Saturday, August 27, 2011

The big debate….to medicate or not to medicate?

When we met Little R she was living at a group home that had her in residential care for 8 months.  On her move in to the home she was removed from all medications to base-line her behavior.  She did fairly well at the group home so she was not returned to any medication.  She did well there because she did not have to attach or function in a family environment and she did not have to deal with a lot of her emotions surrounding that area of her life that was difficult for her.

I believed that our love, devotion and commitment to little R would heal her of all her hurts and pain and behaviors. I believed that the group home had somehow “fixed” her and she was miraculously healed from all her hurt since she wasn’t tantruming so much with them.   I thought that I could love her tantrums away and her anxiety and her depression and her fear of the environment and her sensory issues and her post traumatic stress disorder and her learning classroom issues and her Reactive attachment disorder.   My husband and I have worked tirelessly for our little girl over the past 15 months seeking out evaluations, therapies, services, talking to teachers and staff members educating family and friends and working hours with our little R at home to help her re-learn skills.  We have sought out natural herbal remedies and holistic approaches and food changes.  We have seen progress, she has changed, but her anger, defiance, fears and PTSD have continued at the same rate and she continues to struggle immensely in school and in social situations.

I thought that if I even considered medication I was a bad parent.  That I was giving up on her or on us and our ability to parent her.  I thought that if I considered medication that I was setting her up for addiction, dependency and failing her in some way.  I thought that if I put her on medication people would think that I was taking the easy way out and not trying hard enough to parent her and maybe we just needed to “try harder”.  We were encouraged to put her on some medication and we refused during our fostering stage. We were told by some friends and family it would be the worse thing we could do to put her on some medication.

I am writing this to tell any of you moms who are struggling with the decision to put your child on some form of medication that it it is not an easy decision one that you and your partner will have to weigh seriously and make the best choice for your family.  We did and it was the best decision we ever made.  Our life has been in chaos for the last 15 months and starting little R on a medication to help with her anxiety and help regulate her mood has made a world of difference.  It has given us back some normalcy in our lives and in fact is what we expected from parenting.   She has even told us how much better she feels not getting in trouble all the time and enjoying activities and events without being put in time out or removed from the venue.

We did not make this decision lightly and we still don’t . We did the research, we sought out a child psychiatrist who would listen to our daughter and us and build the right course of treatment for her.  Our Dr even told our little R.  “ I still want you to feel mad and sad and angry and all the emotions you have….but it seems right now that when you feel those things it is hard for you to not get Super mad and Super Angry and Super Sad and then you can’t turn it off, I want to help you control your emotions”.    I am not hear to listen to judgements on whether we made the right decision or not because I know that we did make the right decision for our family and our child.

Some people are born with imbalances in there chemical make up and some people have there balances messed with due to trauma in there lives and no amount of therapeutic work is going to be able to fix something like that.  A wise friend of ours who is a psycologist told me that sometimes giving a little medication will help the child be more receptive to the work we are doing in therapy, and accepting of those changes because they are in a better regulated state.   Our little R has been so strung out and anxious and physically in a place of dysregulation that she has not been able to take in what we are even trying to do with her.  Now her mind is calmer and she is feeling less anxious and able to take in some skills and learning tools.
I am so proud of her for the work that she has put into healing and I am proud of her as we talked about medication that she told me “mommy I just want to feel normal and not get so angry”.   When I asked her if she would be OK with me looking for a medication to help her not feel so angry so quickly and stay calmer  she looked at me with tears in her eyes she said “yes, please and soon”.  

Medication will never erase or completely heal our little girl. We have a long road of therapy and teaching ahead,  but we now finally feel like we are  on the road to healing.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exhausted...Mama's turn to vent

I don’t think I have ever felt this type of exhaustion before in my life.   I physically cannot even get out of my own way most days and wake the next morning still craving more sleep.

In April, I lost my job.   This set off a difficult tail spin of behaviors in our house from Little R due to the change and fears she associated with a mom not working.   It was a stressful phase in our lives but one that I hope Little R will learn from, that just because a mom is not working doesn’t mean she will be poor and not able to take care of her kiddo.  I was dealing with my own set of emotions over losing my job and feeling the financial strain and I wasn’t therapeutically parenting Little R to the best of my ability.  I was emotionally not able to meet her and was at times short with her, which did not make things better.

I found a job in late May and began a new schedule of working much later in the day than I ever have with Little R in the house.  When she moved in I was given a schedule of 6:30am-2:30pm. It worked out perfectly since she is an early riser.  I would see her in the AM, hubby would take her to school and I would pick her up from school in the afternoon.  We had time for homework, playing and our evening routine this was our schedule for almost a year.  My new job has me working at least until 4:30pm and sometimes later and not picking up Little R until 5-5:30pm and on occasion 6pm.  We rush home and have dinner and by the time that is done it is after 7pm.  Not a lot of time for playing or homework ETC. She doesn’t do well with being rushed and just shuts down. So her way of expressing her dislike over all of this change is through tantrums and defiant behavior.

In addition, the summer has been an extreme challenge for Little R.  She spent the better part of the summer throwing major tantrums and expressing her dislike of several changes in her life including my new job, school ending, and her favorite teacher leaving the district, my parents (her grandparents) moving to Florida and going to summer day camp.   She has made it clear that these changes were not acceptable to her but none of which I could change.  But even though I couldn’t change them nor did I cause them I was the punching bag for little R over the summer both physically and emotionally.

If I am not running around for normal life stuff, we are going to Therapy’s, tutoring or trying to fit in some family time on the weekends.  I have been sick over the past two months with colds and infections and some stomach trouble.  I haven’t been super sick consistently like this in a long time. 

I don’t know where the balance is.  Little R takes up about 75% of my time due to general care taking/ tantrums/explaining everything due to learning issues/re-direction/direct line of sight monitoring/therapy/tutoring and the other 20% is work.  I love her and wouldn't change being her mom but there has to be some balance.

Where and how do I fit in time for me?  I really don’t want to be selfish but I am exhausted and have ostracized myself from my friends and at times from family because I don’t want to “add another thing” to my plate and I can’t have Little R tantruming with them or I suppose I can I just don’t want to deal with it.  I am physically and emotionally burning out.  My candle has been going at both ends for over a year but in the past 3 months it has been running on just the wick in the middle and it is just about out.

I have been blessed to have a mother-in-law who wants to spend time with Little R and cares about how we parent her. She is always asking what she can do to make things easier and how she can "parent" her when she has her.   She will take her for a full day or overnight to give us a break.   She has been a reprieve for us on many occasions but the day in and day out parenting a special needs kiddo and working a full time job and managing Little R's many many appointments for therapy and specialist's is exhausting me and all I want to do is take a very long nap…….