Thursday, October 31, 2013

Too funny not to share!

An email from Noah's teacher last week.
 -------- Original message --------
From: awesome teacher
Date: 10/25/2013 1:31 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Noah's mom
Subject:! :)

So…I’m literally laughing out loud while typing this.  We talk about some things that Noah does that just are too funny to get mad about.  I have one for you. 

Noah just came in from recess and I thought perhaps he ate something poisonous because he is running around like he is on speed and talking so quickly that its hard to even make out what he is saying right now.  when I asked him if he felt ok he replied, “yes…I feel like I just had a whole roll of gum with red dye in it that I snuck in from home and snuck out to recess with and ate the whole thing”.  He said this as he went into his backpack and then threw the empty package of gum at me (threw in a fun way throw and catch way, not aggressive). 

Any suggestions or should I just let him run on a hamster wheel (or some sensory based activities) for a while?!

As I’m typing this he is dancing and singing…shaking his butt like nothing I’ve ever seen before!!!  I have to admit…he is hilarious right now!   

Obviously I need to check the labels on the Halloween candy better.

I should probably find a new hiding place too.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Stigma is an Asshole

Oh boy do I have some stories I need to tell. Soon. Hopefully, I will have time soon.

Tonight I want to talk about stigma. Last week was Mental Illness Awareness Week. I didn't know about it though until mid-way through the week. Probably because I've been so busy the last two weeks dealing with my sons mental illness.

Is it considered irony, or just coincidence, that tonight I write about stigma, when two weeks ago I was afraid to post what was happening to us on Facebook because of the stigma?

Last week in the midst of Noah's mania and my worry that I wasn't doing enough to get him help, I knew I needed to blog. I gave it quite a bit of thought however. I decided it was okay to blog about it, but I wouldn't post it on Facebook. That way only my regular readers would see it.

I mean, you aren't really supposed to post things that aren't flowers and rainbows and unicorns or links to idiotic conservative sound bites on Facebook, right? I've received crap from family (extended) a few times about what I have shared about Noah. Because I keep it real and I guess that makes them uncomfortable.

So yes, I wasn't going to talk about his mania on Facebook. Even though that's not how I typically share our life.

I like to keep our life real. I'm not comfortable hiding the truth. Life is a balance of good and bad, so why wouldn't I share both parts?

But last week was more truth than I was sure it was socially acceptable to share.

Sure, if you are taking your kid to the ER for a broken arm or stitches, you can share away, and you'll get all kinds of comments offering prayer and healing thoughts, and concern. I mean you can relate to that right? What parent hasn't had to take their child to the ER at least once.

People don't really know what to say when you say you are calling the mental health crisis line or taking your child to the crazy people ER emergency psychiatrist. Most people can't relate to that. (I'm glad that's the case actually, I wouldn't wish this on any child or adult.)

I think I've discussed this before, and I'm not saying it again out of the same bitterness I once spoke of it (I've worked hard to move past that part of my life.),

When a child has cancer, or is born with life threatening physical defect or illness, friends and family tend to rally round. Offers of help come from all directions. Maybe someone organizes a fund raiser, or sets up a schedule to deliver meals, or help with child care. They do this because it is all too easy to imagine the same horrible thing happening to your own child. It's a visceral reaction. You can't help but put yourself in the shoes of that parent. And you give thanks to who or what you believe in, that it isn't your child.

But when mental illness strikes a family, it's uncomfortable. No one really knows what to say. Or you receive the offers of prayer and kind thoughts initially, but the expectation is that you won't bring it up again. It's too uncomfortable. Too messy. If it isn't happening to your child you can't relate. It scares you because you don't understand it. You don't want your children around it, even though you know it isn't contagious.

If only people could understand that mental illness is a disease of the brain in the same way cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease are diseases of the body. The only difference is that in many cases those diseases of the body can be cured, the diseases of the brain can be treated, but you don't necessarily cure bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety. You hope you manage it.

Everything that is going on with Noah is in his brain. Not just the bipolar disorder.

So stigma.

Stigma isolates.
Stigma hides.
Stigma prevents some from getting care.
Stigma is an asshole.

