Tuesday, May 22, 2012

(bitter) Sweet Sixteen

On Saturday we celebrated E's sixteenth birthday.

C and I took E and 4 of her friends to a deli in Annapolis to attempt their famous milkshake challenge.  It was her idea and we added in some walking around and a boat tour of Spa Creek.  We capped off the day with a big family party which included a barbecue, whiffle ball game and s'mores in the backyard.  I think she had a great day.  She was sweet and gracious.  It was a start contrast from the previous Monday...

Monday night we were having a nice family dinner (me and the 5 kids) when the subject of the beach this summer came up.  We are doing our big in-law family trip to the Outer Banks, NC this year in July as opposed to August (we'll go to Hilton Head then).  E does not want to go.  She doesn't want to miss swim practice.  When I explained that she can get workouts from her coach and that we don't want to go without her it escalated into her yelling "you are not my parents...you are not my family!"

M started crying, saying "What about me?  Aren't I your family?"

D slammed his fork down, stomped into the family room and started loudly playing Wii baseball.

L ran over to the couch and hid under the covers.

A slunk upstairs, closed his door and quietly started drawing.  He was up all night with "stomach pains" and didn't go to school the next day.

Fast forward to Thursday (2 days before her birthday).  My phone rang at the office from her therapist finally calling me back after requesting we talk before E's next session that afternoon.

She thinks E is clinically depressed.  She is recommending medication.  When she talked to E about it, she was open to taking something to help.  That in and of itself lets me know how serious this is.  From the beginning she has prided herself in "being strong" and showing no emotion. She has only cried in front of any of us 3 times since the accident.

The glass half full Peg thinks this is a step in the right direction.  I'd rather have her reaching this point in her grief at the age of 16 in our house where we can help her and give her the support she needs rather than when she's in college or on her own in her 20's.  As seen in the story above, her behaviour has serious ramifications for the other kids.  A better E will make for a less tense household.

The glass half empty Peg is freaking out.  I had no idea things had gotten this bad.  As her therapist explained her symptoms, I paused and thought, "ahhh, yeah she is like that."  Stepping back, it would be shocking if she wasn't depressed.  Her entire life was wiped away.  Her parents died, her sisters were split up, her dog died, she left her home and her neighborhood.  My heart hurts for her.

In the last 2 years, my emotions have run the gambit....anger, frustration, sadness, stress, anxiety.  But for the first time, I am scared.  I'm scared what this means for my family.  I have brought two traumatized children into my home and it's starting to wear on all of us.  My kids are so stressed out.  K and I are so stressed out.  We never get a break.  My kids never get a break.

Mostly, I'm worried about E.  Medication is a scary thing.  I have first hand experience seeing my sister S have suicidal thoughts after taking an antidepressant and then having to help check her into a psychiatric hospital.  She was 26.  E is only 16. 

Doubt is entering my mind again about whether or not our family can endure this storm.  About whether or not I have the ability to meet all of the kids needs and especially those of these sad, desperate little girls.

I have a appointment for a psychiatric evaluation set for June 7th.  I've called the head of the therapy center where the girls (and our whole family) has received help. Dr. L reassured me that they'll help us through all of this.  I talked to her swim coach.  I'm trying to take some stress off her shoulders as much as possible.

I haven't slept in 5 days.  I haven't been able to eat.  I just snapped about the boys to just get to bed and leave me be for a few minutes.  The crisis that is our family continues.  Sigh.


  1. I hope medication helps. Poor E. Poor you! I hope you get some sleep soon. Everything is worse without sleep.

  2. So sorry to hear all of this. I agree with Korinthia - you need SLEEP. Chronic sleep deprivation can do horrible things to you. I know you are trying to keep all the kids needs met and all the balls in the air, but right now you have to also take care of yourself.

    I hope medication can help E - and by extension your family. I know what it is like to be in a house full of stress, and the toll it takes on children.

  3. I'm so happy E had a good sweet 16. That's a HUGE thing given all she's been through. I'm delighted there was no drama that day and that fun was had by all.

    I'm also hopeful for her. With any luck, the meds she's prescribed will be just what she needs to get her life back on a somewhat even keel.

    I know you're stressed. I know the kids and K are stressed. This is tough and there's no precedent for it. I think you are doing the best you can and I don't think anyone can ask for more than that.

    Try to get some sleep if you can. That will help so much.

    Many hugs and prayers.

  4. I'm so sorry, Peg. Hugs.

    Medication may really do her a world of good. When your brain chemicals are out of whack, it's very difficult to learn to cope with the day-to-day stresses of life, especially a life fraught with difficult challenges. Maybe once you can get her mood disorder under control, she will be in a better position to start dealing with other problems more productively. Poor kid. I wish her all the best.

  5. Professionaly, I have seen medication work wonders. I've also seen some scary things happen when it wasn't prescribed - or taken - correctly. Seeing a child psychiatrist is, in my experience and opinion, necessary. As is an adult being the one who is in charge of giving the medication to the child (even though she's 16) and assuring she's taking it. Antidepressants in particular can't be stopped cold turkey, especially with teenagers.

    That said, I think it's a really good option to try for her. It's not going to make her "all better", per say, but hopefully it will allow her to cope more effectively. It can lift the depression enough that she can deal better with all the crap that's on her plate. And hopefully that will make life a little (or a lot!!) easier for all of you.

    And you, friend, must get some sleep. MUST. (hugs)

    1. I have been secretly hoping you'd comment! Your insight is greatly appreciated. I'm feeling better about things as it's settled in my brain and most importantly it's put a lot of things in context with regard to her behaviour and at least makes it easier to understand.


  6. Hang in there, hon. As far as medication goes, she's been seeing her therapist for a long time and if her therapist things she should be evaluated than it is probably warranted. I would be shocked if she wasn't depressed:) I understand medication can be really scary and I'm not going to lie that sometimes it doesn't go well. But, most of the time it does. And given the correct medication, you may see a huge change in her emotions as well as her behavior.

    1. I was hoping to hear from you too! I'm really hoping for the best for both her and all of us. Thanks for the encouragement.

    2. Do you have any books or internet articles you'd recommend we read? I'm doing a little too much Dr. Google and it's either too simplistic or freaking me out. I like to be well informed when making decisions and the analyst in me is trying to get my arms around the subject. There is just so much information out there I'm having problems digging through the weeds. Help!