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#1 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is struggling with depression and anxiety.  He has always been an anxious child, but over the past few months things have been getting much more difficult for him.  Most noticeably he started having panic attacks at gymnastics - an activity for which he has had a passionate love for years.  Things in the past few weeks have gotten to the point that we took him out of gymnastics because he is just not able to cope with it.  School is still going well for now.  Last year the anxiety was centered around school - he had stomach aches every morning and resisted going but once there seemed to have a fine day.

 

We have started working with a psychologist - he has been once and DH and I went yesterday.  The psychologist feels essentially that he is being pushed too hard at gymnastics (by his own expectations/ the # of hours/ etc - DH and I are not hard core gym parents telling him he has to be perfect but he tells himself that).  I am still not fully understanding her position and I'm not saying it's wrong.  We talked about using medication but she felt there is a problem with medicating a child who is having the issues because of the position we've put him in.  That makes sense to me - if we can change his activities to improve a better balance then that's fine.  But I have read, and the psychologist also said, that we shouldn't allow avoidance of something that's causing anxiety and so we need to get him back to gymnastics as soon as possible.  So we are planning to take him back today.  When we told him this plan it threw him into a major meltdown - he says he can't do it, he won't do it.  He wants to get back to gymnastics but he really doesn't feel like he can.  We're going to have to carry him to the car kicking and screaming (he's 9 - not an easy task).  He spent last night telling me how awful and unloved he feels, right up until he fell asleep.  Today is going to be a major trauma for us all.  I understand the point - he can't get over his anxiety by avoiding it.  We don't want to let him quit something he used to love because he's too scared - it's a failure we don't want him to hold onto for the rest of his life.

 

But I feel like this plan is ignoring the depression side (which I myself didn't recognize the extent of until yesterday).  I personally am not so sure the gymnastics caused the mental health issues.  As I mentioned, last year the issue was school.  I think withdrawal from gymnastics is a symptom rather than the cause.  Maybe its both.  But he has been managing his life pretty well up until the past few months and especially weeks.  I don't know how we're going to get him back to gym if that's the problem without meds, and I also agree that medicating him because we're forcing him to do something and that is causing more symptoms is counter-intuitive. 

 

I realize I should discuss this with the psychologist but as of now we don't have another appointment to see her for 3 weeks (I'm trying to get more scheduled) and we are trying to make decisions minute by minute here and we're very new to seeing my son's issues as a true mental health problem so we don't have a lot of info gathered yet.  I'm not sure we're looking at this the right way and could use the opinion of someone on the outside to weigh in.  The idea of waiting 3 more weeks and watching him sink further into this depression before the next opportunity for help is terrifying to me.  Forcing him to do something that he is this terrified of is also terrifying to me.  What if it backfires?  What if he ends up curled up on the floor of the gym totally not coping?  What if this pushes him even further into despair?  Are we getting him the right help, enough help? 

 

Looking for guidance from those who have been dealing with mental health issues for longer than us.


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#2 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 05:36 AM
 
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This is a tough one. You say the anxiety about gymnastics is because he us too hard on himself. Are you sure it isn't someone there (an instructor or peer)? Is it possinle to try a different gym?
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#3 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 05:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think we've all (coach, DH and I) pushed him during this to try to overcome his fears and "do it anyway", not realizing that what he was dealing with went beyond the normal fear of trying something new.  Gymnastics can be scary at times.  Now that we realize that this isn't just the normal level of fear we've all backed off, but he is terrified that his coach is going to try to force him to do something uncomfortable.  His coach was pushing him, because DS was refusing to do things that he knows how to do well and at first it wasn't clear why.  But he understands the situation now.  We just need DS to get in there so he can feel the support, I think.


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#4 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 05:48 AM
 
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Now that the coach is on board things might eveentually get better. It will take your sone quit a bit of time to get over the anxiety. Disclaimer here: I am not a therapist or anything if the sort but I dealt with many of the same issues over the years.

Don't be afraid to try a different therapist too. Not everyone uses the same approach and not everyone will respond to all approaches. I went through several before I found the one that helped pull me through.
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#5 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 06:21 AM
 
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That sounds hard, mama.
I'm so sorry that your son is struggling.

My 5yo daughter is awash in anxiety/depression and has been since the moment she was born. We work with a pediatrician and psychologist closely. I'm not sure what difference age makes in the matter of soldiering on with an activity/pursuit that causes/worses his anxiety, but I do want to say that I would take a 'break' from gymnastics, were I you.

We do control our daughter's environment, and remove most activities/expectations that make her anxiety worse. She also struggles with perfection, and several OCD behaviours too, I should mention.
The professionals in our corner agree with our approach of limiting her exposure, but again, I wonder if we'd do it differently if she were older? I hope there comes a time when she can start to work her cerebral cortex a bit harder, so that she can sit with complex emotions, like wanting to accomplish something, but feeling crippled with anxiety.
We're still coming from the attachment parenting model we started with in utero, and we're homeschooling, so it seems logical for us to limit her sphere to things she can handle.

