A Mother’s Struggle: Blake’s Story
Here is a little background on my family before my current story. I’m 31 (almost 32!) years old. I was born and raised in New Jersey, lived in WV for 3 years, found my way back home, but am now living in NorthCarolina as of September 2017. I have been dating (now engaged) to Kevin for almost 10 years. We love it here and don’t plan on leaving. I am a mother to 5 beautiful, smart, funny and, let’s be honest, sometimes annoying, bickering, obnoxious children. I have 3 boys and 2 girls as follows: Bradyn(12), Paisley(10), Blake(7), Mia(5) and Bennett(3).
Since I had Paisley I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I’ve been on medication on and off over the years, saw a therapist for a little bit, but in all honesty, have never really taken care of my mental health the way that I should. This past year, I have faced many struggles and had stopped going on social media. I felt like it was time to update the family and friends about what had been going on because only a select few knew.
The Following Is Blake’s Story.
Sorry in advance, this is lengthy. Blake has struggled tremendously since we moved to North Carolina. He started 1st grade last August and by October it was apparent that he needed to be pulled back down to kindergarten. He couldn’t keep up with his peers, his handwriting was awful and socially he just didn’t have the skills he should have. Once he moved back, he excelled in his school work. However, his behavior at home became amplified. He was more aggressive and walking on eggshells is an understatement when it came to living with him daily.
Since he was 2, we would have to prepare him hours, if we needed, to leave the house. Even for something as small as a quick trip to the thegrocery store. He needed to know all of the details, where, how long, etc. If not, he would have “meltdowns” and freak out. He’s always hated crowds and overstimulation and has always preferred to play by himself. He never really knew how to play with others. The running joke was that he hated me, never hugged me, never told me he loved me… he was partial to Kevin. In Blake’s world, he either loved you or hated you. There was no in between.
He was getting more violent as the days passed. No amount of discipline or punishment was helping. So, in December of 2017, we started parent/child interactive therapy once a week. He was originally diagnosed with oppositional defiance Disorder (ODD). Therapy was helping. Or so we thought. I remember it clearly, it was in March and for the first time (probably ever) he crawled into my lap and told me that he loved me. This was a HUGE deal. You have no idea how it feels to think your child hates you. Yes, I’ve joked about it, but deep down, it killed me. We never had a bond that a mother wants with her son.
In May of this year, Blake started becoming more withdrawn. We were driving an hour, one way, for therapy. We both loved his therapist and I know how rare it is for Blake to accept someone so easily. At this time, I needed to be home 24/7. His “meltdowns” became so bad. He would refuse to eat for days upon days. He and I were sleeping roughly 3 hours a night and the few hours that he was getting, were interrupted by his constant headbanging and rocking. When he was awake, he was miserable. He was constantly getting into fights on the bus, yet his teacher never had an issue with him. NOT ONE. I trumped that up to him being able to control himself for 6+ hours at a time so by the time he got on the bus, all hell broke loose.
We barely made it through the summer. Blake started running. He never had a trigger, no trauma. He would get upset over the smallest things and that’d be it. Off to the races. The first few times he would run to the end of the block. Then it got further and he got faster. In the meantime, I’m chasing him and the other kids are at the house unattended because Kevin would be at work. This is how it always went. I would finally catch him and he would hit, kick, punch, bite and screams the nastiest things to me. Half of the things he would say, I don’t even know where the hell he heard it from in the first place. I don’t care how tough you are, hearing your child tell you that they hate you and they wish you were dead… that’s enough to kill your soul.
I’m sure I’m going to see comments of “if that were my kid”… let me tell you, you don’t know what you would do. Beating him, screaming at him… that won’t work with him. I was so embarrassed to go anywhere because we never knew when he would freak out. For months, I barely slept. I kept up appearances and smiled when in public or talking to family, but inside, I was dying. Nobody understood what I was going through, I kept trying to help him and didn’t know how. That alone killed me. Here is this little boy, who literally cannot control his actions and it wasn’t something that was an easy fix. I started pulling away from everyone and everything. I didn’t want to be judged or have people criticize his behavior when they saw only a portion of what was really happening. He was physically attacking me. Poor Mia got the most of it as well. I had to make sure she was never within any kind of distance of him or she would be attacked. Things were getting out of control.
