Exhausted and Back to Square One

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WSM, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. WSM

    WSM New Member

    I'm so tired of this problem.

    Background: Stepson is 11 and has a whole host of problems, that all boil down to he feels absolutely, profoundly sorry for himself and believes he should be king of the family with everyone scurrying around dedicated to pleasing him, and since that doesn't happen, he's emotionalless and dedicated to causing all the passive aggressive trouble he can.

    He stole his sisters daddy-daughter dance dress; he slashed his mattress with a knife, he poured paint on his bedroom rug; his sister's bookbag ends up in the pool--twice; so does her bike; his school uniforms disappear. So does his homework and his shoes and his agenda. He accuses us of abuse. He accuses us--or mostly me--of doing all these things just to get him into trouble. He's polite and quiet and SEEMS to be anxious to cooperate, and is soooo good at playing wounded puppy who's being kicked. He lies: for example he claimed that when he was cleaning the pool he saw me steal his homework and take it to my desk. When I took him and my husband out to the pool to demonstrate that unless he could see through walls, his story was impossible, tears rolled down his cheeks silently and he passionately insisted he saw it, he saw it, no he can't see through walls, but he saw me take his homework. He did! He did! He's so believable. I could have believed him. And he has hundreds of lies like this, and they just roll off his tongue and he's so quick with them.

    He has taken 4 weapons to school, but they let him go with a 10 day suspension instead of mandatory expulsion because he's such a 'nice boy'; the last time he successfully diverted them with a story of abuse at home and got taken to a forensic abuse doctor who immediately knew he was lying and had psychiatric issues--but it didn't get CPS off our backs for another 4 months. He lied to the judge, telling him his grades were WORSE than they really were. His father once missed dinner and about 8:30 at night asked him: Did you eat? and he immediately answered No. I was in the living room and shouted, Yes, he did eat. And his father asked: Why you lie? And smooth as butter, he said: Oh, I thought you meant did I have breakfast and lunch? There are milliions of lies like this, he tells everyone: neighbors, everyone at school, the older kids' girlfriends, my other son's boy scout troop, therapists, police...and they are lies. When he was 8 and first started this, he was asked why he was doing it, and he said, calmly, coolly: I want my dad and WSM to go to jail.

    There's so much more.

    He's been in therapy, tested, seen specialist after specialist. He's in a day military school. If he misbehaves at school, they make him carry rocks all day long. He's now behaving more or less at school. Except his uniform is missing, his homework, his agenda and last night he snuck off while I was talking in the front yard with a neighbor and poured purple coolaid all over his bed and plain water all over his sister's bed. Again.

    He of course has NO IDEA how this happened.

    Now the school called: they'd like to come by and do a few home visits. I don't want this. I'm tired. We've had home visits, by probation officers and CPS, we do counselling 3 times a month. Every couple days something weird or malicious happens, and the suspicion falls on Stepson. It never ends...psychiatrists don't find anything altho both his bio mom and both his maternal bio uncles are schizophrenic. As far as we know his mother is wandering the streets shouting at god again. She does that about 8 months of the year. He has a host of official diagnosis's and has clearly got some subtle mental illness problems. Mostly though he just feels very very sorry for himself (and convinces other kids at school to feel so sorry for him too so that they give him money, and once a clock), and believes everyone is mean to him for no reason. He's sure he's smarter than everyone around him and knows how to manipulate psychologists.

    I don't want another round of home visits, another set of 'helpful' suggestions: start over, use rewards and punishments, spend more time with him, praise him constantly...We've been dealing with this for at least FOUR YEARS and these things DON'T work. But of course everyone thinks it's the parents (he's such a nice little boy and he doesn't lash out and tantrum or talk back like all the other troubled kids), it MUST be the parents. They always want to try it again, thinking if THEY oversee us and second guess us THIS time it will work.

    I don't want more home visits from the head of this military school whom I don't even think is a psychologist. I don't want more suggestions of the same thing: I want to be listened to and BELIEVED: these are the facts of the problem...what is the solution to fit the FACTS.

    But of course if you say you don't want another home visit, it means you aren't cooperating and of course it's proof it's the parents' fault. Particularly the wicked stepmother's fault--just like the kid says it is.

    I'm just exhausted. I just want to run away.