Having said that, she is always 'working' on something.
For example, we're in Mexico for 6 weeks, and so she's working very hard on allowing in new routines, foods, noises, people. If she were a different kid (say, like our 2.5yo) we'd be travelling around, and doing lots of sight seeing.
But because of her special needs, we've rented a house for the whole time and are staying in the same village.
I bring this up, because I know how much I want her to be resilient, and how it brings me to tears to think of her being unable to cope with life. So I want you to know that we do push her.

This is a confusing mess of a post, OP.
Which goes to show you that I'm still in the middle of this sad, perplexing labyrinth.
Our children have two older siblings (we adopted our kids as embryos) and the eldest one struggles in the same ways.
She is also nine years old. She participated in a theatre program this year, and had similar issues as your son.
They persevered, and she is proud of her accomplishment, despite the difficulty.
This older sibling is in school and has an IEP (both for her anxiety and for her giftedness) and her parents have taken a similar approach as you are, and she is doing well.
Okay, so that was way more muddled than I'd hoped. Perhaps I should've stuck to the first two lines! redface.gif

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#6 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 07:40 AM
 
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Oh boy. I've so been there. I probably could of written your post word for word once upon a time. I have an 11 year old gymnast DD1 who has had a life long struggle with depression and anxiety. So I do know the world of gymnastics and how this disorder can interact with it. 

 

Definitely make sure the coach backs off. I'm not sure what to tell you about the reality of having him face his fear. We do something similar. DD1 builds stuff up so much in her mind and we do have to help her see the molehill it actually is rather then the Mount Everest that it can be in HER mind. DD1 is actually stable at the moment, for her. She has been suicidal several times in the past. She is medicated now because, well, we got to a point where it was a necessity. I picked her up Thursday night from the gym and she dissolved into a puddle in the car because she had difficulty that night doing a back walk over on the beam. Again, with the molehill vs. Mount Everest! She is also a serious snowboarder and this morning she couldn't find her competition bib, MAJOR tears and inability to go on until it was found. The coping mechanism is just missing with her even though she NEEDS these activities to thrive. She seriously does. We teach her slowly how to cope with life's up and downs but it is literally baby steps and has taken so many years to get to this point. 

 

Don't be afraid to try another therapist. It took us much trial and error to find the right fit. 

 

And I will highly second the previous PP that said that her child is always "working on something". That is us. If it isn't a missing bib or a back walk over, it is dinner, or the fact we are moving 9 blocks away in two months, or the fact that we rearranged her room. It is always, always something. Difficult year at school or a difficult friend. None of my other kids have such major events, her events just get transferred around. We have to work so hard at keeping her life as stable as we possibly can. Switching schools or moving down the street will literally send her over the edge. 


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#7 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 07:55 AM
 
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Having been an anxious child myself and with a 4 yr. old in the same boat, I feel your (and your son's) pain. This is a tough one. On one hand, I would agree with the therapist that if this is something he loves, he should continue to go. On the other hand, my DD and I ard both the type of people whose anxiety causes us to withdraw more if we are feeling pressured into something we don't want to do. I would also agree with Peony that therapists are going to have different philosophies. Hopefully you'll be able to get to the root of the problem soon!
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#8 of 57 Old 02-22-2014, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What a relief to have responses from Mamas who understand!  Its been a very isolating month.  Thank you all for you thoughts.

 

DH is so much better at helping DS than I am!  Since DS had all night and this morning to stress out about going to the gym today DH was able to work him into a place of acceptance.  So we didn't have to carry him kicking and screaming after all!  What a relief!  DS spent an hour 1 on 1 with the coach and had a wonderful, positive experience.  He came home happier than I've seen him in weeks and says he's ready to try a practice with the whole team!

 

I really believe taking last week off was what built up the anxiety and depression even more.  He was anxious, but didn't seem so sad until this week.  It feels like getting back into gym, even though that might have been what put him "over the edge" to begin with, is a big part of the answer to getting him back on track.  He's proud of himself, he's relieved at what he was able to manage today, and he feels like he found some strategies to help him manage those anxious feelings.  Big steps forward! :joy

 

The therapist we're working with specializes in working with gifted kids - we actually started with her last year with the goal of getting the boys tested and pointing us in a direction of supporting their education, but we stopped going for awhile when we got busy and it was expensive.  She was educating us on how DS (who is intellectually gifted, anxious, and obsessive) and other kids like him (Peony - I'm thinking of you and your DD) tend to be good at whatever they set their laser beam on.  They use that anxiety and obsessiveness to be really awesome at what they do.  My DS has chosen gymnastics to set his laser beam, but he also has that laser on several other things too (thus stressing him out).  Her feeling was that we're missing his true gift of his intellectual potential by allowing him to be focused so much on gymnastics.  I don't think she means he needs to quit altogether (once we're through this crisis) but somehow change the focus.  Not clear exactly how we take a kid who is obsessive and make him less obsessive,  Or how we decrease his stress level by taking an already over-extended kid and focusing more time on intellectual pursuits.  But these things hopefully will become more clear as things progress. 

