please help...not sure if my ds has a mental disorder - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll try to be brief. My ds is 11 and has always been a tough kid to parent (born at 33 wks) but the past few years have been better. Last year we moved and within 5 months of our move I was diagnosed with bc. He does not make friends easily at all. He reall spun out of control this summer about the time I was finishing radiation treatments. He tried to harm himself. We immediately started him with a couselor. He was slowly getting better but still having outbursts. Whne he goes 'to the bad place' his eyes go half-mast, he curses at us, does not care what we say at all. There is NOTHING we can say or do to snap him out of it. He is very mean and nasty. He curses like nothing I have ever heard. After 2 months of seeing the couselor he refused to go anymore. We forced him to her building and he refused to go in or talk to her. He loved going to see her so we are not sure what the deal is. She is not sure either what happened to turn him off of therapy. When he's in a good place he' great and is the boy we know and love. The problem is you never know which kid you'll find. It is very stressfull and hard on all of us. His brothers and sister have asked us not to include him in any famliy outings anymore because he always 'ruins' them. It's true. He never wants to go anywhere with us. He plays outside but going on outings, forget it. He is doing very well in school grade-wise. Teachers think he is the sweetest most creative kid around. I'm thinking 'ha, you should see him at home". I don't even want to be around him anymore as most of his anger is directed at me. I feel resentful that I don't get anytime to heal myself from breast cancer because of him. Just being honest here. One day we think it's just a discipline issue and the next we think depression and then mental illness. We are just so stumped and tired. Thoughts?

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#2 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 08:46 AM
 
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#3 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 11:03 AM
 
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Has he had any sort of evaluation? Was he seeing a MD or someone else? I think seeing an actual psychiatrist (an MD with training in mental health) makes sense for him. He might be bi-polar or something. I'm no expert, but this sentence jumps out at me:

"The problem is you never know which kid you'll find."

That's exactly how I feel about my sister who is bi-polar. I'm so sorry for what your family is going through.

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#4 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that seeing a psychiatrist for an eval is our next step. His therapist is not a psychiatrist but did an eval of sorts. She kept going back to the fact that he can hold it together for school and that if he had a real illness he would not be able to hold it together. We would see it other places other than home. I, of course, would love to cling to that theory but I also don't want to be the parent with their head in the sand. His therapist really felt that with the move, my illness, and then moving on to middle school it was too much change for someone who doesn't do very well with change. My dh is thnking he is calling out for attention. He wants to try to have us each spend more one-on-one time with him and see if that helps. Last night after the other kids had gone to bed I asked him to sit with me and he did crawl in my lap. I just held him for about 20 min and talked. I had told him I would not wake him in the morning anymore because he was mean to me. I was happy to help him with breakfast if he asked but I wasn't going to be treated that way anymore. this a.m. I went about my business and he came to find me to ask for help with breakfast. It was so nice. Ugh. I just don't know what to do. When he's fine he's so wonderful and when he's not...... He has always reminded me of the poem about the little girl with the little curl. He has always been very black and white...no grey with this kid.

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#5 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 02:15 PM
 
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Yes, I would get an eval with a psych. A therapist may not necessarily know of all the subtleties of a psych diagnosis. And getting another professional opinion would be good, particularly one who is knowledgeable in the mental health field.

Kim mama to DS 12/2005, Pepper kitty , and 10/03, 1/05;
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#6 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 02:35 PM
 
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She kept going back to the fact that he can hold it together for school and that if he had a real illness he would not be able to hold it together. We would see it other places other than home. I, of course, would love to cling to that theory but I also don't want to be the parent with their head in the sand. His therapist really felt that with the move, my illness, and then moving on to middle school it was too much change for someone who doesn't do very well with change.
This is exactly what I was thinking after reafding your first post.

I grew up with a sibling who was later diagnosed as Bipolar. Your son sounds more like me at that age, and I have no psychiatric disorders.

I was an angel outside of the house and it just wore on me. I came home and took it out on my family, especially my mother. I got picked on a little but not that much. I had freinds, but I always had a hard time feeling the need to have freinds and keeping them. Perhaps, I had/have a bit of Social anxiety disorder, but only mild if I did/do.

I just remember life being really rough for me out in the world, although no one would have guessed, and I came home and was a holy terror at home. I also switched school at that age because we moved, and till this day, I feel like it was the worst experience in my life.

Now, my sister, I guess had her moments of depression as a child, but all I really remember was her being manic. She just was a mile a minute and always had these grand ideas. She would snap your head off, and be reduced to a puddle of tears, but she was never the problem child. I was.

