What could this be?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Mikey, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    wife and I were talking, and wondering if something else might be percolating in McWeedy's brain. Does anyone have any ideas about what this might be?

    Ever since he was little (4-5yo), he would have "episodes" where he gradually built up to a meltdown; screaming, rigid body, the whole demonic possession thing. After a while, you could see it coming like a tsunami, but there wasn't anything we could do to stop it.

    Once he was at full tilt, wife would take him to his room, leave him there and shut the door. After a while (15-30 minutes), she'd go back in and he'd be happy as a lark, playing by himself, the smiling little angel we usually knew and loved. And he'd stay that way for a while, but eventually another meltdown would start hurtling down the mountain at us, and the cycle would repeat.

    Once he was in about 3rd or 4th grade, these episodes started occurring less frequently, then nearly stopped altogether. He still had that "black line" in his personality that, once crossed, brought on a meltdown. But by that time, the meltdowns didn't just come on spontaneously like they did when he was younger; they were usually triggered by something. But the result was the same. He'd need to exorcise the demons, then he'd be okay.

    Fast forward to today. When we were looking back at McWeedy's "episodes" over the last two years, they bear a haunting familiarity to when he was young. For no known reason, something would start building up inside him like a pressure cooker - you could see it plain as day. Then he would snap and act out; run away, not answer his phone, whatever.

    When it was over, he would be back to "normal", however you defined it at that time. We'd get some time as a reprieve, and the cycle would start over. We thought it was the drugs and the pressure of falling behind in school, but in looking back those may be secondary or exacerbating symptoms of something else.

    Any ideas? What's worrying us (besides the fact that we diddn't see this sooner) is that he seemed to be a little more stable for nearly 10 years. Then, after the drugs started, it's like when he was young and the meltdowns would come without provocation.

    Or, at least without any provocation that we were aware of.

    Yes, I know he's an addict. But from 30,000 ft, it looks the same to us; only now, when he's at the breaking point, now he turns to drugs, opposition, and risky behavior instead of screaming and throwing his body around. And his cure du jour is the same as well - get away for alone time (drugging optional) to get the wheels back on the road.

    We're still a bit stunned at how similar these recent episodes in his life resemble how he was as a youngster, and horrified that we didn't remember this sooner.

    Thoughts? Going to talk to the docs about it, but thought I'd poll the group here as well for ideas. Off the bat, I think I can rule out BiPolar (BP), since he doesn't have the manic highs; he fluctuates between mellow and grumpy, with the occasional (but more frequent) deep dives into the pit of a meltdown.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas, thoughts, or other info.

  2. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Intermittent Explosive Disorder?
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Big Bad Kitty</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Intermittent Explosive Disorder? </div></div>

    Just checked the mayoclinic.com def on that. Seems close, but as far as I know he's never attacked anyone. He has thrown stuff around and broken things, but never any personal violence.

    Thanks for input, though. Sounds like there might be something else at play.

  4. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi Mikey,
    my dtr was similar. Starting around age 3 she would have terrible temper tantrums and nothing we did helped--it seemed to have to just run its course. We could see one building--she would start laughing maniacally or running in circles or something. It didn't seem to be brought on by anything in particular--seemingly out of nowhere. We didn't dare put her in a room by herself or she would rip it apart. We could tell the tantrum was coming to an end when she would start sobbing. Then she would be okay til next time. These continued through her early teens though they were less frequent and they stopped altogether when she went to her first Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    I brought them up with every single therapist and professional she saw, both outpatient and inpatient. No one ever had an explanation and it was frustrating because her dad died when she was 8 yrs old and most of her therapists thought that was the trigger for her outlandish behaviors--I kept telling them she was difficult way before that....

    So, no answers here but kind of glad to hear of someone else with a similar experience!

  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Just because you dont "see" manic highs doesnt mean it isnt BiPolar (BP). Bipolar has several forms that dont all include what you typically think of as mania...especially in teens and kids. Mania or depression can be seen as anger, irritability, aggression, hostility, raging, feeling antsy, etc.