    (The truth of the matter as I see it is: stepson 11 has a personality disorder; perhaps passive aggressive personality disorder, perhaps narcistic personality disorder, perhaps antisocial personality disorder or schizoid personality disorder. But he has a personality disorder. However, you cannot responsibly diagnosis anyone under the age of 18 with a PD, altho several professionals have danced around the subject. And PDs really can't be fixed/cured or even managed. But I know, I just know that's what he has, and I know at least 3 of the professionals we've dealt with have thought that too, but can't say it. Remember when it was thought children couldn't have schizophrenia or bi polar disorder? Someday they'll acknowledge children can have PDs too. And maybe someday there will be a treatment protocol for it.)
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    If his biomom has schizophrenia, there's a chance this boy does, too. Has he ever taken any medications, such as an atypical antipsychotic (Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon, Seroquel), which help with distorted thinking? Has he ever had personality testing, which can show a lot about how a child views the world?
  3. WSM

    WSM New Member

    Yes, he has been to 3 pediatric psychiatrists in the last 18-24 months, and has had every personality, intelligence, and psychiatric test known to mankind. Truly. This has cost THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars, just the testing and diagnosis-ing--not including the school, the therapy, the legal fees, the replacing of things.

    psychiatrist 1 said, he's fine, maybe a smidge anxious, but that's understandable. psychiatrist 2 said, what's the matter with you people, why do you want him on drugs (it was unpleasant). psychiatrist 3 said he was reluctant to put him on drugs because once 'these kids' go on these drugs they never go off and they are very powerful.

    The fact is this child is not socially disruptive, doesn't have tantrums and does very well academically. It looks on the surface that his problems are not interferring with his life. So why risk lawsuits or whatever by putting him experimentally on drugs.

    Also this boy has been therapied and counselled and tested and interviewed so many times he knows exactly what to say. He throws out psychiatric terms such as informing the therapist a couple years ago that he wants more 'positive reinforcement'. He goes in and makes it seem as though he can control what he does if only his parents would let him play more video games, let him go to Universal with a friend, give him a big party. He also sneaks around and listens when his father and I discuss his latest diagnosis; for a while he was searching in our room secretly, and when caught, he said he was in our room looking for his latest evaluation.

    He seems to have a mild form of paranoia (people are taking my things to get me in trouble); on the other hand it may just be manipulative.

    It might be time for another psychiatrist testing. Recently he told us his proof that he wasn't doing any of these things: they only happened when me and my bio kids were there: when the four of us went away on vacation, stepson never got into any trouble. See, proof!

    However, there has never been an occasion where we went on vacation and left him and his dad home alone. Never. He swears there was. Just as he swears he saw me thru the wall taking his homework (which he now concedes he 'dreamed'). We don't know if he's hallucinating, stubbornly lying, or starts off lying and then after a few months of telling the same lie starts to believe it.

    When he's caught in a bold face lie, like lying to the judge, he covers it up by saying he thought something else was meant, or sticks to the lie, or just stares at you saying nothing, not blinking, just staring.

    No body knows and his manages to stay just above the borderline of mental illness. Is he desperately paddling water to keep his head above mental illness he knows he has and to throw people off the scent? Or is he being manipulative and difficult and will not give up his behaviors until his price is met: domination of the family?

    No one knows. He's meeting benchmarks, managing, impressing adults. If he had temper tantrums it'd be so much easier.
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Wow, very scary stuff.

    Have you thought about installing a "nanny-cam" to prove to the professionals what he's doing?

    I'm not sure what state you live in, but I'd recommend finding a schizophrenia expert in your area to evaluate him. There's a chance he's having command hallucinations that he honestly can't remember after the fact. I once read a book about a young woman with schizophrenia who was able to hold it together until she went to college.
  5. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Wow, that is alot of stuff. How long has he been your stepson? I was wondering when did he first begin to exhibit these behaviors? He's only 11, right?

    oh, and welcome :)
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    WOW, this all sounds so scary and hard to live with. I think the suggestion of nanny cams is a good one. I know one member here went to Radio Shack and got video cams for every room in the house so they could monitor exactly what went on. And so they had PROOF if allegations came up.

    With proof you might, maybe, get more support from professionals. As it is you are living in a very unstable situation.

    It may very well be that he is living with some type of hallucination controlling his actions. At the least he seems paranoid, controlling and manipulative.

