School Shanigans II, Luke, and DeeDee

It’s been a busy few weeks and I haven’t had time to write.

School Shenanigans: II

Luke’s school issue has been resolved. First, the school tried to re-use an education plan Luke had 6yrs ago (when he was in 2nd grade; he’s now in 7th). Then, when I requested a 504 meeting, to my surprise the school scheduled a meeting…only to cancel it a day later because I’m not Luke’s biological parent. After that, the school demanded a power of attorney. After that, the school demanded that I go to court and request legal guardianship of the children to have any involvement in their education.

At that point, I rolled my eyes – hard – and called my lawyer. My lawyer called the school’s lawyer which sorted out that issue rapidly. I contacted the school to schedule another 504 meeting making sure to reference the conversation between the lawyers. I gave the school two options. First, they scheduled the first option. Then the school canceled and rescheduled for the second option.

Surprisingly, the kids’ BioMom declared she plans to attend the 504 meeting as well. Interesting because BioMom chooses to be involved with, well, nothing related to the kids which might require effort, follow-up, or money. Hopefully involving BioMom in the meeting won’t turn into a huge disaster.


Suicidal Thoughts…Again

Luke is struggling with suicidal thoughts again. The majority of my waking hours have been spent preventing him from harming himself. Pills, knives, lighters, candles, and any other implements of destruction are locked in cabinets, filing cabinets, and my upstairs office. Neither Luke’s nor Oliver’s shoes have shoe laces by design. Luke’s belts are locked away too. Granted, a determined person can always find a way to commit suicide, but I’ve taken away as many obvious avenues as I can find.

Luke keeps “forgetting” to take his meds when he goes to BioMom’s house. Sometimes he claims to take his meds when he hasn’t. About 3 days without meds and he’s ready to die. If he can’t take pills and hang himself, he tries to stab himself with a kitchen knife. Without a kitchen knife, he’ll throw himself on the floor or slam his head into the walls. It’s like a storm. It lasts for half an hour or so then you clean up the aftermath.

The next psychiatric appointment is 8 days from today.


 DeeDee

Dee has been struggling. She too suffers with severe mental illness and constant suicidal thoughts. She can’t pay her bills. She’s getting evicted soon. A guy she was dating stole her last $100 bill. DeeDee called me sobbing indecipherably. I was at work at the time.

I don’t know what to do for her. I loaned her a small amount of money…very small. Dee is such a needy person. All the help you offer Dee is absorbed so quickly it’s like it was no help at all. DeeDee is one of those people who make you wonder why they’re in your life – to teach you something, test your boundaries, or because life is random? Only time will tell.

 

School BS / Suicidal Thoughts

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.

What Would You Do: Suicidal Acquaintance

A friend of mine is suicidal again. Well, she’s not really my friend, per se. She’s more of an acquaintance who calls me to ask for things including money. I haven’t given her money in 8 years, but she still asks for my help. She wants help with an animal, help when her ex left, help getting groceries, the list goes on. I helped her board up a window once since she doesn’t know how to operate a drill or electric driver. She is the neediest people I have ever met and I think she thrives on neediness.

Her “fiance”, whom she has been dating for a month, left her. Now she wants to kill herself and “has a plan”. She threatens to commit suicide…and “has a plan”…with remarkable regularity. I took her seriously the first 6 threats of suicide. Now, after suicide threats too numerable to count, I think she might be threatening suicide for attention. My friendship is not enough attention. Lending her a patient ear and talking to her on IM at all hours of the day and night is not enough attention. Persuading her fiance to move in with her and propose to her after less than a month of dating is not enough attention. Nothing fills her endless cavernous need for attention.

Do I take her 10th…15th…20th…threat of suicide seriously? Do I distance myself from her? Do I tell her to knock it off? Tonight is a school night. I’m trying to, cook dinner, organize the kids’ papers, lunches, etc for school and get them to bed at a reasonable time. I really do not have time to drive well over an hour to help someone who I simply cannot help. (And it’s not like I haven’t tried and tried and TRIED to help). Yet, at the same time, I’m worried she will act on her “plan”. She has attempted suicide several times per her own admission, but I’m not even sure her “admissions” are truthful or if her “admissions” are another way to garner attention.

What would you do?

Luke On Meds

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.

Horrible Day: Jonathan’s Tirade

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.