 

So many things are becoming so much more clear in light of this crisis.  Since my oldest was a baby parenting has seemed so much more difficult for me than other parents.  All of my children have been prone to tantrums so much more intense and lasting long after other children have outgrown them.  They melt down easily.  Just as I'm typing this DS1 (who is 11) is crying and on the verge of a total meltdown because he can't find long socks and is trying to get ready for a skating party.  When I get into conversations with other moms about these things I often hear "We dealt with that too.  We just pushed through and were consistent about requiring (whatever it is) and within a few days or a week it was over".  That has never worked for my kids.  As an example, DD gets nightly injections of growth hormone due to her chromosomal abnormality.  All of the T.S. moms say "just be calm and consistent, she's get over it."  Meanwhile, my DD is still pitching a major all out fight every night for her shot 4 yrs later.  I have always had the feeling that I must not be doing it right because consistency does not seem to be the answer for us.  Now I'm realizing I have 3 children with anxiety and I need to approach it that way - not from the behavior mod perspective. 

 

Guilt and relief....


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#9 of 57 Old 02-23-2014, 04:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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More questions...

 

How to handle when avoidance turns into negative/ oppositional behavior.  In the past I didn't link his oppositional behavior to stress and anxiety.  Our therapist is helping me to re-frame that in my mind.  It has typically felt to me like DS sometimes uses melt downs to get out of things he doesn't want to do (for example chores).  I didn't see it as him not wanting to do it because he was stressed or panicked but because he would just rather play instead.  If we try to force him to do it anyway he escalates to oppositional behavior that can involve some throwing, slamming doors, etc.  It looks to me like this is really for show - not an inability to control anger but rather a conscious decision to become increasingly oppositional and hostile and at this point, up until now, I have felt behavior like this necessitated a negative consequence because it has crossed the line of what is acceptable.  The past month has been particularly challenging for me because, while I can relate and very much sympathize with feeling anxious and depressed I feel very manipulated with the oppositional behavior.  It has felt like DS is using his really true and honest problems that he knows DH and I are working really hard to help him with to get out of things he just doesn't feel like doing.  I've been angry about that, and I've let him know that and not always in the most therapeutic ways.  guilty.gif 

 

So, I'm trying now to see these behaviors as all part of the larger issue of anxiety and depression.  I'm starting to see that one of his centers of stress right now is the thought that he doesn't ever have "down time" or "friend time" (which I can tell you is not true, but we're talking about his perception) and so being asked to do chores around the house gets him worked up about that taking time away from what little down time he already has and this causes maybe a bigger emotional reaction in him than one might expect.  However, I really don't think it's fair to the other kids just to excuse DS2 from chores.  So do I just plan to do all the housework until things are better?  Or do I ask DS to do it and if things escalate I drop it (which still feels like rewarding negative behavior but maybe this is where I need to reframe my thoughts)?  I know we need to start from a more supportive place - talk about how it will only take a few minutes and we'll help him, etc.  This might work but it might not.  If it doesn't where do I go with things?  I should say I have tried in the past to ignore the escalating behavior and that doesn't work - he just escalates further until it becomes dangerous or destructive to a level that I really don't feel like I can ignore.


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#10 of 57 Old 02-23-2014, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Also could use thoughts on how much violence is allowed in your home.  Today's issue is DS1 (age 11) has asked me to reconsider my position on the video game Call of Duty, Black Ops.  This is not a game I allow in our house.  However, the boys have friends whose parents do allow this game with the blood and gore feature turned off and in "zombie" mode so they aren't shooting actual people.  My boys play this when over at friends' homes.  Their best friend, who they want to play with almost every day, is allowed to play and so my boys are getting exposed to this several times a week.  A month ago when this first came up I said no, but I told DS1 that he could ask me approximately once a month and I would reconsider as time went on.  I gave him the once a month clause to keep from being asked every day, not to say by next month I will say yes, but that's how he took it.  So now he feels he has shown himself to be much more responsible - I can see he's been really trying hard to be helpful and responsible around the house and now I realize this was his attempt to convince me that he is ready for this game.  We also said during the initial conversation that if we say yes to DS 1 we are still not likely to allow DS2 to play.

 

Now I feel I need to make a decision for DS1.  I want to reward his positive behavior.  But my discomfort with having graphic violence in our home (even with no blood and gore and not directed at "people") has grown with my awareness of DS2's struggles.  He is not and has not been suicidal but he's only 9 - I don't know where this is going.  DD is only 6.  We don't have a TV in a private space for DS1 to play out of view of the others.  DS2 has been playing this game anyway - keeping him away from it is going to be a major battle.  I don't have a blanket policy against all violence in our home - they have seen some movies and have some video games that involve some violence.  They are allowed to play with Nerf guns and play swords.  But I'm feeling like this particular game is too much. I want our home to be a little bit of a haven away from scary stuff in the world.  Then again, I know that saying no will mean the boys continue to want to go to friends homes and if I said yes the friends might come here where I could have a better handle on DS2's mood and intervene earlier.  Feeling really conflicted about it....


