Fourier Analysis is a mathematical tool which can do a number of things: separate out signals from noise; help identify patterns or trends in data; filter out all unwanted data and focus on a single signal; use approximations to make generalizations; make approximations of real world signals (think electronic music); combine harmonics to get a stronger signal. That's what I'll be trying to do here!! Won't you join me with your comments?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pitiful Parents Anonymous

Yes the SOS players now have button! 'Twas Brillig and Walking Kateastrophe have outdone themselves in their efforts to provide us a place to play on Sundays. Need to know more? You can visit them or this week visit our Soapy Hostess Thalia's Child. Don't miss out on the fun!!

My post this week is about a real-time Soap Opera. This might end up being an on-going story for some time, but I hope it won't have weekly updates!!


"Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome you all to Pitiful Parent Anonymous. Our first speaker today is Fourier.Analyst."

"Hi, my moniker is FA and I'm the parent of an OCD child. It has been about 12 hours since my last meltdown with her."

"Hi FA", the group responds.

"It is so hard watching your child struggling with something you don't understand and can't imagine. You can't protect them. You can't make it better. No amount of tears or hugs, no amount of understanding or patience, no amount of long, calm (as possible) discussions, nothing leads to any answers, solutions, or relief. And even when you finally acknowledge this is out of your hands and needs to be dealt with by a professional, you are given the information that it might never be really fixed. And that the process to discover what might work will be long and full of dead ends and solutions that don't work.

And so you go on with daily life, trying to get back to some sort of normalcy. But then that unfortunately includes the everyday nagging that seems to cause so much stress. Still, you maintain the requirements of clean clothes everyday, some semblance of body hygiene, regular semi-healthy meals, rudimentary efforts at keeping the chaos out of the living room and the rest of the house, a daily effort at doing homework and an occasional stab at clearing a space in your child's bedroom. And with these come the expected adolescent temper tantrums and vocal responses that grate on nerves and stretch parental patience.

Moans and complaining sessions over coffee with other Moms tell you that this is typical behaviour, but you know that there is a difference. The level of hysteria that comes from a simple question or request is beyond a "normal" response. The escalation into screaming fits, and destruction of property, followed by sullen silences and hiding and the discovery of more wads of hair from an already brutalized head, no, this is not normal. But I'm tired of crying every day, and am sure to do so if I talk about it any further. And so I just nod and sigh and drink my tea without going into further details.

My close friends know the gory details. We hug and cry together, laugh when possible and change the subject when it all just gets to be too much. I'm smart enough to know this is not all my fault, despite how much she tries to tell me it is. I know she doesn't really hate me, though this is very hard to believe when she is screaming it with such conviction. I know she doesn't want to leave home, though I fully expect running away from home to be one of the next escalations of the pattern of behaviour. And I know she doesn't want me to leave and would be sorry if I suddenly died and regret forever her last words to me.

It is taking its toll on the whole family, but most of all on me. My own Fibromyalgia illness makes my body very ill-suited to handling the stress chemicals that are released so often. I am in physical pain for so much of the time that I don't even notice anymore unless it steps up a level. Everyday tasks leave me exhausted and while exercise is the best medicine for me, I can hardly get the strength to get the kids where they need to be and can't even face the prospect of a workout. I am on the verge of tears so much of the time I don't dare face gym buddies I have not seen for a while who would certainly ask how I am and where I've been. And I have been known to have to leave in the middle of yoga class, on days when things were going fairly well, to cry in the bathroom just from the release of tension from holding myself together that I was not even aware of.

So it is a daily struggle that I am resigned will result in more of the same. We are currently on the merry-go-round of specialists who can advise on the treatment that is needed. But it is a slow process in an already over-burdened medical system. She's not yet considered a real danger to herself, though she is clearly on that path if we don't intervene soon. So we have another appointment next week to be followed by a course therapy and very likely a referral and another period of waiting before we finally get on the pharmaceutical roller-coaster and hopefully eventually find some stability.

