Saturday, October 21, 2006

I'm Still Here

I know I've been remiss in posting (and commenting on other blogs) lately.

Some of it has been because I've gone back to college with my older son, and have been trying to settle into a routine.

Most recently it's because I got the flu and it knocked me on my butt for a week or so.

But really, those are just secondary reasons.

Ever hear about the elephant in the living room? The one that everybody has to step around and tries to pretend isn't there?

That's me on my blog.

I haven't been able to write about it, because it's been too overwhelming. It's just been impossible to write about funny stuff because I've been as clogged up as a drain stuffed full of hair.

There's now a light at the end of the tunnel, and my son, aka The Kid Who Is Not Related To Us, gave me permission to write about it.

I first wrote about his problem in A Reality RX. The panic attacks were subsiding and we were able to find some humor in life in The Continuing Adventures....

Very shortly afterwards, near the end of the summer, the attacks started turning into something else. Zero to rage in 60 seconds. Or ultimate heart-wrenching despair. Over trivialities.

Big Kid's initial diagnosis in childhood was ADHD, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder). None of it affected his cognitive ability, and with medication, behavior modification and some school helps (he processes information better when it's in print), he graduated with his class in high school and was accepted into college. Sure, there have been ups and downs---some big, some small, but things were really looking rosy for him.

He's been under regular care, and we all decided that he needed to have a full re-evaluation. Unfortunately, we were unable to get him on the schedule for months. In the meantime, his docs tried to get his moods stabilized with medication.

Those who've gone through the wringer with these issues know that there is no magic pill. There is no "one size fits all" treatment. A lot of it is trial and error to get the right medication and dosage.

One of the medications we tried to stabilize him with was supposed to last for 12 hours. It doesn't. And the rebound effect was horrific. His therapist called the paramedics one night (we had him on the phone) because Big Kid was screaming his head off in the front yard wearing nothing but his shorts.

Of course, the police and fire department had to show up as well, turning it into a complete three-ring circus.

The police showed up first (turns out a dispatcher had sent this out as a domestic violence call, which is NOT what the therapist called in), and by the time they got there, we had been able to get the kid to take his meds and calm down a bit. They thought he was high, searched him, kept asking him where he kept his drugs, threatened to arrest him, etc, and basically scared the hell out of him. And us.

This was NOT a good thing.

It took the paramedics explaining that some of the meds the kid was taking can have a narcotic-appearing effect to get them to back down. Of course, they wouldn't take OUR word for it, even when I showed them the prescriptions. arghh. I know they were doing their job (they were very courteous and professional), but it really didn't improve the situation.

Anyway, the evaluation is over and we got the results earlier in the week. The doctors think The Big Kid has developed bi-polar disorder and is rapid-cycling. The constant anxiety and panic attacks he had in the spring were a precursor. Unfortunately the medication that he was taking for ADHD and OCD exacerbates it.

On the bright side, he's been pretty stable for the last couple of weeks. On the not-so-bright side---the meds make him really tired and hungry. We're trying to dial them back slowly to a manageable dose with the least amount of side-effects.

If anyone has any experience with this, could you recommend some reading---anything informational with coping, diet and exercise tips would be great. I've been reading so many websites that it's hard to figure out what's crap and what's not.

I haven't been neglecting you all on purpose---things have just been a little, uh, nuts around the Attila house lately.

Thanks for all your continued good wishes!


Kim Ayres said...

I'm afraid I haven't a clue where you begin with something like that - it's completely outside my sphere of experience. However, my thoughts are with you nonetheless, and I hope you manage to find a bit of time for you in all this.

quinn said...

Hey Atilla, you need to be where you are needed to be........You are an awesome mom from all I have read and you do what you can when you can.

I do not know alot about what you are going through. I do know we believe that my oldest son has something and we have never been able to get a true diagnosis. It could be ADD or it could be oppositional deffiant disorder, or it could be asperger's syndrome. Or he could just be a "difficult kid" from time to time.

Who knows , what I do know is there are many times when we just think wow he is just a normal kid having off days, then there are times when it is why is he so different. Prob is hard to get him to be evaluated when he has the law on his side saying if he refuses to go and see someone we cannot force him.

