Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Feeling Frozen...

Atwork by Franz Miklis

I have been a bit frozen the last couple of days – I guess that’s a good way to put it. I have been so deeply touched by the honesty I have found from other moms struggling with children with problems on these blogs. I guess today it’s my turn to step up to the plate and share my struggles with my lovely Hanna (17).

I received an email yesterday informing me that the couple who have been working with my daughter (she has been staying with them) have suddenly & very prematurely decided she must leave their home by this Sunday. I cannot say enough about the grace this couple offered us and how huge it has been that they did this for all of us. It offered me a chance to clear my head and see things honestly. I know a few of you are aware of the details, of my struggles with my daughter’s mental state. I write this for a couple purposes today I guess… I need to vent, I need support and I hope maybe in some little way this post may touch someone going through the same thing and help in some small way.

After having lived with her Dad during the main part of the year and me for summers for a long time, Hanna came to me two years ago to stay here full time. Her Dad could no longer manage her and we all thought she would function better with us as they do not get on well. We were wrong. The longer she was here the more serious, abusive and destructive her behaviors have become. I have suspected for several months now that she is suffering from bipolar disorder. Suffice it to say, I have lots of experience dealing with this, not with in my self but with others around me. I am not offering up a diagnosis – just a strong suspicion. Let me assure you I know what a difficult teen is like – my oldest daughter Julia will tell you herself – she was a teen challenge. Please understand, this is not the same thing. This is the unspoken craziness that surrounds those living with someone who is mentally unstable.

Five weeks ago after an extremely horrid melt down she left my home and refused to come home. We managed through the grace of another family secure a place for her to be and begin counseling. Something she has been unwilling to do before. She has begun counseling with a savvy gal who has Hanna pegged and I think she can really help her move toward diagnosis and a better life as an adult. I had hoped that she could remain with this family at least until summer so we could get several sessions in before she returned here or to a more intense program. I am unsure what has happened in their home – communication has been sketchy, they will meet with me this week. I am clear on one thing, Hanna has not bent or made any efforts to make amends and is walking back into my home with the same attitudes she left with.

The last six weeks for me have been a huge time of renewal – in so very many ways. I truly did not realize in the middle of all the literally craziness how stressful dealing with Hanna had been. Not only for me but the rest of the household. So today I am gulping down my panic and stress and trying to buck myself up for another round in the ring with my daughter, whom I love,but who sends me into panic attacks. I know as I go into this next round of “dealing with” I will loose some of myself trying to give her what she needs to move on in her life – hopefully as a functional adult. When Hanna is functional she is a stunning, sweet, lovely girl and I adore her. When she is not and that is at least half of the time, I love her anyway, I just don’t like her behavior much. So…. today I am desperately searching for ways to integrate her back into the household with the least impact to everyone else & keep the pieces of myself intact at the same time! Thanks for listening. Namaste, Sarah


Audrey said...

WOW! Sarah! First of all, kudo's to you for your courage and honesty in writing this post. I commend you for being so raw.
Second, I know that you will receive a lot of support from fellow bloggers.

My thoughts on Hanna's re-entry into your home are many. I will try to tame them and just post a few!
1. Does Hanna understand the "rules" of your home, and are you willing to stand behind them?
2. Do you have a back-up plan for if and when Hanna decides to test the limits (because you know that she will). Is there somewhere you can send her? Do you need police intervention?
3. Do you have a "survival" plan in place for yourself - how will you protect yourself from becoming too emotional involved in her madness? How will you motivate yourself to stand firm in your convictions?

Sarah, my thoughts and prayers are with you right now. Look after yourself first! Without you, Hanna's struggles will be more intense.

Tammie Lee said...

Hi Sarah,,
This sounds like a very hard situation. I wish I had ideas for what could help. I will hold you all in my heart of hearts. May clarity and wisdom be yours!

Christine said...

I really feel for you. My sister adopted a 7 year old daughter that had been in and out of foster care and had been treated very badly by her parents. They didn't even let her join in on their family Christmas.

She has a lot of mental issues, obviiously. A lot of them the same as your daughter. But she has grown into a beautiful young woman. She'll be 20 in May and is off all of her meds.

Because she was adopted as a ward of the state, Alice was lucky enough to have her on Medicade and had all of the resources she needed. The counselors taught her that the most important thing was to teach her that their were consequences to her actions. She would take away priveledges everytime she acted out. At times, Alice would run out of things to take away, so she took away her bed and extra clothes. Their was one time, that she was sleeping on the floor and only had a couple of things to wear. She sure worked hard to start getting things back at that point.

Like I said, she is doing very well now. She's in college and has a great boyfriend and they are talking about marriage. She wants to be able to open a daycare.

I hope this was helpful. I don't know anything about raising kids since I never had any but I can tell how wonderful my sister was. I think she literally saved one childs life.

I'll pray for you and your daughter, as well as the rest of your family.


Kathleen Coy said...

I don't have much in the way of advice Sarah, I just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you and sending lots of hugs and healing wishes to your situation.

