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.