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#11 of 57 Old 02-23-2014, 07:40 AM
 
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 The best analogy that I can use is there is a leaky faucet that drips into a bucket behind a locked cabinet. You know that only a drop of extra water could cause a flood to occur but you can't see how full the bucket is so you moderate the activity trying to prevent extra drops from occurring. I can't always see into DD1's mind. 

 

Sometimes I can tell when DD1 is on the edge and one extra drop will send her over, other times I have no idea. Sometimes I know she is good and I can place extra demands on her and that is when we do carefully get more out of her. She has a limited range, I can't make her be like my other children, and she can and does be a member of the family but WITH accommodations. It will happen, but on a different time frame then other kids. 

 

None of my other children struggle with anxiety and depression like DD1 does. We do have other special needs. DD2 has life long chronic health issues that take a lot out of her and I do see some anxiety that is creating. She is 7 so time will just tell how that plays out. DS1 is ASD with a still unknown other physical disorder. At this point in time, we are just used to accommodating to everyone's different needs that are currently out the the realm of "normal". Some kids I have to easier on because of their issues, others I have to push more. It isn't fair, but it rather just is the way it is. 


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#12 of 57 Old 02-24-2014, 06:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 The best analogy that I can use is there is a leaky faucet that drips into a bucket behind a locked cabinet. You know that only a drop of extra water could cause a flood to occur but you can't see how full the bucket is so you moderate the activity trying to prevent extra drops from occurring. I can't always see into DD1's mind. 

 

 

Thanks for this analogy Peony.  I don't think I realized how full our bucket was, as a family.  Stress and anxiety, and depressing type feelings have been a part of my life for so long and yet not really ever totally immobilized me for any meaningful length of time that I always viewed my kids stress as something we could roll through.  I wasn't living life afraid of adding any extra stress before, but I sure am now.

 

DD's kindergarten class apparently watched a movie about spiders on Friday.  She woke up Friday night seeing spiders on her bedroom wall and came running into our room (which she does almost every night but not out of panic usually).  By Sat night the idea of spiders in her room had grown so great that as soon as the sun was going down she was stressing about it.  This morning we were up at 4:30 with her almost in a full blown panic attack about it. We never settled down enough to go back to sleep.  I think DS2's challenges have filled her bucket to the brink.  :(

 

DS1 has a little cold and had a headache last night and this morning.  He didn't want to go to school, but isn't running a fever or otherwise terribly sick.  I wanted him to try taking some Tylenol and see how it goes at school for a little while with the understanding that he could come home if he wasn't feeling better by 9.  He was terribly resistant to this idea and it finally came out that he was too embarrassed/ shy to ask to go to the nurse.  Which probably explains why he's come home sick from school a total of 2 times ever and he's in 5th grade.  The compromise was that I called the teacher and asked her to ask him privately how he's feeling but even that has him stressed - how is she going to ask him? 

 

We're fighting fires as fast as we can around here but at least today I think they're winning.  gloomy.gif


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#13 of 57 Old 02-24-2014, 07:15 AM
 
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@Peony... That is such an immensely helpful analogy.
Thank you for that. Truly.
I'm going to talk to DP about it, and see if we can empty some out of our bucket, in order to take on some of DD's overflow, so to speak.
I find that our DD's behaviour is consistently unpredictable, with the exception of the triggers that we know of. We have a growing list of those, and it's helpful to keep our eyes out for patterns in her behaviours and reactions, but what I *really* want to focus on is our reaction to her.
If we're fully present, well-fed, rested, and feeling generally secure, we are the most connected/attached/supportive/therapeutic parents.
But when our own buckets are full, we get frustrated, short-tempered, and exhausted by her just being herself.
That's where the guilt comes. gloomy.gif

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#14 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 03:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 but what I *really* want to focus on is our reaction to her.
If we're fully present, well-fed, rested, and feeling generally secure, we are the most connected/attached/supportive/therapeutic parents.
But when our own buckets are full, we get frustrated, short-tempered, and exhausted by her just being herself.
That's where the guilt comes. gloomy.gif

:yeah

 

Exactly what I've been thinking as well.

 

Another 4am wake up call about the spiders in DD's mind.  This is the 4th night in a row, each worse than the previous.  The past 2 nights there has been no going back to sleep.  Changing rooms had been helpful, but now is not.  The spiders are everywhere.  No amount of reason, distraction, relaxation techniques, etc has worked to this point.  She can be convinced that a particular shadow under the covers is not a spider but what about the 10,000 other shadows lurking around the room....

 

Any suggestions for how to sleep tonight?  DD and I are both dreading it already.  The only thought currently in my sleep deprived brain is to call the pediatrician when the office opens.  Don't know what I hope they can do in a matter of 12 hours, but I'm grasping at anything...


