Perfectly Calm Storm & the Bipolar Child
First, let me say, if you’re subscribed, don’t worry, I don’t normally post this frequently. Maybe a couple times a week at best. But I felt that this incident deserved a separate post, as it began after I started writing the last entry and so didn’t fit with my thoughts/theme at the time.
I have a lot of children. What is a lot you ask? Seven. I only birthed three of them, mind you, but I am raising seven full time. So I have a lot. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about BPD (I hope) with all of them! But, I have one daughter, who we’ll call “Little Q” and she seems to be my emotional twin. That is to say, she looks more like her father (and managed to be gorgeous in spite of it, haha! I kill me) but personality-wise and emotionally, she’s just like me. I know. Scary.
I was a very emotional child, cried at the drop of a dime and was also very unique/creative/artistically-inclined. I was also extremely compassionate and empathetic. My daughter, she is the same. She’s a little artist, works hard in school, loves science, animals and the outdoors, can keep herself entertained for hours and has scary emotional outbursts that make you wonder if she’s possessed. (Ok, that’s an exaggeration, kinda). Part of me wonders if it’s all manipulation… that is, she overheard me discussing with my husband on more than one occasion that she’s sensitive/emotional and has a hard time controlling her emotions and we need to be more sympathetic. So now, that’s a license to act like a basket case. It’s entirely possible. On the other hand, these may be early symptoms of BPD. I air on the side of caution, so I’m treating it like it’s all very real and she must learn methods to filter/control her emotions. She’s 8 years old, by the way.
The Bipolar Child… so last night we are about to do “Chore Store” and I check chores and hers aren’t done completely, so she (and my son, we’ll call him dooney) don’t get to shop in the Chore Store. She has a MELT DOWN. She is begging me, crying, screaming from the kitchen as she finishes her chore… but I’m very calm and I refuse. She continues to scream and cry for at least 15-20 minutes, and I ignore her… with ease. This is strangely easy for me, with any one of the other kids I would have snapped and went off, but with her, I have some kind of empathy. I want to help her through these feelings, I want her to manage them, I believe it’s real, whereas with other I have almost no tolerance for whining. None. This is probably something I need to work on.
She returns now and then to the dining room, begging me to bend the rules, I’m cool as a cucumber and refuse, telling her to sit down and breathe deeply. This is a practice we’re still working on to help her control her anger/hysteria. Even I’m surprised at how well I’m handling this.
Part of what makes this journey so important for me is that if my daughter is BP, I want her to learn to cope without drugs. I don’t want a zombified 8-yr old with chemical dependencies. If I can manage this BPD without drugs then I can set an example for her and teach her how to do it too, and further, I can make dietary changes in her life that help her have balance as well, insha’Allah (God-willing).
Perfectly Calm Storm… so, after Chore Store is over I take her upstairs. Her head hurts, she’s crying. She lays in my lap for a while and eventually calms down. Then I send her downstairs to get some dinner and my husband snaps at her. She falls to pieces all over again. Now, mind you, my husband loves my daughter (his step-daughter) very much. They generally have a wonderful relationship, but recently she’s become, well, a mini version of me, and he is struggling to deal with it. I mean, after all, I’m bad enough, and with her he questions whether it’s real and has a very low tolerance for the talking back, angry mood swings, falling out aspect of her behavior. So he says something and she reels right back out of control.
This was a delicate situation and it took me 10-15 minutes just to calm her down. He dismantled it in a moment. I was angry. I pulled him into the office to talk. So here’s the thing, I felt perfectly calm. Not enraged like usual. Interestingly, he argued very little and I think that may have been what kept me calm. Usually, especially when it’a about the kids, it can become an all out screaming match, but this time, I didn’t feel excited. I felt calm.
The things I said were very resolute. You are not going to do this. This ends today, etc. Awfully pushy, but I did have a right to be upset. He did, at one point, try to go in the kitchen and tell her to chill, but he does this in a “controlling’ fashion rather than a “teach you to control yourself” fashion which is where the “Little Q” arguments usually emerge. He was trying in his own way, though, and I must give credit where credit is due (even if I failed to last night).
So what of it? I left the office, sat down with the kids and watched a movie. He never came out of the office. I knew he was upset, but this time I didn’t feel the urge to beg and plead and make amends. I felt, dare I say, a little bit apathetic. I rarely ever feel apathetic these days, so that was strange. Intellectually, I did feel bad and even guilty in that I was asking him to control himself and be an adult when I, myself, often cannot control myself and be an adult. That’s the hard part about BP, you don’t want to use it as an excuse, but you know its a reality, and a reality for you, not everyone else. So you still have normal expectations of them while demanding they have *adjusted* expectations of you. I hate that guilt. But there it is.
Why is this worth blogging about? The apathy and lack of depression afterwards. Arguing with my husband is a HUGE trigger for me, it almost always leads to a deep depression immediately after (read journal entry #1). But this time, he didn’t argue much, he stayed mostly quiet, and I remained very calm and feel no residual depression the following morning. Amazing and a bit scary.
What worries me is the apathy. I went through a stage in my life where I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I didn’t love my mother, I didn’t care about the starving orphan, I didn’t have remorse or shame or anything. I felt dead inside. It lasted for years and afterwards I was on emotional overload and the slightest thing made me cry (I still have this) even happy things, commercials, cartoons, it all brings tears. But that period of apathy was scary. I don’t want that again. However, the sense of calm and control I appreciate. I do plan to apologize because I was a bit harsh in that conversation, and hope I can be a bit more considerate of all that he’s struggling through in dealing with this disorder, both from me and potentially from my daughter. I really pray he is rewarded for his patience and devotion. He is a wonderful man under tremendous pressure and deserves recognition for that. I love him deeply and don’t ever want to feel apathetic toward him. So this is a work in progress. We’ll see what develops.
Do you ever experience a sense of apathy? Is this typical for BPD sufferers?
September 7th, 2012
Neutral –> Annoyed –> Irritated –> Neutral –> Focused –> Calm–> Angry –> Apathetic –> Neutral
(Angry->Apathetic->Neutral were the result of this incident)
- I am capable of maintaining control in an argument, the level of control I maintain is directly related to the degree to which the other person argues back. I’ll need to work on that.
- I must maintain compassion and understanding for my husband who is struggling to deal with all of this. I must try to see it from his perspective and be sympathetic.
- I need to work more with my daughter in helping her control her emotions. (Maybe look into yoga for kids?)
- There is a fine line between apathy and control, I must be careful not to cross it.
- I need to give my husband some tools to help him deal with my daughter.