The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Steely, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Ever since Matt got out of RTCs he has been struggling with anxiety, most prominent, agoraphobia. Somehow, I thought it would dissipate when he moved. Nope, now he is in a big city, and it is worse.

    He has finally decided to start seeing a therapist. WOW. Well this is a HUGE step for him. Not once in his 21 years has he ever, EVER, really talked to a therapist. Despite seeing therapists since he was 4, and being in 3 RTCs, he always has refused to talk about his inner feelings. What a moot point to have him in all of those, when he wouldn't talk, right? Pointless in retrospect.

    So I found him this amazing psychologist in Portland that runs an Anxiety Clinic. He met her, and he *loved* her. I was floored. I mean, I was really amazed. He said he shared everything, and he loved talking to her. (OK, really??? After ALL these years he has *finally* gotten to the point where he could confide in someone?) I guess the biggest thing they talked about was that so many of his issues have to do with his PTSD.

    Ugly -
    So after the second session he came back to my house for T-Day holiday. He spent the night crying his eyes out, he was in the worst agonizing pain I have ever seen another person in. He started having flashbacks and becoming inconsolable. At times he was dissociative.

    Memories that he had been sexually abused by his babysitters when he was appx 2-3 yo surfaced. This was not a total surprise to me, as he had this happen one other time and we have talked about it - but this time the memory was crystal clear. This time he remembered everything. He just cried for hours, it was so horrible for him and for me, as I had no idea what to do or how to respond.

    I talked to my counselor about it, and she gave me some advice. Both she and I pondered whether this and the other traumatic things that have happened to Matt in his life could be the root cause of his behavior problems.

    As Matt stayed here the next couple of days, he seemed much better, like a huge burden had been relieved from his shoulders.

    Then last night as he knew he was going home today, and to see the counselor he totally blew a gasket. I mean - like a typical 10 yo difficult child would throw a tantrum - he just lost it. Then again this morning, same thing. I could barely get him out the door to drive home. He said, no I am just gonna stay here....yea right. I said NO, you are going home, period.

    So he saw her again today, and they talked about everything that had happened in the last week. She said, like any good counselor would say, that they needed to slow things down. Take baby steps. And that he doesn't need to talk about every memory he has ever had in one session. Which is good.

    She also told him that when he feels this overwhelming anxiety that he needs to stay in the moment and feel it, and not run away from it. Which is good. Yet, once I dropped him off at his home he became anxiety ridden again, and frantic. He kept saying that his counselor said to *feel* the emotion and not run from it. Which is great, but truthfully I can barely stand to be around him when he does this. I know it is healthy for him, but it triggers about 18,000 flight and fight emotions for me.

    Conclusion -
    I don't know. I want to be there for him during this, as I always have been there for him. I am certainly not going to bale on him now. However..... although this is all very, very healthy for him - and I am really excited that he finally wants help - I feel just as worn out and sucked dry as I have all along. I don't think it is a matter of separating from him really, because he is 2 hours away. It is more that once again - when I am with him he cycles in and out of being a mess - which makes me crazy. I just want it all to stop. I know, that is being selfish on my part, when finally he is getting help, I should be thankful. But seriously I just want to stick my head in the sand and pretend the world is not even on its axis. I am tired of the drama. I want normal. I am pretty sure, I won't get it. Ever.
  2. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Steely, Have you or Matt ever tried EMDR? It is supposed to be good for trauma and the patient doesn't have to relive any of itit.
  3. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    Steely, the way you describe all this makes sense, however? The only bad I see is the "bad". The ugly, though hard to deal with? At least he is starting to deal with it. Is there anyway for you to talk to Matt's counselor, either with or without him present, to see how you can disengage while still giving him support?

    I also second rejected mom's suggestion of EMDR. It really helped me through a lot, I did have an uncommon thing happen and now my therapist won't do it with me anymore. This does not happen often, so it is not something for everyone to worry about.
  4. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    What a roller coaster you've bee on. There is more good than bad here, even in the ugly. Give yourself some time to process it all. By no means are you being selfish for wanting normal. We all want normal.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    You can go to dozens of tdocs ect and not have it "click". There has to be the right fit in order to feel able to freely talk to someone, especially dealing with anxiety ect. I'm glad he and his new doctor have hit it off. That is wonderful.

    His reaction to the memories is also normal. At the time of the abuse emotions are usually stuffed away. He's feeling what he did then, now. That's why it's so hard. His doctor is wise to coach him to take it slower. Those emotions can be super intense and overwhelming. My therapist had me warn my family and friends that I may not be "myself" for a while. (boy was that an understatement lol )

    I'd support him, but I'd try not to get too involved in the process. This is a road he has to take on his own with his doctor. And it's reasonable to assume that the abuse is probably the root cause of a lot of his anxiety issues. Emotionally though, for a while, he's just going to be all over the place. It won't all be bad days though and he may need you to help remind him of that. Because as he progresses in treatment the urge to stop gets awfully strong due to the emotional roller coaster it puts you on.

    I'm so glad he's in treatment, you've no idea. I'm praying he can stick it out.

  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest


    Hugs and now is the time to take special care of you. It is wonderful he has found a good therapist and is working on stuff and letting himself feel the pain. You are right he needs to do that and it is healthy for him to do that.

    I think for us mothers it is excrutiating sometimes to watch their pain and to know they have to go through it. Especially when it is around things that happened to them when they were young... you can't help wonder about the what ifs... and that brings up pain for us.

    I hope you continue to talk about your feelings about all of this in counseling.... because you need a good healthy place to do that. And take extra good care of yourself. I don't think you are being selfish, I think you are being honest. You know you are going to continue to be there for him... but man the process can be really hard on you too.