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#15 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 08:14 AM
 
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We have emergency meds for DD1 that we keep on hand. Severe insomnia is a side effect of her anxiety. Before we were able to get a decent handle on her anxiety, she once spent 6 months straight in K, only allowing herself to sleep less then 4 hours straight. There is a reason sleep depravation is used as a form of torture! It was awful, awful. One of the worst six months of my life and we don't have an "easy" life by any means! We use Trazodone when she starts spiraling into insomnia again. For us, once the insomnia cycle starts, once it has been triggered by the anxiety, it just gets worse and worse, I have to "reset" her with meds. 

 

Melatonin can work in children, smaller doses the better, start with under 1mg. My warning is that in these kids, sometimes melatonin can have side effects that neurotypical children don't always get. For DD1, that is horridly awful vivid nightmares. So bad that she thinks they are real. That doesn't exactly help the insomnia and anxiety with her! With my son that has autism, melatonin is the only way we can get him to sleep at night so he takes 0.5mg every single night. 

 

I will be back later with more thoughts. Places I need to be now.


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#17 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

We have emergency meds for DD1 that we keep on hand. Severe insomnia is a side effect of her anxiety. Before we were able to get a decent handle on her anxiety, she once spent 6 months straight in K, only allowing herself to sleep less then 4 hours straight. There is a reason sleep depravation is used as a form of torture! It was awful, awful. One of the worst six months of my life and we don't have an "easy" life by any means! We use Trazodone when she starts spiraling into insomnia again. For us, once the insomnia cycle starts, once it has been triggered by the anxiety, it just gets worse and worse, I have to "reset" her with meds. 

 

Melatonin can work in children, smaller doses the better, start with under 1mg. My warning is that in these kids, sometimes melatonin can have side effects that neurotypical children don't always get. For DD1, that is horridly awful vivid nightmares. So bad that she thinks they are real. That doesn't exactly help the insomnia and anxiety with her! With my son that has autism, melatonin is the only way we can get him to sleep at night so he takes 0.5mg every single night. 

 

I will be back later with more thoughts. Places I need to be now.

 

Thanks Peony!  Wow!  6 months of insomnia would not be something I could handle well!  I can only imagine!

 

I did consider Melatonin this morning, but didn't do it in the end because it was getting close to time to wake up.  We've always used Melatonin only at bedtime.  I was afraid to give it at 4am and get her sleep cycle messed up.  Thoughts?

 

I did call the pediatrician's office.  I didn't speak with the doc herself but via the nurse - the answer was (I'm paraphrasing) "Kids get scared of things.  Deal with it.  Call me in a month if its still a problem."   Of course I know, having been a mother of 3 for 11+ years now, that kids get scared of things.   But given the situation with DS2 where it feels like his struggles were much more serious than we were recognizing for a long time, I'm feeling a bit like I don't have a good handle on what is serious and what is not.  We told ourselves and were told by others that lots of kids have stomach aches, lots of gymnasts go through a phase of having trouble dealing with the fear, etc.  And suddenly we found ourselves with a major panic disorder situation that has him shut down in almost all areas of his life and sinking into depression.  And when we reached out for help I feel like (and this I know is me projecting - the psychologist has not been harsh with DH and I) we were told "this kid has been throwing out warning signs for years and you kept pushing him to just deal with it".  So I'm trying not to do that with DD, who also has been throwing out warning signs for years.  But it seems the line for a big deal is somewhere between where DD and DS2 are right now.  I think if you asked DD she would disagree with the ped about how big of a deal it is though. 


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#18 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

We have emergency meds for DD1 that we keep on hand. Severe insomnia is a side effect of her anxiety. Before we were able to get a decent handle on her anxiety, she once spent 6 months straight in K, only allowing herself to sleep less then 4 hours straight. There is a reason sleep depravation is used as a form of torture! It was awful, awful. One of the worst six months of my life and we don't have an "easy" life by any means! We use Trazodone when she starts spiraling into insomnia again. For us, once the insomnia cycle starts, once it has been triggered by the anxiety, it just gets worse and worse, I have to "reset" her with meds. 

 

Melatonin can work in children, smaller doses the better, start with under 1mg. My warning is that in these kids, sometimes melatonin can have side effects that neurotypical children don't always get. For DD1, that is horridly awful vivid nightmares. So bad that she thinks they are real. That doesn't exactly help the insomnia and anxiety with her! With my son that has autism, melatonin is the only way we can get him to sleep at night so he takes 0.5mg every single night. 

 

I will be back later with more thoughts. Places I need to be now.

 

Thanks Peony!  Wow!  6 months of insomnia would not be something I could handle well!  I can only imagine!

 

I did consider Melatonin this morning, but didn't do it in the end because it was getting close to time to wake up.  We've always used Melatonin only at bedtime.  I was afraid to give it at 4am and get her sleep cycle messed up.  Thoughts?

