How to you continue to take care of your mental health?

Discussion in 'Healthful Living / Natural Treatments Archive' started by TracyEd, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. TracyEd

    TracyEd New Member

    I need some advice.

    I only recently learned that my son's very very severe ADHD is likely Aspberger's and ADHD combined. It's a great relief to learn that the reason his medications never worked for the most difficult behaviours was due to another condition altogether.

    Unfortunately, learning that he has Aspberger's has led to my little angel acting out and using Aspberger's as an excuse to bully and boss us around. We've been having power struggles for 3 weeks consistently and tonight, I finally snapped when, like every night (no exageration...every night), he complained about his meal. He gagged on his Kraft Dinner because it wasn't cheesy enough, he decided he didn't like peas any more and his chicken tasted funny.

    Meals are always difficult, but tonight, I snapped. I feel terrible now because I yelled at him and sent him to bed without any supper. I know discipline is important, but yelling at him accomplishes nothing. It just knocks his self-esteem down and he cries. He only hears the bad things and doesn't benefit from it at all.

    I spent the last couple of hours crying and feeling like **** and I know that throughout all this battle, the main reason for his outbursts are due to his little sister recently having some seizures. She is ten and epilepsy runs in our family, so she's had to go for tests and doctor's appointments and we've had to give her a little more attention.

    We've tried to ensure that he still gets lots of attention, but he's forcing us to give a lot of negative attention due to his outbursts. He is thirteen and throws himself on the floor, hits his head on the wall, throws items at us and hits his sister. I've explained this is not acceptable. He's lost priveleges, been grounded and had toys taken away, but he doesn't care.

    My solution is:

    #1 - he is to cook his own meals from now on, ensuring he is covering the 4 food groups.
    #2 - he is to follow our rules 100% of the time
    #3 - he is to keep his hands to himself and throwing stuff is unacceptable
    #4 - he is to do his own laundry because he keeps leaving it on the floor and waiting for others to pick up after him.

    These behaviours continue to occur although I am positive that he has consequences and they do not work and he never gets his own way. Even friends and family comment on that because it makes no sense. I'm constantly being tested by him and want to scream! I know life's not fair and all that, but tonight, I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself. I usually try to see it from his point of view, but I need to take care of me in order to be a better mom for him.

    Most of the time, we feel like we are dealing with a four year old, rather than a thirteen year old. He is manipulative and sneaky. He steals money from us, sneaks treats in the night and hides garbage in his room.

    My husband is a transport truck driver and isn't home consistently. He isn't there a lot of the times when I need the support or help dealing with temper tantrums.

    I need to make it clear that he is very high-functioning. He gets great marks on tests, is passing well, although his behaviour causes his marks to be lower than they should be. He is forgetful, unorganized and sloppy.

    A lot of negative there, but he is also a very charming boy who is very loveable and likeable. He is very detail oriented and specific. He is smart and constantly correcting us lol. It's adorable, although at times, inappropriate. haha There's a lot of positive, but I'm in a negative mood at the moment and can't think straight.

    Anyway, with one child with Asperger's/ADHD and the other potentially Epileptic, I'm emotionally exhausted and I need some suggestions on how to recoupe. I'm a stay at home mom, I'm very organized (to the point of Obsessive Compulsive) and clean constantly, whether it needs it or not. I feel burnt out and need an outlet.

    I've started exercising, but often it becomes more like a chore and have begun walking my daughter to school instead, so I get a nice 20 minute walk home by myself and know that my little girl has arrived safely and seizure free.

    This outlet isn't enough. When my son comes home, all hell breaks loose and the fighting between siblings begins. I live in a nut house/circus and I'm pooped.

