Walking on eggshells with difficult child 2

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by rlsnights, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    We're on major melt down #3 in the past week after going for 5 months without any big ones.

    This morning's rage was 2 hours long and we ended up threatening to call the police when he started threatening to break things and shoving me when I got between him and what he wanted to break.

    I have got to learn not to do that and to just stand back when he gets enraged like that. If he breaks something or gets physical we just have to calmly call the cops - it's just so hard to choose to call the cops on your 13 yo son. Easy to say much harder to do.:(

    Talked to the new therapist on the phone today. He told me point blank that we shouldn't be shy about calling the cops. And that we shouldn't be doing so much to help difficult child 2 get control of himself - that difficult child 2 had to learn to do it without our help. Said that difficult child 2 is relying very heavily on denial and ignoring during their therapy sessions - no surprises there.

    So far the threat of calling the cops has derailed difficult child 2 enough to get him outside and cooling himself down but it really hoovers that he is having so much trouble controlling himself again.

    Today after he had calmed down all he could say was that everything was "real stressful" right now and that's why he had blown up when asked to fold a basket of laundry.

    We know he's feeling stressed by the transition back to school although so far he is holding it together at school and just falling apart at home. At school the teachers report that he generally appears happy, relaxed and doing fine. Yeah right.

    When I pick him up he is almost always upset to the point of tears or clearly exhausted. Once last week he fell asleep in the car on the 10 minute ride home. Another day he took a 2 hour nap after he got home. He's sleeping at least 10 hours a night - voluntarily going to bed by 9 pm and sometimes by 8:30.

    Thanks for listening. Hope we can help difficult child 2 find some other way to handle the stress real soon.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator


    I'm sorry difficult child 2 is struggling so much with anxiety and the transition back to school.

    Is there any thought to reducing household expectations (for example, folding laundry) until he adjusts to school?

    Is there any thought to having him assessed for medications to reduce his anxiety? I think 2-hour rages on the scale of calling the police warrant that possibility.

    I hope you find some answers soon.
  3. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Thanks for the suggestions and the sympathy. It is so isolating sometimes - it's really helpful to have other folks to bounce things off of when we run into a pothole in the road. :faint:

    Folding one basket with 6 towels in it was his entire household chore expectation on a Saturday morning before he got the entire rest of the day to play. I had already significantly modified my expectations of him and anything less would have been nothing at all.

    I see two issues with relieving him of all chores:

    1) I think that even when he feels anxious and stressed he needs to contribute to the family's wellbeing at least minimally. It's part of the normal flow of the household and keeping our expectations at least marginally the same as "normal" feels appropriate to me. When he's like this he will blow up over what we serve for dinner :( so I don't think reducing the chores any more will really make a difference except to send him the message that he can't even handle doing basic chores when he feels bad.

    2) His twin difficult child 3 is always ready to pick a fight and harass him. Having him do no chores whatsoever just gives her ammunition against him and us that she didn't need to begin with. We have explained it all to her until we turn blue :cold: and it makes no difference. From her perspective it's just not fair that he gets treated differently in so very many ways and has for years due to behavioral and medical reasons.

    Sigh. There are no easy answers here but I have separated him and his sister as much as possible since school started - their interactions are stressful to everyone right now. They go to the same school (600+ kids) but only have 2 classes together and those are core Special Education classes. That teacher is great and is keeping them separated in class. They are doing well when in her class.

    Lunch time is problematic but they finally seem to have found mostly separate social circles and my daughter has stopped accusing her brother of stalking her at school. I signed my daughter difficult child 3 up for the afterschool program so that I don't pick her up from school until 6 pm. So she is gone from home from 7:30 am to 6:15 pm.

    She's gone to the stables for several hours on Sunday. Don't have many other options for separating them on the weekends.

    I can't decide if part of what's going on is hypomania or "just" anxiety or medication related - or all three! :confused: We dropped his Abilify from 7.5 t0 5 mg several weeks before school started with the plan to increase his Lamictal as the next step. That seemed to go OK. We increased his Lamictal to 150 from 100 about 10 days ago in hopes it would help him cope with the increased pressure of school and change in schedule.