Diane MacNaughtan said...

Dear Sara,
As I read your post I just wanted to hug you... I too went through this with my daughter.. for many years.
Her behaviors started changing at 12 yrs. of age it wasn't until she was 16 that she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
There were days I just didnt think I could be strong... but by the grace of God the strength that I needed to help my daughter was always there.. Today she is doing very well..she will always have to take meds for the bipolar. But, she is now the daughter with the loving and bubbly personality that I once knew.
I am thinking of you and daughter.

Michelle said...

I have no advice. My daughter has been diagnosed with major childhood depression and anxiety so I can empathise. I have wondered if she is Bipolar myself on occasion. It is horrible to have to deal with your child being ill, and so frustrating as well.

I do send you much strength and love.


Snap said...

Oh, Sarah. I just want to take you in my arms and hug you. I have some idea what you and your family are going through with Hanna. I agree with Audrey ... have rules and, most importantly, have a survival plan. As hard as it may sound, YOU FIRST. If you *aren't together*, you can't help anyone. I'm sure your sharing post will help others ... something you already do. I bow to you, dear one.


pencilportraits said...

It's amazing what other people have to deal with, I have a disabled sister and I forget others have a multitude of things they must cope with as well. Be brave for her and yourself, sometimes the hardest battles leave times of peace behind. Fingers crossed your battle will not be long.

jane augenstein said...

Dear Sarah, I am so sorry to hear this. I have no advice, I have never had to deal with something as heart breaking as this. I believe you are a strong person and will get through this rough time in your life.
Peace and love to you and your family.

Tabitha in Bliss said...

Audrey asked a few of the questions I was going to ask. My youngest sister is living through this now. My nephew is 12 and was diagnosed with bi-polar about 6 years ago. When things get too intense he comes to me. I have no idea why he functions better with us, but he does.

I am praying with all that I have for you and your daughter. Take care of You that is so very important sweet friend!!

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Dearest Sarh,
I can not give any advice nor much help but I can say many prayers for you and Hannah to do His will. I had a very troubled teen..no diagnosis but suicidal at times. At the tender age of 22, she is back to her normal self...a budding young woman. So there is hope...never loose hope.

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Oh Sarah, I am so very sorry! I wish there was something I could offer you in way of help besides just words. I think Audrey had some wonderful advice. Mainly, don't forget to take care of yourself and the rest of your family. My thoughts are with you.
In light and love, gail

halloweenspirit01 said...

Good luck Sarah, and make sure she gets the medical part of her therapy.
Things will get better with time. ANY teen is difficult in one way or another. Let her know that you don't want to fight her, but want her to feel better because you love her. Remember, if the way you were dealing with her wasn't working, try something else. If it didn't work before, it probably won't this time.
I'll be thinking of you.

Renee said...

Oh Sarah:

Round 2 for Fox and Nonni too. Hannah has to know what is at stake or she may have to go to her Dad. You have the other two at home as well.

I don't even know what to say.

What about medications, is she on anything to keep her on an even keel.

Sarah, I just feel like it is so hard.

How can I support you. What can I do? I want to help but I don't know how.

Love Renee xoxo

Pamela said...

Sarah. My heart breaks for you and what you are going through with your daughter and family.

As you know, my son has Aspergers Syndrome but he's a social guy. He has highs and lows similar to bipolar. There are times when we just don't know what to do or how we'll get through it. But, we do get through it.

May I ask, are you happy with the whatever medical treatment she may be receiving?

I agree that having the rules of your household made plain to your daughter and being consistent with consequences will help. I also believe that you need an out, somewhere you can go to step away from an escalated situation.

Please don't beat yourself if things don't always go well, and do take care of yourself, okay?

I will be praying for your family, that you receive strength, wisdom, courage, peace, and laughter during this journey with your daughter.

I pray that some day, we can look back and see how our actions now made a difference in the lives of our children and ourselves.

Big hugs!


KnittingJourneyman said...

Oh, honey-all I can offer is love and hugs and as much energy and support as I can send.
Hang in there.
Things can and will get better.

Mary said...

Sarah, thanks for your comments on my blog! I just read your post about Hanna. I think it is so good that you recognize how restorative the last 6 weeks were. That strength will guide you as Hanna re-enters the household. Hopefully you can accommodate her needs without fully compromising your own. Best wishes to you. I will keep reading! Mary

Periwinkle Studio said...

Oh Sarah, thank you so much for sharing! I had to pop over after you sent me such encouraging words on my blog.

I completely understand your pain, fears, anxiety, worry, ...everything! I am there too. We have questioned bi-polar, but he certainly has been treated for major depressive disorder.
These days are so hard, but many people have offered up promises of hope and that their loved ones survived and passed through this time. I hold on to those promises so tight until my fingers are clenched.

My prayers are with you and for your family. Finding knowledgeable professional help is a tough one too!
I could go on and on, but know that I am here for you!

((hugs)) Suzanne