Tag Archives: PTSD

Upping the Game

So I have finished reading Transforming the Difficult Child: the Nurtured Heart approach by Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley.

I am implementing the point system laid out in the book in the hopes that my children learn some more motivation and also a better sense of worth and accomplishment. It has been a week since we started and I feel I might have made it too easy.. but they are excited, so that is good.

Tomorrow my middle child is cashing in his points to take the others to the indoor amusement park! I am going to be sore for days.. climbing through hamster tubes and tunnels and rope bridges might be too much for me. Last time we went I came home, gave them lunch, and fell asleep for hours.

Today I had the neighbor (who is also a dear friend) babysit the children in the morning while I did some Christmas shopping. I fell asleep in the afternoon and I woke up grateful that I was now able to do this, without the children getting into any mischief. Their growing maturity has made my life so much easier, I was thinking.

I sat down for a snack and a peek at a book and my youngest told me to come look at the living room. I asked her what for, did she clean it? And she nodded in assent. I stood at the doorway and saw there was something on the floor that wasn´t there before my nap. She had taken apart a draft sock (the things you use to block drafts in windows and doors) and thrown the innards (rice) all over the living room. She made sure to get handfuls in corners and behind furniture and had strewn the rest everywhere she could.

I sent her up to her room and got out the vacuum and quickly discovered that I could not get it all up. I sent her brother up to fetch her to pick it up grain by grain in the corners and along the wall but she had fallen asleep. I woke her up, set her on her feet gently and told her she had some work to do before she had any rest.

She did pick it up the best she could. I have no idea what she made that mess for in the first place. I will ask her tomorrow. I hope she sleeps in. This is probably the first time in her life that I have interrupted her nap when we were home and had no where to go.

Today my oldest child figured out how to link the babysitter´s laptop with our home computer and play games online together. I assume all he did was add a server address, but the sitter was still impressed. I hope he always has this ease with computers. He got on when he was thirteen months old and has wanted to do nothing but since then. I have him block coding (which he loves) in Minecraft and have asked him to please use straight Java instead, but he likes the ease of blocks. Maybe I can get him into another language with another project that will force him to learn it directly.

I think they are doing well. Far better than they used to be. Going dairy free has helped Middle Child immensely. The sitter we had today was concerned about Middle Child´s sleep, as he has never slept well in his life until the past six months. She brought over some essential oils that are supposed to calm and help with sleep, and he loves them. I had to argue with him patiently and logically until he would release the little jar and put it on a table next to his bed. He wanted to sleep with it in his hand so he could smell it. He said thank you immediately, too. He usually does not say thank you when he gets a gift, he often says he does not want it or acts disappointed. We have been practicing how to receive gifts, but this was spontaneous. He was really pleased. Such a lovely girl to have as my closest neighbor. I am so lucky.

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Recommendations From the Psychologist

Today the psychologist recommended my Middle Son switch over to Abilify from his Clonidine ER. She wants his dopamine running. She gave me a rule of thumb: if I get one violent incident per month from him then I need to make the change. She agrees with me on removing milk from his diet, she says I am the second parent in as many days to notice a sort of possession upon the reintroduction of milk in a child like him.

During the session my Oldest Child gave us a rundown of exactly what has happened up to this point with the fourth grade bully on the bus. It seems it started out innocently enough, with tickle chases. But Middle Child does not like to be touched without consent, and to him it would have seemed a torture. So he got some revenge. He hit this big fifth grader hard enough to make him cry, so now this big kid is pretty riled up over the embarrassment and trying to ambush Middle Child every chance he gets. Which explains why he threw my son into the bushes.

I think I have the boys convinced that they need to make a peace offering of cookies. I just hope it works, because although I want my son to be happy, I don´t want to move him over the antipsychotic class of meds.


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Progress, or Detox?

It is the third day since Middle Son gave up milk again.

He was unable to think of any solution to these fits he keeps having, so I told him I would be tickling him when I pick him up and again when we get home.

We call it his ¨medicine¨.

It worked well today. He did lose control later in the evening and began crying a few times, unable to handle his frustration, but I stayed close and helped him address the issue each time-without rescuing him.