Jonathan’s Depression

Jonathan was in a foul mood. He was going to deliver a large piece of furniture to a client on Tuesday but the client cancelled. He had to build the huge custom shelving unit twice because the measurement was slightly off on the first cabinet so he was already frustrated.

Jonathan was sitting on the couch in his “man-cave” which was supposed to be a family room but has since been taken over by Jonathan as his snacking/TV watching/sleeping on the couch room. No one goes in Jonathan’s “man-cave” without being yelled at  – myself being the only exception to the yelling rule only sometimes. I asked what I could do to help and Jonathan replied, “Shoot me. Put me out of my misery.”

BigDog started barking because he hadn’t been fed yet so I went out to feed BigDog. When I returned Jonathan had relocated to the garage. I had set a bag of trash at the garage door since the outdoor trash can was full and it was raining. Jonathan was angry BigDog was barking and grew even angrier once he realized I had set a bag of trash at the door. He slammed his tools down on the bench, kicked a piece of wood across the floor, and threw the garage door up the track so hard that the 9′ tall custom shelving unit, which was caught by the door, nearly toppled onto me. I managed to shove the cabinet off myself – barely – by chance and quick reflexes. I left the garage.

I know Jonathan suffers with anxiety and depression. I also have no idea what to do to help him at this point. He gets so angry that neither the children nor I want to be around him. He doesn’t sleep often. He doesn’t eat consistently. The only things Jonathan does are watch TV at night and work all day. That’s it, really.

I have no idea what to do about any of this.

 

Guaifenesin Update: Day…?

I have lots of interesting things to write about but no time to write. This is the disadvantage to feeling well-ish. I can spend all sorts of time writing about life when I feel to miserable to participate in life, but when I’m feeling well I find so many other things to do.

For the past month, I’ve been helping Dee. I’ve also been running a household, repairing the AC, shelling out $700 to repair Jonathan’s car, working, attending Luke’s learning disability appointments…You know – the usual. My days have been non-stop activity from 5:30A to nearly midnight. There is just so much to do.

I’m not sure if the 20mg Lexapro or guaifenesin is the most helpful. The 10mg increase in Lexapro definitely helps me stay awake, but it also keeps me from feeling emotions. And I do mean any emotion – happiness, sadness, joy, misery…I feel nothing. I recognize when it would be appropriate to feel sad, the sadness just doesn’t come. Neither does the happiness. Living in emotional limbo is a strange place to be.

Guaifenesin seems to be decreasing overall muscle pain and muscle spasms. That is an exciting development. I’ve been able to do normal, pre-sickness, paced activities without days of misery afterwards. I’m still experiencing some pain, just less. So far so good. I have the date I started guaifenesin written down, but I don’t recall the date so I can’t say exactly how many days I’ve been taking guaifenesin now. I do know I’ve been taking 200mg 2x daily morning and night.

The Suicide

DropletRose

Recently a friend of mine committed suicide. He wasn’t a close friend, more of a friend-quaintance; someone who is more of an acquaintance but you run into them frequently and they’re friends with your other friends but the two of you don’t hang out. We participated in some charity photo events together.

He had attained a level of success as a photographer that I dream about. His work was published across several cities, every weekend was booked with top-dollar weddings, he had a studio of his own… In fact, the June calendar on his website shows he’s booked every weekend through the summer wedding season. He made money doing what he loved and that is most every artists dream.

He was in his 40’s. He was engaged once, but the engagement ended. I don’t know why. His current girlfriend was 20 years his junior. They didn’t live together. He regularly fostered kittens from a local shelter. He regularly posted his work on social media.He shot a wedding and posted edited photos online less than a week before he died and posted macro photos of garden flowers days before he died.

His mother died a few weeks ago. He was sad, but normal-sad. He wasn’t the sort of sad that most of us assume suicidal people might be. He wasn’t the sort of un-showered, despondent, sullen, withdrawn sort of sad. He was sad like any other person who lost a parent but didn’t commit suicide. No one saw this coming.

What is most shocking to me is that he achieved his dream. He achieved the dream of running a successful photography business where he could support himself from his art and had thousands of fans. Then he killed himself. He had family, friends, pets, thousands of fans…then he killed himself.

The Awful Pharmacy

The past 3 days have been hard. I’ve paid for my day of normalcy with pain which had kept me from sleeping well which has led to extreme fatigue. To make matters worse, the pharmacy my insurance requires that I use still hasn’t shipped the meds I ordered almost 10 days ago. I’m cutting ultrams, orphenedrines, and lexapros in half to hopefully make them last until the meds finally arrive. I take lexapro, an antidepressant, for fatigue so halving my dose is making the fatigue from not sleeping well worse. I’m afraid to take more ultram so I can sleep through the night because if I run out I’ll have to suffer through withdraw.