I feel some of the things you say when you talk about the elephant in the room. Hard to do small talk and fun talk when you are in the midst of alot of very difficult personal things. Been there doing that most of the time. LOL>

just know I will still come and read your page when I can and am thinking of you and your family and hope of course that your son is able to find some thing that helps him to be able to find comfort and enjoyment in his daily life. It certainly cannot be easy for this young man and to have the support of his parents and family is paramount.

Best to you.

kim said...

Yeah ..the elephant in the room

We have one too ... A 25 yr old that rages and explodes over the littlest tiny thing, you never know what will set him off.
His problems are numerous, we werent able to have him diagnosed when he was a teenager and as an adult hes unmanageable. And living with us for the first time since he was 17.
Unfortunately, his drug addiction over the last couple years is what we focused on when in reality rehab was only part of a long process, and only a symptom of his other problems. ( I never heard of ODD like Quinn just mentioned )
Ive tried to talk to him, but we cant MAKE him seek help. Unfortunately its like living on the edge..waiting for the next episode, all the rest of the kids are suffering and we cant see an end in sight. After a particularily loud and violent episode with his girlfriend the police were called, my husband told the police officer we would like for them both to leave, move out .... we were told we would have to give him 90days notice and start eviction proceedings, it seems here in california once a person has established residency, you cant throw them out...whether they are on the lease or not. Isnt that fantastic? So we live like prisoners in our own home ...

I hope knowing you arent totally alone helps a little bit *hugs*
email me if you want to vent :)

Anonymous said...

It's good to hear that he and you are wrestling this around with some new diagnoses etc.

This from an adult with bipolar as part of the mix who has been on the same med for two and a half years and *knows* the dosage needs tinkering...but no insurance at the moment so I'm waiting til next.

You are in such a tough place. But it seems you are working at it the best you know how...

TxGoodie said...

I feel your pain. Many, many times. My child-of-many-diagnoses is better these days than she's ever been. It's a circus act of giantic proportions to get all the meds balanced, but it's worth it to see them in control of their own lives and doing well. You're such a GREAT mom. Hang in there and the blog will still be here as will all of us that love to read it when you're "in the mood". Hugs...

Rocky Mountain Princess said...

I'm afraid that I can't, off the top of my head, recommend any websites or reading material. But I can tell you that my family has "been there, done that" with my brother. He was diagnosed as Bi-Polar, Schizo-affective, with Psychosis.

Needless to say, the aftermath of balancing meds, doc appointments, and trips to the mental hospital to visit him after some partcularly bad episodes... was not fun.

I'm not telling you all this to depress you or get you down; I just want you to know that you're not alone. I'll ask my mom about some reading material - she was really into all that stuff when Matt first got sick.

Just remember that anything you read... they're just guidelines. There is no "how to handle a mentally ill person" book anywhere. It's trial by error. And remember that it's okay for you to grieve for the loss of normalcy in all of your lives. If you don't, then it gradually becomes anger, resentment... especially with the more episodes that he goes through.

My brother was killed in an accident a year and a half ago; it has been hell to get past how angry and resentful I was toward him for six years because I didn't give myself the chance to grieve. For the loss of "normalcy," for him as a person and what he had to go through, etc.

Anyway, I'm rambling and I'm sorry. I just wanted you to know that you're not alone and to keep your head up. With time, they were able to stabilize him on his meds and eventually, he was able to go completely off his meds with no complications. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel sweetie - you seem like a very brave, loving, individual. I have no doubt that you'll all make it through this!

KL said...

I know you will make it through. I was once just like Big Guy...Once I was diagnosed with bipolar and put on the proper life has quieted down.

Just keep in mind that part of the bipolar illness is to stop taking meds, and then crashing and needing to start them again. The person with bipolar starts to feel 'normal' and either starts to wonder why the hell they are taking a pill everyday when things are fine (of course the pills are keeping things fine), or they miss the high of the manic state. Sometimes it is even a case of missing the live in turmoil so long, that quiet even non-turmoil can be very very scary.

