My Observations of Aj Without Medication – Mood Disorder & Anxiety Child

If you are not familiar with this child of mine, please read more on site at the Mood Disorder category to get yourself familiar with some of the back story, or just read along here if you wish! The gist? My son Aj is 7 years old and he long ago ended up being diagnosed with Mood Disorder – NOS as well as Anxiety – NOS. This is my update regarding the fact that he has not been on medications since January 20, 2014. I use these blog posts as a way to document my observations while we wait for him to see a new psychiatrist and to possibly help others in their own lives.

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It has been 8 days since my last update regarding Aj not being on medication and how frustrated I was starting to get with some of my observations, I will tell you this – raising a child that has all of these symptoms and is not a text book label for a diagnosis really is draining physically as well as emotionally on his whole family. Having a child that needs extra extra attention does take away from the other children and can create this domino effect of spiraling downhill, but we are a strong united family and work hard every day to ensure we keep our happy during these challenging times.

We have met with the counselor since my last update and it was decided that Aj, while he does have an underlying mood disorder, has also picked back up with some learned behaviors. This was of no surprise to me when Aj’s counselor stated this because after months and months of Aj being off kilter, it has been difficult to be consistent as a parent. When Aj is not on proper medication, or not any medication at all, his reasoning and logic skills go out the window. This is a child who seriously believes that he did/does no wrong and he also truly cannot remember when he did something only moments ago. It’s difficult, sometimes near impossible, to get through to your child when he is like this. I admit that I am only one person so when my level is full, I will let some things slide. This is my bad and something I made a clear conscious effort to work on since our last counseling session.

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Aj came home from school after a weekend with his Dad acting absolutely out of his mind. I could not get a handle on him and had to restrain him in a basket hold multiple times. Mind you, my son is 53″ tall and 99lbs, I am 66″ tall and 220lbs. My strength is gone because I haven’t been working out and I am not quite tall enough to get the proper grip on his legs with my legs during these restraints, it literally takes every ounce of my energy to keep this child restrained properly until he has moved to a calm state of mind. Later on that day I found out that Aj hadn’t gone to bed the night before at his Dads home until 9pm, which is too late for my son to be sleeping on a school night. Without sleep, this is what happens — Aj is irritable, out of control and has to be restrained frequently. It’s a nightmare to say the least.

Tuesday came along and Aj didn’t sleep very well the night before, I was starting to get nervous, but there was a snow day and other kids were getting sick so we stayed home for the half day of school that was called. I had a great day with Aj on this particular day. Very minimal issues and he even served a time out without having to be restrained. Progress!

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As of this date I am typing this, February 20th, Aj is now taking to time outs without restraining, he has reluctantly accepted a time out and I have not had to restrain him since the Monday prior to this date. The home front is doing better as far as symptoms of Aj, he is having a hyper manic style bipolar episode these past couple of days but I will take it, it’s better than irritability.  I did, however, receive a phone call from the school nurse at end of school about Aj’s behavior in school that day. Apparently Aj was irritable, having odd body movements, very itchy and fidgety all day long. Aj was unable to focus and was rather bouncy. I replied to the nurse, “welcome to what I live with. This is Aj not on medication and this is the real Aj”.  I am not trying to make light of how my son is but in all reality there is little that can be done until we start seeing the new psychiatrist, the prior one was an intern and has left that facility, since Aj is seeing a new pysch in the beginning of March there is no point in setting him up at the old facility with a new person. So we wait. We watch. We communicate with the school and we make sure to stay strong to keep those learned behaviors nipped in the butt!

Oh … and we love Aj with all of our hearts, that goes a long way to make a kid struggling feel more secure!

5 Tips on Working with an Anxious Child

Anxiety. Mood disorder. Special Needs. It’s all fine within your own household, you see we learn to deal with our children in a way that works for them. Society, on the other hand, has zero tolerance for people who don’t fit their mold of what they think to be the norm. I am at the point where I am about sick of being stared at every single time my child is having a difficult day due to either a medication change or simply just having an off day. When my son has an off day, it’s unlike my other two children because he has a mood disorder and anxiety; this makes an off day for him closer to the end of the world mentality. It’s normal for him, it’s not so normal for others. With that being said, there are simple ways to work with a child who has anxiety, and yes people, anxiety is a real disorder that sometimes keeps people from going outside of their house because it’s too painful to go outside of their comfort zone.

I was that person. I have anxiety and every day, even at age 32, it’s still a struggle to get out and mingle with society without having first prepped my brain for it. I have to literally talk myself into going out in public some days and while it’s become my norm at 32 years of age, it wasn’t always my norm. Talking yourself into being part of society when you suffer from major anxiety takes a lot of strength and determination as well as motivation, all three things my seven year old may have but not with a true understanding of how he works best. With that being said I decided to create this list of ways to work with an anxious child …. to help you work with an anxious child at a level that makes sense for the child and will help them blossom in time.

