The Long Bullshit Story of Luke’s School: The Condensed Version
Luke’s school is refusing to speak with me. I attended a parent-teacher conference because Luke is failing math and social studies. I requested a modified education plan (504) since Luke has been diagnosed with ADD and GAD. The school tried to implement a 6 year old study plan (RtI) which is not legally enforceable like a 504. When I requested a copy of the RtI, the school decided I am not a “guardian”, cancelled the meeting, and is refusing to speak with me.
The school sent an email with paragraphs of legal-ese about my lack of guardianship. I sent the school officials a single line in response: “This is most unfortunate.” (By “most unfortunate” I mean: “I’ll have my lawyer call your lawyer. Prepare for the mess you’ve created for yourselves. Talk to you soon. Buh-bye.”)
I don’t threaten. I also don’t mess around.
Luke’s Suicidal Thoughts
Tonight Luke confessed he’s been struggling with suicidal thoughts for days now. He can’t get the thought of hanging himself out of his head. For several days, Luke has been wrapping belts around his neck and pulling tight only to tell me he was “just joking”. I know better.
We talked for an hour before bed about how much I love him, how I would cry for him every day if he were gone, how his mom and dad would cry for him too and their lives would never be the same. It seemed to make an impact…I hope it made an impact. Luke seemed to cheer up some as he went to bed.
Early this week, after Luke’s visit to the child psychiatrist, we decided to try medication. Luke has been restricting food all summer. He refuses to eat because he thinks he will gain weight and because he doesn’t feel like he deserves food. Luke doesn’t feel like he deserves to live, actually. His depression and anxiety are serious. He had 4 panic attacks in one day while we were on vacation. He’s quietly self harming. He quietly wants to die. He’s outwardly exuberant and silly – changing from topic to topic at light speed.
Luke also barely passed summer school. He squeaked by with a low C in English and Math. He just can’t focus. He tries. I try. Everyone tries so hard. He just can’t. Luke was held back in 2nd grade and we worried he would be held back again this year. He passed…barely.
We’ve been through a year of therapy, but Luke’s anxiety attacks prevent him from talking with the therapist, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist nearly 50% of the time. He freezes and stares, unable to respond. I’ve read books. I’ve researched techniques. I’ve been working with Luke on mediation and biofeedback and both helped slightly, but not enough.
After a year of trying our best to avoid putting Luke on meds, we decided to give meds a try. He’s on Strattera. I’m keeping a daily journal of his behavior and watching for side effects like a hawk. The child psychiatrist was impressed with how much I knew about mental health, meds, Luke, and Luke’s mental health. She was surprised my relationship with Luke is so good. Jonathan did not attend the appointment with the child psychiatrist. She was also deeply concerned about Luke’s self harm and restricting.
It’s a hard choice to try medication when your child is 13. It’s also hard to watch your child suffer from depression, anxiety, and ADD – their brain raging out of control and inadvertently ruining everything for them. Here we are. Luke’s Strattera sits beside my RA and fibro meds in the medicine cabinet and we take our meds together every morning.
The horrible day was 3 days ago now.
Here is the main reason for the horrible day:
Luke went to see the doctor (PCP) about obtaining some anxiety medicine based on the results of Luke’s learning assessment. Unfortunately, the PCP didn’t feel comfortable prescribing psychiatric meds to Luke since Luke is 12, and has both ADD and severe anxiety disorder. The PCP referred us to a child psychiatrist instead so Luke could be carefully monitored for side effects.
As soon as the PCP issued the referral, Jonathan went off. He shouted at that PCP for what felt like half an hour, but was probably more like 10 minutes. I don’t remember every detail of Jonathan’s tirade, but he said everything was “bullshit” several times along with “you people”, and “WE’RE DONE!!!” which he said repeatedly. To summarize the tirade, Jonathan thinks that Luke is being treated like a pawn, not a person, no one is willing to help Luke, and everyone is just after the insurance money. I tried to interrupt his tirade to explain that we haven’t been doing “nothing” for a year. I kept my voice calm and even, but assertively disagreed with Jonathan’s point. This year we tried counseling which only helped a little, we identified some problems, we had a learning assessment, we were obtaining the insurance-required referral to get meds for Luke – but Jonathan just kept shouting.
Luke hung his head and began to quietly cry. Oliver looked at Jonathan in quiet shock. The PCP looked at me with wide eyed expectation. What I going to cry? Was I going to yell?
I calmly asked Jonathan if he was leaving and he and the kids left. I talked to the PCP, her eyes now welling up with tears, about how Jonathan is struggling and to please send Luke’s psychiatric referral directly to me. The PCP hugged me and told me she was sorry. Sorry for what? That my husband chose to behave poorly?
Don’t feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for Luke who thinks Jonathan’s shouting tantrum is his fault. Don’t feel sorry for me. Wish me patience so I don’t slap Jonathan upside the head for behaving like an asshole to the only doctor who believed I was sick FOR YEARS before finally getting diagnosed with RA.
I wish this were the only incident that made the horrible day horrible; unfortunately it wasn’t.
The results of Luke’s learning assessment are in. Luke has anxiety disorder and ADD. I expected the anxiety disorder diagnosis. Luke is extremely anxious and prone to anxiety attacks where his heart pounds suddenly. ADD wasn’t expected, but it does explain some things about Luke’s behavior and his complete inability to listen and follow instructions.
The psychologist also mentioned Luke has mild OCD symptoms which may not be OCD, but a coping mechanism for anxiety disorder. OCD symptoms are the reason Luke “collects” my things. Only my belongings bring Luke a sense of comfort which is flattering and supremely annoying.
ADD is normally treated with stimulants since ADD is an issue with brain stimulation. Because Luke has anxiety disorder, we can’t follow the standard ADD protocol without making his anxiety symptoms worse. If we treat the anxiety, the ADD may get worse. It’s a frustrating situation.
One thing is certain: Luke needs meds to function. If Luke doesn’t get meds, he’s going to keep failing school and continue developing negative coping mechanisms or slip into severe depression. Biomom doesn’t want Luke to take meds under any circumstances no matter how necessary or dire. Jonathan has slowly been persuaded to agree that meds are worth a try if they help Luke function better and feel more satisfied with life. Normal moms can make decisions to medicate a child on their own. I cannot. I have to hire a lawyer.
So it begins.