    When Im going hypomanic I get so irritable I feel like I could crawl the walls and just want to bite the heads off everyone around me. I cant stand to look at anyone. I want everyone to leave me the H alone. Then if I get any higher I want to beat up things and all that. I can head into rages and meltdowns. Then I fall into depressions which result in the same behaviors but normally include harming me.
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    You've described what my difficult child has been like starting at about 8 years of age, brief reprieve for a couple of years and now they are back, but like McWeedy, in the form of substance abuse, running away and acting out with impulsivity more that what her DR's and all the books called "Rage Attacks".

    Rage attacks are very common to kids with tourette syndrome and other brain disorders. She suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ADHD more severely as a kid than she does now.

    Sorry, don't have the answer, but what you described to me sounds like my difficult child's rage attacks.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    What do the experts in his program have to say? DDD
  8. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Have you ever had a neuropsyche done on him? there are a million different things that it could be, so why guess? I mean, most of what you described from when he was young could be bipolar, autism, tourettes, neurological, psychological, etc. A neuropsychologist does tons of testing that could shed a lot of light on the subject.

    By the way, don't kick yourself for not making the connection from past to present...if they weren't keeping us running with their quirks and behaviors, we might have time to breath, think and put 2 and 2 together.

  9. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    When I came here 5yrs ago Mikey, it was because of difficult child 2. difficult child 1 we knew had ADHD. Now my nephew has text book style BiPolar (BP) that was diagnosis right out of high school. I swore up and down that my difficult child 1 did not have BiPolar (BP) because he, like yours, did not exhibit "mania". Unfortunately, I did not know what mania looked like. I thought it was the "think I'm Jesus, jumping from subject to subject, washing cars at 2am, buying sprees, etc". In some maybe, but in teens/kids it manifests as anger also.

    There are some good posts in the archives.

    I remember being at a counselors one night and difficult child 2 wouldn't go so I grabbed difficult child 1. The counselor told me I'd better get him on something quick as he was BiPolar (BP). That was the start of our long journey.

    Now...not saying that McWeedy has BiPolar (BP). But....drug usage can precipitate something that might be hiding underneath. I'm thinking my difficult child 1's drug usage pretty much brought the initial episode on. And...his ADHD probably morphed into BiPolar (BP).

    Either way, I'm glad you're with us, because we are much cheaper than a counselor and it's just so darn much fun here :smile:
  10. KFld

    KFld New Member

    It is a fact that many people with some type of diagnoses turn to drugs to self medicate, so I wouldn't be surprised at all. My son is severely ADHD and used drugs to make himself feel better.
  11. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: DDD</div><div class="ubbcode-body">What do the experts in his program have to say? DDD </div></div>

    Talked to them yesterday. They said that the intake workup done was much more extensive than even a normal psychiatric workup done by most docs. It didn't indicate anything other than severe ADD (without the Hyperactivity).

    However, they also said that we didn't tell them about the episodes when he was very young. I'm supposed to summarize his early childhood stuff and send it to them for consideration. First thoughts from them, though, are that ADD can still present this way.

    I've just never heard of it causing cyclic behavior swings like we're seeing, regardless of what the behavior is.

    I also emailed a doctor last night who's the head of a pediatric psychiatric department at a respected hospital and posed the general question of whether or not something like ODD can occur during early childhood, then disappear for a number of years, and then reappear. He replied "yes it can. Depression is a good example of something that can occur - and then reoccur - periodically throughout life".

    Guess I have to give the docs more info. Still seems like a weird mutant form of ADD, if that's what it is. Guess we'll find out.

  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    No matter what the underlying diagnosis may or may not be, it is rare
    that a difficult child is going to have a lightbulb moment and say "oh, now
    I no longer need drugs because I can take X medication". Maybe
    it is less than rare.

