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Monday, October 15, 2012

The storm has passed

Janey had a tough week last week, but knock on wood, it appears to be over.  It happens like that time and time again---a rough time, followed by a cheerful time.  And the cheerful times are longer, lately, which is wonderful, but it doesn't make the crying weeks any easier or more able to be explained.  It does help, though, to know they seem to resolve themselves.  When Janey has a tough week, it affects everyone around her, both at home and at school, and when she cheers up, everyone around her cheers up too.  The principal told me today what a good day Janey had had, after her tough week.  It amazes me that she has over 200 students but still is able to notice Janey's moods and take the time to tell me---that's a sign of a very caring principal.  And also a sign of how strongly Janey's moods project themselves.

I wish I knew what caused the tough times.  I've asked myself that here over and over.  They come out of the blue, storm over us and go away, like a winter snowstorm.  I do think there is something cyclical about them, something a little bi-polar in a way.  But I also think they feed on themselves.  I think when Janey starts to cry, it bothers even her.  After all, she has to live with the crying at every single moment, and she probably has no idea what is causing it either.  It's a lot to ask her to calm down.  She has no idea how to, and she is mentally much like a 2 year old in the middle of a tantrum.

We are still on edge a little.  When a storm has just passed, we always are jumpy that we are just in a lull, and she will start the crying again.  I think she feels that way too.  Driving home tonight, she was upset by the music I was playing, and I could see her trying hard not to get hysterical.  She looked nervous---a look I've never quite identified in her before.  She was crying in little puffs---trying to not let it out.  I think she was thinking (non-verbally, probably) "Here we go again.  I can't start the whole crying bit over.  But I don't like the music.  I don't know how to get that across.  I've got to stay in control..."  It was painful to see.  I try to give her the words "I don't think you like that version of Jingle Bells.  I can put on another one"  She looked relieved, for a minute, but then something was wrong with the new version, something she couldn't explain.  Not being able to use words at times like that would be enough to make anyone cry.  I guess in some ways, it's more amazing that she's happy as much as she is than that she gets sad sometimes.


audball said...

My heart goes out to you because my DD at about 8 experienced these same type of emotional…"outbursts"? I hesitate to call it that because it wasn't all yelling. Sometimes it was a slow, sad meltdown. I tried to pinpoint as many sources as I could. I think I finally came to realize, in our case, that it was maybe the start of hormones? That there were these emotions coming to the surface that my DD couldn't quite put her finger on, but they were scary nonetheless. In an effort to see if this was the case, I talked to her, age appropriately, about puberty and changes in both body and mind. I think she had always grasped the physical changes, but she didn't put together the emotional changes. I told her about how when I was a kid, the emotions sometimes felt like a roller coaster - maybe invigorating and new, but also very scary.

Coincidentally, I began to realize that she was very sensitive to pressure headaches from changes in weather. It seemed like the worst moods were on cloudy, overcast days. I asked her if she was feeling icky and many times she confessed her head hurt. Could that be the source of sadness/pain too?

My only other thought is that maybe your DD would like to control the music in the car? I know it sounds strange, but we got some kind of device for my son (who is now 8 and NT) to control my smartphone's music feature. The music plays through the car speakers and gives him a sense of control (His issue is different - he hates rainy days and overcast skies cause huge anxiety episodes). I needed to be able to take his mind off the weather because we are in the car every day and his panicking and whining were sometimes distracting my driving!

Suzanne said...

What great suggestions and ideas---thanks so much! It's very possible Janey is feeling the early effects of puberty. She has always had the meltdowns, but they seem a little different lately, as you said---more like sadness than just yelling and crying. I don't know how much she could understand about puberty, but I might try talking to her anyway, because you never know what she will get or not get. I often wonder if she has physical pain like headaches, and try to ask her, but she doesn't really answer. Or she'll repeat whatever say---"Does your head hurt?" "DOES MY HEAD HURT!" but it's the same whatever you ask!

The idea about Janey controlling the music is wonderful! I use an iPod connected through my cassette player to play in the car, and I am going to look for a longer wire so it can reach her in the back seat. I tried today to see if it would reach, but it pulled the whole thing out! She can control the iPad at home, on a base, and it would be wonderful if she could do that in the car! I wish she'd tolerate headphones, but she won't, ever.

I really appreciate your ideas and you reading the blog! Thanks!