Sunday, March 4, 2012

Aware and Sharing

Over February vacation, Nate had an appointment to meet with his psychiatrist. He was none too pleased about this event. He whined, "Moooooooom! I'm on vacation! I shouldn't HAVE to go to see Josephine!" Our schedule (mostly due to my conflicts as of late) is usually jammed packed and I had him earlier in the vacation week. It was the only time we were able to see her that month. He sulked most of the car ride over and was in a rotten mood when we arrived. 

Josephine was able to take us in early, which was wonderful. The less time we have to dawdle, the less time Nathan has to perseverate on the fact that he's in a place he doesn't want to be. 

He gets in the room and I feel him shut himself off from her, from the situation, from everyone. It was like he was completely encased in ice. He gave goofy and non committing answers to simple questions. He repeated, "Can I go now?" about 30 times.  Nate said that I am not to ask any questions about him. Each time I would attempt to speak with his psychiatrist, he would talk over us loudly, sabotaging any attempt to help him.  It was extremely frustrating to not have this session be fruitful. He asked to go to the bathroom, which at that point was a welcome reprieve. 

We chatted as quickly as we could. Our concern was his lack of sharing his feelings and his needs. The Risperidone was addressing the anxiety somewhat, but not the openness we were hoping for. In his neuropsych eval in January, the psychologist mentioned that he was showing some very early signs of depression, which I had noticed, too.  I mentioned this to Josephine, and she had similar fears. Risperidone is used off label for kids on the spectrum for use to curb anxiety. It didn't seem to be working with Nate as we both would have liked. She felt at this time that Nate may benefit from and SSRI. SSRI's given to younger children can sometimes cause them to have suicidal thoughts and/or psychotic behaviors and episodes. 

I'm nervous, of course. Last thing I need is Nate coming into my bedroom at night with a big kitchen knife or him being completely despondent and running out into traffic. On the other hand, he's so sad and withdrawn. It's becoming more of a challenge to get through to my son.  There's that fear that creeps into my heart: Am I doing the right thing? Am I screwing up my kid? What's going to benefit him right now? 

I trust in his psychiatrist. She has a knack of what children need crafts her recommendations accordingly. She said the low dose of the SSRI (specifically Celexa) will be the anxiety medicine of choice. She'll keep him on the Risperidone for now and slowly wean him off.  A prescription is drafted and sent off to our pharmacy for filling. 

The next day, I have given Nate his daily schedule. I tell him that we are going for a walk in the woods. He says, "Mom, I don't like going outside." I ask him, "Why?" He says, "Mom, when I go out, I'm always afraid that I'm going to get lost or someone is not going to come and get me." I am dumbfounded. I cannot believe that Nate shared something with me. Regaining my composure I tell him, "We're going on a very safe trail, straight with lots of markers to guide us. I'll have my phone with me in case we need it." He said, "Okay, let's go."

We have many walking trails near where we live. It's really quite lovely and a way that I spend my time to ease my stress and anxiety. It was an unseasonably warm day, sunny and cheerful. We got walking sticks on the way in. He was looking around and observing his surroundings. We found some pinecones and played a little eco-baseball. Sounds of trees bending and swaying in the wind and late winter birds enclosed us into this small bubble of being. We started talking. 

A reciprocal conversation began between us. Almost as if the organic nature of our landscape compelled us to speak.  In our chat, I discovered that his weak spelling skills prevents him from handwriting better. This was another area that I have been desperately trying to reach through to my son. He was always so closed off, like he was buried behind an old wall in a Victorian house. But on this walk, he wasn't afraid to be open with me. 

He stopped on the trail and said, "Mom, I'm sharing my feelings. And I like that. I'm happy to share my feelings." I looked at my son and couldn't believe the gentle growing giant that was before me. As usual, my heart could not process the overwhelming flood of emotions and I started to well up. I hugged my son to me, who's almost past my chin in height, and whispered how incredibly proud I was of him this day and every day. He hugged back, really hugged back, which is rare. His physical affection is generally reciprocated by force, as those close to him gently demand repayment. I filed that hug in my permanent memory banks. 

As we are reaching the two week mark before we go back to visit Josephine, he has changed in remarkable ways. He expressed a desire to be an archaeologist and to dig for bones and crystals. I picked him up a gem/rock guide, a small bag of rocks for him to look up and an amethyst cluster for him to "dig" out of a brick of plaster. His reaction was so big, happy and animated. He covered me with kisses and hugs. He's initiated listening to our audio book from the library and is really engrossed in the mystery. He's been more flexible when it comes to our schedule, which is chaotic at best. He also told me that he hates shopping with me because I get too "distracted." Guilty. As. Charged. 

The most important is that he's sharing what he feels. He's learning that feelings are not bad, or shameful or wrong. Knowing that he's safe and there are people there to guide him is a huge need for him, but he was unable to verbalize it until now. I am very thankful that he has these tools to enable him to be the tremendous kid that he has every morsel of potential to be.

Now if I can get him to keep his clothes from ending up on the floor, too...


  1. Awesome! Awesome awesome awesome! I love it when I see other moms embracing the use of medicine. Our kids DO NOT want to feel the way their body makes them sometimes. Granted it's not right for every child, but if I'm going to spend all of our time and money on therapies and everything else, you can sure bet I'm going to search down every avenue- and meds for my son, Casey (8) has helped more than the five years of therapy he had before them combined.

    I love those moments, too, where your child completely takes you off guard with something they say or do. They're the best.

  2. Dear Lexi,

    Thank you so much for your comments! I am an advocate for using methods that work for your child with very minimal side effects. Not every method works for every child. There is the right combination of therapies for a child, finding it takes time and patience.

    My way isn't the right or only way. I think that people who spout that their method is the only way you should be doing it and make you feel bad or inferior because you don't aren't looking out for your child's individual needs.

    I do embrace medication but we don't use it as a crutch. There is still work to be done on both ends to make it effective. He's a hard worker and I am proud of how far he has truly come. He doesn't like going to therapy and all that "junk" (lol!) but he gets that it's part of helping him be the awesome kid that he is.

    I'm happy that you and your son CAsey have found a method that works. That is a great feeling. :)

    Cheers to you.

  3. One of the things I've most enjoyed about our journey is the sharing of passions and emotions. Glad you are, too.

  4. Brenda, it wouldn't be the same if I didn't. It's what sets us apart.