    Certainly I'm not saying that a neuro/psychiatric wouldn't be helpful
    in getting a full picture but I am suggsting that you and wife
    not be "too" eager to refocus on something other than the issues
    as they now present. You have a drugging, disrespectful, underachieving son who is putting himself in increasingly dangerous situations with seasoned criminals taunting the laws........and still believing he can manipulate and smile
    and fast talk his way into the freedom to make his own choices.

    Keeping him alive if priority number one. DDD
  13. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    ODD / Bipolar ?? They don't want to feel this way. I agree with Karen. Self medicate to feel better.
  14. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    perhaps it really is ADD. I have asked my dtr if she has any idea why she used to have those tantrums and why she had such a difficult time in general and she says it was her ADD. Well, certainly sounds plausible to me.
  15. Ephchap

    Ephchap Active Member

    Ditto DDD (and Sunny's last line about us being more fun, lol).

    Seriously, most of us on here have difficult child's who started out with psychiatric disorders (my son has ADHD and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)) and turned to drugs to self-medicate or for whatever reason.

    As I've mentioned several times now, a dual-diagnostic treatment facility is helpful in getting at the underlying issues as well as treating the addiction. That's still my recommendation, although I know your hands are tied by your wife.

    As DDD mentioned, however, whatever the reason, your son is still drugging, being disrespectful, not following house rules, and generally being a bu##head. Don't try to overthink the situation and try to redirect your focus from the main problem - his current actions and behavior.

  16. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    I might add that, if he ever does end up in a court of law for any reason, the judge and others in the legal system don't give a rat's behind about any diagnoses including bipolar as a cause or excuse.

    I believe that Deb's comment about overthinking is SO wise...this is exactly what I was guilty of with our son.

    In the end, his downfall was related to his disrepect for authority and rules/laws which we fostered by making excuses for his behavior (including self-medicating) and helping him to avoid the natural consequences for his actions.
  17. Do a little research on BiPolar (BP) II. It's not the same as normal BiPolar (BP) and it is more common in children and adolescents (though I have it too). It's also called Atypical Bipolar. Not saying he has it, it's just something you might want to research. Anger instead of mania, depression or mellowness instead of despair.
  18. NOLA

    NOLA New Member

    I think DDD & Ephchap call it like they see it - or more appropriately, like it is. It is very painfull to watch our children morph into something we never in our wildest dreams thought possible. I also struggle with thinking it must be something that has been overlooked/undiagnosed, something that is masked, and I secretly hold on to hope that my boy is different, he's not a typical 'druggie underachiever' he's gifted but he’s not comfortable with that pressure - he just goes to the beat of a different drum. But, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that he's one of so, so many. The only real difference is he's mine and my heart aches. I’m not saying you are grasping at straws but just think about it.

    It seems to me that every parent on this particular board has a child with ADD or ADHD at a minimum, and as we all now know that is rarely a stand-alone diagnosis. The sad fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter. I’ve had ADD all my life (I didn’t know it till my son was diagnosed and I learned more about it) and thanks to Adderall I do feel a bit better, more focused and clear headed but it wasn’t a free pass for all of my past failings. As CAmom said, the so-called authorities that be, don’t show any special sympathies for that – the work-place doesn’t give you special treatment and you certainly don’t get an excuse for what our kids are doing.

    Now, with that said, please consul me on my latest post :smile:
  19. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    I'm new at this, so take my 2 cents with a grain of salt. If his name McWeedy is any hint to what type of drug he prefers, weed calms the high down of BiPolar (BP). So mellow could be the high point of BiPolar (BP) and severe depression could be the low point. I knew DHs ex prior to us marrying, she used pot prior to meth. When smoking weed she was either mellow or severely depressed and when depressed, was her own worst enemy. Then someone introduced her to "Ice" which I now know to be a form of meth. Now meth is her drug of choice because it doesn't calm down the high points, rather it extends the high points.