    Called his psychiatrist and left a long message this morning since we don't have another appointment for 2 weeks. Can't predict what she'll want to do. AD's are out - he went manic on Zoloft even with a mood stabilizer on board. She might want to lower the Lamictal since it can be activating for some people and/or up the Abilify.

    We're trying to wean him from the Abilify because he's having metabolic effects from it - big weight gain, increased blood sugars etc. His weight is down about 4 pounds but that could be because he won't eat much at school - some days nothing. Says it makes him feel sick which could be his anxiety or his Crohn's - or both.

    Have to draw labs the first week of October to check his liver enzymes. They've been elevated a couple times recently which could be medication related or could be his Crohn's. Most likely it's medication related.
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Sorry, I thought this was the difficult child who wasn't on medications at all. I'm glad to hear that's not the case.

    The meltdowns could be the result of lowering the Abilify coupled with anxiety surrounding the start of school. I certainly share your concern about the side-effect profile of the APs; we've been trying to use the lowest possible doses of APs with our kids as well (with varying success).

    We've had a lot of success in treating emotional reactivity with increased doses of Lamictal. How long has he been on 150 mg Lamictal? You have lots of room to go up. It may be that he needs a higher dose rather than a lower dose. Whenever my kids start melting down, we increase their Lamictal doses and they return to their "calm" zone. Just a thought.

    Hope things settle down soon.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Patricia, have you tried talking to Badger (when he's calm) about options he has for relieving some of this stress? Maybe going outside for a walk, or pounding some modeling clay or hitting a tennis ball against a wall... something physical often helps.

    When difficult child 2 was having his rages, I let him know that it was o.k. for him to just leave the house and give himself a timeout, go cool off, etc. We talked about how it is absolutley NOT okay to explode on the family like that -- he'd seen enough of his dad doing that when he was unstable so he knows how it feels to be on the receiving end. Sometimes it would work if I saw he was getting ready to blow over something and I'd tell him to go take a walk. He'd go for a very energetic, anger-fueled walk/jog and come back a little less angry. It wouldn't take it all away, but enough to be able to reason with him better.

    We've really tried to get him to think about how he's feeling in the moment. And we DO walk on eggshells when he's that fragile. No point in pushing him over the edge into a meltdown. Doesn't mean we give in to demands, and sometimes a meltdown would ensue. But when we know he's stressed and irritable and emotionally fragile, we try to redirect and deflect a lot. Sibs who choose to aggravate the situation get major consequences -- because that amounts to bullying.

    We also make him responsible for doing the damage cleanup after a meltdown. Obviously that would be AFTER he's calmed down. There have to be consequences, even if they aren't in control of their emotions at the time.

    I think that if he is really feeling fragile, it is okay to let the chores slide while he's in an elevated emotional state. Save the chores for a time when he's able to handle them without exploding. The towels can wait a few hours or a day or two until he's calm. They won't go anywhere.

    Until you get the medications sorted out and he's more stable, it's going to take a lot of patience and creative thinking to keep the peace. No point in punishing him, per se, for the instability. But your parenting and "therapist" skills will be getting a full workout during these times.

    I'd also be telling the school about his stress levels -- they need to know how hard he's working to hold it together at school and what's happening when he gets home. Maybe they can reduce his homework load, or at least give him more time to complete assignments. Also see if Badger can verbalize what he thinks is causing all the stress in him. Is it the busy schedule? Is it the crowds? Is it the feeling of trying to fit in somewhere? Is it the pace in the classroom? There are probably solutions the school can offer if it's issues like those. difficult child 1 ended up needing a sheltered science class because he was feeling a lot of stress over the pace of his regular science class. He went from a D-/F to an A+, and it was the SAME teacher, SAME curriculum. Just a slower pace and a smaller class. He also had problems dealing with the loud crowds at lunchtime. His solution was to hang out in the library with some other like-minded kids during lunch. It was quiet, away from all the social drama, and they played chess or read. But some kids need help in figuring out what's driving their stress first.

    The middle school years are horrible, in my humble opinion. And even worse for our "special" kids because of their lag in developmental skills. Hang in there! It's only two years! :tongue: