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!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kitty meltdowns

Ok, Kitty’s meltdowns are getting more intense and the “flipping a switch” thing really freaks me out. I would be ecstatic if I thought it were her getting more control over her emotions, but it feels more like dissociation. After she’s flipped the switch, she usually can’t even tell you what happened, let alone what she was upset about.

The somatic illnesses are already interfering with school. I’ve taken her home from school twice and finally told her that she would have to stay even though she didn’t feel well. She’s called me almost daily from a classroom, but isn’t going to the nurse anymore. I did talk to the guidance counselor about learning the calming techniques from the Skills Trainer, and she knew Kitty might come to her, but knew nothing about Skills Trainer (I gave her the contact info).

Kitty's still not sleeping well. I don’t think she gets quite as little sleep as she claims (1-2 hours a night), but she’s definitely not getting a full 8 hours. I’ve been working with the new psychiatrist to adjust her sleep meds, but the new pdoc is not comfortable making a lot of changes since she doesn’t really know Kitty. The last time I spoke to her we discussed increasing the Traz*done (in low doses is used for sleep, but in higher doses like Kitty is taking it is used as an anti-depressant) from 300mg to 350 or even 400mg, but she suggested we try 2mg of Melat*nin since we haven’t used it in awhile. We tried up to 6mg of Melat*nin with no effect at all. I contacted the pdoc, but she had changed her mind about increasing the Traz*done, and honestly I’m starting to wonder if the Traz*done isn’t triggering mania – which could cause the lack of sleep and increase in meltdowns.

Yesterday Kitty was told that we’d decided she wasn’t ready for a cell phone (the day before we had gone to the phone store and told her we were considering it for all the kids because Bob and Ponito are getting to the point where they need one because of all their extra-curricular activities). She had the expected meltdown - wailed and cried, whined and moaned, got verbally abusive, ran out of the room…. but Hubby followed her and was able to get her calmed down enough to get in the car (we were at Grandma’s and we needed to go home). In the car she began biting her arm (she claimed she was removing dead skin with her teeth because her nails were too sharp) and sucking on her finger, she was a little verbally nasty, but no one would engage.

Then we got home, she wanted to get on the computer but was told she had to finish chores first. She started screaming and crying and saying her chores were unfair (2 weeks ago she’d demanded “sixteen year old chores” so she could have more teen privileges – like watching PG-13 movies. I’d assigned her the main bathroom and the kitchen, including a couple of loads of dishes). She said some rude things and went to her room.

A few minutes later she’d “flipped the switch” and tried to apologize to Hubby. Hubby told her he did not accept her apology because he was tired of her having a meltdown and then acting like her behavior didn’t matter and all was forgotten… especially since she was just going to repeat it. Not accepting her apology is apparently a trauma trigger for Kitty. Apparently it’s something that Kitty’s foster mom did to her on occasion. Kitty flipped and ran outside. Hubby followed and tried to calm her, but had to leave to take everyone to Ponito’s soccer game. Kitty and I were going to an adoption group social gathering about 20 minutes later.

Kitty came to the back door and seemed calm, but a minute later she was storming out the backyard side gate. I went to the front door to see what was going on and she told me that Hubby had locked her out of the house so she was running away. I called her back and talked to her about the fact that the back door sticks all the time, and Daddy wouldn’t do that on purpose. Unfortunately when we checked, Hubby HAD apparently automatically locked the door. I got her regulated enough to keep her from running while I called Hubby, but was unable to reach him. She requested to talk to her skills trainer, and I agreed, but asked her to wait while I tried to reach Hubby once more and we had gotten in the car to leave for the meeting.

I was worried that if I hadn’t talked to Hubby yet, that she’d use that as an excuse to escalate during the conversation with the skills trainer who advocates that we treat Kitty more like a "typical teen" which makes Kitty feel justified in her entitlement. She returned a couple of videos for me, and while she was out of the car I tried calling Hubby one more time but still couldn’t reach him. I told her she could call call the skills trainer, but she’d flipped the switch and didn’t want to anymore.

She had a great time at the meeting, playing with all the little kids. Tears gone, no one had a clue that I’d been considering driving straight to the psych hospital instead of the meeting. On the way home she started making threats again (“If we’re having leftovers for dinner, then I’m going to scream! I’d rather starve.”), but since she’d eaten quite a bit at the meeting I wasn’t too worried.

We got home and she demanded to get on the computer again, and I reminded her she still had chores to do. She made a small attempt, but when she told me she was done, without getting up, I listed some of the things I suspected she hadn’t done. She hadn’t. A few minutes later she demanded I check. When I went to check she hadn’t finished the job (still food on the counters she was supposed to wipe, the cleaning supplies were still out, there were still items on the counter she’d already been reminded to put away…).

A few minutes later she demanded I come check her chores again, but I told her I was eating, and she would have to wait). When I was ready I checked again and she STILL hadn’t completed the few tasks I’d given her – when I commented on the rags and pitchers that were still out, she said, she “forgot.” I left the room again (staying in the room usually causes her to feel nagged and escalate). A few minutes later, she insisted she was done and demanded I check. This time I told her I was busy and quite frankly tired of being a therapeutic parent at the moment.