I am sure you already know this, but a good support system is vital to helping Big Guy out. Please give him my number and tell him he can call me anytime, because I REALLY do understand and have been there. I think he is ahead of the game, because he has been diagnosed much younger than I was.

Sending good thoughts and support your way.

Anonymous said...

I had a roomate in university who's symptoms came on in the later years of school. We had no idea what was happening and I wish I had so I could have helped him more.

On a positive side, I saw him for the first time in almost 10 years last month and he's doing fantastic, so there is light at the end of the tunnel, even though it's likely hard to see it now.

Marymurtz said...

White light to you and your family--it's hell what you've been going through, but the fact that you have always been and continue to be so proactive will make all the difference in the world.

I wish I had some recommended reading or resources, but I don't. You are my hero.

Boo7 said...

Sorry to hear about the elephant in your living room....years ago I used to work with many young folks like your son and still I find myself without any sound advice to offer....other than to keep on doing what you are doing....research, question, evaluate, be aware....AND...the most important of all...remember to take care of yourself now and then no matter how it might seem like there is not enough time to do so!!!

I think that today things are getting better, albeit, slowly in the mental health fields....gosh when I was working with the kids I used to work with some of the current diagnoses and treatments were not even heard of yet. You sound like an awesome mom and if you ever find yourself needing a place to talk and/or vent, please don't hesitate to click on my name!

elizabeth said...

{{{{Atilla}}}} Hope things settle down for you on the homefront. Wish I had some useful or helpful info for you, sorry I don't. Sending my best to you all. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Wow Hon! Sounds like you have again been having a rough time with The Big Kid (and the rest of you I'm sure). I hope they will manage to find a treatment scheme that will help him re-find his stability in life, so you will all be able to get back to "normal" (but then, what really is normal, hey?)

I have the utmost respect for how you are handling this and no need to apologize for any absence!

Annie Drogynous said...

Aww honey, I'm sure this has put a bit of a delay on your getting well. I can't offer you any advice in this situation. To be honest, I think every situation is different and while it's great to get sound advice from those that have experienced similiar situations, your best bet is just to listen to his dr.. Things will work themselves out, they always do. Best of luck to you and your family!!!
- hugs -

Kate said...

I don't have any advice to offer, but I wanted you to know I'll be thinking of you and yours! Your situation sounds pretty tough at the moment, but from the little I know about you, you sound strong enough to overcome the problems!

carmachu said...

Well, its no wonder your busy! Good luck there with the meds.....Sorry, I'm no help here.

How's school going anyway?

Heather said...

Wow. You have been dealing with a lot. I've emailed you a bit on my experience with Bi Polar. Many hugs & thoughts for you and your family. ♥

Lainey said...

I have lived with a person with many similar ailments. It's not easy.
You're in my thoughts and prayers.
Hope you feel better soon.

Brenda said...

I will just send some prayers up for you. You're a wonderful person and fantastic mom and your children are so lucky to have you!

Sheila said...

This must be such a trying time for your family and for your son. I just wanted to say that what you're son is going through must have such an impact on you as a parent with feelings of anxiety (bringing on heavy bouts of flu etc.) You must remember to take care of yourself as well as 'the kid'.

Thank goodness the doctors have figured out what his condition really is. Apparently bi-polar disorder is extemely hard to diagnose acurately. Hopefully things will settle down because of this.

I wish you all the very best, (I know that you are very strong through your writing so I can imagine in the bleakest of hours you will find something that will make it amusing - even if its for a second), Sheila.

Stella said...

Atilla, not much use to you I'm afraid but so sorry for what you and the big kid are going thru. I hope they get him stabilised and life returns to "normal" - whatever that may be.

Beki said...

I have a friend with bi-polar and whilst it did take a long time to find the correct medication and treatment once they did, she was so much better.

I hope your son is able to find his right treatment soon. In the meantime - what an amazing family he has!

Hope your flu has gone!

Ruth Dynamite said...

Wo. Sorry for all your excitement, Attila. I have no experience with any of this, but I'm sure your presence and general outlook have a calming effect on your son. Hope it all settles down soon.

Me said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you. I wish I was more helpful.