 

I did call the pediatrician's office.  I didn't speak with the doc herself but via the nurse - the answer was (I'm paraphrasing) "Kids get scared of things.  Deal with it.  Call me in a month if its still a problem."   Of course I know, having been a mother of 3 for 11+ years now, that kids get scared of things.   But given the situation with DS2 where it feels like his struggles were much more serious than we were recognizing for a long time, I'm feeling a bit like I don't have a good handle on what is serious and what is not.  We told ourselves and were told by others that lots of kids have stomach aches, lots of gymnasts go through a phase of having trouble dealing with the fear, etc.  And suddenly we found ourselves with a major panic disorder situation that has him shut down in almost all areas of his life and sinking into depression.  And when we reached out for help I feel like (and this I know is me projecting - the psychologist has not been harsh with DH and I) we were told "this kid has been throwing out warning signs for years and you kept pushing him to just deal with it".  So I'm trying not to do that with DD, who also has been throwing out warning signs for years.  But it seems the line for a big deal is somewhere between where DD and DS2 are right now.  I think if you asked DD she would disagree with the ped about how big of a deal it is though. 


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Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

We have emergency meds for DD1 that we keep on hand. Severe insomnia is a side effect of her anxiety. Before we were able to get a decent handle on her anxiety, she once spent 6 months straight in K, only allowing herself to sleep less then 4 hours straight. There is a reason sleep depravation is used as a form of torture! It was awful, awful. One of the worst six months of my life and we don't have an "easy" life by any means! We use Trazodone when she starts spiraling into insomnia again. For us, once the insomnia cycle starts, once it has been triggered by the anxiety, it just gets worse and worse, I have to "reset" her with meds. 

 

Melatonin can work in children, smaller doses the better, start with under 1mg. My warning is that in these kids, sometimes melatonin can have side effects that neurotypical children don't always get. For DD1, that is horridly awful vivid nightmares. So bad that she thinks they are real. That doesn't exactly help the insomnia and anxiety with her! With my son that has autism, melatonin is the only way we can get him to sleep at night so he takes 0.5mg every single night. 

 

I will be back later with more thoughts. Places I need to be now.

 

Thanks Peony!  Wow!  6 months of insomnia would not be something I could handle well!  I can only imagine!

 

I did consider Melatonin this morning, but didn't do it in the end because it was getting close to time to wake up.  We've always used Melatonin only at bedtime.  I was afraid to give it at 4am and get her sleep cycle messed up.  Thoughts?

 

I did call the pediatrician's office.  I didn't speak with the doc herself but via the nurse - the answer was (I'm paraphrasing) "Kids get scared of things.  Deal with it.  Call me in a month if its still a problem."   Of course I know, having been a mother of 3 for 11+ years now, that kids get scared of things.   But given the situation with DS2 where it feels like his struggles were much more serious than we were recognizing for a long time, I'm feeling a bit like I don't have a good handle on what is serious and what is not.  We told ourselves and were told by others that lots of kids have stomach aches, lots of gymnasts go through a phase of having trouble dealing with the fear, etc.  And suddenly we found ourselves with a major panic disorder situation that has him shut down in almost all areas of his life and sinking into depression.  And when we reached out for help I feel like (and this I know is me projecting - the psychologist has not been harsh with DH and I) we were told "this kid has been throwing out warning signs for years and you kept pushing him to just deal with it".  So I'm trying not to do that with DD, who also has been throwing out warning signs for years.  But it seems the line for a big deal is somewhere between where DD and DS2 are right now.  I think if you asked DD she would disagree with the ped about how big of a deal it is though. 


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#20 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Peony View Post
 

We have emergency meds for DD1 that we keep on hand. Severe insomnia is a side effect of her anxiety. Before we were able to get a decent handle on her anxiety, she once spent 6 months straight in K, only allowing herself to sleep less then 4 hours straight. There is a reason sleep depravation is used as a form of torture! It was awful, awful. One of the worst six months of my life and we don't have an "easy" life by any means! We use Trazodone when she starts spiraling into insomnia again. For us, once the insomnia cycle starts, once it has been triggered by the anxiety, it just gets worse and worse, I have to "reset" her with meds. 

 

Melatonin can work in children, smaller doses the better, start with under 1mg. My warning is that in these kids, sometimes melatonin can have side effects that neurotypical children don't always get. For DD1, that is horridly awful vivid nightmares. So bad that she thinks they are real. That doesn't exactly help the insomnia and anxiety with her! With my son that has autism, melatonin is the only way we can get him to sleep at night so he takes 0.5mg every single night. 

 

I will be back later with more thoughts. Places I need to be now.

 

Thanks Peony!  Wow!  6 months of insomnia would not be something I could handle well!  I can only imagine!

 

I did consider Melatonin this morning, but didn't do it in the end because it was getting close to time to wake up.  We've always used Melatonin only at bedtime.  I was afraid to give it at 4am and get her sleep cycle messed up.  Thoughts?

