Bud’s Black Days

Ever since he was a little guy Bud has had anger management issues.

He hated having his picture taken.

When he was 5, Bud tried to pick a fight with some teenagers at the local burger joint because they said he was cute.  At 6, a 9 year old stole  Bud’s water gun (Super Soaker) and started spraying him with it.  Bud ran up to the other boy, grabbed the water gun out of his hands and whacked him with it until the other boy ran away.

I’m not telling you these stories because I’m looking for  sympathy or so that you think Bud is a terrible child.  It’s simply that in looking back I can see all the signs we missed that Bud had a mental health issue.

WebMD has a laundry list of symptoms that can signal depression in children.  I have included the entire list in the hopes that it may help another family, but I’ll highlight the ones that applied to Bud:

  • Irritability or anger (as previously mentioned)
  • Continuous feelings of sadness, hopelessness.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection.
  • Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased (From the age of 5 or so on, Bud had a bit of a weight problem – he wore size 12 husky pants when he was 9. About age 10 he grew a few inches in height and since then he has had a hard time keeping weight on.  So we have seen both sides of the appetite problem.)
  • Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep. (I talk about Bud’s sleep problems in my blog post I Couldn’t Sleep at All Last Night.
  • Vocal outbursts or crying.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that do not respond to treatment (We homeschooled Bud through the sixth grade, so he didn’t miss school due to illness.  But by the time he was in the 9th grade, he was missing up to 15 days per semester due to headaches, stomachaches or whatever excuse he could come up with)
  • Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Impaired thinking or concentration.
  • Thoughts of death orsuicide.
  • *this list (minus my comments)©2005-2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

I think on some level Art and I knew there was something wrong.  We thought he was just willful and when the problems first started, we cracked down on him when he raged at us (cold showers, loss of privileges).  It worked for awhile and as long as he was at home in a controlled environment, things went well.  But when he was away from home (at taekwondo or AWANA or grandma’s or camp) that was when all hell would break loose.

I wish very much we could go back and know then what we know now.  I wish we could have got Bud the help he needed from an early age so he wouldn’t have to have had so many years of feeling so lost and alone.  I am glad that we were able to get Bud help before it was too late and I hope that someone who reads this will be able to get their child the help he or she needs.

Advertisements

“I Couldn’t Sleep at All Last Night”

Looking back, I feel guilty for not believing him.  So many times over the years Bud would tell us that he hadn’t slept at all the night before.  “Of course you did,” we would reply.  “You just don’t remember.  You probably woke up a lot and that’s why you think you weren’t asleep at all.”

He was such an easy baby.  No fuss and always such a sweet smile on his face that I called him my angel baby.  But it seemed like the terrible twos lasted three years.  After that, things got easier, but Bud was always  a little crabby and anxious.

Then in 2009 his attitude took a turn for the worse.  Our business was failing,  and Art and I were gone from the house for 10 or more hours a day.  Bud was in his first year of high school and struggling to keep up in some of his classes.  In addition, he and his girlfriend were not getting along.  All I knew was that it was nearly impossible to get him up for school in the morning.  He had a headache, or he didn’t feel good.  Could he just miss a class or two and go in late?  I remember adding it up and he had missed over 15 days of school his freshman year!

Finally, in June of 2009, right after we closed the business, I tried to get Bud up one morning.  He refused.  It was the week before finals and I was worried he wouldn’t pass his classes and end up having to repeat his freshman year.  I told him there were no more excuses and gave him 5 minutes to get out of bed.  Then I personally drove him to school (the boys usually walked, but I wasn’t taking any chances on that day).  On my way back home I got a text.  Pulling to a stop in our driveway I read the message from Bud which read, “well if you’re not even going to listen to me then I might as well just kill myself.  You don’t even know what’s going on.”

Needless to say, I freaked out.  I woke up Art and read him the message.  He agreed we had to take the threat seriously and called the school.  By the time we got there, they had already pulled Bud out of class and he was in the vice principal’s office waiting for us.  It turned out that Bud and his girlfriend had broken up the night before and he just couldn’t deal with going to school.   It was obvious he was done for the day, so we brought him home.  He wouldn’t talk to us and we were scared.  We finally got him to agree to go to therapy through the local Community Mental Health.

It took a month for us to get an appointment for Bud.  In the meantime, he did manage to attend class every day for the next two weeks and to pass all his classes.  His first day with the therapist she managed to get out of him that he had not had a full night’s sleep in years (we think probably since the age of 5 – maybe even earlier).  She also suggested that Bud was suffering from generalized anxiety disorder and depression.  We wrangled a doctor’s appointment the very next day and after two weeks on heavy duty sleep meds we could already see the difference in Bud.

The past 2 1/2 years have been a two steps forward one step back world of medication changes and adjustments, psychiatric appointments and family discussions.  Bud is still not the best sleeper and one of the main reasons he is homeschooling is so that he can “do school” when he is most awake  – usually around 10 p.m.!  He is fun to have a conversation with and, if he’s really well rested, even volunteers to do some chores!!

I’m happy to say – I got my angel baby back!!