Last week was extremely tough with Janey, peaking on Wednesday, which would been in the running for one of the worst days for her and for us ever. She was in a fury all day. She lunged at me over and over, scratched herself badly, cried without stopping----it was incredibly tough. We went for a while to my friend Maryellen's house, which Janey usually loves, but this time, she was just as unhappy there, and extended her attempts to bite to Maryellen. The evening featured both boys needing rides from places far away, and Tony took her on one of the rides, even though that made it a ride straight through hell, because he could see I was a zombie by that point. Then I watched her, and she thankfully finally fell asleep at about 7:15.
Tony had called her psychiatrist that day, and thankfully he was able to see us Thursday at 10 am, on an emergency basis. Usually Tony takes Janey to see him on his own, but I went this time with them. I had a feeling what would happen, and it did. He suggested we try a medication I was resistant to in the past. It's a medication that is often used for ADHD, a high blood pressure medication that also works to slow down the system a little, as he put it, to "give her a minute to think before she acts" The main side effect, he said, was tiredness. At this point, tiredness didn't sound like something bad.
Now I'll stop her and answer the critics that are in my head, because they speak to me louder than anyone else does. Why give Janey medication? She already takes some, why give her more? Why not try something else? Aren't I doing some kind of experiment with her, using drugs at such a young age? Why can't I find a behavioral way to manage her behavior? And the underlying voice, the mean one, saying "What kind of mother are you, not to be able to handle your own little girl and to just turn to drugs to calm her down?" Well, voices of dissent, I invite you to read a few entries of this blog written when Janey is at her worst. This isn't annoying behavior. This is life-threatening behavior. If unchecked, I think Janey could honestly seriously injure herself, or others. At the very least, she isn't learning or thriving or having fun or being really anything a child should be able to be when she is hysterical, furious, lashing out, crying, not sleeping, for days on end. The most powerful argument I told myself---what if all of this was part of a "strictly medical" problem? What if I decided, because of my own beliefs, to not get her help with that medical problem? I think few people would support that. In fact, if that failure to get her help resulted in some dire end, I could be in major trouble for NOT getting her help. Why is it that because autism and the mental health issues it sometimes creates are not considered "medical" problems, getting medication to help them is often seen as giving up, as bad? I don't know, when I think of it that way.
Anyway, the medication has had mixed results. The very first day she took it, Friday, the result was sleep. Sleep most all day. I sat next to her all day, making sure she was okay otherwise. I think she'd been operating on a huge sleep deficit---I know we were. She slept Friday night fairly well too, and Saturday, slept much less (I had read the tiredness usually wears off quickly) and was generally in a better mood. There were still outbursts, but they were muted. Sunday, yesterday, was the huge big day for us. Tony and I took William to college (and a huge shoutout to him here! My baby boy, in college!) and Freddy watched Janey for eight hours. If Janey had not been a little better due to the medicine, I would not have left Janey with him, and I would have missed seeing William off, as I've missed so many milestones in his life. I'm very glad I was able to be with him. And Freddy's report on Janey? She was "great". She did sleep a couple hours, but those hours were made up for last night, when she was up from pretty much 1 am on. So not such a great result from the medication in terms of regulating her sleep. As I write now, she's been napping about an hour also.
I'm not sure if this medication is right long term, but we had to try it. The psychiatrist mentioned that in the mid-term future, we will probably be looking at mood stablelizers for her. I know what that means. I know children are no longer diagnosed as bi-polar, but if they were, I know Janey would be so diagnosed. Her cyclical highs and lows are very, very, very pronounced. I know, from a cousin and a friend's husband that are/were bipolar, or manic-depressive, that it's one of the closest to being purely medical of the psychiatric diseases. It is not treatment, well anyway, without medication, from what I have seen (and they were both severe, severe cases) If Janey is bipolar in addition to her other challenges, I will welcome medication at the age that becomes appropriate.
And so we go on. We are trying. I don't know if I am doing the right thing or not. I never do. I only know I have to try, to try to help Janey live a decent and meaningful life, and to stay alive myself as I do so.