    I think the cameras should be a priority, especially to keep the other children SAFE! You really don't know what he is doing to them and threatening them to keep quiet.

    I would be VERY reluctant to let a non-psychologist into my home, esp after all you have done. Do you and his father agree on how to handle things?
  7. WSM

    WSM New Member

    Do you think this is scary? I think he's scary, and I haven't even told you about the picture of him with his head exploding, holding two knives with jagged edges and blood flying off, with his sister lying at his feet and him saying "jump on sister she's dead", and then on the other side of him a picture of his sister with the knife pointed at her, then a picture of me frowning, then a picture of his dad hanging upside down and the words, dad not boss, me boss.

    My husband does not find this scary even with his habit of taking weapons to school which he hasn't done since Feb 14, 08. And two therapists neither who have seen the picture think it's abnormal either. My husband tries to say, "Well, your kids play violent video games" and sees nothing different. Boys have played war games and hunting games since the beginning of time, INCLUDING MY HUSBAND, but very few kids have fantasies of killing their families.

    Most people I talk to find it scary, but the two therapists didn't. They said it was common.

    I find him scarier and scarier. And I think it's significant that two weeks after we found this picture, a picture of him jumping on his sister until she's dead, he accused me of jumping on his back three times (I'm 170 lbs, he's 70lbs) and then pulling him up by his hair. Fantasies and projection, you think?

    We've talked about the cameras. He has brought up a couple times to his dad to give him a secret camera or to plant cameras and recorders around the house and not tell me so he can catch other people in the act of doing things. Of course, a week later he was caught sneaking into his brother's room and I said, all a camera would do is catch you sneaking around. He looked startled and admitted it would catch him doing that. It didn't seem to bother him that he would be caught (he doesn't much have consequences and they don't worry him much), but he's sure that he'd catch others and he wanted to take it to school and secretly tape people giving him a hard day.

    Duh, buddy, your dad sent you to military school, he wants you to have a hard day.

    I'm just so discouraged about the head of this school wanting to do some home visits. I told my husband I don't like the idea, what's the purpose of them, we've done it before.

    He wants to do it, and is unhappy with me because I don't. I find it intrusive and insulting and anxiety provoking. ANd we've done it before, and nothing comes of it except, praise him, spend more time with him, give him a reward system, start all over. We've DONE that, it doesn't work. And no, we didn't do it wrong. WE are NOT the problem. This boy has the problem.

    But no...we must be scapegoating him :(

    I'm so tired of this. My husband this maybe this time it will be different. He's unhappy with me because I don't want to, and I don't want to subject my kids to it and I don't want to take the time. Stepson consumes huge amounts of time and emotion and money, he has far more than his far share of what this family has to offer. I'm just sooo tired of it.
  8. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I would show those pictures to every professional you can.

    I am also very worried about the other kids in the home. So much amongst siblings goes unreported. Please take your other kids aside and ask them if they feel safe. I don't think they do. If difficult child has done anything (including threatening) that sibling can charge him which would be another way to get the legal world, thus the medical world, to take notice of what is happening.

    How old does he have to be for military boarding school? Since teachers think he is so well behaved, they would have their eyes opened ASAP if he was their responsibility 24/7.

    I wish I knew how you could tap into a legal psychologist. One who works with crimes involving people who draw pictures like your son did. One who really does know how to interpret these distrubing images. They are not common.

    I am sorry that the docs do not seem to be taking you seriously.

    Another option would be to try to locate an adolescent mental health hospital nearest to you. Take him there for an assessment. The staff there would know what to look for and how to interpret that picture. Call your health carrier for a list of those within network. If there is one out of network that is within so many miles of you and the in network one is further than so many miles, than insurance may pay it as if it were in network.

    This does look like his behavior will get worse before you are able to get help. Put a plan into action. At what point will you be willing to call the police or take him to ER if/when he does start following through on violence? You keep yourself and the other kids safe.

    Again, I will be surprised if the other kids are feeling safe right now.

    keep us posted.
  9. So sorry you are having such problems. This is very scary. I too would be looking into a mental health facility or something for kids in your area. When my difficult child was exhibiting psychotic features, he said he wanted to be a mass murderer when he grew up and he had a list of who. His psychiatrist too this VERY seriously.

