‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Manic Tuesday, And Its Aftermath

I knew it was coming. It's been a week of relative normalcy...no tantrums or raging. How long did I think it could last? Yesterday Anastasia was manic after school. Really manic. I don't have to explain it to you RAD moms, but for others - it was an afternoon of giggly silliness, acting very goofy, no eye contact, jumping, playing rough with the dogs, playing rough with me, saying outrageous things, and generally acting like she had had ten cups of espresso laced with tequila. I tried different techniques for helping her to regulate, but nothing was working. Thank God this episode coincided with her weekly therapy appointment.

At therapy, she became aloof and sarcastic. She wasn't having any of this "How are you feeling?' garbage. She wanted to stay on her 'high'. She used every trick in the book to avoid any real conversation with either me or H (her therapist). When she left to use the bathroom I clued H in on the afternoon of mania. I told her I knew something was brewing, because these manic episodes always preceded a meltdown of some kind. I've learned these past few years that manic episodes mean Anastasia is trying to keep from feeling something. It is usually about feeling vulnerable in some way. I didn't know what was up, but I knew I would be finding out in the not-to-distant future.

So, cut to this morning. I knew from the second I woke her that things were about to get ugly. Her response to "Good morning, Honey" was " Don't tell me to get up when you're not even up yourself. Leave me alone." I was lying across the other bed in the room at the time. I told her that was not a kind way to respond to her mom who was only saying good morning, and that maybe she could try again. " I'm NOT going to school today. I don't learn anything there. It's stupid."

So, now I knew that the issue was somewhat school related. I climbed in bed with her and rubbed her back and held her for awhile to help her calm down. She continued to tell me how useless school was and how I didn't understand her, nobody did, and that I obviously didn't care about her if I was sending her to school every day. (This is the same girl who told me only last week that she was starting to like school and that math was expanding her brain.) After fifteen minutes of cuddling, I managed to get her up and into the bathroom, but minutes later she was screaming and crying. " I hate myself! I hate school! I'm not normal! Why am I not normal? I'm ugly, I'm fat, and I'm stupid!" The hardest part is that these meltdowns always involve some kind of self-abuse: hitting herself or banging her head on a wall, scratching herself or ripping clothes, sometimes pulling her hair out.

This rant went on for what seemed like an eternity, even with my holding her and comforting her. Finally, with no other recourse, I moved her back to the safety of her bed, and I held her while she rocked. She eventually calmed down and said , "Mom, can I just start going again next week?"

"Why next week, honey? What's different about next week?"

" Nothing. I just want to go after that stupid drill."

Drill? I know they had the fire drill two weeks ago, when she freaked out and had days of regression afterwards. What drill was she referring to?" What are you talking about, honey?'

She went on to tell me about the 'stupid drill'. It was an upcoming lockdown drill where the school prepared for the possibility of a dangerous person (re: gunman) entering the school. All the rooms would be locked, all staff and students would be moved to the far corner of the room, crouched on the floor, shades drawn, etc.

Now the manic episode of yesterday made sense.

" Mom, they don't even know when it's happening..."

I promised I would call the school and we would find out when it was happening and she could either stay home that day or she could know the exact time, and be in the social worker's office where she felt safest. After some prodding, and once she was calm, she surprisingly agreed to go to school, knowing that she would be warned ahead of time about the drill.

I just spoke to the school social worker, and filled her in on everything. She said the drill is scheduled for Friday. She is going to call Anastasia's therapist and see what the best protocol would be for her. Stay home? Be present for the drill and have a (hopefully) successful experience of getting through it with some measure of control --knowing the time it will happen, and where she will be?

I'll keep you posted. I'm going to go enjoy my only hour of me time for today. Coffee and my favorite blogs, here I come.


  1. Poor thing. Have you ever thought of doing drills with her at your own house? Sooner or later she will have to address these fears for her in safety just in case. Hang in there. You are doing such a good job.

  2. If I remember my school, most of these drills were at the beginning of the year, to get all the kids remembering what they're supposed to do. Of course, we never had the "mad man running around the school" drill, sad to see that's deemed necessary now. But isn't the hope that someday, instead of heading for meltdown, she'll be able to say, "Drill? Just you wait 'til I tell my mom...she'll make it workable." and head straight home to you. That's the hope and expectation. You're in my thoughts.

  3. Please email me at beemommy58@gmail.com I can commiserate with you on raising a child with RAD, PTSD, GAD, SID and most importantly, a huge heart!

  4. wow, it's just always amazing what their little brains are stressed about! i don't always figure out my daughter's meltdowns and it's frustrating. glad you were at least able to work it out and i hope friday goes well!

  5. You handle things so well. I'm glad you were able to work toward a solution to her anxiety about the drill and hopefully things will work out successfully.

  6. I know what you are saying about self abuse. Mr says he hates himself, and he just wants to die. He'll hit his head in frustration. It's like their internal battle is so external. (Especially for me, being a trained 'internal struggler') That's so cool that you were able to just love her through that really stressful moment and then move to communication. How great is that for your relationship and her healing! I love these kind of victory story!


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