    Please Help!
  2. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    When one feels angery and out of control we all need calming reassurance.
    For me working on my own thoughts with other adults (like this project) and clearing my own emotional states so that the time I am with my child I am attending to
    the role and riguers of parent.
    A stradigy is vital. (You have one)

    In my life the essential need I have is to speak with a voice that I am not annoyed by...and to use words that are direct and clear and not all draped in rancour and
    stinky with toxicity and to give possitive attention to the praiseworthy and to give
    simple direction that are immediately acted on. "Landry" pointing toward the washer..." "Bedroom inspection in 10 minutes...nine minutes,,,"
    regression type behavor maybe away of does it feel to have one socially challenging condition (ADHD) and now another?
    I often think that getting stuck in routeens of anger is a way of being conected when there is no other engaging way of communicating. Or nothing to do.
    Is having a 13 year old make their own meals a solution? Could he prepare part or all of a meal for the family? Is finding ways to include him toward contributing more important for him to grow than greating greater distances when, perhaps he is feeling far away?
    Do you have a friend who has chids and you could, like. swap care one day a week so that behaving (if it works that way for your kids, it does with my one) is happening one more day per week? Say, just for dinner...or whenever.
    What would inspire you to co-ordinate a more fansinating learner moment for each of your children or all of them together?
    It is so so hard to be fresh and entusiastic and to be caught up in repetitive behavor.
    Also when are the stops in your home. The transitional cues the rests between one self amusement to homework and dinner prep-dinner and clean up
    and the after until dinner. Can you introduce something that pins the calm from one to another stage to "try out" time without the energy vacuum that having a fit is in a family? Can you lead him into a specific place where he might feel safer and
    look at him in the eye and listen and reflect back "ii can see you are angery. did it frustrate you when... I saw that...are you feeling that feeling grow less important?
    So often when I hear parents say that "that(whateveer it was) didn't work" I think that the oppertunity to make a pattern that can work takes so much reapplication
    Like trying a new food.
    What makes adults think that our children are going to adopt the actions that we want them to learn when we are not instilling it. I am not suggesting that a melt down is "your fault" but our children are giving us the chance to take them to a revelation of some type. Like the "wa-wa" moment in Helen Keller the movie.
    Fight fire with fire and the fire gets bigger
    Where is the catayst to your sons communicating the need for attention without the melt? Can you introduce the insight? CAn you really look and see again this person and add the learning moment?
    And do do some more just for you. Nap...walk...paint...something that restores your inner peace.
    I am amazed by the mothers who are so involved and do so much for their families,
    as you are. It is a relief to hear others with these challenges struggle struggle struggle too.
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    First, it is understandable you are struggling.

    It is so important to take care of you. For me exercise really helps. At times it does feel like a chore but, for me, it is the after effect that is so helpful. I'm usually calmer and happier after having my workout and better able to deal with difficult child and my almost difficult child teen daughter. Many reports show that regular exercise can work as well as an anti-depressant.

    Also try to find time to yourself (I know this is difficult-to find the time) and take up something you enjoy, maybe reading, or some other hobby.

    I know I've done a lot of this for years but this fall has been extremely stressful and I did finally decide to try and Anti-depressant. Just started it so not sure yet if it is for me.

    Sending some gentle hugs your way.
  4. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Hi and I reeally feel for what you are going through. I also think you should never give him that negative attention, only positive. If he throws something, make him go over and pick it up, even if you have to go hand over hand to do it/. Do not show you are angry, keep a monotone face (fake it). When he is doing the right thing, THEN give him lots of positive attention. (Good job eating the right way!!!! Go overboard with that) If he doesn't get the negative attention he keeps seeking, he'll stop after awhile. I warn you, it does get a little worse before it gets better. He will stop seeking it when he sees it's not getting a response. He WILL start to love the positive attn though, at the same time. I work with autistic K-3rd grade and this is the behavior modification that we use, and it does work. Don't give up.

