Friday, July 29, 2011

Clueless Mom....Yet Again

It's baaaaaaaa-aaaack! Lucas's anxiety, that is. We were doing great. We were having lots of success in therapy. Until the day that his therapist and I decided that he was doing so well that we would discontinue his therapy for the time being and reconnect once school started and the pressures of school came into play. The very night of his last appointment with his therapist, after sleeping in his own bed problem-free for a week, Lucas's nighttime anxiety reared its ugly head again. And it came back with a vengeance.

Prior to this spell, he was incredibly anxious at bedtime and seemed to fixate on his brother and sister going to sleep. Despite my assurance that they have never in their short lives pulled an all-nighter, until they were happily snoring, Lucas was convinced that they would never go to sleep. He constantly got out of his be to check on his sister, thereby keeping her awake, of course. When they did go to sleep, however, he was able to calm himself enough to read or listen to music in bed and eventually drift off himself.

This time, however, anxiety has upped the ante. He still continuously gets out of bed to check on his sister, but his fixation—his intense focus—has shifted to his brother Nicky with whom he shares a bedroom. Suddenly, he expects Nicky to get into bed, lay perfectly still and fall asleep immediately. If Nicholas does not do this—if he rolls around in his bed or hugs his pillow weird or doesn’t get under his covers or lays his head at the foot of his bed—Lucas begins to freak out. He continuously comes out of his room crying to “tattle” on Nicky. I try to explain that Nicholas is only five years old, and a wiggly, constantly moving kid. He cannot climb right into bed, lay perfectly still, and fall asleep. If I dismiss Lucas's complaints and do not “punish” Nicholas for rubbing his leg across his blanket repeatedly (last night's complaint), Lucas will begin to verbally berate Nicholas. He will fuss at him. Threaten him. Repeatedly yell at him to get in bed. Quiet down. Stop moving. Last night, he took away Nicky's beloved blankies and told him he wasn't getting them back until he was laying still and silent in bed. I intervened and Nicky had his blankets back. Lucas was not happy.

This is an every night occurrence. The kids go to bed at 8:00. By the time I head up to bed at 10:30 or so, I have had all I can take. Lucas is still wide awake and in tears, so I take him upstairs with me. He has not slept a night in his own bed since our last therapy appointment three weeks ago.

I am at a loss as to how I should handle Lucas. He refuses to practice any of the coping mechanisms his therapist taught him. He is unfairly berating his brother. I even find myself skeptical of his motivations at times. He was able to sleep in his own bed perfectly fine when he was rewarded with Pokemon cards. Once the rewards became less frequent, did he decide it wasn't worth the effort anymore? Is he getting what he wants by wearing me down and sleeping in my room every night? He always wants to know what I am watching on TV when he comes out of his room, and he always asks if he can stay up and watch TV with me. Is the whole thing a ploy to stay up late? I don't believe in my heart of hearts that is the case. His tears are real. His fears appear real. Ruanita suffers from anxiety, though the extent of Lucas's seems a bit more severe than hers even.

Lucas is a happy, sweet, perfectly perfect boy during the day. He is kind and affectionate and smart and funny and protective of his brother and sister. He's an awesome kid. Bedtime however, is a different story. He turns into a completely different kid. He's like a caged animal. Panicky. Tearful. Agressive toward his brother. Practically feral. All emotion and adrenaline. Obviously, his fears are very real to him. When I try to talk to him about using his coping skills, or leaving his brother alone (he's his own worst enemy in that regard because he only manages to keep Nicky awake longer), or staying in his bed, all he does is cry and say that he is sorry. "Sorry" is not the response I am looking for. He has absolutely nothing to be sorry about. Obviously, if he feels our conversation warrants an apology, I am not doing a good job of handling the situation.

I find myself getting incredibly frustrated every single night. Not so much with Lucas. Well, actually, yes, I am ready to throttle Lucas if I am being honest here. Especially when he refuses to leave his little brother alone. But my frustration lies more with myself than anyone. I feel, as his mother, that I should know what to do. I should know how to calm my own son. If anyone can calm a worried or scared child, it should be his mother. Right? But I don't seem to possess the ability to calm Lucas. Why don't I have the ability to calm him? And what is he going to do when school starts in four short weeks? How is he going to function if he is not getting to bed until 11:00 at night?

Yet again, I am clueless. The name of this blog sure is a fitting title these days.


Madgew said...

Shannon. clearly therapy was working I would go back and work on separation ideas. And keep enforcing the rules and don't let him sleep with you. Just calm him in his bed. Some kids need less sleep so maybe letting him fall asleep watching a movie on an itouch or playing games without sound. See if that can comfort him enough so that is mind is busy and eventually he will fall asleep at his own pace. This is a hard issue and it takes a while to get under control or medication might be his eventual solution but in very moderate doses. It's a a lot genetic. I suffered as a kid and now every once in a while it rears it's ugly head. You will find the answer before it becomes a real habit.

Kelly said...

I'm so sorry Shannon! This sounds really frustrating. Try not to beat yourself up, though. I don't think anyone would expect you to be able to calm him down. It sounds like he is really struggling with these fears and obsessive thoughts. I hope things start to get better soon.

Just Margaret said...

Oh Shannon. I can imagine how hard this is for you...though I'm certainly not an expert in this arena, could it be that he is missing the consistency and I don't know the right word--comfort?--of regular visits with the therapist?

Hugs to you all.

heather said...

Hugs, Duck. I had no idea this was still going on. Stay strong, I'm sure it will get better. Maybe you should go beat up the therapist? (jk)

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