We bloggers talk about when our kids get the flu or colds, we discuss how long they’ve been sick and how much medicine we gave them and whether or not they puked on our carpet. But when I talk about finally seeking help for Wes and his anger issues, I get thanked because it’s kinda rare. And so I’m going to keep writing about it in hopes to normalize it a bit. I won’t talk specifically about anything Wes said in appointments, but I’ll talk about the general experience and anything helpful we learned.
The first thing Wes asked me when we talked about seeing an “Anger Doctor” was, “Did you ever see an anger doctor?”
I told him that no, I didn’t, but when I was little things were different and I didn’t really know or understand such things existed. I explained to him that anger wasn’t my issue as much as stress and anxiety and sadness. I explained to him that I might start seeing a similar doctor for my issues if his doctor does a good job helping him! I told him how many friends and family I have that go to those kind of doctors and that there’s nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about.
When you cut your eye we went to the eye doctor. When your foot was hurting we went to a bone doctor. This is a doctor for when your feelings are hurting, basically. Some people go when they’re too sad and they can’t get happy. Some people like me go when they get so stressed over stuff that it hurts their body. Sometimes they can give people medicines that help their brain work with those feelings better, or sometimes it helps things called “glands” that make hormones. We’re hoping to find a doctor that can talk to you and talk to us and teach us how to help you cope with anger. Just like when Daddy went to a doctor about his back, they taught him a better way to sit? It’s the same thing. This doctor is going to help us learn a better way to deal with anger.
So, last week we met with a Psychiatrist for an evaluation. If you’ll recall, it’s in an adjacent city because our insurance doesn’t cover anyone in Huntsville. The only appointment they had was at 10:30 so I kept him out of school that morning and by the time we were done and ate lunch there was no point in sending him back. THIS is the sucky part about an hour an 1:30 minute total commute to a doctor. The school day is only 7.5 hours long. The appointment took over an hour, then we had to eat lunch, so I need to figure out the best time to schedule the appointment to get the maximum amount of school in. 10:30 was not the ideal time, but that was all they had.
He talked to Wesley for awhile, just general questions, obviously looking for signs of any wider compulsive behavior. I was very nervous seeing a psychiatrist first because I was worried he would just say, “Here’s a prescription! Be on your way!” I wanted to try counseling for a LONG time before anything else, so I was a bit worried when I felt like he was looking for a medicatable diagnosis. BUT! That didn’t last long. We didn’t think Wes fell into any “diagnosis” either, just a simple anger/aggression issue.
He asked Wes if he knew why we were there. Wes did, he even told him some of his bad ways of processing anger. The doctor talked to me about who all Wes crossed that boundary with. Just me and his sister. Never his Dad and never at school. The doctor said we came at a good time. Obviously, because he doesn’t reach that point at school or with Dad, he has boundaries there. Maybe fear of punishment, maybe respect of position (sometimes kids are more respectful of teachers than parents), but either way – there are boundaries there that he doesn’t cross. We just need to get those back in place for everyone else.
He got us in to see a counselor and we go today. It will be interesting. In some ways, I feel like it’s already helping because I’ve been able to stop a few of his episodes just talking about how we’re learning how to deal with anger better. But then, it’s also gotten worse. Leaving our first appointment with the psychiatrist last week (and I swear to you, the timing of this is REAL LIFE, not a comedy script) Wes got mad I wouldn’t give him his DS and he threatened to jump out of the car and run away. AND HE WENT TO JUMP OUT OF THE CAR. Now, we weren’t moving, but just the idea of it scared me to death. Jumping out of the car AND running away. So, what if that was just his “Go To” reaction now that he’s learning not to hit?
And then last night he punched me again when I was carrying him away from a situation that had unfolded. And then he said he wanted to kill himself.
Yep. That really happened. My 6-year old said he wanted to kill himself.
Let’s just say I would have rather run that really exhausting 31 miles all over again, 10 times in a row, than ever hear those words.
We talked awhile but it was a touchy situation because he also says/does stuff sometimes he KNOWS will upset me, mainly because he wants the reassurance of the love I give in return. So now I’m trying to talk to him about THAT. “If you are upset and need some love from me because you’ve done something you know upset me, can you think of a way to just ask for it instead of talking about killing yourself?” We talk a lot about asking for hugs in this family. Instead of acting out, if you just need some love, ask for it…it’s okay. And that has actually been kinda helpful and I think that’s what he was trying to do last night. He knew he screwed up. He knew he hit me, hard, often. And I think he just wanted me to hold him and remind him that losing him would break my heart. No matter what he does, I’ll always love him. I think that’s what he NEEDED so he said something extreme in a hope to garner that love.
But it was still really difficult and something I have no idea if I handled well or not.
Looks like our counselor has a lot to look forward to, today!
So! First counselor appointment: Today! I’ll keep you updated on my experience. If I’m there for any part of Wes’s sessions, I obviously won’t talk about those, but I want to share anything we learn that might help anyone else in similar situations. Some kids take longer to learn how to ride bikes or swim. Some kids need extra help with their emotions. There’s nothing wrong with talking about that like we talk about when our kid gets the flu.