So help remove the asshole.
Remove the stigma!

If your friend has a mental illness, be a shoulder for them. Give them a hug. Acknowledge their illness. Let them talk if they want to, don't belittle their illness. Offer them help in more concrete ways as well, help them catch up with laundry, or pick up their house, take them a meal. When you are fighting to control your own brain it doesn't leave much energy to do the normal day to day activities like house keeping. Take their kids for a couple hours so they can have some quiet time.

If you have a friend with a child with a mental illness do the same thing. But also consider how it is affecting their other children if they have them. Consider how exhausted that parent might be from fighting to get help for their child while parenting their child who very well could be quite difficult to raise. Take them a meal occasionally, or take the child out for a couple hours. (Noah would be thrilled to have someone take him out to shoot hoops or kick the soccer ball around. He holds it together better with other people, because he feels less safe to fall apart with them.) Or offer to babysit so the parents can go out. Too many marriages of parents with children of special needs fail. (Something like 85%. Rich and I aren't immune to the lousy stats either.)

When you have a child with an illness (physical or mental) it's a rough road. I don't need to tell anyone that. What makes it harder though is feeling like you have to hide one but not the other.

Stop the stigma. 


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

This was last week. It's not over.

Since the incident at soccer Noah has become increasingly fast. Not fast like "wow, watch that kid run" fast, but "wow, this kid is manic" fast. Or in other words, Noah's been riding the wackadoodle express, and frankly, it doesn't look like he's headed for a station any time soon.

Typically, Noah holds himself together at school fairly well. He's able to do that because of his awesome teacher and all of the supports he has in place. He has rough days here and there, but for the most part his behavior is acceptable.

This week he hasn't been able settle at school at all. He's all over the place, talking fast, racing through his work, not able to sit still, and very argumentative.

When Noah's teacher says he had a rough day I believe him. When he says Noah is wild or a mess. I get concerned. Especially when what I'm seeing at home is the same thing.

Monday we had an intake visit with a new therapist. In the past Noah has barely interacted with doctors and therapists. Monday he wouldn't stop talking. He also wouldn't stop moving. In this 8 x 8 office he was all over the place. The couch, me, under the therapists desk, hanging upside down over the couch, jumping on the couch. You name it, if he could do it in that little room he did. He was so happy though, and kind of silly in a fun way. It was exhausting, but I couldn't really get mad at him because it was so different from his typical melt downs.

Tuesday he was like that as well, but he was more irritable and argumentative. He refused to come inside after playing and kept running from the front door to the back door. It was a little like chasing a puppy, except that I don't chase. And pork chops don't work as bait.

Wednesday his teacher emailed me saying he was concerned and that Noah again hadn't settled all day. I knew we had to do something, but I wasn't sure what. I emailed his neurologist and was told to take him to the ER. If I had any concerns that they weren't going to be able to handle Noah's psych needs before, I know it now.

Unfortunately, we are in between psychiatrists right now. We were asked to leave the last one (that's a blog post just waiting to be written) and can't get in with the new one until November. In the meantime we have been seeing a neurologist. I thought we would be OK in this "in between" time, but obviously I was wrong.

I paced my office Wednesday trying to figure out what to do. Do we take him to the ER? Am I ready for him to be hospitalized? NO. I'm not. He's bad right now, but I don't think we are there yet.

So I called our counties child mental health hotline and spoke with a crisis worker. We discussed options. An hour later she was at our house. We sat on our back deck and she talked with Noah. He paced back and forth but he did have a conversation with her. In the end we decided to take him for an emergency psych evaluation the next morning.

That was yesterday. I wasn't sure what to expect. We were seeing a psychiatrist I knew nothing about. I never even Googled the guy.

The doc was great. He really picked up on all of what was going on with Noah. Of course Noah made it pretty easy for him. Again he was all over the office. He was more like a two year old than a ten year old.

We have adjusted his medications and are hopeful. He wasn't manic last night, which is the first time in five days I've seen him settled.

I wrote this last Friday. I didn't get a chance to finish writing it until tonight. A lot has happened since then.