On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Twilight Zone

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call "The Twilight Zone".
Serling narration Season 1

We were watching episodes of The Twilight Zone on Net.flix this past weekend. As I listened to Serling's narration it struck me, hmm... isn't that where the RAD mind dwells?

In stark contrast to the ennui I feel about Sissy and the conglomeration of emotions the rest of the family has about her (WG recently said with a chuckle, "Wouldn't it be great if she could just stay gone?" but her eyes told the truth. She really would prefer it,) it hasn't escaped me that Sissy hasn't got the first idea of how her behaviors have impacted us. Sure, she can parrot back what we've told her but KNOWING knowing? Nah. She's not got a clue. Or perhaps she doesn't care?

Worst yet, she lives in three minute increments of life. If it happened three minutes ago or will happen in three minutes from now then it doesn't exist. It's not short term memory issues, it's selective memory. And all of it fodder for rage when you remind them of what happened three minutes ago or what will happen in three minutes from now.

I mean, telling her the screaming rages may have caused nerve damage hearing loss for her dad would be the same as telling her that a rugby team in South Africa lost their most recent game. And? would be her response.

It's not that Sissy isn't cluing in, it's not even that she's living in a parallel universe. No, she's in the Twilight Zone. The place where peeing on herself to get back at me makes sense. The place where raging for an hour, banging her head on the wall and punching her legs while pretending to not know how to alphabetize spelling words is the best way to avoid the homework assignment. It's the place where screaming that she's hungry and thirsty to avoid doing yard work is easier than consuming the sandwich and ice water that has been supplied for her. It's the Twilight Zone, RAD style.

While I was busy lamenting that I was spending my Easter holiday without my daughter, Sissy was at the hospital having "the worst Easter ever." That evening it was our phone call night so I asked her how her day went.

"It was mostly bad."

"What was bad about it?"

"Well, first, my friend J~, really she's the only girl I get along with here, well, she found the only golden egg so she got a Popsicle. And this other girl, I don't really know her, she found 9 eggs and that was the most of anybody so they gave HER a Popsicle too. And all I found was one egg except J~ gave me one of hers and it was hard boiled so I ate them both."

"I'm glad you got to do an egg hunt. You like hard boiled eggs so that doesn't sound so bad."

"yeah, only then the easter bunny was only our rec therapy coach and I knew it and I was shouting to everyone that it was him and no one listened to me."

"Good for you for recognizing him. You must have been proud of yourself for figuring it out."

"and THEN, this girl attacked one of my friends. And then she did it again and no one knows why and it made me mad because it was my friend she attacked."

"She 'attacked' her? What did she do?"

"Oh. I don't know. That's just what everyone said she did."

"Well... it sounds like a good opportunity for you to tell this young lady about some of your favorite coping skills for when YOU'RE angry."

*herman munster groan*

"Have you had any outings lately?"

"no. I'm on yellow for behavior."

"I see. You've been on yellow for awhile now."

*herman munster groan*

And that was it. That was her worst easter ever. She did tell me about a therapy trip her unit made to the animal shelter in which she had to clean up litter boxes and feed the cats. She made a point of mentioning the cat that "attacked" a therapist last time. This "attacking" seems to happen a lot in the Twilight Zone.

Talking to her on the phone is challenging but getting her to WRITE her thoughts? I don't think she even thinks. OK. That's harsh. It's just that she doesn't put EFFORT into what she wants to say or think about, almost as though thinking would be too labor intensive. Now before you go telling me all about the damaged RAD brain, let me just tell you, this kid has had extensive testing on her learning abilities. Her brain is just fine with some minimal visual processing errors and receptive language gaps, less than AB's and HE can put together some fantastical thoughts.

No, for Sissy, it's too much effort to say something worthwhile, in particular if she has to say it to someone she claims to love. Weirdest part? She'll suddenly have mad vocabulary skills and be as articulate as I am when she's speaking about someone she has little to no association with but WANTS to feel like she's connected with them. You know, if there's something about them that she thinks will make her look better by association, suddenly she's all gab. In other words, she CAN speak well for herself. She just doesn't.

Case in point, she has been requesting all kinds of "stuff" every time we talk to her. So her therapist and I came up with the idea that she earn her "stuff" by doing something for a family member. Her first task was to write a postcard for her brother to earn her bunny slippers. It took her 10 days to write it and put it in the mail (mind you, it was self addressed and stamped). She wrote, "Roses are red. Violets are blue. You are my brother and I love you. Happy Easter"

You might say, "hey, that's pretty good." Except that's darn near close to the exact same poem she has written to one or all of us for the last FOUR YEARS. It's getting old. Not to mention that it's not developmentally appropriate for an 11 year old in fifth grade without an IEP that has a reading aptitude of grade 7.2. AB's response? *herman munster groan*

See? Even AB knows she didn't put forth any effort. And that's the Twilight Zone RAD style. Don't say anything of value or don't over extend yourself, ever. Not even a smidgen. Not even for someone you love. Or miss. Or SAY you miss but

There might be other RADishes in the Twilight Zone with them, but they won't acknowledge that they exist. Or talk to them. Unless someone attacks someone else. Or if they lose their stuff and have someone to blame as "stealing" it. In the Twilight Zone, humans attack and steal, urinate, defecate and rage when they're angry but they don't feel emotion or talk about what they feel or require or give any of the following: love, assistance, grace or compassion.

It's odd, standing on the outside looking into Sissy's world. It's a strange world. She thinks strangely, says strange things, behaves oddly, is SO disconnected from humans and any sense of reality that it makes me shake my head. AB sees the world differently but not like this. Sissy's perception of reality is ... odd.

Being removed from it, I can see it clearly. It's silly, her predisposition to wreak havoc, to be a tazmanian devil, to rage and rage and rage over nothing and then to verbally relate it as being "the worst ever" event or "an attack" or the funniest one, "stealing." (Sissy is good at blaming everything that goes missing as being stolen when 99% of the time it is the result of her own negligence or forgetfulness.)

Being away from it for several weeks I know that 90% of the challenge of raising a person living in the Twilight Zone is getting sucked in with them. If I can just stay calm and rooted in this reality while she spins concentric circles in hers, I might be OK. She'll just tell people she was attacked if I restrain her so she doesn't hurt herself in a rage. I can't win for trying. Unless I jump into the Twilight Zone with her and then her odd life will seem normal.

I think.


J. said...

love you, hang in there.

Jamey... said...

Sorry about all that. Your head sounds a little more clear though. Maybe all her talking about attacking is the precursor to acting out while she's there and then there they'll be able to work with her better.

GB's Mom said...

I'd rather you didn't jump into the twilight zone with her- I'd really miss you.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering... how long will she be gone?

Kerrie said...

Princess it there, too. I fully realized it today when I said to the psychiatrist, "you understand I fully expect to have to call an ambulance to pick her up and take her to inpatient this summer, right?" and he said, "well, yeah," like this was common knowledge.

Speaking of, I'm thinking up an e-mail to you for help figuring this stuff out. I have to work my way out of denial first, though, and I'm going to take today to just wallow in it.

kisekileia said...

Well, if she's "in yellow" for her behaviour, that suggests that she HAS been misbehaving at the treatment centre. And that's good news for you in that it means they may keep her for a while.

Jules said...

You should not even bother with any of this behavioral modification nonsense; it's useless and she doesn't care. Just try to keep her locked up for as long as possible to give your family some relief and then once she's 18, peace out! And honestly, with all due respect, same thing goes for Kerrie's daughter too.

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

I love ya girl! Praying things improve.