    Also I think you should just leave his laundry there on the floor, when he needs clothes he'll have to it the right way. Or you could have him work for something- what I mean is, take away something, and let him earn it. Like if he likes a certain video game, don't let him play it until he "earns" time on it. Maybe every time he picks up his clothes, that will allow him an hour. He'll want that, so he can be motivated to do the task. Don't ever let him play it at other times. Reserve it for the reward only. Just an example, don't buy anything, just take something he already has and enjoys. -Alyssa
    I really don't think he should cook his own meals, I agree that is isolating and would make a child feel unloved.
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Over the years, husband and I have encorporated a variety of "tools" to help us cope with a life complicated by having a difficult child in the home in addition to my struggles with headaches, etc.

    I've made use of my own therapist and from time to time, husband and I have seen a counselor. I agree, that regular exercise is wonderful. It really helps to keep the body and mind relaxed. husband and I take time for each other and try to go on a date night once a week. I also make sure I take a little time for myself each week.

    Some things to consider:
    I would consider doing whatever you can to 1) Get regular "alone" time with your spouse. One a week or twice a month minimum. Hire a babysitter and go out. Even if it is just for 1.5 it. 2) Can you get a "mother's helper" once in awhile? Perhaps a reponsible middle school student can come for an afternoon or for one hour a week and give you a little relief.

    Is there an exercise class you could try? Do you have a friend that would like to lose weight? I would consider adding some more exercise to your week.

    How old is your child? We had lots of luck with a book called 123 Magic when our child was younger. The idea of logical consequences is also very good...there is some good information on the internet about it.
  6. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    I often remind myself that I can't take care of others if I don't take care of myself. It is easier said than done I know.

    I walk every day. Rain, shine, blizzard (I live in Michigan). I read good books that I enjoy. I enjoy an old fashioned bubble bath. Try some things that indulge YOU.

    How about a part time job? Something that would get you out of the house a few hours a week to talk to other adults?

    Obsessive/Compulsive cleaner huh? Me too. Want my take on that? I figured out that when life seems so completely out of control, that cleaning at least gives me the illusion of having life under control.

    Having a difficult child is a long marathon. Not a sprint. Pace yourself.

  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Tracy, I can really relate to the ADHD plus Asperger's combination. That's difficult child 1. easy child 2/difficult child 2 doesn't have a firm diagnosis of Asperger's as well, but being female it's more difficult to pin down such a diagnosis. It fits for us, though' it's our working hypothesis. And difficult child 3 - full-on autism plus ADHD. A handful.

    So you can imagine just how "interesting" our family life has been, especially in the evenings when all medications are wearing off plus the day's overload of stimuli is causing a general breakdown in everyone's ability to cope.

    You need to find entirely different coping methods. You're close, but still not on the right track. You're a mess, understandably, but there is a way out of this and once you get the right combination, it is much, much easier.

    Remember, I've had three of them, plus a easy child who didn't cope too well with the range of problems of the younger ones and who also was a bit of a martinet with them which didn't go down too well. These kids will REALLY resent a sibling trying to discipline them and you see a tsunami of oppositional behaviour from the difficult child in response to this, followed by hysterics and tantrums from the easy child (or other difficult children).

    There are a number of things that can work in your favour - your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the Aspie's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) tendencies plus natural tendency to want routine and rules.

    What doesn't work -

    1) Negativity, shouting, refusal to compromise.

    2) Punishment, loss of privileges, lectures.

    What DOES work -

    1) Praise, catching the child being good

    2) Reward, encouragement

    What you need to do to begin to help your child -

    1) Study the child. Keep a diary (a text file on the computer will do). Learn what the child likes, what the child dislikes. Note what triggers meltdown and also note what the warning signs are tat a meltdown is on the way. Then learn what will soothe the child down and either calm him post-meltdown or maybe even ward off a meltdown.

    2) Use this information, especially the warning signs and the "how to calm him".

    3) Chuck out all your previous parenting guidelines, all the things you've been doing that don't work (because if they don't work, they're not worth hanging onto). Replace these flawed (for your child) techniques with "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Read the book, take from it what works. You can also use the same techniques for a easy child or for a range of other problems.

