Monday, December 3, 2012

Forget the Recession -- Let's Talk Regression




There's no denying that recessions are bad things, but I'm willing to bet that the "R" word that really strikes fear into the heart of the ADHD/ODD parent (or any other parent whose child has a mental illness, for that matter) is a different one.

Forget the recession...let's talk regression. Regression starts slowly, with a few long-forgotten behaviours.

"Wow!" you say to yourself or to your partner, "We haven't had to deal with that in a long time. Remember when that was an everyday occurrence?" And you smugly pat yourself on the back for having gotten your child past that stage without having smothered the little darling in the middle of the night.

And then another behaviour rears its ugly head. Or perhaps you see that first behaviour more often, and you begin to wonder what's going on.

But the behaviour is sporadic, so you kind of forget about it in between episodes. Except you don't really forget about it, because you can't. Because you're the parent of a child with a mental illness, so the question about what's going on is always in the back of your mind. Because you analyze everything your child does...always...in an attempt to figure out which therapies are working and which ones aren't. And what helps and what doesn't. And what sets your child off and what doesn't. And what they can cope with today and what they can't. The watching, the waiting, the thinking...it never ends.

And then one day you realize that life has gone back to "normal." Except it's your old normal, the one you thought you had left behind. And you realize you've been tiptoeing around your child for weeks, not knowing what's going to set off the explosion. And it feels as if everything you've done, worked on, researched, endured has been for nothing. That you're back at square one, with no idea where to go from here.

This knowledge hits you when you're already exhausted from weeks of fighting and aggression, so it hits you like a punch in the stomach. And all you want to do is curl up in bed and cry, because you feel like you just don't have the energy to start all over again. I can tell you from personal experience that there are few things more disheartening than feeling like all the progress you've made over the months or years has suddenly gone out the window.

I'm going back to bed now, where I may or may not cry. (There's a good chance I will.) But once my pity party is over, I'll get back up and start all over again. Because that's what I do. I'm the parent of a child with a mental illness. That's what we do.

5 comments:

  1. I'm sorry that this happens but this gives me a perspective of what my family and friends go through. I'm sure that it is very difficult. Know that aggression is part of the illness and not because of you. It's a very ugly feeling and we tend to take it out on the people we most trust.
    xo

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  2. I am having such a similar day. My son, who is 6 with ADHD and ODD just like yours, has had some serious regression in the couple of days. I am home today from work because I simply do not have it in me to go and work with those kids at school. They deserve me at my best, and today I am not.

    I will cry today.... but I will get back up. That is what i do too. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone.

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  3. I just found your blog and read it from the beginning. You really do have your hands full. I might be able to brighten your day a bit. I have ADD and as a child had anxiety too. Of course back in the 60's this was not even on the radar. I was not diagnosed until I was 40 but that diagnosis explained a lot. I hated school and used to run away. I remember my Mom having to drag me into class many many times from grades 3-5. My anxiety eased after I was 12 or so but school was always a struggle. In fact if I never set foot in a class room again it is OK with me. I was bored beyond belief. I was and still am a big reader and used to put the encyclopedia or dictionary inside my class book and just read I was so bored. The teacher just droned on and on. I hated every minute of it. I have ADHD-PI Primarily Inattentive (many girls are). This manifests itself mainly by my mind wandering if I am not fully engaged or interested in something. Also impulse control was an issue. Usually boys are in constant motion and and impulsive which is what it sound like you deal with daily. OK, now for the good news. As I aged I learned ways to cope and deal with my "deficits". I never grew out of it but I now manage my ADD and my ADD does not manage me. Medication helps too but since mine ADD is lifelong I don't take stimulants everyday. I cope by sitting on my hands when I want to resist the urge to interrupt or blurt something out. I conscientiously commit things from my working memory which is less focused to long term memory for recall. My long term memory has adapted quite well and kicks in often without any effort on my part. Bear will learn these things too. It will just take time but things will improve. I tried new solutions simply out of self preservation. Some ideas worked and some did not but I would not change my ADD now for anything. I consider it a gift. I can hyper focus on a project and tune everything else out. The building could burn down around me and I would still make the project's deadline. Because I become bored so easily I work in a field where hyper focus is needed. I can accomplish an amazing amount of work when I am driven. I travel a great deal to keep my life interesting. If you met me you would never suspect I have ADD and was that anxious bored child long ago. Bear will figure this out too - I promise.

    LH

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  4. I am slowly coming to grips with the part about being a parent of a child with mental illness... and its not easy. Helps to know there are others out there, too. THANKS SO MUCH FOR BLOGGING!!

    "This knowledge hits you when you're already exhausted from weeks of fighting and aggression, so it hits you like a punch in the stomach. And all you want to do is curl up in bed and cry, because you feel like you just don't have the energy to start all over again. I can tell you from personal experience that there are few things more disheartening than feeling like all the progress you've made over the months or years has suddenly gone out the window.

    I'm going back to bed now, where I may or may not cry. (There's a good chance I will.) But once my pity party is over, I'll get back up and start all over again. Because that's what I do. I'm the parent of a child with a mental illness. That's what we do."

    ReplyDelete