 

I did call the pediatrician's office.  I didn't speak with the doc herself but via the nurse - the answer was (I'm paraphrasing) "Kids get scared of things.  Deal with it.  Call me in a month if its still a problem."   Of course I know, having been a mother of 3 for 11+ years now, that kids get scared of things.   But given the situation with DS2 where it feels like his struggles were much more serious than we were recognizing for a long time, I'm feeling a bit like I don't have a good handle on what is serious and what is not.  We told ourselves and were told by others that lots of kids have stomach aches, lots of gymnasts go through a phase of having trouble dealing with the fear, etc.  And suddenly we found ourselves with a major panic disorder situation that has him shut down in almost all areas of his life and sinking into depression.  And when we reached out for help I feel like (and this I know is me projecting - the psychologist has not been harsh with DH and I) we were told "this kid has been throwing out warning signs for years and you kept pushing him to just deal with it".  So I'm trying not to do that with DD, who also has been throwing out warning signs for years.  But it seems the line for a big deal is somewhere between where DD and DS2 are right now.  I think if you asked DD she would disagree with the ped about how big of a deal it is though. 


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#21 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry all.  I tried to post the above and it wasn't saving, then suddenly saved it 3 times.  :blush

 

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It seems really inappropriate for a school to show a movie about spider to kindergarteners. A movie about spiders would scare even some grown ups.

 

I had a thought about a story I once heard where a kid woke up with nightmares about snakes. The mom went one by one and in front of the child "pretended" to take the snakes one by one and I guess put them outside or flushed them or something. This is an old story. But I remember someone telling it about their little sister who it happened to. And the kid felt better once the mom had acknowledged the snakes and then made it safe again one by one. I think this could only work in certain dynamics and I don't know if it will work in your family, but maybe some version of that? Just a story I remembered- I am not sure if I would do that approach myself.

another idea is tell your kid a lot- I love you, you are safe. Even many times in a row- you are safe. I know when I am freaked out sometimes my husband can do that for me and it helps! good luck. Sorry I don't have better suggestions and again disclaimer on the approach with the spiders- I just relayed the story I had heard that worked for one family but it may not be the right approach for your child, because it a way saying yes there are spiders could make it worse. That is a tough situation. I wish you well/


Thank you Snapdragon.  Definitely something to consider.  I don't want to give further reinforcement to the spiders, but I might be able to make it silly or funny this way to lighten the mood...

 

I think it was a children's show, but yes - spiders seem like a potentially stressful subject matter for a lot of kindergarteners.  I did email the teacher, not to complain but just to ask her to send DD out of the room if she was planning to show it or something similar.  The decision to show that movie was made by a substitute apparently...


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#22 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 02:42 PM
 
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When I was in the classroom, I've done spider studies many times with kindergarten, pre-k, and first grade children. We used both videos and live spiders in our investigations.
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#23 of 57 Old 02-25-2014, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When I was in the classroom, I've done spider studies many times with kindergarten, pre-k, and first grade children. We used both videos and live spiders in our investigations.


Spiders can be quite fascinating! 

 

I wonder if it would have made a difference if there had been a lesson on spiders involved?  In this case the movie was just shown at rest time without any instruction, as I understand it.  My gut is that it wouldn't have mattered - DD was stressed about all the stress in the rest of the family and the spiders are what her brain grabbed on to.  I haven't heard of any other classmates having issues with the video so it was likely perfectly appropriate.

 

The sun is going down.  Bracing for a long, stressful night...


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How's the sleeping going?


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How's the sleeping going?


A bit better, thanks.  Instead of full-blown panic, the past 2 nights there has been just high anxiety from the time the sun goes down.  DD has been sitting on top of me in my bed (because the spiders might be in the sheets) holding vigil.  I have been giving her melatonin and she eventually falls asleep.  When she wakes, rather than being in a complete state of terror she is just worried and is able to  go back to sleep for a bit.  She's getting maybe 7 hrs of sleep now - still not enough but better than before.  Hopefully the level of anxiety continues to decrease.

 

DS went back to a full gym practice last night.  I stayed to watch and it was agony for me.  There were periods of time when he wasn't feeling able to participate and so he sat on the sidelines looking dejected.  He so badly wants to feel good and be back in there fully.  I saw him starting to try to interact with the other boys, but giving up when they didn't immediately change what they were doing to include him - I could tell it was a very hard night for him.  I almost pulled him out, feeling like maybe he isn't ready and I don't want him to suffer a set-back so early on in recovery.  But he was able to get things under control and participate again.  If I had pulled him out when things were going badly he wouldn't have had that opportunity for success.  I so badly want to protect him from hurting any more than he is but I know it isn't always the right thing to do.  At least last night I decided in the end to stay so that I could really understand what he is going through.  It was terribly difficult to do, and I am not at all sure its the right thing to stay and watch.  After practice he had another 1 on 1 with the coach and that went fabulously!  He was so very pleased with what he has been able to do in the 1 on 1's. 

 

Pondering the balance between facilitating recovery and blocking personal growth....  this parenting this is not for the faint of heart...