She went into a dark room and pouted for about 10 minutes. It was after 8pm at this point (bedtime is 9pm) so I told her she could take her meds and get in the shower or take her meds and go to bed (since she hasn’t slept much she could go to bed early). She started insisting she was hungry, but I reminded her she’d eaten a lot at the meeting and said she wasn’t hungry (we’ve been talking a lot about emotional eating). She wasn’t happy, but she decided to go to bed. This morning she hugged me and went off to school as though nothing had happened.

I checked the chores after she went to bed and they still weren’t done well. *sigh* I’m NOT a super picky person y’all. We’re talking food spills, used utensils and dishes still on the counters, items I’d specifically reminded her needed to be put away still out…

She has an appointment Wednesday with the new pdoc. Don't even know what to ask for.


beemommy said...

So sorry for all the "schools in now let's all freak out" crap you guys are dealing with. Stay strong. hugs

Anonymous said...

My immediate thoughts?
1. She is SO like Ms. A; and Ms A, I finally realized, cannot help it. It is brain damage. Doesn't make it less frustrating though.
2. Some of the stuff you describe is clearly fear-based, and once there, she *can't* control the tantrums (or have good memory of them.) I think her apologizing is a way of admitting she can't control them, and I understand her feeling even worse about herself when her apology wasn't accepted.
3. Not doing the chores was her way of saying she needed to be babied. She has a lot of being babied to catch up on. Of COURSE this is contradictory. She is working hard at trying to gain control of herself and when she is in control and not feeling highly vunerable, she wants to be the person she IS. But when she's been hurt and inside has turned into a 2-year-old (not necessarily disassociation) she needs the sort of regulatory help a baby needs. (Note, also, that she may be reverting to even younger, to a pre-verbal phase, and that would limit her ability to recount her actions.) Just like Ms A, Kitty is 2 and 6 and 8 and 14 all in one body and as a result of a damaged brain. She may be able to disassociate, almost certainly not consciously controlled, but that doesn't mean DID -- one doesn't develop that after (I think) about age 3. And she isn't trying to do it! She seems to try very hard to get control afterwards.
Re-read some of my posts about when I disassociate. I don't like it, I want to be normal, I try to find a way to re-join reality, and I am often qutie sorry that I wasn't able to be "there" for my family while I was "gone". I can watch myself let them down and not be able to DO anything about it and it is a horrible feeling.

Please try not to hold Kitty's need to be her real aga against her need to be a baby. She is both. Try not to do the "but yesterday you wanted ..." It is what it is, she needs parenting for both stages.

I sure would have freaked at being locked out!

I do so understand your need for her to start being, acting, more grown-up. But, as I've said before, without work to help her brain develop (and not the academic parts), she may never grow "enough".

If the med might make her manic, it might affect her sleep. What sort of sleep side-effects are reported? Isn't she one who tends toward the rarer reactions? Who knows what is going on in her brain and body when she lies down to sleep. I feel empathy for her, and sorry for her. Do you have any gentle meditative music? if she could focus on the music, that may help her brain calm down enough to sleep (it can work well for me.)

How about asking the p-doc for a TRIAL of, say 8-hour am*ien? What does she report afterwards? How does she act afterwards? You have control of the pills ... if nothing else it may point the finger at her other med(s)? as being too stimulating. (Does she take them at night or in the morning?)

OK, I'm done beating you up. It is SO easy to give others advice, so much harder to live it yourself. I am trying to force you to accept stuff that I was never able to accept, so I empathize a WHOLE LOT with you, too.

I'm sorry it is the way it is.


Lisa said...

How frustrating!! My kids do the "come check my chores" dealie when they most definitely haven't. I think they count on me being too busy/tired/fed up to check them again and again - and truthfully, I am all of those things. I always question why there is ALWAYS (and I am not exaggerating here) something left out after the kitchen is supposedly done being cleaned, or just always something undone, when I am very, very specific about what I expect. I do not expect it to be perfect, just follow the stinkin' guidelines and we will be DONE. I question whether it's poor memory or a control issue.

My 16 yo is home schooled and she always seems to have a stomach ache, headache, etc. when I'm cleaning or working on something. I give her zero sympathy at this point and just tell her to go lay down until she feels better. No tv, no reading, no trips to the store, no nothing until she feels well enough to get on with life. It is not what she's looking for so she gets better real quick. This, of course, reinforces my feelings that everything is about control.

So sorry Kitty needs so much right now. I understand our kids need to be treated their emotional age in addition to their chronological ages at times, but the rest of the world is not going to acknowledge that when they hit 18. No employer is going to back off because Kitty is acting 4 and pretends she doesn't know how to do something correctly. I can't seem to let that go - the fact that our kids will be living in the "world" sooner rather than later and that no one else is going to put up with this crap. I worry about them being hurt even worse as adults who cannot function in society.