Saturday, July 30, 2011


I just put together my new desk chair, so it's probably a good idea to test it out, see if I'm all fully adjusted, so to speak.

We've been having a pretty nasty ride here.  My daughter's depression has taken root to such a degree that all the people on her team are now working together so that she can access the help we have available for her.  And now that we've confirmed that we're in a cycle, I'm finding it easier to tap into my well of patience.  Not easy, just easier.

When my son was younger and his behavior issues were in the forefront, I always knew that what was happening was neurological, and it wasn't personal.  I could hold onto my patience, even when he was being "disrespectful," because I knew that he couldn't accord respect much less disrespect.  How his brain works is different, and I had to find the way to reach him in order to teach him.  While I'll always regret how long it took, getting him the right academic rigor was the most beneficial school change we ever achieved.  Now most of those behaviors are things of the past.  (To my knowledge, no one has yet found the treatment for being a teenager, so we're just living through that part.)

With my daughter, we've struggled for years to identify the issues.  We know we've found some, but identifying the depression, and now, I hope, treating it more overtly, has helped me to stay calm when faced with behavior issues that feel like we're raising a brat.  Until we even out the chemicals, it's not under her control.  And while I worry about the learned behaviors she may be acquiring as we're "on hold" right now, my main job is to bring down the stress in our house and increase the positives.  Once we've got more of a balance (in the brain and in the home), we can go after the other issues.

It's become a bit of a joke in popular culture, but I'm here to support "better living through chemistry" -- it's the only thing that's keeping my hope afloat.  So here's to two to six weeks of waiting for the new meds to take effect, to more charting and logging than I care to contemplate, and to the comfort of my new chair -- CHEERS!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

August 24th

Found on the family computer: A document written by my son containing a list of historical world events that happened on his birthday.

1857 – PANIC OF 1857.
1921 – PLANE CRASH. 44 DEAD.
1997 – ME.
I think we should be afraid.  Very, very afraid.

Friday, July 22, 2011

To sleep

It's midnight.  My daughter is still awake.  Bless her, though, at least this time she didn't go to bed after a screaming match or such-like.  She got into bed before 10:30 -- great for a summer bedtime and fabulous for lately -- after a nice "get ready for bed," and she's been lying there quietly ever since.  She talks a little, mostly about waiting for her letter from Hogwarts and the like, and she rolls over a fair amount, but she's been good about it.  Based on my emphasis, you can probably guess that the opposite is the new typical.

The doctor reminded me that sleep disruptions can be part of depression.  My daughter has got difficulty falling off, difficulty staying off, and difficulty getting up in the morning.  If that qualifies as "sleep disruptions," I'd say we have a winner.  Add to it that she doesn't like to be alone -- she never has -- plus her history of worrying herself into a state when she can't fall off, and I can say for sure that my sleep disruptions are certainly part of her depression!

I am so not looking forward to tomorrow.  I have to get up in a few hours to wake up my daughter in a few hours and a few minutes in order to drive 90.6 miles to Children's in the sweltering heatwave half the country is currently in (predicted heat index of 115ª).  That, of course, is assuming she ever falls asleep tonight.

I have to repeat, though, that I'm very grateful for our doctor at Children's.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

My dear child

My dear child,

There are so many things I have wanted to do with you, so many lessons and values I have wanted to share as you've grown.  Let me say them here, in case you haven't heard me:
  • Laugh, sweetheart, every day.  Find those things in life that are silly, funny, even absurd, and laugh.  Laugh with joy.
  • Treat people well.  What you send out to others is what comes back to you.  Respect what you can without diminishing others for the parts that you don't like.
  • Find your gift.  Set your goals as high as your potential; you can reach the stars with what God has given you.
  • Even if no one is watching, do what's right because it's the right thing to do.  It's called ethics, and being ethical will take you farther in your life than any unethical decision can possibly take you.
  • Honor your obligations.  Be trustworthy.  Say no to making a promise you know you can't keep.
  • Ask for help.  You don't have to do it all on your own.
  • Love.  Love yourself.  Love others.  Love what you're doing.  Accept love.  If you lose what you love, go out and love some more.
Now, my daughter, as I watch you leave your young childhood behind you for the tween/teen middle school years, I hope you enter them knowing that you are a beautiful, smart, and funny person who has value and the potential to reach your highest goals.  Now, my son, as you enter high school,  I hope you continue on the path to greatness; you have so much to give.

I have loved you since long before you were born.  I loved the idea of you before that.  You have been a source of joy to me and the sweetest light of my life.

With love to the sun and the moon and the stars and back again,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Treading water

I don't tend to talk about the specifics of my daughter's issues on this blog -- and I'm not likely to -- but I will say that her depression is spiking again.  Because she's a kid, depression presents differently from the well-documented adult symptoms.  Irritability and an attitude of "nothing is good" are key symptoms for my daughter, as our über on-top-of-it doctor at Children's reminded me today.  I also learned that sleep disruptions are part of it, and that certainly explains the past several weeks' nighttime awakenings.

While I don't want my daughter to have depression -- it does hurt -- I'm glad to have a name for what we're dealing with.  I've been struggling a lot lately with the underlying causes of the behaviors we see on a daily basis now.  I've run the gamut from poor parenting (hence learned negative behaviors) to the effects of poor emotional regulation (true but not under her control without the explicit teaching of coping strategies).  I had forgotten about the depression (and the chemistry involved).  I don't care so much about the label except that it helps identify the best interventions.  That, and it helps me have patience.

I haven't really been holding onto my patience well lately.  (I don't think I'm ready to share Tuesday's Stellar Parenting Moment #5,632 just yet.  It wasn't pretty.)  I haven't slept well in a year, and I'm really frustrated that the. best. doctor. for. us. is located 90.6 miles away, taking a minimum of five hours out of our day to see her.  The lack of specialists is one part of "preserving the rural characteristic of the Mother County" that I'd really like to see unpreserved.  My daughter needs help, and I have to yank her up the Beltway every week to get it for her.  It's draining, but when I make monthly appointments to save on the drain, her treatment lags, and she makes little progress.

It feels like we're at sea, treading water, with no land in sight.  And we're getting awfully tired.

I don't have an ending to this post. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vacation flashback

We're on vacation.  We're at my sister's house in New Jersey for the Fourth of July.  She lives just a quick hop over the Ben Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia, so on the first day of vacation, we took a little "field trip" over the river and through the city.  Our main stop was the Eastern State Penitentiary, located a few blocks from the Art Museum:

My photo before entering Eastern Penitentiary.
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers.
Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. (Eastern State Penitentiary home page)
The whole place is disturbing on multiple levels, from the idea of truly solitary confinement -- never seeing the faces or hearing the voices of others -- to the details of the brutality that is always associated with prisons, no matter how "humane" they are thought to be, to the smell of the decayed and decaying facility.

So many pretty features lost in the decay and the purpose.

No clue what cascaded off the walls along this corridor.  It surely wasn't there at the time prisoners were behind these walls, but it contributes to the overall feeling of ruin and hopelessness.

Sadly, the smell set off a chain reaction of uncomfortable memories of growing up in my parents' house -- not that it was a penitentiary, though the common method of discipline was guilt, but that there were parts of the house, particularly the basement, that were as vile to be in as Eastern State.  Uncared-for, musty, crumbling walls... stacks of musty, moldy papers and books with no covers... two dirty ground-level windows letting in only limited light...  the feeling after having touched anything...  Who needs those kinds of flashbacks?

Memories aside, I don't know that total solitude causes penitence...