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Awwww. Poor DS and poor you!!  It is difficult and not for the faint of heart. :Hug

 

We are doing something similar this weekend. It's BoarderCross comps, 3 days of it. She placed 1st last year at the comps, went to Nationals and placed 2nd there. This year she has not applied herself. And that is fine by me, she had a rough year all around last year, and this year she just seems to be coasting. I don't care one way or another what she places. But her direct competitor at this event has applied herself. DD1 beat her in everything last year, so the other girl stepped up her game, apparently she has a private coach now. Today was the course runs before day 1 of comps tomorrow and DD1 got beat every time. shrug.gif She is taking it hard. Or so I hear, DH and her are several hours away, I stayed at home with the littles. I can't protect her from everything. She turned down additional training and the private coaching her coach offered her.  I know we are in that personal growth stop sign as well. I know she isn't going to sweep the comp last she did last year. She is probably realizing that as well now. It's how she handles it and if how motivates her or not that will be factor in continuing to weather the ups and downs of sports. Or maybe she can't handle serious competition. She has never really had any. She just wins naturally. This could be another set back for us as well, but I can't keep her in a bubble! 

 

I hope the gym practices just continue to get better for him. 


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#27 of 57 Old 02-28-2014, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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 but I can't keep her in a bubble! 

Right.  As moms, we can though to some extend.  I've never been the mom who tried to protect my kids from hard feelings like many moms do.  I feel like those are learning opportunities, but when  you have a child who is in a fragile state of mind those learning opportunities can be much more damaging.  I hope your DD is able to not take things too hard, and find a way to let it motivate her.  And good luck to her this weekend!

 

DS told me this morning that the coach he was working with Wed (not the head coach who he's been doing his private sessions with and who really knows fully what is going on with him) was calling him a wimp and telling him to get back to business when he told the coach he wasn't feeling well.  :irked  This approach is exactly the wrong way to motivate DS, especially in his current state.  Luckily the head coach came and talked to him a few times and that's what got him back on track. 

 

The head coach is out of town at a meet this weekend and the other coach is leading practices.  I think we're going to wait until next week to go back.  My bubble wrap is coming out.

 

I understand that there are a lot of boys in the group, and the coaches can't be coddling my kid - they can't be constantly reassuring him and trying to engage him.  It would take away from the other boy's experience.  I get that.  But really, is calling names ever a good way to motivate children?  This is the type of battle I probably would have let slide before, but I don't think I can let it go this time.  Just trying to decide on the most effective way to address it.

 

DD was up in a panic at 2am.  There was no going back to sleep.  I didn't use Melatonin last night because we didn't seem to need it, and DH turned off the hallway lights so she had to walk through the dark to get to us.  Not sure which was the cause of the set-back but I'll try correcting both tonight and see where it goes.  :zzz


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#28 of 57 Old 02-28-2014, 07:39 AM
 
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Pondering the balance between facilitating recovery and blocking personal growth....  this parenting this is not for the faint of heart...

Thanks for this, @AquariusHome ... that just about nails it.
How much protecting, softening, easing, padding, accommodating is too much? How much is too little? How do we raise resilient children when they come equipped with hair-trigger responses to everyday life? How to promote self-regulation without squashing their sensitivity and brilliance? How to help them integrate into their chosen communities (and encourage new ones) without pushing too hard?

It's all so murky sometimes.

I remember that you mentioned that your son was diagnosed as gifted ... I think this has played into my child's symptoms more than anything else. What I see is that while most other kids are happily typical and typically happy, my eldest is quite literally plagued by a brain that just does not stop. And her interests/concerns set her apart from her peers quite significantly, which makes it hard for her to integrate into social groups. She wants to talk about how she found a purpura pansa mollusk, or how the ebola virus works, and they don't.
It quite literally pains me to watch her struggle.

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#29 of 57 Old 02-28-2014, 10:37 AM
 
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I sit at a lot of gym meets. Gymnastics meets are my duty, DH and I spilt up the various competitions our kids do. I am always amazed at just how many gym coaches actually seem to hate children or are just not nice at all. We've had nothing but good experiences at our gym but from what I've witnessed, that doesn't seem to be the norm. Calling names is never good!! Is it possible to get him to practice more with the head coach? It does sound like a great idea to skip out on the practices this weekend while the head coach isn't there. I would bring it up privately with the head coach about the name calling. Not make it about your DS per say but rather you heard some name calling and that was concerning to you that this is what is happening in regular practice with this coach.

 

Interestingly enough, I had a conversation on Wed with one of DD1's gymnastics coaches, she is new this season. She was telling me that this has been the most difficult thing for her, was the mental aspect of coaching these girls, not the physical part of it.  I think so many of them are just not aware of the influence, good and bad, that they have on these children that they spent so much time with each week. DD1 is with those coaches 13+ hours a week year around, that is a very close relationship! Or it could be the opposite. 

 

 

Perhaps a trail of night lights in the hallway for your DD? That is what we ended up having to do here. The lights often got turned off by accident but we never had to worry about it with the night lights. 


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#30 of 57 Old 02-28-2014, 10:37 AM
 
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Sounds an awful lot like Pyroluria with Histadelia which is highly treatable naturally. I hope you find some relief soon for your son.


Seriously?
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