I hope to see a major change before a week is out.

Today he saw the skills therapist, to whom I told everything, EVERYTHING, even my own mistakes in handling yesterday´s fit. Oddly enough, he did approve of my technique of throwing a simultaneous fit at myself to demonstrate the absurdity of the fit. Which I know now only escalates the issue. Apparently it works on other children. I am going to make a sign and put it above the kitchen sink. It is only going to say Tickle Him. So I don´t forget what to do if he comes up to me and starts hitting again. I am nearly always at the sink.

He had some processed food for snack this week, cereal bars. Next week he will not, I will go back to baking huge quantities of food on the weekends so he can have his low sugar preservative-dairy-peanut-dye free snacks again. It was nice to have a  weekend off, but it cannot last forever. I wish I were up earlier to make a real breakfast, but I spend so much time in the kitchen already that I think it would just exhaust me.

I am glad he sees the psychologist tomorrow. She is a great resource.


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Middle Son Observes Life

A few days ago my middle son came up to me out of nowhere and said ¨We have had a hard life.¨

I asked him what he meant. He said ¨well, with our dad hitting you all the time.¨

I told him we have a good life now, I gave him a lot of examples. I told him his father didn´t have to be that way, he could have gotten help from doctors.

I told him I should not have stayed one minute when his father started hitting me, but that I knew he could get help and I had hoped he would.

He used to never talk about his father or his feelings or his opinions at all. I hope getting off dairy brings back my little thinker.

I did not remind him that his father used to hit him, too.

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Milk Elimination

So I kept my son off of milk for the most part for about six weeks. This past weekend we reintroduced it. On Monday he kicked a girl on the bus (still counts even if she started it and tried to strangle him) and later that day he punched another little boy in school. Monday night he lied to me about what happened.

Tuesday I finally got the principal on the phone and heard the real story. Tuesday afternoon I had an earnest talk with him about his behaviour, his honesty, and his consequences. He went berserk. He started hitting himself in the head. He talked about wanting to die. He said he would kill himself. He kicked everything around him. He yelled insults at me, called me names, and told me I didn´t love him, and so he didn´t love me. He wouldn´t let me near him for fifteen minutes of this. When I could get by him I held him, I rocked him, I reasoned with him and he came around. He would not use his TheraTapper, and so without his permission I tapped him on the sides of the knees. I got about thirty seconds in before he figured it out and insisted I stop. There was no more fuss after that. I reminded him last night and this morning that his consequences were in place and that the duration would depend on his good behaviour, three days if all went well.

His consequences are no electronics. That´s all. It was for a day, since the school had also given him consequences, but when his fit started, I upped it to three days. Because fits are not allowed. He can earn them back by getting good marks for each school day left this week, which meant he would have it all back on Friday, behaviour permitting.

Tonight when I picked him up he told me he had been good and asked for his privileges. I reminded him it was three days of good behaviour to earn them back and he called me a liar and started kicking my seat, refused to put his seatbelt on, and screamed for all he was worth. He didn´t stop until I threatened to crack an egg on his head and tricked him into thinking I had done so, twice. We made it home, buckled. He was sullen, but he got into the house. He had hit me once in the car so I advised him that he had lost two more days of privileges, and expected good behaviour to earn them back on all five days.

Then he threw a monster fit. I had had enough, so I joined him. Whatever he said, I said, too. I called myself all sorts of names with him. Whatever decibel he went to, I went to as well. Finally he ran into the kitchen and started hitting at me. I held him off with a box of corndogs and when he had rammed his head into that a few times he claimed I hit him with it and really began trying to get at me. So I held him down on the floor and screamed at him that he may not hit me or anyone.

That worked better. Not a technique I like doing, and not recommended. Intimidating children is not how you teach them. I just do not do well with being terrorized. Been there, done that, have PTSD. I don´t use it as an excuse, so he cannot, either. I did the wrong thing. I was worn out and hungry and tired and had just got home from work. I needed a minute to recoup before another fit, and I just did not handle it the way I wanted to. I stopped thinking.

