As some of you already know, my parenting journey with Thing One has been a rocky one. He was diagnosed last September with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. We tried and rejected Zoloft and settled with Prozac.
Despite those efforts, Thing One didn't change very much. We had some reduction in anxiety but all the anger, aggression, defiance and depression lingered and lingered...
Over the last month, there has been a dramatic increase in aggressive behaviour, both at home and on the school yard. He had many verbal arguments and physical altercations with his peers and became even more unfocused in the classroom. There was less eye contact, no interactions. Thing One retreated into his angry self and pushed us all away with his words and his curses. His grades continued to suffer, despite an acommodated, and then modified Individual Education Plan.
And then the thing happened. The giant red flag, the MOTHER of all red flags that sent me reeling and then rushing to the phone to schedule an appointment with our child psychiatrist (Dr. Brain). It isn't easy to talk about this, to tell others the horrors of my child's first slip from reality. In in interest of helping other parents, helping ourselves and refusing to hide from the stigma of mental illness I have chosen to tell it here.
I discovered that Thing One had been smearing feces on the walls and furniture in his room. He didn't have an answer why he did it, said he didn't know, couldn't tell me, didn't understand. He had NO emotion during this discussion, in fact - behaved as though this was a perfectly normal Saturday morning. That afternoon he began shrinking - anxiety building as he complained about the closeness and crowding of the local market, the issues surrounding any simple daily activity.
And then - the hallucinations. The came from nowhere - a man who wakes him in the night at tells him to sneak out of the house and runaway while we sleep, to jump off the balcony - to do it, do it, DO IT, you won't get in trouble!" The whispery things that make it hard for him to concentrate on what we are saying to him. The bugs in the corner that "the man" makes come. The paranoia that "the man" takes his toys, moves them around or makes them disappear for awhile. When they return, they are broken. The disrupted sleep, waking night after night and wandering about the house. Falling back asleep under the coffee table in the living room.
The Seroquel is helping. He's been sleeping right through the night (sedation is the main side effect). I've seen glimpses of the little boy I used to know (more than 2 years ago). But "the man", the whispers, the voices are still here. We are beginning a journey to eradicate those things that torment him.
He is broken.
The worst of it is that I cannot see where the sickness lives, how it grows, what he sees. I can't fix it or put my hands on it or even evaluate it. I have to rely on the reports of a 9 year old boy who barely understands what's happening to him.
What's happening to all of us...