she was able to bite me and I wasn’t in a position to break her hold so we sat there until she let go on her own. I was wearing a long sleeve shirt so while it did break the skin and of course bruise severely, it didn’t bleed and I don’t have to worry about infection. She also managed to kick out the door of one of the kitchen cabinets. I was able to move her away from the other cabinets before she could do any more damage.

When she finally calmed down and I let go of her wrists, she stayed in my arms for quite awhile. We discussed why she was angry. I tried to point out that just like she often feels like Hubby is yelling at her, even when he isn’t really, it’s the same with her issues with Bob. Bob is just acting like a normal girl. It’s the way Kitty is perceiving it that is distorted. We talked a little about jealousy.

By the time Hubby got home Kitty was calmer, but still trying to make me let her go to the grandparents. I left the kids watching TV (not the movie and they were calm) and went upstairs with Hubby to tell him what happened. We decided that he would be the parent to stay home with Kitty because I needed a break (and it’s my family that’s visiting). I was a little worried about leaving Hubby with Kitty, but he was right. I was pretty shaken up. Hubby called Kitty upstairs and asked her to turn off her radio. She immediately started pitching a fit. While standing in her doorway, trying not to keel over from the reeking pee smell. I noticed a used sanitary napkin on the floor. I know it’s been over a week since she had her period so I told her she needed to pick it up. She almost had another meltdown.

Hubby convinced me he would be OK (and we were already almost half an hour late to my sister’s) so I left. He said he asked Kitty to pick up her dirty clothes, which she did – although not the pee soaked blankets, but otherwise left her alone. When we got home Kitty was already in bed. She did get up and ask me to tuck her in and sing her a song, which I did.

Kitty apologized to Bob this morning, but then was right back at it. Bob has about had it with Kitty’s behavior and I don’t blame her. Bob reminded me that I had been giving all the children candy when they had to deal with issues like this (I thought it might bother Kitty enough to get her to quit if she saw everyone else getting rewarded- I forget whose blog I saw this suggestion on). Unfortunately someone got into my candy stash and ate it all. Probably Kitty since the missing candy was her favorite and according to Bob it really bothered her. I think I’ll bring a treat home for them. Or just mention in front of her that they all got 2 pieces of cake with dinner last night (Kitty only got one).

I realize a lot of this is fear based, but we have reduced the stress as much as we are able. (She has almost no chores, and nothing that Grandma has to enforce after school, she’s not in EMDR therapy anymore, I keep a close eye on what’s going on in school and intervene where appropriate – she had a boy “picking” on her so we moved her to another part of the classroom). The honeymoon is starting to wear off at school though. She’s no longer thrilled to be going and willing to behave to make sure she can stay (that was her choice not mine by the way – I would never MAKE a child behave to get to go to school).

I know that at least some of it is manipulation and control on her part. She often talks about how much freedom she had as a child (no chores, no bedtime, no food restrictions – cheesecake for breakfast and junk food all the time). She firmly believes that if she pitches a big enough fit she’ll get what she wants. This scares the snot out of me! She is escalating more and more rather than realizing that we say what we mean and mean what we say. She WANTS to go to residential treatment.

What do I do with a 4-6 year old who looks and thinks she’s 14?! We talk about her having issues and that’s why we don’t allow her to do some things that her “little” sister is able to do, but she is in total denial about it. She needs structure and love, but she is fighting us on both. She wants everyone, especially Bob and Ponito, to be miserable like she is and was. If I love Bob and Ponito and treat them special in any way she is jealous and demanding equality.
There are some things that Bob and Ponito have earned and are capable of handling that she just isn’t - (overnights with friends, staying home alone for short periods of time, getting to read books or watch movies that Kitty can’t handle, buying Bob new shoes because her feet have grown again, letting them stay home with Hubby when I go shopping, using the microwave, later bedtime…). Sometimes I just give in and don’t let any of them have something (for example, listening to anything but Christian music), because one or two of them can’t handle it, but I can’t do that with everything.

I’m so frustrated because not only am I not getting through to Kitty – I know she feels totally unloved, but by trying to make it feel more equal, I’m actually depriving the other kids of the things that make a happy childhood. Suggestions?!!!

Mary

1 comment:

Linda B. said...

I feel your pain. Most of what you wrote is my daughter, 16. She is in residential now. It killed me how she was affecting the other kids. The one thing DQ did that got her into res. is running away all the time and wanting to get pregnant. That's when insurance decided she was putting herself in danger. Never mind what was happening to the family! It really sounds like she needs to be placed somewhere. I hate saying that, but I would be scared that she would do something to hurt the kids or you. DQ took a kitchen knife after her older brother once. Our youngest age 9 has started therapy now for anxiety over what DQ has done to us. Who all is involved with your family as far as therapists, or county? I need to go back and read some more, you probably have all of that written already...sorry if you do-I am trying to catch up reading. I don't think anyone is safe with her home, not even herself. I can't believe how much she sounds like my daughter. Even how we love the others more, spend more time with the others, nothing is fair for her, etc. RAD, yuk! I never thought I'd want one of my kids living out of our family, but she's change that for me. Some times you have to work on other things first then get to the RAD.