The pharmacy is awful. Even the lady who answers the phone is terribly rude. She’s hung up on me several times. I wasn’t rude to her in the least, but she has no patience for answering questions…which is kinda her job actually since she’s the customer service person at the pharmacy.

Work has been a pain this week as well. I haven’t gotten breaks so the only time I’ve been able to leave my desk is to use the restroom. People often call my cell while I’m in the restroom. It takes 3 min for me to walk to the rest room, urinate, wash hands, and return to my desk. People cannot wait 3 min. I have more projects than I can complete and feel constantly behind and overwhelmed. My job is designed for men who can devote their lives to work while their wives take care of the children. My job is not designed for me.

I am grateful my job pays the bills. However, my job is definitely not my life’s purpose. When I consider the things I’d rather be doing, it feels like I’m wasting my life. Fibromyalgia and RA also make what I would rather be doing nearly impossible. It’s a catch 22, really. Outside of this blog, I encourage other people and don’t complain. This is the only place I have to talk about how frustrating my job can be.

Luke In Love…Among Other Things

To Eczema or Not To Eczema

Now that the itchy skin condition of doom is better controlled, I can continue talking about pretty much every other aspect of my life – like my inability to sleep like normal people, unraveling Luke the 12yr old’s depression, kids being kids, and work being work.

Before we start all of that, tonight I mixed raw shea butter with the DIY coconut oil lotion I’ve been using. It’s so nice! I’ve been out of the shower for 40min now and I’m not itching at all. The shea butter is very moisturizing and isn’t sticky. It also adds thickness to the coconut oil  which helps keep the coconut oil from dripping as I apply it.


 

One Hour of Napping; One Week of Recovering

Today was a moderate pain day. Considering I messed up my sleep schedule with a nap on Monday, I’m not surprised I feel awful today. Part of fibromyalgia means not sleeping well and part of RA is pain and fatigue. Combine the two and you get how I’ve felt all day. It feels a bit like coming down with the flu after a super strenuous workout. I can’t even afford a nap when I’m tired because one nap will throw off a whole week. Sigh…


 

Luke in Love…Among Other Things

(For the new readers: Luke is my husband Jonathan’s 12yr old son who suffers from depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety disorder among other things. He often confides me but asks me not to tell anyone which leaves me between a rock and a hard place.)

Last week, during Luke’s therapy session, I asked Luke about two things: why he talks about how stupid he (thinks) he is all the time and why he has stopped eating. Instead of handling the questions in any sort of mature or helpful way by trying to articulate his feelings, he chose to stare off into space and remain completely silent the entire session.

Really, Luke???

Luke has a girlfriend. We’ll call Luke’s girlfriend Cloe.

Today Luke told me his girlfriend Cloe is into self harm and one of Luke’s friends hates Luke’s therapist. Why does the friend hate Luke’s therapist? Because that kid went to a therapist he didn’t like…a therapist who is completely unrelated to Luke’s therapist. Gee thanks, jerk kid.

As someone with a history of eating disorder, I’m very knowledgable about the symptoms and habits of eating disordered people. Luke’s description of Cloe’s behavior – self harm, refusing to eat, etc – makes me wonder if Cloe is developing an ED. Perhaps she already has an ED. Anyway, Luke decided to stop eating lunch because Cloe doesn’t eat lunch. Argh! Show some independent thinking skills here, Luke! When asked, Luke’s explanation for refusing to eat is that he’s “not really a food person”. Never mind the fact that food is…oh…required to sustain life.

Luke has been obsessed with constantly talking to Cloe. He breaks the 2-hour-a-day internet rule to “secretly” IM Cloe from other computers in the house. “Secretly” is in quotations because, before Luke started sneaking IMs to his girlfriend, I installed monitoring software on the computers. I installed the monitoring software partly because I’m a computer geek who enjoys tinkering, but mostly so I could control the volume of streaming music without physically walking to the computer and using the keyboard to change the volume. Now the monitoring software is catching Luke breaking the rules. Do I just let it go or do I say something to Jonathan about Luke’s secretive rule breaking?

Parenting a preteen is a huge pain the arse sometimes.