Since he was done I let him up. He went upstairs on my insistence and had a quiet moment. I miss the days where I could roll him in a blanket and carry him to a safe space. He just got too heavy.

I went up and explained to him that he can always be mad at me, and that he can even yell at me, but that his behaviour tonight and yesterday is never going to be acceptable. I asked him if I hit him and he had to admit I did not. I asked him if I had called him a name and he couldn´t think of anything I said that was spiteful to him.

I told him I don´t want to live in a house with all that yelling and meanness. I reminded him that his privileges depend on his behaviour, not on my whim. I had him go over the house rules that are posted on the wall. He pointed out which he violated and which I violated and then I had to forgo dessert, because I did break the rules by yelling. I left his consequences as they stood after that first hit. He has work to do and a weekend to get through.

I never want him to have dairy again. I told him so.


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An Impossible Place

I don´t know what to do.

I have treated my daughter for lice and I have pulled out anything in her hair that I can see for four days straight, for the last two days I have found nothing at all.

I take her to the daycare where she picked up the lice, and after a half hour they find a dead egg attached to a strand of hair. I have to leave work to pick her up.

So small I cannot see it.

She has been growing her hair out for two years.

I can shave her head. I can switch daycares. I can shave the back half of her head and hope for the best. I don´t know what to do.

I just now sat her in the sun and could not find anything at all, just a lot of light shining off of each strand, tricking my eyes.

I am ready to cry. I feel completely incompetent. I have to work, I am the only income we have.


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Too Much Excitement Before Halloween

My oldest child and I both had an appointment with the eye doctor today. Oldest Son has to wear an eye patch at home for his astigmatism. It won´t be all day for a year like I had to do when I was a kid, rather just a few hours a few days a week. I am going to think of some sort of pirate nickname for him. My issue with my contacts? They got switched. Sleepy mornings can make you put your right lens into your left eye, and it just goes downhill from there.

But it gets worse.

I picked the baby up from daycare yesterday and the staff informed me she has nits. Not adult lice, but the eggs. So I raced to the store and bought the treatment and then I did six loads of laundry from her beds. Yes, she has two beds in her room and she sleeps in either. I bagged up all her stuffed animals and in the hope of freezing weather we will keep them in the back of the car for a week or two.

When I picked her up today from daycare the staff informed me that they are implementing a no-nit policy. Even if the nits are dead, she will be sent home from daycare if one is found on her head. They are doing this because she was infested by another little girl whose mother did not take the lice issue seriously and therefore did not eradicate the lice in the first place. So the staff wants to avoid reinfestations. I cannot blame them, but now it is about my paycheck, because most sitters will not sit for lice! So far we have combed through her hair three times, for a total of two and a half hours, in less than twenty four hours. Plus the treatment. I also blow dried her scalp as hot as she could stand. I have a shampoo treatment and the Cetaphil treatment all ready to go before I Nix her again next week. Hopefully the good comb I ordered off Amazon (The Terminator!) comes UPS by then, because I could not find one here in town. I have repeatedly asked her to let me shave her head. She does not want to. I even offered to do it with her, and no dice.

So our life just got super complicated.

I have been having six or seven appointments a week for the boys, and they have all been eating a pie a day. I cannot keep up with the cooking or the appointments.

I don´t want to cut back on either.

My Youngest Son lost both his upper front teeth this week. The first one was kicked out by a kid on the swings, and the second he lost on the bus somehow. We knew they were loose, weeks ago. Both teeth are AWOL. The Tooth Fairy paid him anyway, but he knows it´s me. A kid with bad PTSD shouldn´t have to think that strangers are entering his room at night and messing about under his pillow.

So I was thinking I had better call his speech therapist and see if he needs a hiatus from therapy, as it is really hard to hold your tongue behind your teeth to form your letters when your teeth are not there..

Perhaps it would cut down on the appointments.


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The Social Worker is Trying to Recruit Me

My son’s social worker has been asking me to join the Local Advisory Council for NAMI (which naturally focuses on child advocacy) for about a year.

Now she has started sending me the minutes.

Just yesterday she sent me the itinerary for the state conference.

The people attending the local meetings are people I would want to work with.