  10. WSM

    WSM New Member

    The other kids are 19, 17, and 14, all about 6 feet, one gymnast, one football player, all very strong and not shy about speaking up. They aren't afraid of him.

    The girl is 8, she's not afraid of him, but she's suspicious of him. Her dad let her pick out some koolaid this weekend and she wanted to hide it so her brother wouldn't take it, like he took her dresses, books, uniforms, money, dolls, halloween costumes, bike, helmets, bookbags, etc.... But she's not afraid of him, but we also never leave them alone together.

    The dog is not afraid of him.

    He's not schizophrenic; he has an interest in friends. That supposedly rules out schizophrenia (altho he might develop it later in life).

    We have had trouble getting him fully evaluated. The major child hospital in So. Florida wouldn't evaluate him beyond if he was an immediate danger to himself or others because they wanted his mother's consent as well as my husband's. Didn't care that she's wandering the streets and he has full custody papers and was willing to let them talk to the GALs.

    The best mental health system in So Florida (Henderson) who actually got his mother stable for two years won't take him because we have insurance and they only take Medicaid.

    We can't afford residential military school; they run about $7 grand a month, a thousand dollars more or less.

    We wanted to put him in a nearby residential mental health facility where he'd come home on weekends, but they wouldn't take him; they said their program would 'frustrate' him. It was based on behavioral modification. The director was one of those who hinted that he was possibly personality disordered, but nothing could be diagnosis'ed at this point.

    Oh, and his judge died. Yep, an overweight 50 something man, just died. He had a parole officer who was actually monitoring him and was talking about consulting her supervisor about putting him in a 6 month residential facility. Then her phone got shut off and we never heard from her again. Her supervisor called and said she needed to close this case.

    He always falls through the cracks. Nobody wants to deal with it. He doesn't fall into any convenient catagory, there is overcrowding with kids who are acting out and tantruming, there are lots of older kids who seem more urgent, budgets are short, etc...

    So we tried the military school. THe state of FL pays for it because he's an ESE student. They were hard on him and after a month he's pretty much settled down and behaves there. He still pulls the poor me, they are so mean to me at home, people are trying to get him into trouble, he doesn't know how any of these things are happening. And they think it's manipulative, my husband assures me that they aren't being conned; but my guess is they aren't really sure.

    And now ANOTHER home visit. Not court ordered. Not because of CPS, but because the head of the school is...curious? Thinking to play therapist? I don't know.

    My husband and I go to therapy and deal with marital, family and kid issues. That's hard enough and I don't want some outsider coming in thinking she's going to heal our family. Last summer the camp associated with the school (whom he had completely fooled) told him it would all be solved it he gave lots of hugs and told us he loved us. It was a stupid, simple minded solution to a complex problem. The kid has been diagnosis'ed with Attachment Disorder: you don't order him to give hugs to people he doesn't like and doesn't want to me close to and make him LIE and say he loves them when that's not what he feels.

    So now there's discord between my husband and me because he wants to do this again, and I don't want to start all over and prove to yet another person (who has no more right to come into our house, judge and advise us than any of you do) that it's not us; that he has a serious problem.

  11. WSM

    WSM New Member

    Actually stepson makes it very clear that he is not dangerous. Whenever the issue of him taking one gun, two knives, and a razor blade to school on 4 separate occasions comes up, he points out very calmly, "I didn't threaten anyone". As if it was all right as long as he wasn't threatening anyone.

    He's a victim. But he's never been bullied or been accused of bullying, but he likes to play that he's scared and timid and anxious. At his sister's recital recently, he father noticed that he had a dirty face with what might be tear tracks down it. "Have you been crying?" "Yes," they went into the bathroom and stepson 'confided' that he was afraid and worried he'd get into trouble with me for not bringing his agenda home. I couldn't care less if he does or doesn't bring it home. And--here's the kicker--he HAD been bringing his agenda home. There wasn't a problem, he was bringing it home, getting it signed, and taking it back turning it in, behaving just like he was supposed to. But still he was 'afraid' of getting into trouble about it. And about a month later he started 'losing' it. Once it just disappeared, and once the inner part disappeared leaving the cover only. And weirdly enough, he'd been sitting next to it at the dining room table all night except once when he quickly did the pool; and during that time his sister and I were together cooking dinner. But he's sure I stole it to get him in trouble. And he wants $5 for a new one.

