A week has gone by since we checked Tim into ODTC for residential treatment. We’ve talked to him on the phone three times, and all three times were pretty much the same: he’s fine, so far everything is good, when are we coming to visit. I think he’s realized that, unlike when he was hospitalized, he really is pretty much on his own, the master of his own destiny, that destiny being his growth to learn how to cope with his symptoms and deal with the irritations and anxieties of day-to-day life. We won’t be there on the phone twice a day, visting four days a week.
He’s 15 years old and too “cool” for kid stuff (he said when we packed his things to go), but he was pretty happy to get the things I sent him this week – a stuffed sock monkey and a poster of Superman. I’m glad that he’s not trying to fit in so hard that he’s not afraid to be himself, and tell me on the phone, in the common area where others can hear him, that he likes the sock monkey. It reminds me that my boy is in there, under the neuroses and psychosis, somewhere.
Life at home has been quiet. No need to lock any doors or cabinets or the refrigerator. Didn’t even have to grocery shop this week. But I still feel myself checking rooms, checking doors, and otherwise being as hyper-vigilant. It’s a habit, and it seems not as easy to turn off as I thought it would be. A quiet house is still cause for alarm in my head.
Tim’s never been a big phone conversationalist, even though he enjoys calling and being called very much. I don’t think I’ve ever had a phone conversation with Tim that’s lasted longer than three minutes. I hate that – I want to be able to talk to him about his day, how he likes his new teachers, and how he’s getting along with his classmates and dorm mates, but he’s so immersed in what’s going on in front of him at any given time that he can’t even say hi to me and that class is fine without asking me to hold on while he holds another conversation with the person in front of him. I know he likes us to call, but I really think it’s to make sure we’re still here and haven’t forgotten about him, more than actually talking and relating to each other.
I didn’t cry after I talked to him on the phone today – first time. I honestly don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad one. I don’t want to get used to the idea of him being away, even though I know, intellectually, I have to get used to it.
again, just have to write and say i am just really giving support. my son has been increasingly aggressive more so this last month, he had a med change and i always thought the other stuff wasn't really working but when i see what is increasing every day, i can see that it definitely was doing something. it is a weird feeling to look at your son and his eyes are flat and just has that look that you can't describe. i really feel depressed this week because i am seeing glimpses of the future and it terrifies me how i am going to keep him safe. and us also.
I know that look. That's what we call the "don't poke the bear" look. We went through YEARS of violent rages, and manic/psychotic episodes can still be violent, which is part of the reason we thought residential treatment was the best option for him and for us right now.
Have you joined the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation? http://www.bpkids.org? CABF has online support groups for parents that has been a lifesaver for me. The parents there all know what you're going through – the rages, the med changes, the rollercoaster of puberty making it 100 times more intense. I hope to see you there.