    Some of the things you've set in place actually fit this very well. You've handed control to your child, in ways that he feels he needs. Some people would see this as a bad thing, since the attitude is often that the adult has to be the one in control. The trouble with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids (autism, Asperger's, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) not otherwise specified) is that the world is so confusing, so distressing, so hard to cope with, that ANY control they feel they can grab back is a comfort. The more you try to impose your will on your child, the more problems you will have.

    These kids have a natural tendency to follow rules, once you have them programmed in. But first you have to help him find ways to make sense of it all.

    You said that at times it's like dealing with a four year old instead of a thirteen year old - you are spot on. Yes, it is. And a big part of the problem especially with other people, is that we keep saying to ourselves, "He shouldn't need this sort of support at his age," or "He should be behaving better than this, at his age."
    You need to forget about how old he is and instead focus on how he is coping (or not coping). In other words, ignore the year on the birth certificate. Permanently.

    Never again should you allow or use the phrase, "You should be able to do this AT YOUR AGE." It just doesn't apply any more.

    Example: a young friend of ours, a year older than difficult child 3, won a place at an academically selective high school that only takes the top 0.5% of the applicants. But this kid couldn't get himself to and from school, he needed to be literally led by the hand. When they were trying to wean him off the government-subsidised taxi, they gave him a mobile phone and accompanied him on the train journey. After practising this for weeks, they finally left him to take himself on the train. He got lost. She rang him on the mobile phone and said to him, "Where are you?"
    He replied, "I'm here!"
    She couldn't get any better answer out of him than this. He simply couldn't understand that "here" means different things to different people; it's a problem with theory of mind, a common problem even with high-functioning autistics at least at some stage in their development.

    An example of theory of mind - the test involves sitting in a room with the child, the parent, the tester. The tester then makes a big thing of taking a toy (maybe a teddy bear) and hiding it say, under a cushion. The parent then leaves the room and the tester then makes a show of moving the teddy bear to a very different hiding place (under the couch). The tester then asks the child, "where is the teddy bear?"
    The child paying attention says, "Under the couch."
    The tester then asks, "When your parent comes back in, where will THEY think the teddy is hidden?"
    The autistic child (without theory of mind) believes that the parent knows what HE knows, and will answer, "Under the couch."
    A easy child child who DOES have theory of mind will say, "I know the teddy is under the couch but my parent didn't see us move it; my parent thinks the teddy is still under the cushion."

    People might think that simply not having theory of mind is no big deal, but it follows through into other aspects of life. A problem I especially used to have with difficult child 3 (and also easy child 2/difficult child 2 when she was younger) was the assumption in the child that I knew what was in the child's mind. I was expected to be a mind-reader and there were huge tantrums if I failed to correctly read that mind AND meet the child's needs IMMEDIATELY.

    Other aspects of theory of mind, is the equality factor (as I call it). This is where the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) child treats other people exactly as they treat him. Thus I had a young easy child 2/difficult child 2 standing there, hands on hips, scolding me when my tired brain got the drinks order wrong. "I told you I wanted juice, not milk!" she shouted at me. "Why don't you ever listen?"

    This is NOT rudeness, not as we know it. It is in fact a child being extremely fair and honest. If you punish this, then in the child's eyes you are being very unfair, and absolutely no lesson will be learned (except that maybe you are a mean person who is a bully, throwing your weight around simply because you are bigger and have more power).

    To teach politeness and respect, you first must show politeness and respect to your child in your interactions (no matter how bad the provocation). This is really difficult to begin with; you have old habits to break. But it does work. Someone has to be the hero; frankly, it is only right that the first person to change behaviour should be the adult without the diagnosis, not the child still struggling. We already know how to behave, so WE should set the example for the child.