It sounds like your boy has been through a lot. Just keep letting him know you love him no matter what and it is okay to be a little bad. And, stress how proud you are of his behaviour at school. Of course, go through with whatever testing you feel necessary. I just want you to know, when I read your OP I saw myself.

good luck and
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#7 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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I've worked with many kids with mental health concerns and it doesn't sound to me like your son is likely to have bipolar disorder. Depression and/or a not entirely abnormal response to such a hugely traumatic time in your lives seems more likely. It sounds like he is really shaken up (and rightfully so) by the thought of losing his mom who he loves so much. A lot of times, we can't even comprehend the kinds of questions or concerns a kid might have even at this age. Even if your prognosis was good, in his head, cancer might have meant that he was definitely going to lose you. He might still have that feeling lingering in his head.

On top of the worry that he's had, you've probably had your hands full trying to get yourself healthy and its surely been hard on your whole family. Kids respond to stress differently and some kids have a much more difficult time than others. Having breast cancer was probably very very traumatic for all of you. Maybe he was able to hold himself together a bit until you were finishing up with radiation, but now that things are feeling "safer," he is starting to express his fears and pain more, albeit, not in a healthy way. What about you working with a family therapist and eventually trying to bring him back into the mix? The therapist could probably give you some ideas of some strategies for working with him even if you can't convince him to go.

Big hugs and well wishes to you and him. I cannot even imagine what having breast cancer does to a mom and to her family.
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#8 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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She kept going back to the fact that he can hold it together for school and that if he had a real illness he would not be able to hold it together.
I'm sorry to say this isn't necessarily so. My youngest son (8 years old; dx is bipolar with psychotic features, among other things) can hold himself together better at school or out in public better than he can at home. Even when he gets to a significant level of acuity and is unable to mask his symptoms, he is still "better" at school than at home.

The level of upsetting behavior you're describing is highly unlikely to come from poor discipline. That trance-like state that you describe is something I've seen hundreds of times from my youngest child, and never once from any of my three teenagers. Those episodes - they seem more like seizures than anything else. Carter goes absent. It's really scary.

BUT...the good news: he's quite stable now. It took us a long time to get here, but with a good pediatric psychiatrist and psychologist, plus a behavior management specialist who came to our house to work with our whole family every week for over a year, things are much better.

I wish you the very best! I hope you find all the help you need, whatever that turns out to be.

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#9 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. You made me feel better...just being able to say all this "out loud" has been helpful. In my heart of hearts I think something is wrong. It just isn't normal for someone to be happy 'normal' one minute and a cursing, mean, depressed person the next. It is so stressful for all of us. I hate that all of us are walking on egg shells because of one 11 yr old boy. I hate that he is so unhappy much of the time. His counselor has promised to get me the name of a psychiatrist tomorrow. I hope we can get an eval soon. Maybe it will turn out to be nothing (I hope so) but whatever it is we need help.

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#10 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 10:52 PM
 
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In my heart of hearts I think something is wrong. It just isn't normal for someone to be happy 'normal' one minute and a cursing, mean, depressed person the next.
Just wanted to add that the something wrong really can be stress/trauma related of fearing losing you. Most people don't know that post traumatic stress disorder can be easily confused for bipolar disorder. I've had kids with PTSD who I've worked with who have had hallucinations (not related specifically to neglect/abuse...). Stuff like someone whispering about nothing behind them while they were doing homework. It is easy to underestimate how much stress an individual may endure in situations like the one your son has been in. Some kids just really shatter under it... Good luck.
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#11 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 10:59 PM
 
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His counselor has promised to get me the name of a psychiatrist tomorrow. I hope we can get an eval soon. Maybe it will turn out to be nothing (I hope so) but whatever it is we need help.
I'm glad you are taking action. It may be a temporary bump for him, or it may be something more serious, but it isn't fair to him, to your other kids, or to you to allow this to continue without taking all action possible.

I hope that you are able to get some answers.

GOOD LUCK!

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#12 of 19 Old 10-15-2010, 11:10 PM
 
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I think that seeing a psychiatrist for an eval is our next step. His therapist is not a psychiatrist but did an eval of sorts. She kept going back to the fact that he can hold it together for school and that if he had a real illness he would not be able to hold it together.
This totally jumped out at me. A good friend of mine has an 11yo dd who in the past year has been diagnosed with bipolar, in addition to adhd. While she obviously has the adhd problems in school, she has always held it together in school as far as bipolar symptoms. Home though is a nightmare for them.
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#13 of 19 Old 10-16-2010, 12:31 AM
 
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Many kids with disorders can keep it together at school.

My stepson has AS and we have fought the schools a lot because they used to insist that he was fine and it was us (one time it was suggested that if we let him play outside more all our problems would be solved).

Anyway, what you are describing doesn't sound exactly like AS, but I think you do need the evaluation. And, IME, a mother's intuition isn't always exactly right but it usually knows when something needs to be looked into more.

Good luck.