  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    This pierced my heart. I feel the same way. I know I am strong, I will absolutely be fine, but I do feel this way. I hear you.
  8. Elsieshaye

    Elsieshaye Member

    Steely, I strongly second the EMDR. Whatever approach you use, you have to address the fact you're getting triggered. Some of my difficult child's childhood violence re-activated my PTSD something fierce. I started having panic attacks again, and that made it very, very hard to be present for him in any useful way. EMDR and therapy just for me helped. A lot. ((((Steely))))
  9. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I don't have anything useful to add, hon. What I do have are lots of hugs for you. And to let you know I'm here.
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys....I really am so overwhelmed by this and I don't really know why. I had nightmares all night long. I think him acting that upset, triggers my PTSD from when he was younger and he would lose complete control in his rages. I also think the realization that he has been sexually abused brings up a ton of guilt on my part for leaving him with those sitters. It also triggers my own past sexual abuse. In addition my Dad was abusive to him - and to me - which triggers a million things for me. What a twisted web this all is, you know?

    I am familiar with EMDR, and there is not someone who offers it in the town I live in - however - I believe the counselor Matt is using does offer it. I feel like he is going to someone who really could change his life. She is a psychologist who has devoted her whole career to anxiety and she has several clinics in Portland. So if she thinks EMDR is a good choice for him, than I would hope she would implement it. The biggest problem in all of this is him getting to the appts because of his agoraphobia. He is terrified of public transit, or even learning to drive for that matter. She is supposed to be slowly working with him on the bus issue, as that is the most pressing thing.

    Overall - this is amazing that he has finally surrendered to his inner fears and demons, and decided to confront them. I mean, I am just so thrilled for him that he *really* finally gets what it is going to take to change his life around, and is willing to do the work for it. He has a lot of trauma - far more than I ever truly grasped until now. I remember distinctly the day his behavior changed, and it was while he was with those sitters. Now I know why. From there he started acting out everywhere, creating or encountering traumatic events. This trauma gathered so much momentum in his psyche that by the time he was 16 he was uncontrollable and had to leave the house. In retrospect I am wondering how much of this was a chemical imbalance, or trauma? His counselor seems to think he actually does not fit the criteria at all of Bi-Polar, which I find rather interesting, although I am not convinced. However I do know that medications never really touched the deep issue - they would control his moods to some extent - but only for short periods of time.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Steely -


    You're talking about stuff that goes back eighteen years.
    Even now, its hard to get support for kids in that situation - it was worse 18 years ago.
    Even if you had known, and had fought tooth and nail, the chances of him having had the help he needed then are slim.

    You did what you could with what you had.
    You still are.
    Matt will get through this.
    So will you.

    On the other side of the clouds, the sun still shines.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    This is so hard for both of you. I am thrilled that he has a therapist that he connects with. I don't believe that you won't find some type of normal with him. If/when he can work through this, he CAN approach normal - whatever that is for him. These repressed memories and emotions are probably a HUGE HUGE HUGE part of his gfgness. I would say that a majority of the foundation for the difficult child stuff is the repressed stuff, if it isn't ALL built on it.

    One of the BEST ways to help him through this is to see a therapist of your own - one you can really connect with. YOU need to work through all that you are feeling/thinking/experiencing and if you don't you may unconsciously sabotage his efforts. I KNOW that you will never ever sabotage him on purpose, but this is triggering YOU and it will happen unless you work to handle what you are going through. I know there are not as many resources around for you, but if nothing else, maybe there is a clinic or someone you will click with. Don't forget to check for DV and sexual abuse survivor organizations that might be able to help you. Even if you were not abused by the people difficult child was, you will still get help from these groups because your child was.

    If Matt would use a book about anxiety, there are some great ones out there. If you can send a note to his doctor, either through him or by mailing it, ask the therapist to help him learn tools to handle the anxiety as he feels it. Suggest she have him write the various tools down and even frame them or make posters of them so that he can see them easily with-o having to go look through a notebook or whatever. Encourage whatever soothes him - sensory stuff like soft music, weighted blankets, banging on a drum or playing an instrument, a favorite childhood video, whatever works. Think back to when he was little - what comforted him then? Can those be used to help now? Wiz used to watch Pooh videos when he was anxious and it did a LOT more than videogames or other shows.

    What would help YOU when he is this upset around you? What soothes YOU? Try having that with you when you are with him. A shirt with a favorite texture or fabric, music in the car or on an mp3 player, a perfume that reminds you of a favorite memory or person, etc... I take cross stitching when I ahve to wait while a kiddo of mine is in with a therapist, esp for a difficult session. It soothes and calms me.

    You will get through this, both of you. Life will be far better once you have. You are both survivors and fighters.
  13. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks Susie......

    I have to say this may be one of the harder roads I have walked with him. To see him so raw, so vulnerable, so hurt - brings up a whole new venue of emotions than a screaming, raging, threatening difficult child brings up.

    I do have a counselor (I moved to Oregon, where there are a lot more resources) - I have been seeing her about 3 months. However our last session she just really made me mad. She doesn't just want to listen, and process with me - she wants to fix it and give me solutions. Believe me - I am the queen of giving people "answers" and "troubleshooting", including for myself --- but what I stink at is processing the feelings I have. I can't apply the solution until the wound has healed, if that makes sense.

    i don't want to send matt's new counselor a note or anything, because I don't want to interfere in this, like I have done everything else in his life. I keep wanting to call her and tell her all sorts of stuff - but I can't - because I will ruin this relationship.