The hardest part for me as a parent is not the current reality, though I am struggling with that burden. But knowing that this is an ongoing problem that my beautiful child will struggle with for the rest of her life. It is not how I imagined her future and while I know that for the most part she will have a normal, happy life, I worry about the periods of torment. These are the thoughts that keep me from sleep. These are the fears that tear at my heart. These are the struggles that make me shake my fist at fortune and curse the gods who have placed such a trial on one so innocent and full of promise. And at the times when I have exhausted myself with of these thoughts and finally manage quieten my mind, the small "I told you so" voice comes out reminding me of the doubts I had about my ability to be a good mother.

I know I am in the middle of the "grief process". I have battled through the denial of the problem and acknowledged that this is out of my hands and needs professional help. I have raged the "Why me?/Why her?/What did we do wrong?" theme to until it no longer needs asking and I know that there are no answers. I have negotiated all the various efforts to make things better and tried to let things go on without any parental intervention until I realized that this was only leading to more chaos in her life and more stress in mine. There is no bargaining with this condition. It will not wait until after test week or take a break during family vacations. It is here and now. I guess I've reached the stage of depression. It all looks bleak and scary ahead and I am just very, very sad.

But on the other side of this will be acceptance and I'm working towards this. There are worse problems in the world. And I am amazed to hear from other women I admire and believe are living examples of "SuperMom" that they too have been down this path and there is hope and help on the way. So I tell you this tale of my struggle to cope one day at a time and more than ever how fiercely I say the prayer that closes every PPA meeting:"

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

"The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Niebuhr


Thalia's Child said...

Wow. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the plethora of specialists has success sooner rather than later.

Jenn in Holland said...

Indeed, it is that serentity spot we seek. It will be fleeting for us, FA, but you and I both know there will be moments when it really does feel like it's all okay. And then we will hold onto those and re-enter the daily fray.
You know I am thinking of you constantly and am here for you anytime you need me.

anno said...

FA, I'm sorry you are in such a difficult. Hold tight to that serenity prayer -- I wish I could send more tangible comfort.

Brillig said...

Oh my goodness, hon. This is so much. It feels like TOO much, I know. You and yours will be in my thoughts and prayers. I do hope the medical world will provide a solution for her. Your depression is perfectly understandable and I suppose no matter how much I say, "you're amazing, you're wonderful, you're doing so well!" you will still just have to go through this particular stage of grief.

This post shows me (as many others have before it) just how wonderful, caring, and loving you really are. The very best kind of mom. Really, what better traits could a mom possible have? You ARE that SuperMom. And perhaps the most Super part is that you don't see yourself that way. But we see you that way, and I know your family does too!

Kateastrophe said...

My hat is off to you. You are an amazing Mom and I hope that all will go well with the specialists and your darling daughter.

I'm always so impressed by your SOS stories. They are so inspiring and I'm sure not always easy to write! Thanks for always playing!!

Jerseygirl89 said...

I so admire your strength and am crossing my fingers that the specialists can give your daughter the help she needs.

Wish I could add more words of wisdom or comfort, but the serenity prayer really is one of the best.

Secret Agent Mama said...

You will be in my thoughts and prayers, FA. ((HUGS))

Rebecca said...

Gosh, FA - I really hope you find some solutions for your daughter.

Is her OCD related to anxiety at all??

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh huge, huge hugs. The only thing I can offer you is that I've had two students who've gone through quite severe periods of OCD (one had to be hospitalized) and in BOTH cases, they got treatment, the symptoms subsided and the bouts they experience (never as extreme as the one that helped them get diagnosis) have been few and far between (and, as I said, much milder). There are many, many support groups out there for parents - are you hooked into one yet?

Oh, my heart goes out to you and to DD1

Leslie said...

You are in my thoughts. It will get better. It will.

soccer mom in denial said...

Hug. All I want to do is give you a hug.


Dedee said...

Prayers for you. I can't imagine what you must be going through.

Goofball said...

Dear FA,

I wish that I had a button here to push it so that your and DD1's problems, pain and worries could go away. Unfortunately I don't have such a button.

All I can do is listen to you whenever you need to get it of your chest and then repeat to you that you are a wonderful caring mother and that I believe things will get better eventually. But I fear more difficult moments are ahead.
Take care, you are a strong woman even if you don't always feel that way.

Big hug

Goofball said...

I forgot to say how much I love the prayer at the end.
It is so beautiful,
it is so powerful!

Space Mom said...

Just know we are reading and thinking about you and your daughter