Fast forward through this behavior the entire summer with it becoming increasingly worse each day. Blake started first grade on Aug 27. On8/28 he was on his way home from school (on the bus) when he got upset and tried opening the exit door to jump off. While the bus was moving. He then proceeded to fight other students and the assistant principal who came to remove him from the bus (as per state law). Subsequently, he was suspended from the bus. That day, we celebrated Mia’s birthday. He just wanted to be alone, he usually does after he freaks out.
On 8/29, he went to school, did fine there and came home. All was well. He asked if he could ride his bike and I told him he needed to wait until I started dinner. That was all it took. He was off again. By the time I grabbed my keys, he disappeared. I didn’t see him. Bradyn hopped on his bike and looked in the neighborhood. I raced to the main road. (We live out of city limits but within two blocks of a major intersection and 3 blocks from 2lakes). I’m already on the phone with 911 because I knew that this was going to be bad. As I turn on the main road, there are several cars pulled over and people out. Omg, did he get hit? No, thank God. He was running in the middle of the street, in only his boxers (because trying to keep clothes on him is one battle I won’t engage in). He’s screaming at the cars to hit him. My heart broke into a million pieces. His face was so red and his eyes had no life left in them. His eyes that were once a bright blue were literally now black.
I was mad, scared, embarrassed. So many emotions that I probably still can’t describe. Bradyn and I finally managed to corner him and I wrestled him into the car. I carried him into the house as he was screaming and hitting me like never before. Something had to change. I couldn’t live like this, he couldn’t live like this. I called his therapist and the decision was made to take him for a 24-48 hour observation at our local hospital. The next 48hours were a whirlwind. He was admitted, refused to speak with the psychologists, tried escaping at one point and attacked several hospital staff members and ended up having to be sedated. At this point, he was involuntarily committed. He would have to stay until they could find him a spot in children’s psychiatric hospital since our local one didn’t have the facilities or staff to properly help a minor.
Day one turned up nothing. The talk of moving him to a facility in Virginia came up several times. Finally, a bed opened. It was in North Carolina but was 2 hours away. The county sheriff department would be in charge of transport and I wouldn’t be allowed to follow because it was so late at night. I just kept telling him that I loved him and we were doing this because he needed help that his mommy couldn’t give him. The pieces of my heart that already shattered were now splintering. I felt like a failure. Like seriously, I couldn’t control a 7-year-old?
So, for 36 very, very long days, we went through the ups and downs. His tearful phone calls and his anger at being there. The highs of him smiling or laughing, truly laughing, for the first time in so long. He has medicated accordingly and tried several different combinations until we found one that we liked that still allowed him to feel, attended schooling in the facility and put through several psychological tests. The end result? On October 4, Blake got to come home. Since then he has had only 2 outbursts. Compared to 3-4 a day at his peak… As of right now, his diagnosis is still ODD, but now we also have a diagnosis of depression, severe anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. His autism assessment needs further review so they are sending us to another institute for a more thorough evaluation.
Blake now has intensive in-home therapy 4x a week and takes 2medications to help control his impulsivity and his anger. He will be going for genetic testing and his next autism assessment over the next month or so. This will be a battle every single day. He is back at school without any issues there or on the bus, has since made a friend that he actually can play with nicely and is more affectionate than ever.
In all of this, my anxiety has tripled and now I’m dealing with fixing myself because I can’t be the best mom for him (or the others) if I’m not my best version of me. I’m not looking for pity or sympathy. If anything, please PLEASE can we stop judging others? You never know why that kid in the store is screaming at his mother, hitting her, or running down the street by himself. Blake cannot control his emotions and we still aren’t 100%sure as to why, but we are getting there.
He is learning coping skills that are so “odd” but help him tremendously. He wants to be loved. He wants to be your definition of a good kid. He doesn’t want to be put down because he is different. We love him and will make sure that he can have a successful, happy life. He deserves love, patience, and understanding. There is so much more to the things we think we know when we encounter a “bad child” and we give our input on what should be done to control them. For Blake, positive reinforcement and praise are a constant and he thrives on it. Blake’s story is far from over, hell, it’s just beginning. 🙂
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.