    The food faddishness is a big factor with a lot of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kids. It's part Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), part flavour, part texture, part anxiety. The more anxious a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid gets, the more rude he will seem. But the more you scold, the worse the anxiety will get. That's why you find behaviour apparently not responding to many discipline techniques you try to impose.

    You've responded to your child's difficult faddishness by handing him control of his meals. That frankly is a good coping technique, but he will learn more if he learns to prepare meals for people other than himself. He needs to learn that other people LIKE food that he doesn't like. However, he may be very resistant to this for a while yet, because if he still lacks theory of mind it will be too difficult for him to wrap his brain around. This isn't about intelligence here, it's about the maturity of his brain. He WILL get it, one day. He may already be getting it, but still trapped in old habits. difficult child 3 now does have theory of mind, but he has to think hard about it. When he's being impulsive, he snaps back to his more infantile way of looking at the world and other people.

    Your other rules - "he is to follow house rules 100% of the time" - you need to have the rules defined and written up. be prepared for him to argue logically. be prepared to have to dot your i's and cross your t's. Don't take it personally or feel he's being manipulative; he's simply trying to determine exactly what his boundaries are.

    He is to keep his hands to himself and not throw things - this could be difficult, if he is throwing or hitting impulsively. He needs to find a different way of letting off aggression. He will probably need to role-play these alternatives and will need positive motivation and encouragement.

    The laundry - he needs to be coaxed and supported through this. You will need to almost literally take him by the hand and lead him through the steps. You may find you need to modify the rules.

    You also have a BIG deficit in your plan - the "or else". What are you going to do if he doesn't follow the rules? Frankly, with these rules I think you need to set them up as ideals and use a reward system for compliance, rather than punishment for failure. A good reward system is something immediate (maybe for each successful day) and preferably non-monetary. For difficult child 3, the reward for a tantrum-free day was 15 minutes' game time with me, next day. You might need to break up the tasks and have reward for each requirement met. Also, never withdraw a reward once earned.

    He is also old enough to take an active role in setting the rules for the household especially the ones he must follow. If he says he doesn't think he can do it, listen to him and ask him why. Then be prepared to compromise with him, to at least try and see how it goes.

    As for physical exercise - maybe this can be part of your daily routine together, perhaps taking a walk together for 20 minutes, to get some exercise. Make it clear that you need the exercise just as he also needs the routine of getting some fresh air. Alternatively, invest in a Wii game system and use Wii Fit to exercise. I've found that difficult child 3 is using this on a daily basis and it's a really healthy routine for him. I need to be using it more myself, but it's a way to get moving, get healthy and get active, without having to leave home.

    Read "Explosive Child". Have a look at the discussion on it in Early Childhood forum. Work out the baskets for him, make up your list and give it a try. It actually should be easier for you, not more difficult.

    Once you can begin to make some of these changes, your life should become much more positive and his behaviour should begin to improve. It's not a cure, but it's definitely a better way to manage.

    I've been there, well and truly. Feel free to ask me more any time.

  8. Im a Believer

    Im a Believer New Member

    I so agree with Sharon ~

    Nobody ever says "Why did I exercise today - I feel horrible now!".

    Exercise is a "natural" anti depressant. If I don't exercise in the morning - I know it will be a "bad" day.

    I also Scrapbook ~

    This allows me some "me" time - I have met some awesome women (usually scrapbookers are family oriented) and I get to look at those I love when it is typically the best of times ~

    I am a Christian (hope that is OK to say - I am new here) and in addition to exercise I have to read my Bible everyday or at least some sort of Spirtually uplifting book.

    Life is so very hard ~ You are not alone ~

    I sometimes compare my pain to that of others - I have a friend whose son died October 31 of this year - he was 23.

    Sometimes I feel I have nothing to complain about but pain is pain ~ we all deal with something so recently I have had to acknowledge my pain is real and I have to take care of myself.

    If I don't - who will??

    Good Luck and by the way - I am praying you do something special for you today - YOU are worth it!!


