Educating the world about Reactive Attachment Disorder through experience, hope, humor and love.
(Warning: nothing here should be taken as medical advice)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kicking myself

When my daugherd was 15 I finally got her assessed for her mental issues and the school district quickly put her into a DTC where she has been healing for the past year (on her second DTC but only because we moved).  The difference between today and a year ago is huge.  She's not anywhere close to "healed", but definitely "healing".

When she was 8 she was diagnosed with a "minor case" of RAD.. at the time I had no idea what that meant and thought, like so many people did, that she just needed more love and attention. The therapist made it sound like it was no big deal so I didn't put a lot of thought into it.

Ever since I started really understanding what it meant (and started getting her the proper treatment), I've been kicking myself for not doing it sooner...

When she was 5 she was in full meltdown mode and managed to triangulate my wife and I to the point where we separated for a couple of years.  Yesterday, when I was going through a box in the garage I found a letter I had never seen.  It apparently had been sent 1 week before our separation and was a request from my daughters school to do a mental health evaluation on her.  The very same evaluation I forced them to do 10 years later...

Had I only seen that letter then, and knew what it meant, things could have been much different!  We would have been 11 years into healing instead of 1.  We could have stopped the inadvertent reinforcement of the very behaviors we were trying to prevent.  Life could have been so much different for all of us.

I wish I had seen that letter.  I wish they had contacted the new school district about it.  I wish the therapist who diagnosed her had made more of a big deal about it.  I'm glad I did something about it when I did though.  I'm glad my wife and I figured it out - together.  I'm glad my daughter is healing (better late then never).  In fact, I'm glad for so many things I just don't have time to be thinking about the 'what-ifs'.  Instead of sitting there thinking "what if such and such was different", I think instead I will just hug my kids...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An ally in healing... for better or worse.

As a child, I remember thinking my parents could never possibly understand me.  How could they? They were old, I was young.. they had always been old and I had always been young (at least in my world), and on the off chance they HAD actually been young once, well that was soooo long ago that it bared no resemblance to how things were for me.

So it's no doubt that my children think the same.  After all.. it HAS been "forever" since I was a teenager.  Certainly longer than I care to admit.  But that doesn't change some things.  The thing is, I know better than most people how my daughter feels - even though she doesn't (want to) believe it.  Depression, anxiety, PTSD, attachment issues (although in those older than 18 it's called "borderline personality disorder") - like her, those are all diagnoses that have been made for me, and like hers, they were all related to childhood trauma.  I know what it's like to sit in darkness and wonder if anything is really worth it.  I know what it's like to live in a heightened state of being, on alert for any danger that is coming at any second.  I know what it's like to live inside an emotional bubble that prevents anybody from "getting in".  I really do.  I "get it". 

Some might say it's a blessing.  To be able to know at least something of what your child is going through helps you relate to them on their level.  It gives me more patience and I'm able to come from a place of better understanding.  I can see the pain in her eyes and remember what it feels like, how it hurts.  It creates an emotional and mental bond between us like nothing else.

On the other hand, it's a curse.  To truly know what she's going through and remember what it's like is very very difficult.  It's hard to watch your child in pain, and even more so when it's such deep, intense emotional pain that you can relate to.  That you can remember being the worst of the worst.  Knowing how badly she's hurting inside and there's nothing you can do to ease that.  It's one of the worst possible things about being a parent - the helplessness when your child is hurting.

Then on yet another hand (no really, I have three hands... count em!), I used to be where she is but today I'm not.  It wasn't easy, and it wasn't quick, but I don't think any therapist or social worker or psychiatrist would label me depressed, or anxious, and certainly no longer suffering from borderline personality disorder.  I've come a long way and worked hard to "rejoin" the human race so to speak.  Where I was once closed off I can now let light in.  Where I once just wanted to sit in the dark, I now welcome the sunrise.  Where I used to just "not care", I can love.  I can really smile.  I can honestly laugh.  I can hug without flinching (well, mostly anyway).  I beat the darkness.

And that gives me hope for her.  She's stronger than I was.  She has an ally in healing (me!).  Together we can beat this.  But she has to let me help her.  She has to be willing to do the work.  She has to want it. 

It won't be easy.  It won't be quick.  There will be a lot of heartache, and she has a long, painful, personal journey ahead of her.  And that makes me sad.  I know how hard it will be and she doesn't deserve that.  I wish I could make it easy for her.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and have her heal overnight. But I can't.  None of us can.  All we can do is be there for them, no matter what journey they embark on.  

New therapists... can we all get on the same page?

Two down, one to go.  Doctors that is.  Yesterday was the diabetes doctor for my oldest, then at night a new therapist for the youngest.  She just might work - I like some of her ideas, and the fact that she has Been There, Done That as far as raising a RAD doesn't hurt either.  She has seen first hand how chaotic it can be and how it can affect everybody around them.  I like that about her.  She did seem almost more interested in the older daughter though, which isn't a good sign.  Granted, it's the whole dynamic that needs work, not just one person, but this is supposed to be about the younger and her anger issues.  I can't disagree though that some of those issues are directly related to the behavior of the oldest.

So the wife and I spent 90 minutes just scratching the surface of things.  It's going to be more money we don't really have, but we can't let her anger and bitterness continue to fester and we've done everything we can think of to help her and we aren't getting very far. 

This morning though, well... I'm not looking forward to it.  More time spent with Mr Smarmy and his buddy who think they know everything about how to help my daughter even though they know nothing about diabetes and are only focused on the one aspect of her.  Her diabetes doctor has said he's going to pull her out of there if they don't start focusing on her emotional and eating issues.  He's concerned that her complexity is just too much for their "strength based program" (as they like to brag about it) and they just aren't going to make enough progress letting her "lead the way".  I mentioned that in passing to them yesterday morning when I scheduled the appointment with them (I can't believe it either - we had an appointment with them before the Christmas break, I requested to meet with them a second time while on break and they asked me if such and such a date/time would work, I said no but these times would.. never heard back from them until I chased them down at the school yesterday) - that we were wondering if this school was therapeutic enough for her.  They, of course, were shocked that I would say something like that.  But I really don't know if it's the right fit - I guess we'll know soon enough.

Speaking of soon enough.. time to get the girls up and begin the day!