    It's validating to me that you, who have difficult child children, also think it's scary. My husband poo-poos it. One of the therapists I didn't have any respect for, but the other one I do and I'm puzzled why she doesn't care. Thing is I don't know what to do about it, my husband doesn't know what to do about it, and there seem to be no answers that won't bankrupt us.
  12. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    It is indeed so frustrating to get the right people to see that your son needs help. I know it is not your doing or your husbands. I know your difficult child needs help. It sounds like you have tried everything/everyone and then some.

    I hope one day soon the doors/windows will open that will start the process going for you. I wish it were not so hard to get these kids the services they need.

    I am sorry you are feeling as if no one is listening or believing. We are listening and we do believe you. Hopefully someone will come on soon with more ideas?

    Something that may help for now: Start a journal - purchase one of those that are one page per day with a break down of times. Record wake up time and to sleep time. Also record every incident at the time it happened. You can document his behavior throughout the day. Record any special events or doctor visits, everything! This may help in the future if you do need to remember incidents. It may also provide a pattern?
  13. WSM

    WSM New Member

    Thank you. You are very kind to say that. There's always the suspicion that he's scapegoated or I'm the wicked stepmother and since he says he's being abused, there is always suspicion.

    We were told by the probation officer, the one who later disappeared, to keep a journal of what he did. After my husband went to the last comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and forgot a couple important factors such as a couple incidents of self harming and the picture, I suggested we get a notebook for all the evaluations, all the police reports, all the events so that in the future we can just hand over a copy to anyone who wanted to evaluate him, court, medical, educational, whomever.

    He thought it was a good idea, and I started on it, but he didn't help and I was the only one doing it, and it felt like I was keeping a dossier or a tattle tale sheet on him.

    My husband is overwhelmed and has a tendancy to stick his head in the sand or say, what can I do, nothing works, I'll do nothing. In his heart of hearts, he wants to coddle and pamper stepson, he feels very guilty about the 3 and a half years stepson spent with his mother, and how he was put in to 3 foster homes. He doesn't want to label, he doesn't want to research, he says he's sick of mental illness, and hates 'labels' and just worries that he's going to spend his whole childhood being unhappy (as it seems we are going to spend all stepson's childhood being unhappy) and he wants stepson to approve of him. husband had a problem mother and he spent his childhood trying to make her life better and keeping her stable, then he married a very ill woman and tried to help her, and now he is trying to rescue his son. He's been trained to rescue and make happy, not to do tough love.

    And it doesn't really matter, because I don't think there really are options for stepson anyway, so why not ignore the problem? Except it's warped our lives and keeps us in turmoil and is exhausting, humiliating, expensive, and depressing.

    Anyway, re the journal. husband was resentful because I was cataloging and it felt to him like all I want is to record all the bad things stepson does. I stopped doing it, and the therapist we are seeing agreed with that. It's husband's responsibility as a father. I'm just the stepmother; it's not my responsibility.

    So I'm not doing it, and he's not doing it, and it makes it easier for him to 'forget' what's going on and not see patterns and to see stepson as normal but just a little troubled. His kid, his choice. But I wonder often how long I can tolerate being uneasy. What about when this boy is 14, 15 or more?

    I'm not criticizing, he tries, he really does, there are no answers, and this is something that just kills your soul, and he doesn't know what to do, and he's sorry I have to deal with it, and he's worried that our handling of it makes it all worse, and he feels bad that stepson is so unhappy and hurt that stepson doesn't seem to care about him and when he's nice to stepson, stepson retaliates by doing something awful in return.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think this child's primary doctor should be a Psychiatrist (with the MD), not a therapist. I think he is too ill for a therapist to do any good. I personally feel that this child is seriously mentally ill. I do not think he feels he is king of the world or entitled to attention or anything even close to that. His behavior is too bizarre and dangerous. With schizophrenia in the family I'd be looking at somebody who could treat him. "THought disorder" could mean budding schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. To treat him as just an "entitled" or "bad" kid is in my opinion way off base. He is dangerous because he is mentally ill. Until his mental illness is under control, and he likely needs medication, I would be afraid to have him around my kids. I think husband has to wake up. Mental illness runs in his family and on this child's mother's side too. If he doesn't treat it, it will only get worse. He needs the label AND the appropriate supports. JMO. Good luck.