My daughter woke up as a two-year-old today.
She cried, screamed and wailed like only a toddler can. Her shrieks sounded like "waaaah, waaaaah." At one point, she kept repeating "I'm hungry, I'm hungry" while her breakfast was right in front of her. I believe she repeated it for a solid fifteen or twenty minutes. I think she might have forgotten how to feed herself.
I am trying to use words to describe the scene that went on this morning, but I don't think I can accurately convey how frightening this mental breakdown was to witness. You will have to trust me when I say that yes all 7th graders act like toddlers to some extent, but this is different. Terrifyingly different.
When this was happening I got on the phone with our mental health case worker. She could hear the wailing and the repeating of the same phrase over and over in the background. I had to decide if I should take my girl to the hospital. I decided to take her to school instead.
Sometimes I let her stay two-years-old and will talk, comfort and generally treat her as such. But other times, like today--the first day back to school after spring break--I push her into trying to function in the outside world. I rely on my instincts to tell me when to nurture and when to strengthen her "coping" muscle, or perhaps more accurately, when to create new grooves in her brain.
There are some people in my life who will criticize either choice I make. Fortunately, there are even more people in my life who support me and my parenting instincts.
The holistic integrative clinic that Penny goes to prescribed valium for her breakdowns, probably the same thing she would be given at the hospital. I have not yet picked up the prescription. I feel very uneasy about teaching Penny to take a chill pill when she feels too yucky. On the other hand, I am relieved to have this as an option when she gets too out of control.
Here's the thing. Penny has an unbearable (to her) amount of grief, rage and probably shame inside of her. It is a bottomless pit as evidenced by the fact that none of the following things have yet reduced their presence in her soul:
1)Giving her free range to scream, sob, hit, throw, stomp: get it out.
2)Nearly 6 years of talk therapy
3) Several alternative therapies, including biofeedback, therapeutic massage, etc
4) Medication. This alleviates some of the behaviors and symptoms, but all the bad feelings are still there
5) Therapeutic parenting.
I often ask myself: what is the goal here? Can she ever scream and wail long enough to empty the well? Can she ever learn to talk, use her coping skills to reason the feelings away? Can we empty the well or is the goal simply to subdue (medicate, etc.) for now? If she is at a point where she wants to hold onto the feelings and refuses to be healed-- is the goal to prop her up just long enough to get a basic education, get through adolesence, etc?
What am I trying to do?
Until very recently I was quite naive. I honestly used to think that some of the above methods could heal a broken soul.
Penny's school got out 10 minutes ago. Will she just take the city bus as usual? Will she call me for a ride? Will she wander off aimlessly, like a toddler? I am sitting here on pins and needles.