5 Tips to Work with Anxious Children

  1. Be Firm, Yet Understanding – Remind your child that you understand and feel for what he/she is going through, allow their feelings to be validated but be firm in your tone, not stern, so that the child realizes “this person means business” but doesn’t feel more anxious & overwhelmed with the demands from said adult.
  2. Encourage but Do not Force – As my son’s counselor told me, “there is a fine line between encouraging and forcing”. It’s vitally important for the growth of an anxious child to encourage them to continue on in life as is their norm without the anxiety attack. Do not allow anxiety to take over your child, but also don’t drag them kicking and screaming if encouragement doesn’t work. It’s not the end of the world if anxiety has overcome your child to the point that he/she doesn’t want to partake in a certain situation and forcing will only increase anxious feelings. Try again next time.
  3. Don’t Use Logic with an Irrational Thought Pattern – Anxiety is a completely irrational fear of society or situations, therefore you cannot try to use logic or rational reasoning with a child who is having an anxiety attack. They are in a different place where, in their own mind, their fear in this moment makes sense to them. 
  4. Listen to The Child Speak – This is a very important tip, you should listen to an anxious child speak fully. Allow the child to explain to you exactly what they are thinking and feeling during their anxiety attack. This helps two things; it helps you understand what is going on inside of their head so you can better assist them in moving forward and it helps them get whatever they are feeling off of their mind allowing them to have a better chance at overcoming this anxiety attack.
  5. Prepare The Child for What’s to Come – Anxious children really like to know what is going to happen next, most times children will automatically assume that x,y,z is going to happen. When x.y,z doesn’t happen in that order or doesn’t happen at all, then they are bound to have an anxiety attack. Anxious children like to have a routine and a schedule, while they are adaptable to changes in their routines, they must be prepared for those changes. Do your best to prepare an anxious child for their “what’s next” on the agenda, so as to avoid a full blown anxiety attack.

 If you follow the 5 Tips on Working with an Anxious child above, I firmly believe that you will be on your way to greener pastures with your anxious child.

“Image courtesy of cooldesign/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Day 2: Doing The Best I Know How

After having panic attacks and being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and realizing that mood disorders run in my family big time I decided there was to be something I can do about this without taking medication for the rest of my life. Due to losing health insurance I slowly weaned myself off of lexapro and decided for my daughter’s sake I would learn to be more outgoing and positive. After all she was my world and we were all we had, well except she of course had her father involved in her life very much so.

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Memorial Day 2010 With My Daughter

I worked about 30 hours a week give or take and while I was at work my daughter went to an in home daycare at a very sweet ladies house. I love that girl, she was outgoing, funny and just a totally rocking person. I must admit I miss her. All too often I would be found in silly situations with boyfriends, they would come and go, I would get depressed wondering “will I forever be single?” then it hit me, I was very needy, lonely and had a low self esteem. Just like in my high school years, I was searching for love in all the wrong places.

I finally woke up and realized, with the help of advice from my boss and others in my life, that I did not need a man to survive and it was not a bad thing that I had to work and still get state assistance {some would call it welfare}. I was doing the best I knew how to do with the life I was living. I was so painfully shy back then that I would not even go into a bank to get cash out, nor go to a store to buy a candy bar alone. I had anxiety over the idea that someone would be judging me, I would be picked on because I was a single mom. Do you know that back in these days I used to wear a ring on my ring finger to make it appear as if I was engaged? Yes, I did that for a long time!

My mother used to give me hard time about my painfully shy personality, here I was in my early 20′s and I couldn’t even go into a store alone without having a panic attack. This was seriously ridiculous, but I didn’t know how to overcome it. Late one night I recall sitting at my house thinking about what type of person I wanted my little girl to grow up being. The words well rounding, outgoing, friendly, cautious and social came to mind. In order for my daughter to be all of those things I would first have to become those things myself, as children learn from example, right?!

This was the day I woke up and realized I had been dating people to have someone around, I had been drinking when my daughter was gone to fight the lonely feelings and I thought I was happy but reality was so the opposite of what I thought. I was hiding my true feelings from the world by covering them in alcohol every other weekend and a fake smile that anyone close to me knew was fake.

To be continued …

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Day 1: This Sucks & No Body Likes Me

Oh the negative words!

The words used for the title of this article hurt me so badly that whenever I hear them my heart aches. Not only because negativity is so hard for me to bear but because I can relate to feeling like this. I used to think that every person in the whole wide world hated me, I would sit at night all by myself and wonder where my life was going. I would worry about whether or not I would ever be married. I worried if my parents would ever feel I was good enough.  I often had panic attacks, anxiety, and depression episodes.

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One year my panic attacks were so bad that I looked at my boss and had this concerned look on my face. When my boss asked what was wrong, I replied that my heart and left arm was aching really bad and it felt almost like a heart attack or something. I couldn’t muster up the right adjectives to describe the feeling that had just overcome my heart and left arm. My boss told me this was a panic attack. Which would make sense, the job I held in this office was a high paced, multi-tasking one and it’s one in which had introduced me to coffee consumption versus tea drinking.

Of course I visited the doctor and ended up being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and was provided a prescription for Lexapro and after losing health insurance I could no longer take the medication so I decided to teach myself how to stay calm and control the fears, worry and depression. When people ask me how I went from a shy, depressed, worried young adult to a more independent, happy go lucky older adult I can’t seem to explain what it was that made me wake up and realize “I want better”, “I am better” and “I deserve the best”.

Since so many are struggling with removing those negative thoughts and replacing them with positive, I thought the best way to assist them in moving forward towards a more positive life would be best served through daily blog posts that tell a story of my personal journey to becoming a more positive person. I look forward to sharing with you my journey! Each day I will share with you a little more of the story of how I went from a negative, low self esteemed young adult to a positive, full self esteemed older adult.

If you have any tips, advice, personal stories to share along with me please feel free to leave comments, I read them all and I do my best to respond to them all.

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