The state conference is mostly about advocating for children and what to do for children in the case of x, y, z. It looks nearly dreamy. Like I could fill up a notebook and gain some confidence.

She is tempting me.

I don’t want to spend even one day away from my kids at a state conference. I don’t want to take two hours off of my work for local advocacy. I want to do it, but I need to work and raise my kids.

I have been doing community advocacy since I was sixteen. I think she is moving in for the kill.

I have great excuses. I just don’t know if I have the strength to resist.


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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

My therapist went over the basics of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with me today. She says it entails talking about incidents that cause symptoms. Like discussing the trauma behind my PTSD.

Well, that is not the sort of therapy I want. She damn well knows it.

I don’t want to talk about what happened to me. I rarely do so. I could use the word “never” and be accurate for ninety percent of my history. She mentions that she doesn’t expect me to start from the beginning and tell her everything, but she says that I throw out bits that shock her. Things that I am nonchalant about, like living on the streets as a child, and she has no idea where it comes from. I tell her I can tell her anything about being a kid, anything, it’s wide open, just not about being battered. She told me my walls are up too high. What walls? Sarcasm, sorry. Truthfully I crack jokes all the way through my sessions, she can’t treat me for laughing.

So I gave her one today. One incident that bothers me so much that I cannot forgive it. But it was nothing done to me, it was when I tried to grab my son to keep him from pushing his sister over and instead knocked him down. He was three. I can still see him crying after, in my mind. Middle Child has the worst PTSD of us all and he was barely three when his mother made him fall down. What if the reason he has PTSD is not because of his father’s actions, but because of his mother’s? Because of his mother’s PTSD, or because of this incident? What if I broke my son? What if the years of his mother being hypervigilant, afraid of punishment for laughter or noise or mischief or mess is what has really damaged him? What if it is me, short tempered and shushing and terrified in those first few years, who has broken him? What if it is the fear he drank with my milk, my fear, that poisoned his development?

The therapist asked me how I could think that, when it was the father who was abusive. She used words like accident and dismissed the incident. I told her most fathers are abusive, right? It is what is expected of fathers, that they should hurt their families or their wives. But to be hurt by your mother, that must hurt more than anything. That would be scarring. Fathers who beat and scream at their loved ones are everywhere, as common as pennies. But mothers who hurt their children are rare. She asks me how I know. I tell her to pull up any public conviction record in any community involving violence. I am more than right. It worsens statistically when you look at sexual abuse. Where I used to live there were 246 offenders, and only one was female.

The therapist and I do not agree. She thinks it is a common and forgivable incident, an accident, and I see it as a crime. I chose to try to grab him and I instead knocked him over. I could have let him go and tried to distract him with a noise. I could have done something else instead of reaching for him when I wasn’t sure I could catch him. He never thought his mother would hurt him.

The teacher said he is always happy in class. I try to remember that when I blame myself. I try to remember that he used to have four hour tantrums and now he has at most ten minutes. I remember that he tells me that he loves me, that he is learning what he needs to learn about his emotions lately.

I don’t want to talk about these things. It does not seem to get easier. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to remember on purpose when accidentally remembering is so painful, and I don’t want my children to remember, either.

Maybe I might need ACT, but I cannot find any studies on ACT being done with children, never mind young children. I might have to rethink this and perhaps the kids can keep their therapist if we stick with CBT. For that matter, maybe I don’t need ACT. I work and I keep the kids clean and fed and the laundry never overflows the basket. I function. So many with PTSD do not function. I am fine, right?

She said the clinic is undergoing training on CBT for trauma in children right now. She said it requires that they remember. I can’t win for losing.

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Sometimes Plans Can Backfire On You

The skills therapist is mulling over sending my boys to a new hire in his organization, who specializes in trauma. Because she is more familiar with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

They have been seeing him for over a year.

I would hate for them to lose him.

I have asked him to think about teaching them these skills himself.

Tonight Middle Child was tired and became upset over a minor misunderstanding on movie privileges, and I was able to massage it out of him while joking around and telling him stories about when he was a baby.

That was lucky. It doesn’t always work.

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