"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Have No Fear of Drowning, it's the Breathing That's Taking All This Work

-Jars of Clay

We're buying a house today.

There's a hole in Princess's newish medication regime. It starts to wear off at about 1:30 and I can't give her the next one until 4:00, which allows an awful lot of time for Anxiety to rear her ugly head and tear up the house and her host's mother. Dr. D is only in the office Monday and Tuesday. I missed his call Tuesday.

Sunday was one of the worst in the recent past. Princess began raging at 2:00 and didn't stop until 7:00. I wasn't even able to give her the 4:00 dose, because, even if she had been willing to take it, there's no way I would have made it to the kitchen and back with everybody (and me) still safe. She's getting very hard to restrain. She's very strong, very sweaty, and very very anxious. I was hit (open and closed hand), kicked, bit once, and pinched repeatedly. Five days later my arms are still covered in bruises. My face was red and swollen. And for the entire five hours, she threatened to call the police to tell them I hurt her.

I mention these details, because when I e-mailed Dr. S in fear and desperation she said that either Dr. D needs to change her medication or she needs to be admitted.


And, she told me that it is imperative I tell Dr. D exactly what she does, because I tone down her rages when I tell people about them.

I do?

I must, because my husband is doing my doctor's refinancing. He happened to be meeting with her that evening, and the subject of possible inpatient surfaced. And they both said the same thing about be. They feel I downplay her behavior because I want to be seen as a good mom.

Which is true. But. It's not the whole truth.

The truth is fear. The only time I trusted someone with this information did not work out well. Our caseworker (and I am not defaming her: she was wonderful, and I understand this incident had more to do with someone above her) frequently told us she was "here to be a sounding board for venting." So, when Princess began screaming from the time she stepped off the bus until the time she got back on, from November to January, we asked for some help.

Wanna guess what kind of help we got?

We got an investigation. Not that it was called an investigation. Princess was required to see an outside therapist, and it was presented to me as "round-table discussion, to see if there's anything Dr. S has overlooked. Maybe she'll have some new ideas for you!" Right. The only "new idea" in her report was: "I cannot substantiate abuse in this family."

It delayed our adoption six months.

Additionally, I don't know anyone in real life who lives with this. I'm lucky enough to know a handful of people whose children were almost as challenging in other ways, and some parents of blended families, and to have a therapist for my children who has seen a lot of it. But no one who lives RAD and PTSD. Which means I hear a lot of this:

"Oh. Well. I'm just so surprised. She never acts that way when I'm with her."


"It's just so strange she only does that at home. Why does she only do it at home?"

I test the waters with people, and when I hear one of those (which is almost always), I don't share everything. How can I? I don't feel safe.

This does NOT mean I do not have a supportive network of friends and family. Do not misunderstand. I think these people are EXTRA wonderful, in fact, because they don't understand. They quite likely do think I am legitimately insane, and they love me anyway. Some of you are reading. I love you. I am very very lucky.

So: a recap: I was basically physically abused by a seven-year-old Sunday.

And now she is on her fifth perfect day.

This is the part that completely stumps me. I understand the raging. I understand anxiety getting so overwhelming that it has to explode out of every pore. I understand having to take out all her anger and fear on me. I understand the move is overwhelming and likely laden with triggers from her pre-three life.

I don't understand how she can follow it up with five days with not one tantrum. With sharing feelings, feelings for pete's sake about the move. And with this:

She had an ice cream cone last night, and she likes to eat them outside. She was riding a bike while eating an ice cream cone, and Buddy mentioned she should be careful because her ice cream was probably going to fall off. She kept riding. It fell off. She made the sort of sounds a three-year-old would make upon losing an ice cream cone. And the fact that Buddy warned her? Well. Let's just say she does not like to be wrong. I thought, well, here we go. She came in and demanded more ice cream. I apologetically said no and empathized with her disappointment. She went into her demanding/why? pattern. I thought well, here we go.

She recovered.

I waited. I waited for the shoe to drop about something else. It didn't. I grabbed some Skittles, handed them to her, said, "good job handling that disappointment," and walked out.

The weekend's coming. She's never made it more than five days in a row. And the longer she goes, the rougher the rages. They are painful to anticipate.


  1. Again (I'm know I'm a broken record) but thank you for sharing all this. My heart goes out to you. We only deal with a fraction of this, but I get it and you're doing great.

  2. I hear you about the downplaying to people - I just recently faced head on how much I do that. I do it not only to protect myself but even more so to protect my son - I am so afraid people will judge him and not understand how utterly wonderful and loving he can be when he is not raging. And I also think somas of it became my "normal" so I didn't even always recognize that most families don't have to live like that. Hope your doctor is able to help with the hole in the med coverage.

  3. Oh Kerrie! I really believe you were born to be her mother. I can't imagine her in more capable hands. That said, we all gloss over things to make it seem like we are handling things more stoically than we really are. Of course she is better for strangers or aquaintances, it's part of the disorder. I believe that there is hope for her and help in the future. I will pray for you both.

  4. Oh....I love you. {{{{{hugs}}}}} You deserve a queen's crown, not bruises.

  5. kerrie (sigh)-
    i went to high school with Josh and have been following your blog from the beginning. i don't have a child with RAD/PTSD, and i don't have a blended family. i do have a loved one, who has tornado like emotional flare-ups. I, too, get it. I, too, downplay. Admitting it to yourself is bad enough, let alone admitting it to the world....especially when there could be consequences you did not anticipate...or want. i would imagine sometimes you don't want to be "super-mom-who-can-handle-anything-take-a-beating-and-get-back-up-to-do-it-tomorrow"...and just run away to a quiet place somewhere. (i'd choose a secluded ocean front villa, with a big, white, fluffy bed...sole possession of the remote...and a banana daiquiri. not that i've thought about this.) :-) i just wanted you to know there are those of us out there, that don't know you and don't live it the way you do, but still laugh with you, cry with you, get frustrated with you, and yea...think you're a "super mom-who-can-handle-anything". you just don't always have to. hang in there...

  6. The last commenter is dead on.
    I think, with Genea sometimes, that she can do well for a certain time but then she has to blow. Afterwards, she can be calm again but the rage builds back up and *repeat*.

    Downplaying P's issues is not a diagnosable problem. I think all of "us" parents do it, for a lot of reasons that are not negative. It's not about being a bad mom, its about being a protective mom. And that is how mom's are supposed to be.

  7. I down play to Kerrie, I don't want people to see me or the kids as bad ...... Mine are different they rage more outside the home... they do rage in the home but not as much as P does..... Mine don't care who sees their behavior ....
    Here's praying the weekend is a bit smoother and the move to and that the 5 day NO RAGE makes it to 6 or 7 days