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2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Real, deep, and personal

First of all, I need a blogger tutor. I can't figure out how to make my family picture (at the top) centered and smaller so for now - BAM - there we are!

I guess since I posted a picture of our white family with a brown teenager (Mertina), I should update this blog. If you go back in history you can track our history with Mertina. She hadn't been to school for 4 years. We helped get her back in school, then something happened with her family and she ended up living with us since February. We are in the process of trying to get guardianship of her. She doesn't like for people to know her story so we are going to leave it at that. Suffice it to say that she fell through the cracks of society and the school system but we have gotten her back into the real world and now we have ourselves a real live teenager, complete with a fun but sassy attitude.

I think that I am ready to post about some personal things that have really been going on at my house. We have had a very rough few years and I am going to be very open about what has been happening here. I hope that maybe this post will help someone dealing with similar issues or at least help me to let go of the whole thing.

If you have ever heard me talk about Kaitlynn and school, you would know that she hates HATES it! She has hated it since Kindergarten and would have dramatic outbursts right after school almost everyday - for the last 3 years! At first I thought it was just because she was tired, or school was too long. I talked to her teachers who said that nothing was abnormal at school but she would come home and just blow up at me. Like scream, cry, yell, hit, etc for no logical reason. The word "homework" produced spectacular displays of anger and rage that could warrant a visit from Security Forces. So last year I decided to do something about it. After first grade I tried "homeschooling" over the summer. Cody had to do it too. Cody was like "whatever" and just got his worksheets done, no problem.
 Kaitlynn, on the other hand, would get in the fetal position and cry for 20 minutes to an hour EVERY DAY! I was like, "Oh no, kid. Not this time. We are going to do this everyday until you submit." She couldn't possibly cry all summer, right? I mean, eventually she would get used to the idea and just do it even if she hated it, right?   Psh! Joke's on me, I guess. Every flippin day all summer. I even took the homework with us on our visit to the states. At one point my dad came out from his soundproof office and said "everything okay out here?"
No. It's not. This child with and angel face is obviously possessed by a devil, can't you see?

So when real school started back up I was like, "See you later, kid. At least I get a 6 hour break even if you don't seem to be learning anything."

Things must have been escalating from last August until January but when you live with an abusive person, (I don't use that term lightly. She seriously was physically and emotionally abusive to me and Cody.) you maybe don't notice the progression. You just deal with the stress that each day brings. When Jeremy left with a week's notice in January of this year, I basically had a breakdown. I wouldn't go hang out with friends. I just stayed home and cried almost everyday. I wouldn't say that this was all because of Kaitlynn, I just felt very much out of control in my own life. I decided to take that huge trip to the states to try and help curb the sadness. I like being busy and there are few things that keep you busier than trying to catch a military flight across the Pacific Ocean and then a 12 hour drive to Idaho....and back.

When we got back, though, things were not better. Plus then Mertina had that thing happen to her and she needed somewhere to go. I wanted to help her. Jeremy came home from training and I was still a mess. I thought the depression was caused by him leaving but it wasn't, I guess.

After almost every other day experiencing severe fits of rage from Kaitlynn (That I recorded because I was starting to feel crazy having a 7 year old that I was afraid of.) I finally sought help. I realized that this was not normal, that it wasn't something that I could strong-arm my way through. She needed help. We needed help... And help was not coming. We live on a tiny island with one Child Psychologist on it. The wait to get in to her was a month. I remember that they called to ask if they could move our appointment back by another week. The secretary called right after a particularly difficult rage event and I begged BEGGED them not to move us back (after I stopped crying enough to gain some composure.) They said they couldn't and it was a really awkward conversation because I didn't want to hang up. So we managed to get through this horrible time where Kaitlynn didn't want to go to school and she wanted to kill me everyday after school.

We finally got to see the child psychologist. Whoa! She couldn't believe that we dealt with it for so long and said that they needed us to move to another location in the states where Kaitlynn could see a psychiatrist for therapy and medication. (By the time we had this first visit with the psych, I had started taking Prozac to help me.) When she said that we needed to move right away, I was like..."Um, I can't cry because of the Prozac but excuse me while I have an anxiety attack." My kid can't handle her life as it is and you want us to move back across the world? - not to mention, I have this teenager who has nowhere to go and we don't have guardianship of her yet. I actually managed to shed some tears after I left her office but I could tell that the Prozac had me numb.

While we were waiting to see the psychologist, I had been to every doctor at our clinic and no doctor was willing to prescribe Kaitlynn medicine until the psychologist said it was ok. Now that the psych was on board, I could start some medication for her. I was not opposed but not an advocate of medicating children before all this but I would have done ANYTHING to help her and I started to see that there are situations where medication is warranted for us and for others.

So fast forward a few months. Kaitlynn has had a learning disability test (8 hour test) to figure out what is wrong. She has been diagnosed with:
Generalized mood disorder (This is similar to depression but she is also defiant, which doesn't usually accompany depression so it is a mood disorder.)
Anxiety  and
ADHD (During the test she was hanging upside down in her chair, swinging her hair around. Boo-yah! Classic diagnosis.)

So here we are. Mental illness runs in my family. Specifically, depression and bi-polar. My sister and brother, and mother were/are bipolar. I know how these crazy people are - and that is probably not PC but seriously, they act so illogically and inconsistently that either they are crazy or I am. I have been met with skeptical family members who believe that society is so quick to diagnosis children with some sort of problem. Maybe that is true, maybe it isn't. I have read my sister's journals and I believe that maybe she could have been helped with medication or therapy for bi-polar rather than my parents just believing that she was so difficult to raise. I have also lived this myself as the parent. It sucks! It is hard. I don't understand it. I felt so hopeless for so long that I just accepted that Kaitlynn and I would never have a good relationship. It was horrible.

About a week after she started medication, I heard her singing in her room - SINGING! She hadn't done that in...I don't know how long. She started coming to tell Jeremy and I that she loved us. The rage outbursts subsided and I could see that my determination to "work it out myself" hindered the opportunity for her to feel better and happier.

Currently, with her medications working (for the most part) we are staying on Guam until our scheduled move date this coming June. Because we have a diagnosis, are receiving the therapy that is available here, and Mertina's papers are being worked on, I feel happier and am getting back to my normal self. I am almost weaned from the Prozac, (which is an amazing drug, and I was so grateful to have it.) and we might just survive this whole thing.

I could blog about how to deal (and what not to do) with a foster teenager who has been neglected as well, but I will save that for another time. The moral of the lengthy story is...if something doesn't feel right for you, your kids, or spouse  - or your life isn't joyful, seek out help. There is an amazing world out there to experience. Sometimes I think you have to fight to find it. Don't wait for 3 tough, frustrating, abominable years to pass before you realize that there is a better life out there.

So to end on a positive note, I will add some random pictures hoping that will make you all feel happier.

Kaitlynn and Mertina

Mertina and her BFF Darnarie

I find selfies on my phone all the time.

Grandma came to visit and exhausted all of us by wanting to go to the beach every day.

Jeremy and I at his award ceremony. He got a cool award from the Army (He is in the Air Force so an Army medal is pretty cool.)

Jeremy on top of our friend Tyson. They are tight.

Cody and Kaitlynn after ziplining.


Take your kid to work day. We are in a dump truck.

These are the cool tools that Jeremy works with in Red Horse.

Mertina, me, Darmarie getting ready for our Cinco de Mayo Party.