I am sort of the queen of hastily published, crappy first drafts. I know you are supposed to read your work, then re-read, edit and have it edited by a discerning second set of eyes. But... yeah... that's not how I do things. This is a blog, and a mediocre one in comparision to the zillion other blogs out there, and if that was my process I would never write. In fact, I write infrequently (in part) beacuse I feel like that should be my process.
The other night, I abandoned that mosty-self-imposed pressure, and I went with my own process. Which is very scientific.
Step 1: Have feelings.
Step 2: Tell everyone what they are.
Step 3: Panic when people start reading about the feelings.
Step 4: Live in deep and immediate regret.
Step 5: Have new feelings (which trigger some sort of vulnerability amnesia).
Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5 and continue to produce crappy, unbridled first drafts until someone makes you stop, or arrests you.
That's it, that's my process. If you don't like it, you can arrest me. A mental health arrest would probably make the most sense, and given my last post it is probably quite obvious that a stay in some sort of facility would feel like a vacation and I welcome it. So go ahead a make the call. I dare you. Nay, I beg you.
Alright, now that we've set the standard super low, I apologize for the mental breakdown that I published the other day. But, I am only a little sorry because after 4,000 reads, I feel semi-confident it reached the suffering mamas I was hoping to reach, and it met them right where they were - mid-breakdown of their own, no doubt. So, while I am a little sorry, and a lot embarassed, I am not even that sorry because the best thing for a child with RAD is to be loved and supported by a parent who has all their faculties. And the longer one is parenting a child with RAD, the less in-tact their faculties become.
I'm only a loose 30% sure I am using "faculties" in the correct context here, but we already discussed our writing standards and what you can expect here. Just be glad I'm not yelling swears at you for questioning me. Understand? Good.
So, here's what took place to bring me to the hysterical crescendo that was my written tantrum the other night. It's hard to know where to start, because well... my own birth makes the most sense as a starting point, but that feels a little heavy on the backstory. So, let's just start with the holidays. The holidays are like Baggagefest '08 for anyone with RAD kids. It is all kinds of trigger. There are gifts and parties and treats and all the other things that kids with attachment issues will sabotage because they don't believe they deserve good things. This, combined with the extra-special contradiction of demanding all the good things and an attitude of entitlement to all the good things, makes for a good time had by all. And by all, I obviously mean nobody within 6 square miles of us.
Fast forward through the holidays. (I wish this were a real thing we could do but it's actually just a saying we use to reduce the backstory in crappy first drafts). We barely get through the holidays, and I'm still having PTSD flashbacks to our Christmas break. One particular low-point included the children vomiting all over the marble floors of city hall during a big family reunion photo session. We were dealing with RAD stuff, and normal big family with lots of kds during flu-season stuff. And then there was London.
As some of you may remember she had a rare blood disorder as a baby called Transient Erythroblastopenia of Childhood. So, when she starts to look pale and thin and worn down, we take it pretty seriously. We noticed that she had been looking and acting sick for a couple of months, and we did the routine bloodwork to ensure that the TEC was not back. It wasn't, but she continued to be very pale, acting more tired at school and at home. She was not herself, and her appetite was waning. She has a never-ending incurable rash on her leg, she has lost 6 pounds in four weeks, her thyroid levels were elevated and I discovered a few gray hairs on her head.
She is seven years old.
In the midst of everything swirling around me in my normal life - holiday preparations, parent-teacher conferences, hosting family and friends, general parenting and care of five kids, Christmas shopping and cooking and hosting and the subsequent cleaning, all the vomiting, and the subsequent disinfecting, four January birthdays in our house, and the subsequent poverty - there were all the RAD behaviors, and then this slow-motion awareness at the center of all of the peripheral chaos, that London was not okay.
I spent whole entire days in various doctor's offices watching them draw vial after vial of blood for tests that would give us inconclusive results. Until nine days ago when we were told that she came back as a strong positive for having Celiac Disease. (Feel free to punch a bagel in the face right this very minute in her honor.)
While we still don't have all the answers as to what is causing what, it looks like having a serious, genetic autoimmune disorder go untreated for great lengths of time can apparently cause your thyroid to poop its pants a little. The jury is out on the gray hair, but we are still looking at this from every angle. But, the bottom line is that we are beyond relieved that she has something that (while a huge dietary undertaking) is managable and not something more sinister or life-threatening.
See? You see now why I have been slowly building up to a mental breakdown? Because everything felt like it was falling apart. My oldest daughter, Annalee, became a teenager, then she broke her arm during a track race (which she finished like a total boss, btw) but the break went through the growth plate and they have to closely monitor it in order to prevent surgery.
My youngest, Jay, is still adjusting to his new hearing aids (and by that I mean, he is chewing his ear molds like gum when we aren't looking.)
And we are just trying to keep our heads above water on this RAD stuff. Then you throw in a gluten rash and no good pizza or soft bread for life? It's enough to make anyone crazy.
Here is what I do regret about my mental breakdown. I regret not reminding any and all of you who are in the thick of it, that it isn't always this low. It's not always this bad. There are times, however brief and however infrequent, where I am dellusional enough to believe that maybe we have turned a corner on this RAD stuff. Of course we never do, but there are small rests and there are little breaks in the chaos... just enough to let the light peek in for a moment. Just enough to make us hope again.
So, that is my real regret. Not adding one more reminder. So here it is.
11) There is always hope. Even if it doesn't get better forever. Even if this is as good as it gets. There will be little bright spots - not because your child successfully manipulated someone with their deceptive charm - but because one teacher believed you. Or because one friend met you for lunch so you could sit in Panera and cry until you had a snot mustcahe. Or because you found a blogger who lacks a sense of appropriate boundaries and is crazy enough to say what you can't.
There will be those bright spots and Jesus knows when you need them most and he will deliver them to you in his mercy and good timing. Let's just hope they come before you publish that first draft.
This is an actaul candid photo of me, caught in the wild, begging for my way. All signs of a mental breakdown were there, and ignored by those closest to me. I blame Tom, who probably gave me my way while in this state. Like an enabler.