  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Judy, I've learned to NOT compare - there have been times when I needed to feel miserable. While it's not healthy to always wallow in misery, sometimes you need to, to go through it, and being told tat you should pull yourself together, stop being selfish and remember that other people have it far worse - doesn't help one little bit.

    I've learned that MY pain is what I cope with, I mightn't cope so well with someone else's pain. Or I might cope better. We have no way of knowing and even thinking about it is a futile exercise.

    I've had people say to me, "After talking to you I realise I have absolutely no right to complain; you are chronically ill, you haven't been able to work for over 20 years, You're in constant pain, and now three of your children are on the autism spectrum - I'm never going to dare complain again!"

    But that's not right - just because I have a load doesn't mean people can't complain to me about their ingrown toenails, if they want to. Crikey, if I don't understand pain, who will?

    And about mentioning your faith, Judy - I gather that's OK, as long as you're not telling other people that they should only believe what you do or in any other way making people feel uncomfortable or excluded. People can have different faiths but still find that prayer is a comfort. Or maybe have no faith but find meditation, or simply being still, is helpful. We all do what we can to help us cope and shouldn't detract from what other people need to do, in order to manage for themselves.

    Exercise - definitely a good thing to mention as it is known to help with depression. And scrapbooking - easy child is heavily involved in that, she loves it. She's always busy with her hands, it is an important way for her to cope. I like various hobby crafts too. It's good to be reminded sometimes of the range of choices we have. The most important thing I guess is for us to take time out from our troubles and make sure we are getting our own needs met, in the midst of all the confusion and unpredictability.

    Good to have you on board!

  10. Jena

    Jena New Member

    hi i'm late to this one :)

    For me, meditation works well, centering myself, going within. If I miss time doing so I can feel the agitation within myself and becoming very overwhelmed easily. I'Tourette's Syndrome all about time alone for me. If I get "my time" i can handle anything.

    I lock myself in the bathroom if necessary, because at times leading the lives we lead that's all you can get. It can be a struggle, yet I will say this it does get easier at least from my standpoint.

    I was a basketcase some 5 years ago handling my difficult child's behaviors. I tend to be a very animated and dramatic person. :) it's just who I am. So, with that being said I would literally vomit and have panic attacks when i'd be at the office years ago and her BiPolar (BP) would shoot up adn she'd be having an anxiety attack and i'd have to rush to get the train home to get her. It was such a horror show. I thought wow i'd either get better at this and accept where we are, acceptance is huge i find or i'm not going to make it. So, slowly working with myself and spending last year here and wiht a therapist i saw as well got me to the point where i can handle it wihtout going overboard myself.

    ((hugs)) i know it can be very hard, yet you are not alone if that helps at all.
  11. compassion

    compassion Member

    I am in touch with what I am feeling daily. I try to keep focus on me some, as much as possible. I try to do something for me dily even if it is reding paper for 5 minutes. I take an epsom salt bath daily with aromathrapy oils and I read Scripture, read 12th step program lit. and do a step work in the Program. I try to be very gentle, loving and aqccepitng of me. I get body work every week if possible (accupuncture,massage, chiropractic). I read Program shares online. I attend Program lit. In August, we started sseeing a therapist. husband and I go weekly. Whe difficult child was running, I would take her appts. :) I try to accept and slow down, espeiclaly right now. I also try and practice detatchment and not take on more than I need to. I take car eof my own needs an dfeelings daily. Compassion
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Did you all see what the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan wrote in Parade Magazine today?
    Some items...
    Live in the moment.
    Nurture a balanced life.
    Trust your instincts.
    Be direct and consistent in your communication.
    Learn to listen.
    Don't hold grudges.
    Live with purpose.
    Celebrate every day.
  13. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    Good advice. No doubt lessons he has learned from man's best friend.

    I marvel at the simplicity and yet overwhelming joy that my dog makes of each and every moment.

    Oh what I could learn from my ol' dog. :)