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
|"The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Niebuhr|