Mama to DD-9, DSS-11, happily married and living with 1dog, 1 cat, 7 chickens, and 2 ducks....expecting 03/11
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#14 of 19 Old 10-16-2010, 03:58 AM
 
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What sort of counselor was he seeing? I'd be inclined to go with a psychologist over a psychiatrist. A psychologist has doctoral level training that focuses entirely on psychology and mental health, whereas a psychiatrist is an MD, and much of their training is general medical, and their mental health training tends to be concentrated on psychopharmacology. In my state, both are qualified to make mental health diagnoses, but in my experience, MDs tend to rely heavily on medication whereas psychologists will be versed in various therapeutic interventions (and can refer you to an MD for meds if necessary). And in my experience, if you need any psychological testing, psychiatrists will refer you to a psychologist for that anyway.

I also agree with whomever suggested PTSD. It can very often look like bipolar. And the upheaval of your treatment, plus the prospect of potentially losing you was probably very upsetting to him.
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#15 of 19 Old 10-16-2010, 04:10 AM
 
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His therapist really felt that with the move, my illness, and then moving on to middle school it was too much change for someone who doesn't do very well with change. My dh is thnking he is calling out for attention. He wants to try to have us each spend more one-on-one time with him and see if that helps. Last night after the other kids had gone to bed I asked him to sit with me and he did crawl in my lap. I just held him for about 20 min and talked.
Ah, poor kid. Not only is he dealing w/ the move, your frightening illness, and middle school, but also adolescence. His emotions should be all over the place. I'm so glad that you & your husband realize that he needs attention and hugs. One-on-one time sounds necessary right now.
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#16 of 19 Old 10-17-2010, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, tell me if this sounds reasonable. My dh and I want to try one more approach before we have an eval done. We are going to start a log to record when these 'episodes' occur and any triggers we notice. We are going to spend 20 min one evening a week with special one-on-one time (something our couselor suggested) and basically ignore the comments he makes that are meant to provoke us. We have found that if we ignore (harder than it sounds sometimes) his comments and go about our business we can head off a full melt-down. thoughts?

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#17 of 19 Old 10-17-2010, 03:51 PM
 
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Ok, tell me if this sounds reasonable. My dh and I want to try one more approach before we have an eval done. We are going to start a log to record when these 'episodes' occur and any triggers we notice. We are going to spend 20 min one evening a week with special one-on-one time (something our couselor suggested) and basically ignore the comments he makes that are meant to provoke us. We have found that if we ignore (harder than it sounds sometimes) his comments and go about our business we can head off a full melt-down. thoughts?
I think it sounds as if you are trying to treat the behavior instead of what is causing his behavior. It will not work for you or him long term.

Not that a behavioral approach cannot be helpful in certain circumstances, but you have identified two big stressors for him--your illness and moving--that seem to be a big reason he is acting out right now. I would be looking at the root reason that he is acting out and focus on that first. What are his fears? What is going on at school? What has changed for him since you were diagnosed? How is it going making friends? These would be all things I'd be gently trying to discuss with him over time.

I mean this kindly, I really do, but 20 minutes per week of one on one time is not a lot, especially for someone who has been in such a dark place that he has tried to harm himself. If that is all you have to give right now, at least it is a start, but I would try to do much more than this. It is going to be difficult to have him really open up to you if he only has 20 potential minutes a week to do so. If you are able to help him work through the fears and feelings he has had and is having about school/bc/etc, you are much more likely to see improvement than you are by focusing solely on behavior.
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#18 of 19 Old 10-18-2010, 01:05 AM
 
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I would agree with the PP to try and have more special time. Every day if you can, even if it is just five or 10 minutes a day. That way it becomes a regular part of his routine. I would also agree with looking into PTSD. As a therapist myself I would also say that kids can often hold it together at school, and then melt down at home. You guys are the people he feels safest with to let those feelings out.
Good luck!
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#19 of 19 Old 10-18-2010, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Aptoddler- yes, you are right that 20 min does not sound like much! I didn't express myself clearly....I meant 20 min as a 'filial therapy' ...something our therapist was working on with me in our sessions without ds. We are making every effort to be more ''in-tune' with him and make every second count. Yes, my illness stressed him immensly. He is very sensitive and keeps things close. He would NOT admit to being even worried about me to his therapist. She said as long as he works through those feelings it's OK and that he may never admit to having had them. Our other kids were able to verbalize that they were worried, scared, etc. I really feel I am too close to the situation to be objective. Almost all of his anger is directed to me and me alone. I think I need to look closer at myself and my interactions with him. I am starting counseling for myself this Friday. We actually had a really nice weekend with no melt-downs. My dh has asked that we give it a month and see if we notice any changes. It's hard to admit that I may be a large part of the problem. I have been so self-absorbed with my breast cancer .... I know I needed to to a certain extent but it's hard to admit. I think my unhappiness has rubbed off on him. I think for now I need to defer to my dh as I just can't be objective and feel my emotions are too wrapped in ds's.

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