Thursday, January 12, 2012
I Can Do That Now
Yep, still going, still reading and re-reading Brenda's ebook, Recovery From Hazardous Parenting: How To Reclaim Your Life After Raising Children With Behavior Disorders.
For a book, it's very short, but oh so powerful. Yes, we parents will feel validated, but I believe that therapists and social workers need to read it as well, most have absolutely no clue what to do about parents like us. Instead they blame us for having too many children, or rigid or loose parenting, or not seeking out enough resources, or for having so many resources that the child feels threatened...gotta blame someone, right?
Well intentioned, educated and fairly optimistic parents that just wanted to help someone along in life. None of us having any clue as to the depths of severity of the mental and emotional issues that reside in some children. Of the ten extraordinarily difficult children I've raised, all were incredibly good-looking and quite a few of those ten seemed functional, yet delving deeper into their psyches was shocking, some of the bizarre behaviors were staggering.
Ten were severely difficult. Yep. Same ratio as if I'd only had 4 kids and one was ill. A 25% statistic available in a family of 40 equals ten.
But of the 12 remaining at home now? Zero fall into the severe category. Therefore we can begin to recover now.
Dr. McCreight explains the depression that parents may struggle with, which is only logical, but I believe I sat up straighter reading the anxiety section. For a goofy person to become anxious, the correlation, or rather the explanation, made complete sense to me.
Hazardous parenting can lead to anxiety because of the lack of predictability that comes with the child's behavioral disorder, and the constant need to be aware of all that is going on to prevent more issues, and also because of the chronic stress and exhaustion that most parents experience.
Some symptoms include: constant worrying, feeling like your anxiety or worry is beyond your control, intrusive thoughts that make you feel anxious, can't tolerate any lack of structure or unanticipated change, constant feelings of dread or edginess, can't relax, can't focus or concentrate, even small tasks feel overwhelming, certain situations or places trigger anxiety without any accompanying behavior or event, physical tension throughout the body resulting in joint or muscle pain and stomach problems.
An explanation of the neurobiology of both depression and anxiety, in her book, had my head bobbing like a duck in total agreement, and then BLAMO yet another hammering sentence jumped off the page:
Enough stress over a long enough period of time can trigger depression and anxiety so that you have the evil triplets - stress, depression, and anxiety - all at once.
Even in typing this, I feel immense stress flooding back.
On Facebook I've had to hide the status updates of the many of my older kids who either cuss, which I find immensely detestable, or they brag about getting wasted, or participating in self-destructive activities that I know will cause them heartache and pain later - that they'll then want me to bail them out of - no can do. I don't participate in enabling behaviors.
Co-dependent? I am most decidedly not so.
I may even be a total opposite of that - to the other extreme - my self-protective 'hands off' approach may seem cold.
But I'm emotionally severely wounded nowadays. I see it, I don't like it, I wanna recover from it.
I've always been very emotionally strong, to the point of appearing as if I have no feelings, maybe? Whatever.
I've deeply felt anger and grief, tension, fear and absolute blood-curdling terror, terribly anxious, deeply bothered - so many astonishingly negative emotions that have shocked me.
Now, in Brenda's wonderful book, I'm facing recovery - a recovery that is only possible when the child(ren) are no longer living in one's home due to the amygdala's perception of still being exposed to threats and stress.
The behavior disorders make it impossible for the youth to change - he will present most of the same symptoms for the rest of his life although continued brain development, life experience, and skill acquisition may modify the problem significantly.
I hope and pray, I even believe there will be improvement over the years. I pray that there is immediate improvement so that the folks (who should know better) will continue to believe I'm the problem - regarding behaviors that were evident before I even met the person with these behaviors that I'm being blamed for.
Who can't see that?
I turn back around to face the rest of my family that has suffered as well, either directly or indirectly, the stress, fear, tension and craziness that has taken a tremendous toll on everyone.
Last night we had extra teenagers over to our house, ten large pizzas devoured, excellent Wednesday night services at church. CW's playing a Licky Stcky ice breaker game, there were 100 teenagers in the Youth Group room last night, 11 were mine. Thank you Elizabeth for this photo.
I flashbacked to the evenings I'd have everyone in the van and then there'd be an explosion, a crazy, spitting, raging meltdown triggered by nothing, that'd cause us all to not be able to attend services, or worse yet, would happen there at church. I thought about the night that my now 15 year old daughter climbed on top of the bathroom stalls to howl her inner pain, nearly shutting down all activities for the entire church.
I thought about the endless, countless hours that I'd have to spend managing/maintaining/trying to contain irrational, dangerous behaviors at the expense of my other frightened kids who needed me to be reassuring them that all would be OK.
I can do that now.
I remain stunned even at the thought of the behaviors I dealt with for a 17 year period.